The 34th week is when baby as well the mother is gaining sufficient weight. Most
women feel short of breath during this stage due to the growing size of the uterus that pushes and shifts the other organs in your body. The uterus also begins to press on the diaphragm making it difficult for your lungs to expand to full capacity. Once the baby settles deeper into the pelvis in the last few weeks, this pressure on the lungs will reduce gradually. While sleeping, you can prop up your upper body with pillows to put less pressure on the lungs. If the breathlessness becomes too severe or you have asthmatic problems, you can contact your health care provider immediately.
Doctors try to prevent or stop early labor that begins before the 34th week because babies born prematurely can face several health problems. A healthy lifestyle and regular visits to the doctor are useful in detecting the possibility of a preterm baby. A preterm baby is difficult to stop especially if vaginal bleeding occurs or the membranes rupture. The women can be advised to rest or prescribed drugs or fluids aimed to delay the labor. If you feel fit and healthy at this stage, you can continue delaying the maternity leave from work to save up leave for after delivery.
Your Symptoms: Your nipples have probably gotten bigger and may be leaking colostrum in anticipation of the birth. Protect your clothes with nursing pads.
Baby’s Development: The placenta reaches maturity this week, and will now begin to age. Baby’s sucking reflex is maturing, and she is probably capable of using it to feed herself if she were born now.
Baby’s Size: 42.4 cm, 1.7 kg.
To Do: Make a list of things you want to bring with you to the hospital and purchase any items that you don’t already have.
The baby is between 15 ½ to 17 ½ inches long and weighs around 5 ½ pounds depending on the mother. The baby’s body begins to fill up with layers of fat which will help the baby regulating body temperature and adjust to life outside the mother’s womb. Most of the baby’s organs are mature except for the lungs. The lungs continue to practicing breathing and taking in amniotic liquid. Breathing will lead to bouts of hiccups from time to time. The hair on the head is growing fast and the baby is learning to blink its eyes. The baby shows strong reactions to familiar voices at this stage.
The baby can be irritated by the ultrasonic examination due to the light which can disturb its sleep. It may try to avoid the light by shielding its eyes with its hands. The baby is growing chubbier as the weeks progress. The fingers and finger nails are well developed and the facial features are also clearer now. The baby should now be getting ready for delivery by turning into a head down position. The doctor will be paying careful attention to the baby’s position as some babies can decide to turn back to the breech position just before delivery. A cesarean operation is the best method to deliver a breech baby.
Changes with your body
The top of the uterus is approximately 5 ½ inches above the belly button but can vary some depending on the person. The amount of amniotic fluid in the uterus tends to peak between the 34th and 36th week and reduces in the last few weeks to allow more room for baby to fit in. You might feel the belly button become bigger and extremely sensitive. Covering it with a band-aid or tape is helpful if it pokes through your clothes.
The baby will be kicking and moving quite frequently by now causing the acidity level to rise in your stomach. This can promote heartburn. The solution is to have six to seven small snacks during the day instead of two or three big meals. You might notice swelling in your hands, face, ankles and feet. This is the result of water retention or oedema. These symptoms can be reduced by increasing the intake of water. Less intake of water can aggravate the condition further. However, if the swelling is severe and you develop headaches, call your doctor immediately as this could be an indication of pre-eclampsia. This is a mild disease that can occur in the last few weeks of pregnancy and indicates a basic disorder with the placenta. The condition is serious when the swelling is accompanied by bouts of fainting or dizziness.
What to expect
Your healthcare provider will brief you about the three stages of labor. You may have already learned this in a prenatal class. Childbirth starts when the cervix dilates to 10 cm. The woman heads to the hospital after the contractions occur within 5 minutes of each other. The second stage of labor is the actual delivery of the baby and is the longest period. The third stage involves the delivery of the placenta which takes about 5 to 30 minutes.
An episiotomy can be done to enlarge the vaginal opening. The procedure involves a small surgical incision at the time of delivery. An episiotomy may be needed if the birth is an emergency in which the perineum has not had time to stretch sufficiently. If the baby’s head is too large for the vaginal opening or the baby is in a breech position and there is a complication during delivery, an episiotomy may also be performed. It is done under a local anesthesia and is a safe method. The side effects can be infection, bruising, swelling or bleeding requiring extended healing time.
To avoid having an episiotomy, you need to have a healthy diet to help your skin stretch more easily. Performing kegels exercise can be helpful. Warm compresses and support during delivery along with perineum massage techniques can be used to help. Perineal massage from the 34th week onwards can help to avoid an episiotomy. A group B Strep test might be required at this stage as this can be cured before delivery if found positive. Group B strep is a kind of bacterial infection which if not treated in time can give increase the risk of premature birth. It may also cause bladder and womb infections and in some cases can lead to stillbirths.