Pregnant for 34 weeks! Almost at the finish line, yet not quite there. You probably cannot see your feet at this point in your pregnancy, but it is reassuring to know that they are still there. This is a time where fatigue, cramps, all the aches, and pains are at the highest notch. But you are still managing to hang in there knowing that you are almost done and will soon be holding your little bundle of joy in your arms.
At 34 weeks, where am I on my pregnancy calendar?
This is your third trimester and you are roughly at the beginning of your 8th month of pregnancy. Handling pregnancy-related qualms are easy for you now, and you have probably sifted through every pregnancy and parenting book out there.
How big is my baby at 34 weeks?
Your baby is about 30 – 40 cms long and weighs about 1.8 – 2.2 kgs. While this seems less, most of the weight is of the fluid your baby is floating in as well as the other changes your body is undergoing to keep your baby safe.
It is good to note that all babies do not progress at the same pace. Some might be gaining weight at a faster pace, while some slower. The key here is that if your baby is slowly gaining weight and is healthy, there is nothing to be concerned about. Movements and heartbeats are often used to assess how your baby is doing in your belly. In the case of twins, babies will weigh less and also look smaller, as they both are vying for the same space in the uterus.
Your baby won’t be moving as much during the 34th week of pregnancy due to the limited space in the uterus. On ultrasound, your baby will be observed in the head-down position, which is ideal for the birth process.
What are the different changes my body goes through at 34 weeks of pregnancy?
Since you are at the beginning of the 8th month of your pregnancy your baby is still growing and so are you!
There are still two whole months to achieve your complete term of pregnancy. So since your baby is still growing it means that your body is still going through changes, albeit subtle ones. Most of what you are experiencing in your 34th week of pregnancy is similar to what you have been experiencing during the past few weeks of pregnancy.
The additional weight that you are carrying around is probably and literally weighing you down at this point. Also, it is good to note that hemoglobin levels decrease throughout the course of your pregnancy, mainly because your blood volume increases. So this adds to the fatigue that you are experiencing. Eating more green leafy veggies, getting in some addition, iron-rich food and also taking frequent breaks will assist with your fatigue.
#2. Constipation and hemorrhoids
Any pregnant women can probably relay long tales of how their bowel movements were so haphazard during pregnancy. Around this stage in your pregnancy, constipation is pretty common. This is primarily due to the spiked progesterone levels slowing down your bowel movement. In addition to constipation, the increased weight causes blood to pool in your rectal veins possibly leading to hemorrhoids. Smaller meals, drinking more water and being active helps to reduce these uncomfortable symptoms.
#3. Increased urination
Your growing belly is adding more pressure to your bladder which is causing you to take those frequent bathroom breaks. This is relatively common and no reason to be concerned. Do not skimp out on your hydration just because you have to visit the bathroom often.
#4. Leg cramps and swelling in the feet
These are all related to the increase in your belly and hormones circulating in your body. Stretching, massaging and keeping your feet elevated help to prevent these troublesome symptoms.
#5. Shortness of breath and heartburn
Your growing belly is pressing on your digestive tract and pushing up against your diaphragm. This is a primary reason you feel these symptoms. Some women might experience a decrease in these pregnancy-related changes, primarily due to the fact that their baby might descend into the birth canal during this week.
#6. Problems with your vision
Pregnancy hormones can cause fluid build up in your eyes which can also cause a change in the shape of your eye lenses. In addition, women experience a drying up of their eyes. These usually subside following delivery. However, vision changes that are accompanied by a headache, swelling and weight gain could be a sign of preeclampsia which requires prompt medical assistance.
#7. Increased vaginal discharge
Due to the hormones and increased blood flow, the mucous membranes receive ample nourishment and also release plenty of fluids. Wearing loose underwear with preferably cotton liners help to keep the area dry and comfortable.
Since your pregnancy belly is at its peak in terms of size, your center of gravity has also shifted resulting in backaches, primarily in the lower back. Stretching, walking around frequently and generally maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the best solution for this. Sharp back aches accompanied by contractions, can indicate possible labour and should receive immediate medical attention.
Are there any new changes that I might experience during this time?
Some women might experience something known as “lightening,” which can occur anywhere between 34 and 36 weeks of pregnancy. It is experienced around this time primarily for women who are first-time mothers. Lightening is when your baby descends further into the birth canal. This might help ease some of the heartburn and breathing difficulties you have been experiencing. However, not all women go through this phase in their 34th week.
Another is Braxton Hicks contractions, or what some moms-to-be endearing refer to as “false-labour”. These are contractions of the uterus that last for about 60 seconds to a couple of minutes. They are not as powerful as labour contractions, but they are just a practice session for your uterus for the big day. Women might experience this a few times in a day, however, if they are frequent (occur several times in an hour) and extremely painful consulting your gynecologist would be ideal.
What if I go into labour during my 34th week of pregnancy?
Some of the tell-tale signs of labour are spotting or profuse bleeding, “water break,” sharp back pain and continuous contractions. Women can have any combination of these symptoms. Either way, women should consult with a gynecologist immediately following the onset of these symptoms.
In case, labour progresses to delivery women are often concerned as to whether their baby will be able to survive following 34 weeks of gestation. To answer this question it is good to note that one of the last organ systems to develop in babies are the lungs. They are considered fully developed at around 37 weeks of pregnancy.
However, babies born between 34 and 36 weeks of gestation are in most cases, healthy and able to thrive without much external intervention. Babies are on an average of two kilograms around this age and also have relatively good lung function.
At around 34 weeks, parents should be close to ready to welcome their little bundle of joy. Setting up a crib, going over all the nitty gritty of having an infant in the house is vital at this point, especially for new parents.
Keeping your gynecologist in the loop with any changes you have been experiencing with your health is vital. Journal any new symptoms or anything unusual that might require medical attention. It is perfectly fine to schedule a visit that is unplanned if you are experiencing some pain or discomfort.
Pregnancy has its highs and lows. Women are always encouraged to get as much help as they require during their pregnancies. Reading books and forums are crucial, primarily due to the rise of nuclear families in this side of the world. Pregnancy and parenting all have their firsts. And there is no one set of rules to abide by.
Take it as it comes. When in doubt consult with a medical professional. Make your doctor your friend. Seek guidance and assurance without hesitation.