Congratulations, you’ve made it to week 34 of your pregnancy. You may be feeling like you’ve been pregnant for 134 weeks, but keep in mind the big day is less than two months away. You should also note that most babies don’t arrive on their due date or even within a couple of days of that target. Many babies arrive after week 37 or (and you may not want to read this) a couple of weeks after their due date. Every pregnancy is different and there’s usually no harm if a baby arrives a week or two early or late.
Changes to Your Body
As your baby continues to grow, you will no doubt notice the extra weight around your midsection. You should plan to continue to gain an average of one to two pounds a week, unless otherwise advised by your doctor.
You may also feel extra bulky from fluid retention. Even though it may seem counterintuitive, drinking plenty of liquids can actually help flush the excess fluids from your system. Plus, staying hydrated is important for both you and baby.
Along with your growing baby, your uterus also contains increasing levels of amniotic fluid. The amount of fluid may be peaking right about now. Excess amniotic fluid gets absorbed into your body.
Some women see their belly button shift from an “innie” to an “outie” by this point. This is quite normal and nothing to worry about. If you notice that your belly button is especially sensitive, place a bandage over it to avoid irritation.
The most important thing for your baby is that he or she is growing and developing in a healthy way. This week your baby is about 17 inches long and weighs around 5 pounds. That’s a little more than a cantaloupe and maybe a little less than a honeydew melon.
Much of the baby’s lanugo, the downy hair that covered most of the body, is disappearing. Some may still be there at birth, but it will probably disappear soon afterwards. The baby’s eyes have developed to the point where the pupils can now dilate and constrict in response to light. Your baby’s lungs are well-formed, too. And if a son is on the way, his testicles are descending around this time.
Your baby is also putting on weight, as fat is being stored under the skin. Baby fat not only looks cute, but it is critically important in helping your baby regulate its body temperature.
Because your baby is getting so big, his or her legs are usually bent and held near the trunk due to a lack of room by this point. That means you may feel less activity but notice more pronounced movements, such as a foot or hand moving along the inside of your belly.
Twin Development at Week 34
The vernix caseosa that covers your babies’ skin is thickening this week. The vernix caseosa helps your babies regulate their temperature and protects their skin against water loss. It also plays a role in immunity.
Though twins are usually smaller than singletons, your babies might be reaching nearly a foot long from crown to rump.
Given the weight gain of the baby, it’s no surprise that you’re feeling additional strain, too, these days. Like most expectant mothers at 34 weeks, you’re probably having trouble sleeping through the night. Frequent urination, feelings of fatigue, sciatica, and even shortness of breath are all common at this point in the pregnancy. Stand by, because those symptoms will continue right up until you go into labor.
You're going to need rest to help deal with some of these challenges. Try to nap during the day if you can. When you get up, do so slowly. Your blood may tend to pool a little in your extremities when sitting or lying down. If you rise too quickly, you may feel lightheaded or you may even faint.
Heartburn and indigestion may be more likely with your expanding uterus squeezing against your stomach and other internal organs. As much as you may crave something spicy to eat, be especially aware of foods that trigger heartburn. Maybe take a break from those foods and look forward to eating them again down the road.
You may actually get a little break from your baby in the heartburn department, as he or she will be moving down into the lower part of the uterus around now. That should reduce some of the pressure you’re feeling against your stomach, but it may increase pressure on your bladder.
Things to Do This Week
This is a good time to familiarize yourself with the birthing process. First, visit the labor and delivery section of the hospital or center where you’re planning to give birth. Also, learn where the emergency department is, just in case. Go ahead and fill out any pre-registration paperwork and talk with your doctor about pain management options for the big day. And if you have any questions about the delivery itself, make a list and go over them with your healthcare provider.
If you are planning a home birth, speak with your midwife or doctor about anything you may need to have on hand. Also, come up with a solid plan in case something happens that requires you to deliver in the hospital instead. Births are unpredictable. Preparing for every possible situation will help alleviate any extra stress in case something doesn’t go according to plan.
You should also schedule your Group B streptococcus (GBS) screening test. GBS is found in about one out of every four adult women. It’s usually found in the vagina or rectum. It can be passed along to the baby at birth. GBS isn’t common among newborns, but you should be tested anyway, usually after week 34.
If you have the energy, this is a good week to put the finishing touches on the nursery. The closer you get to your due date, the less you’re going to want to shop, hang pictures or do anything more than what you really need to do to get through your day. Recruit your partner, relatives, and friends to get your home ready so you can relax as much as possible during the home stretch.
When to Call the Doctor
If you begin experiencing contractions, you should call your doctor. While your baby is considered preterm at this point, some women do go into labor early. At 34 weeks, your baby has a very good chance for a healthy delivery and long-term survival. If you do begin to experience contractions, keep track of how long each contraction lasts and how close together they are. Your healthcare provider will need this information.
You should also call your doctor if you experience vaginal bleeding or fluid leakage, severe abdominal or pelvic pain, or a severe headache.