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 fewer 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 that date.
Every pregnancy is different. Just keep going to your prenatal appointments, and your healthcare professional will help ensure everything is on track for a healthy birth.
34 weeks pregnant: What to expect
- You might feel a little bloated and your belly button may go from an innie to an outie.
- You may experience heartburn as your baby grows and your uterus presses against your stomach.
- Your baby is gaining weight, and their lungs are well developed by now.
- It’s time to start learning more about the birthing process. Talk with your doctor about your options.
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, according to
Along with your growing baby, your uterus also contains increasing levels of amniotic fluid. The amount of fluid may be peaking right about now.
Some women see their belly button shift from an innie to an outie by this point. This is expected 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, according to experts. 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 afterward.
Your baby’s bones have hardened, except for their skull, and they have grown fingernails. 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 baby’s skin is thickening this week. The vernix caseosa helps your baby regulate their temperature and protects their skin against water loss. It also plays a role in immunity.
Given the weight gain of your baby, it’s no surprise that you’re feeling an additional strain. Like most people at 34 weeks, you might be experiencing symptoms, such as:
- trouble sleeping
- frequent urination
- breast tenderness
- swelling in your face or ankles
- shortness of breath
- heartburn and indigestion
Stand by, because those symptoms will likely 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, but avoid sleeping on your back.
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. This causes a burning feeling in your chest or throat from stomach acid moving up your esophagus.
As much as you may crave certain foods, be especially aware of foods that trigger heartburn, including:
- spicy foods
- citrus juices and fruits
- fried or greasy food
Consider taking a break from those foods and look forward to eating them again down the road. Eat small bland meals and avoid lying down after eating.
As your due date gets closer, remember to continue taking care of yourself both physically and emotionally. Do your best to:
- Eat a balanced diet. Nutritious foods support your health and the health of your baby while helping you gain the appropriate amount of weight for your pregnancy. Gaining
too much weightmay increase your risk of high blood pressure, preeclampsia, and an emergency cesarian delivery, also known as a C-section.
- Exercise. Physical activity may help you feel better by reducing back pain and bloating. The
National Institutes of Healthrecommends that you do moderate-intensity aerobic activities, such as walking quickly, for at least 150 minutes per week.
- Consider trying yoga. Prenatal yoga may help improve sleep quality among women in their third trimester of pregnancy, according to a 2021 study.
- Stay hydrated. You need more water when you’re pregnant to keep you and your baby healthy.
- Have sex if you want to. Your sex drive is likely to decrease during your third trimester. If you do feel like having sex, it’s safe to do so in most healthy pregnancies.
- Seek support from friends and family. Research from 2017 suggests that higher levels of social support are linked to decreased depression, anxiety, and stress in pregnant women.
If you’re having trouble managing pregnancy symptoms or experience new symptoms, talk with your doctor.
You’ll usually be tested for Rh factor, a protein on red blood cells, at the beginning of your pregnancy through a blood test. You’re considered Rh-positive if the protein is present, and Rh-negative if it isn’t.
If you are Rh-negative but your baby is Rh-positive, your body may make antibodies to counter your baby’s blood cells. This can put your baby at risk.
Your doctor may give you another blood test called an antibody screen to check for antibodies. You may receive the test during your first trimester and again at 28 weeks, and possibly more frequently.
Your doctor may also give you an injection of Rh immunoglobulin to keep your body from producing antibodies.
Blood pressure checks and urine tests at your regular checkups help monitor for preeclampsia.
- persistent headache
- blurry vision
- difficulty breathing
- swelling in your hands or face
- protein in your urine
- pain in the upper part of your stomach
If you notice any symptoms, it’s important to call your doctor.
Ultrasounds use sound waves to produce an image of your baby. In some cases, you may need an ultrasound at 34 weeks to check on your baby’s health or progress. These cases include:
- if you are Rh negative and your body has made antibodies that can cause anemia in your baby
- to check your baby’s position or growth
- if you have abdominal pain or vaginal bleeding
- to evaluate amniotic fluid levels
- to look for anything that may be atypical
The test combines an ultrasound with heart rate monitoring and takes around 30 minutes. It checks the level of amniotic fluid, as well as your baby’s:
- heart rate
- breathing movements
- body movements
- muscle tone
Each area will be
This is a good time to learn about the birthing process.
If you can, 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 professional.
If you have a low risk pregnancy, you may be planning a home birth. Note that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists does not recommend home births if:
- You’ve had a prior cesarean delivery.
- Your baby is breech or otherwise presenting in an atypical way when you go into contractions.
- You’re carrying multiples.
Speak with your birthing professional (like a 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 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.
If you haven’t already, set up or finalize your maternity leave at work. Recruit your partner, relatives, and friends to help 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 professional will need this information.
It’s also important to call your doctor if you experience vaginal bleeding or fluid leakage, severe abdominal or pelvic pain, or a severe headache.