You are now midway through your last trimester of your pregnancy. You will be experiencing some life-changing moments from here on. You have to be prepared, both physically and psychologically, for the outcomes that will follow from 34 weeks till the delivery. What will happen after the delivery is another thing for another article. But first, in brief, let me focus on your progress at 34 weeks of pregnancy.
Life at 34 Weeks Pregnant
A 34 weeks, pregnant woman will undergo exhaustion very easily. This is absolutely normal. You will want to pee frequently, and turning over while sleeping will be quite difficult. Again, all normal. The reason behind all this discomfort is that your baby now weighs around 4 and 3/4 pounds and is almost 18 inches long. They have fat layers all over their body — this will keep their body temperature in check once they’re born. Their lungs and nervous system are maturing, and their skin is smoother than before. In any case, if you do go into pre-term labor, do not get scared. Generally, if your baby is healthy and is born between 34 to 38 weeks, things will be just fine.
Whether you go into pre-term or full-time labor is unpredictable. It entirely depends on your health and how soon your water breaks. Whatever the circumstance is, always be prepared. Preparation not only means packing your bags, it also means that you have to be mentally ready to undergo any sort of labor. Don’t be scared. Even though normal deliveries are the most common and the most preferred, a C-section is not an uncommon delivery. This delivery happens to about 30 per cent of women across the United States. One of the main reasons for doing it? To avoid unnecessary complications.
What is a C-Section?
A Caesarean Section, or more commonly known as C-Section, is a surgery through which the baby is born. An incision is made in the mother’s abdominal wall, as well as on the wall of the uterus. A C-Section can be either pre-planned or unplanned. This surgical procedure usually happens before the water breaks. A C-Section occurs if the mother has complications, or if she has had previous C-Section. A C-Section is not harmful or daunting. Sometimes, it is the safest way to deliver your baby.
Why might you need a planned C-section?
There are many reasons why you should leave your midwife and visit an obstetrician. If you have any complications detected beforehand, your doctor will inform you about them. Some of the most common reasons for having a C-section are:
- You have had a previous C-Section. Usually, during this type of case, the incision is vertical, rather than the normal horizontal one.
- You may not be physically fit to go for a vaginal birth. This might be due to high blood pressure, high gestational diabetes, heart problem, or any sorts of infections that could pass on to your baby through normal delivery, such as genital herpes or HIV.
- You have placenta previa, meaning your placenta is extremely low in the uterus, almost covering your cervix. In this case, the C-section is the safest option for you and your baby.
- You are carrying two or more babies. Many times, if the mother’s overall condition is favorable and she is carrying twins, the doctor will prefer the vaginal delivery. Other times, the surgical procedure is performed. If the mother is carrying more than two, then a C-Section is definite.
- Multiple babies means different positions of the babies in the womb. There are times when babies are in abnormal positions. This can happen to a single baby as well. Sometimes, the infant’s feet or buttocks enter the birth passage first, instead of the head. This position is called “breech.” Or at times, the baby lies sideways. This is called “transverse.”
- Your baby is larger than usual. In a case like this, vaginal birth becomes impossible. Safest way to deliver is the surgery.
- Another factor for doing C-Section is that your child is not getting enough oxygen inside you. Lack of oxygen and lack of movement for the baby are both concerns. Again, in this case, a C-Section would be the best option.
Reasons for an unplanned operation
Unplanned C-Sections usually are done in case of an emergency. This will include:
- Your contractions are not strong enough to continue the vaginal delivery.
- Your baby is having difficulty cooperating in the birth process.
- Your umbilical cord has fallen and has blocked the passage.
- There’s been a sudden health deterioration. For example, high blood pressure may affect you and your child during labor.
The procedure: before & during the surgery
Before surgery, you will be asked to get your blood tested to see the level of haemoglobin. The result will determine whether you will need a transfusion during the surgery. Your obstetrician will also check if you are allergic to any sorts of medicines, especially the epidural. Your clothes will be changed and pubic hair cleaned. The nurse will start an IV and insert a catheter to void out your urine during the surgery. Once you are ready, you will be given an epidural or spinal block. This will numb the lower part of your body only. To prevent you and your partner from seeing the procedure, a screen will be put up before you.
The next steps are fairly straightforward. The doctor will cut your abdomen, layer after layer, cut your uterus, take your baby out, show you a glimpse of your newborn, and hand it over to the pediatrician. While your newborn is being examined, your obstetrician will stitch you up. Once you are ready and your surgery is complete, you’ll be taken to the recovery room, where the on-duty doctor will inspect you for few hours before releasing you to your room. Your baby will stay beside you, no matter where you go. Usually, you will stay in the hospital for up to 3 days after your C-Section delivery.
The procedure: after the surgery
After the surgery, things are quite straightforward. You’ll be put on antibiotics for at least a week. You will attempt to breastfeed your baby from day 1 (if you choose to do so). During your stay at the hospital, your panel of doctors will check up on the stitches, your intake of fluid, your urination, your bowel movements, and how you’re doing in general. It is highly important to drink a maximum of 4 liters of fluid per day. You’ll be allowed to walk from day 2. By day 4 to 5, at home, you will notice the pain has subsided. Once you are home, you should take plenty of rest. No bending, no picking up heavy objects, no hefty jobs.
A C-Section is always an option that can be chosen if you want to avoid a vaginal birth. It is, of course, thoroughly recommended to go for a vaginal delivery, but then again, every situation will depend entirely on you and your baby. This is just to remind you that you should start thinking and mentally preparing yourself for all the alternatives.
Being 34 weeks pregnant, you and your partner are now planning out your future. My personal advise? Just enjoy, even if you don’t feel like it. I am a mum of two, so I know what you will go through. At 34 weeks, just try to stay calm, meditate, be positive, and relish in the moment!