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 2 months away.
That said, most babies don’t arrive on their due date or even within a couple of days of that target. Some are ready a couple of weeks before or after their due date.
Every pregnancy is different. Just keep on going to your prenatal appointments, and your healthcare provider will help ensure all’s on track for a healthy birth.
34 weeks pregnant: What to expect
- You might be a little bloated and your belly button may go from an “innie” to an “outie.”
- You may still be experiencing heartburn or getting some relief due to baby moving down into a lower position.
- Baby’s pupils can dilate and constrict, and their lungs are well developed by now.
- It’s time to start learning more about the birthing process. Talk to your healthcare provider about your options.
As your baby continues to grow, you’ll no doubt notice the extra weight around your midsection. Plan to continue to gain an average of 1 to 2 pounds a week, unless otherwise advised by your doctor.
You may also feel extra bloated from fluid retention. Even though it may seem counterintuitive, drinking plenty of liquids can help flush the excess fluids from your system. Plus, staying hydrated is important for both you and your 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 they are 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.
Much of baby’s lanugo, the downy hair that covered most of their body, is disappearing. Some may still be there at birth, but it will probably go away soon afterwards.
Your 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 baby is growing testicles, they’re descending into the scrotum 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 their body temperature.
Because your baby is getting so big, their 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.
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.
Given the weight gain of the baby, it’s no surprise that you’re feeling additional strain, too. Like most at 34 weeks, you’re probably also experiencing symptoms, such as:
Stand by, because those symptoms will continue right up until you go into labor. Here are some ways to get relief:
Get your rest
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. Eat small bland meals and small snacks between meals.
You may actually get a little break from the heartburn department, as baby will be moving down into the lower part of your uterus around now. That should reduce some pressure you’re feeling against your stomach, but it may increase pressure on your bladder.
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 entrance to 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 have a low risk pregnancy, you may be planning a home birth. (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists does not recommend home births if you’ve had a prior cesarean delivery, if your baby is breech or otherwise presenting abnormally when you go into contractions, or if you’re carrying multiples.)
Speak with your midwife or doctor about anything you may need to have on hand at home. 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
GBS isn’t common among newborns, but you should be tested anyway, usually after between weeks 36 and 37. So getting that on the calendar now is a good thing.
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 necessary to get through the day.
Recruit your partner, relatives, and friends to get your home ready so you can relax as much as possible during the home stretch.
If you begin experiencing contractions, 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. 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.