In Week 34 of pregnancy, the uterus puts pressure on the surrounding viscera as it grows bigger causing heartburn, an increase in the frequency of urination, and a host of other minor troubles like edema of the hands and feet. The baby in your belly is more than 4.4 pounds (2 kg) and can display a variety of emotions. Let’s sum up the changes in you and Baby this week.
34 Weeks Pregnant: Belly and weight gain
Your belly has grown just a little bigger in the past week – the fundal height is now about 11.0 to 14.6 in (28 to 37 cm) long. The top of the uterus can now be felt at about 5.5 inches above your navel. The fetus will continue to drop further down and your cervix will shorten. As the uterus continues to put pressure on the surrounding organs, you might have changed your posture to adapt to the physical discomfort, but this could have created a host of other minor troubles.
As these not-serious-but-troubling symptoms are but phenomena of pregnancy, they will disappear after labor, so do your best to grin and bear it until it’s all over – it’s almost over anyway! This week, you might see your weight increase by the recommended 1 pound, and you can expect the scales to continue going up in the last few weeks of pregnancy as well.
Symptoms a 34-week-pregnant mom might experience
- The gut is compressed and heartburn similar to what you had together with morning sickness makes a revisit
- The base of your foot hurts
The Restless Leg Syndrome: Your limbs fall asleep
Your limbs swell
Pregnancy stretch marks appear once you aren’t careful or conscientious about applying lotion
Production of blood steps up and increase in blood volume results in anemia or loss of consciousness
Your nipples are itchy
Urine leaks, signs of frequent urination (pollakiuria)
Pain due to hemorrhoids
Preterm labor, preterm birth
When the expected delivery date approaches, the irregular Braxton Hick contractions and abdominal tightness you feel become more frequent. The expanding uterus will put pressure on your bowels and you might feel tightness in your belly and even suffer from constipation or from diarrhea. Sneezing might also cause you some discomfort.
When the abdominal pains are not accompanied by bleeding or leaking of fluids (from your water breaking), keep still for awhile and calm down. If the contractions go on for a long time or start becoming regular, it could mean a preterm labor, which can lead to a preterm birth. Since the risk exists, do take note of changes in your condition and inform the hospital when you deem it necessary to do so.
Fetal movement decreases
From Week 34 of pregnancy onward, fetal movement will decrease. This is because your baby’s head is now facing downwards and is put in place in the pelvic region. In addition, the space in the uterus decreases. During this period of time, Baby has already adopted a 20 to 30-minute sleep-wake cycle, and will continue to abide by this pattern.
However, it does not mean you don’t feel any fetal movement at all. Rather, not feeling any fetal movement is cause for alarm, and if you notice that there is a lack of movement or other worrying signs, contact your hospital straight away. As the sleep-wake cycle of the fetus is more or less stabilized from Week 34 onward, continue keeping tabs on your baby and don’t forget to do the “10 movements in 2 hours” count!
The “10 movements in 2 hours” method is, simply put, counting the number of times your baby moves in a 2 hour window period. It is a method used during Weeks 32 to 35 to determine the baby’s well-being. If Baby moves 10 times every day in a 2 hour window period during Weeks 32 to 35, it means that Baby is healthy. In other words, you should call your practitioner right away if Baby does not move 10 times.
34 Weeks Pregnant: Sonogram of fetus in belly
Week 34: your baby is now 43 to 46 cm long and weighs 1.8 to 2.5 kg. The cranial nerves are now all developed and your baby can feel a variety of emotions, respond to external stimulus and even smile! As your baby now has developed auditory senses, Baby can hear. Talk to your baby while gently rubbing your belly, and you might just get a small kick or high-five in return.
- The soft, fine hairs called lanugo disappears. Vernix caseosa, a white cheese-like substance that acts as a waterproof barrier that protects the fetus, can be found on the skin
The fetus’ skin turns from a reddish color to a pinkish shade
The fetus practices at breathing in and excreting amniotic fluid. This process is repeated at 30-minute intervals
The fetus can move muscles in the face move to create complex facial expressions. This increases the range of expressions the fetus can make
Subcutaneous fats continue to accumulate and the fetus becomes plumper
Bones, including the skull, continue to harden
Autonomic nervous system (ANS, the system that regulates functions of viscera like the heart, stomach and intestines) are developed
Heartbeat and breathing become more regular
Symptoms: Vaginal discharge or water breaking?
Water breaking refers to the rupture of the membranes of the amniotic sac which contains amniotic fluids and your baby. The amniotic fluid that comes out is transparent and might be a little yellowish or greenish in color. The biggest difference between amniotic fluid and vaginal discharge is the smell. Amniotic fluid can either be odorless or have a slightly sweet smell.
If you are sure that the discharge is not ordinary vaginal discharge or urine, and are sure that it is amniotic fluid, keep a straight face and try to handle the situation as best as you can. If your water breaks, there is a possibility of you going into preterm labor.
To prevent preterm birth from happening right away, go to the hospital and get the necessary treatment you need to prolong the labor from taking place right away and to give your baby as much time as possible – remember a full-term labor gives your baby the best chance at a healthy life.
Breech baby at 34 Weeks
If your baby is still in breech position even in Week 34 of pregnancy, you might want to start considering labor via a Cesarean section if you haven’t yet chosen it as an option. Statistics show that only 5 % of babies end up being delivered in their breech positions, and most of the other breech babies correct their positions by themselves closer to the expected delivery date.
Although there are no 100% foolproof ways to get your baby into a vertex presentation, one of the methods you can try is exercise.Exercise to change your baby’s breech presentation should not put stress on your own body, and will help encourage your baby to move and hopefully move into the ideal presentation. You might want to try this out every night before going to sleep, especially if your breech baby is not showing any signs of correcting their presentation.
Do these exercises with the hope that it might help your baby, but as these methods are not 100% effective, don’t censure yourself even if nothing works. The birth isn’t far-off; it’s better to stay positive!
Weight gain during maternity leave
The U.S. Family and Medical Leave Act protects a parent’s job for up to 12 unpaid workweeks. Even though some companies might be going against the tide by giving employees more humane treatment, it can be said that most companies do not go right by parents with a newborn infant.
Maternity leave (or paternal leave) might not be an option available to you, or even if it is, you might be hesitant to actually use it because of the possible repercussions at work you don’t even want to think about right now.
However, it is actually ideal to go on maternity leave 6 weeks before your Expected Delivery Date – from this week onward! Moms who do so to be able to rest well before going into labor, and if you haven’t done so, you might want to consider taking some time off to prepare for the labor and also for motherhood. After labor, some moms also take around 8 weeks of leave to care of their baby.
Once you take time off from work, you might feel liberated from the stresses of work life, start to eat more snacks, let your weight increase (by just that little bit!), and ultimately see changes in your lifestyle rhythm and see your body condition falter a little. Do not let it all go – exercise self-control in terms of what you eat, and take care of your body.
If you have not started on the paperwork required for your newborn, it’s best to start working on a checklist. Check with the hospital you plan to give birth at – in some hospitals, they will help you with the paperwork after you fill in the form, in some hospitals they might need you to get a Social Security Number first. You might, however, want to decide on your baby’s name first.
34 Weeks Pregnant: Traveling while pregnant ends here
Less than 2 months left until full term! Your body is heavy, you might not be getting enough sleep, and your pelvis might be hurting. As the physical strains on your body increase, your fatigue and stress levels might reach a new all-time high. Try to be done with your hometown visits or holidays by Week 34.
You might want to aim to a good rest while spending some good quality time with your partner, family or friends this week. Going out, meeting family and friends, or exploring a new world through travel can be refreshing, but when your baby arrives, that’ll also be a whole new world for you. Travel can always wait – Baby won’t!