Congratulations! You are one week closer to meeting your new baby. Here are several things you can expect this week.
Pregnancy Week 34: What changes are occurring with your body?
The top of your uterus can now be felt approximately 5 ½ inches above your belly button. It is important to remember that every woman’s pregnancy is different, so there is a good chance that your measurement will not be identical to that of anyone else. The most important thing is that your uterus is growing at a consistent rate.
Typically the amount of amniotic fluid peaks between 34 and 36 weeks. At 37 weeks the amount of amniotic fluid begins to decrease to allow more room for the baby. The amniotic fluid is reabsorbed by your body, which also increases the amount of room that the baby has to move. You may begin to notice that your baby’s movements feel different.
You may have noticed that your belly button has become an "outie" or that it is extremely sensitive. If this is the case, you can take a small piece of tape or a band-aid to cover it. This may be extremely helpful if it pokes through your clothes.*
Pregnancy Week 34: How big is your baby?
Most likely your baby is somewhere around 17 ½ inches long and weighs around 5 to 5 ½ pounds.*
Pregnancy Week 34L What is happening with your baby?
During the last several weeks, we have discussed that your baby’s body has begun to fill out with the formation of fat under his/her skin. This is an important part of development because these fat stores will help the baby to regulate his/her body temperature once the baby is born.
The central nervous system is continuing to mature, and the lungs are well developed. While most health care providers would ideally like you to carry up to 38 to 40 weeks, your baby has a good chance of surviving outside of your uterus at this time. *
Pregnancy Week 34: What should you plan for this week?
Around this time many health care providers begin discussing the following with their patients:
- Group B Strep test
- Danger signs and precautions
- Location of the ER and the Labor and Delivery entrance
- Pre-registration packet
- Pain management options
- Cesarean Birth (if needed)
- Birth control methods for after delivery
- Scheduled visits for remainder of pregnancy and post-partum
You should also begin to know and understand the various terms that your doctor and other hospital staff will use during labor and delivery. For a list of these words, see Labor and Birth Terms to Know.
Pregnancy Week 34: Tips for making your pregnancy better
You may have already covered some of the basics of delivery in your childbirth classes, but we will take just a little while to review some of this information. There are three stages of labor:
- The first stage of labor begins at the onset of true labor and lasts until the cervix has dilated to 10 cm. Normally a woman heads to the hospital once she has entered into the active labor phase (contractions are about 5 minutes apart).
- The second stage of labor continues after the cervix is dilated to 10 cm until the delivery of your baby.
- The third stage of labor involves the delivery of your placenta and is the shortest of the three stages. It typically takes 5 to 30 minutes to deliver the placenta.
Last week we discussed episiotomies. One of the best ways to avoid an episiotomy and prepare your body for the birth of your baby is by massaging the perineum. Most health care providers recommend beginning this at 34 weeks. Consult with your healthcare provider on how to massage your perineum.
Pregnancy Week 34: Tips for mom’s partner
One helpful thing you can provide to your partner is to offer to help her do a perineal massage. This type of massage can help stretch out the muscles of the perineum which can help her avoid an episiotomy. Remember this is not a sexual thing, but an exercise that can help make her labor easier.
Ask your health care provider for the specific instructions for providing a safe and helpful perineal massage. You and your partner can set up a time to do these exercises a few times a week leading up to labor.