At the 34th week, the baby has grown so much and you will be ready for delivery within the next three weeks in case of pre-term delivery or about 6 weeks if you deliver on the estimated due date. Here are the key changes taking places in the week.
Baby’s growth and development in week thirty four
By the 34th week, the baby has reached about 4.5-5 lbs in weight and 18 inches in length. Fat layers are being added on every part of the body especially the skin to give him/her a round and attractive outlook. The accumulating layers of fat will continue taking care of the baby after delivery because he/she will no longer be in the uterus with protection from mom.
By the 34th week, the baby has taken the occiput anterior position or birth position (commonly known as head down position). Though movements are intense, they do not include full summersaults you were used to in the last several weeks.
By the end of 34th week, the baby’s digestive system has matured after many days of practicing with amniotic fluid. If the baby is born in the 34th week, he/she would be able to digest food effectively because most digestive enzymes are functional. The amniotic fluid in the uterus has reached the optimum and will stay there until the 37th week when it will start declining.
Changes to expect in Mom’s body during week 34
By the close of the 34th week, the uterus has grown so much and your weight gain is about 27-28 lbs. You are feeling pushed to the limit and think there is no room for extra growth. However, if the pregnancy will go to full term, your body will still make some room for additional 7-8lbs. However, this may differ depending on your body and due date.
Because of the growing uterus, false labor pains, impending birth, and symptoms that keep changing and emerging in the third trimester, many moms start suffering from anxiety. The baby may also keep moving rapidly and causing you lower back pain and triggering false contractions (Braxton-Hicks contractions). It is prudent to learn the difference between true and false contractions at this point. With Braxton-Hicks contractions, the contractions are irregular and do not intensify when they happen. It is prudent to relax as much as possible when false contractions start or call a doctor if you are unsure.
Because of space limitation in the uterus, some parts of the baby parts may stick out on mom’s belly. For example, if the baby has taken a head down position, the feet may kick and stick in the belly for some time. The kicks may also bring extra discomfort if the pressure is directed to the ribs or other intestinal organs.
By the 34th week, the baby has moved (dropped) to the pelvis which is called lightning. The process commonly takes place a few weeks to birth though it is still possible to happen few hours before labor begins. Lightning usually come with the following symptoms;
- Extra pressure on the bladder and regular urination
- Difficulty when walking
- Lower pelvic pain
At the 34th week, the baby’s birth date keeps drawing nearer and you are wondering whether an episiotomy is necessary. While it is a common procedure in almost every delivery, recent studies are showing that it does not have to be a must.
What is episiotomy? This is an incision that doctors make at the bottom of the vagina towards the rectum to prevent tearing off when giving birth. Supporters of the process indicate that it prevents tearing off of vaginal muscles. However, the process is increasingly being linked to complications, unnecessary pain, and others even warranting reconstructive surgery thereafter. In most cases, an episiotomy will result to need for longer healing time after delivery.
Major risks associated with episiotomy;
- Higher loss of blood during delivery
- Raised risk of infections
- Extended healing times
- Risk of further tearing during birth
An episiotomy may be lifesaving in some cases especially when the baby is distressed and need to be delivered fast. In common delivery, the baby’s body size does not cause tearing. What determines whether there will be any tear during delivery is the size of the baby’s head.
Can episiotomy be avoided? To avoid using episiotomy, medical experts encourage doctors to stretch gently and massage the birth canal before delivering the head (perineal massage).
When you go to the hospital for delivery, one of the doctor’s responsibilities is preventing tearing. The doctor should always take control of the baby’s head and the delivery will be smooth with no tearing. The best way to have an assurance of this is getting the most qualified healthcare provider to assist you with delivery. Make sure to have a candid discussion with the doctor about the process so that you can deliver the baby with no damage to the vaginal tissues and heal as fast as possible.
Things to do during the 34th week
- Learn all that you can about labor and delivery. You should particularly focus on the options for pain relief during labor.
- Practice relaxation and breathing exercises because they will come in handy in the next few weeks during labor and delivery.
- Though walking long distances is becoming a tall order, make sure to continue picking baby play items. Think of appropriate dolls, toys, and other items to keep the baby blissful.
- Make sure to keep recording every symptom you find unique or unfamiliar and seek clarification from the doctor.
- As the due date draws nearer, it is time to be close with your partner. Because you do not know the next symptom that can warrant seeing a doctor, having him around will make it easy to drive around, feel comfortable and enjoy the remaining part of pregnancy.
- Keep taking the right meals to supply you with all the necessary nutrients and energy required during the remaining time before delivery. You should particularly include ample foods that supply calcium to help with ossification.
- Make a tour of the labor facility with our doctor to get a glimpse of what happens there and where you should start when you finally go to deliver.