What’s happening with your baby?
Pregnancy at week 34 is in the final stretch! Your baby is now about 4 1/2 pounds, which is about the size of a cantaloupe. I’m sure you can feel that melon weighing you down in the front! They are also almost 18 inches long. This little baby has come a long way from that tiny little bean you first saw on the ultrasound. As she grows her fat layers are building even more, making her rounder and making her skin even smoother. You little baby’s fingernails have most likely grown all the way to the end of their fingers by now. If you’re nervous about cutting your wee one’s nails for the first time, you should know that most moms bite their babies nails off for the first several months. Sounds crazy but their nails are so thin and soft that it’s easier and safer than using nail clippers when they’re so little!
Your baby’s lungs are continuing to develop and so is her central nervous system. If you are a worrier, now is the time to relax. Doctors have found that babies born between pregnancy at week 34 and 37 are most likely completely fine without other medical issues. If you go into preterm labor now, assuming that everything else is normal, then the worst you should expect is maybe an extra day or two in the hospital. And think of that as a blessing! You will miss all of those lovely nurses who help and that blessed nursery that allowed you a few hours of sleep at night!
What’s happening with your body during pregnancy at week 34?
With the end in sight, you’re probably gasping at your still growing uterus. Yep, you’re right. It’s still growing! Your uterus now reaches five inches above your belly button! But your bump isn’t the only thing changing. Pregnancy hormones affect nearly every part of your body-your eyes included! You vision might seem blurry and the hormones can actually decrease your tear production which can leave your eyes feeling tired, dry and itchy. Also, the changing levels of fluids in your eyes can actually change your glasses prescription if you have one. But don’t worry, these are all temporary changes. Everything should go back to normal when the baby is born.
As your third trimester progresses your body continues to be under a great amount of stress as the baby grows and your body prepares for labor. With ever increasing pressure on your intestinal tract you might be prone to be bloated and gassy. Stress can also make those gassy feelings even worse because you tend to swallow more air when you’re anxious. Try to relax and keep calm. Eat smaller and more frequent meals to help relieve some of the pressure from your digestive tract.
Leg cramps, back aches, and hip pain are all normal during pregnancy at week 34. If you find yourself getting achy or tire more easily allow yourself to rest. Your body is doing some hard work to make a healthy baby-give it the rest it needs to succeed. Also, sitting on a rolly exercise ball and rolling your hips in circles and figure eights can help relieve hip pain.
Edema, or swollen ankles and feet, are very common during week 34 of pregnancy. A mix of hormones, pregnancy weight gain and retaining fluids can cause your feet and ankles to blow up like balloons. Reset when you need to and slip into some comfy slippers at the end of the day. Your feet deserve the pampering!
What to do this week
It’s time to start seriously preparing for labor. Making a labor plan is an important step for you and the birth team that will be helping you through the process. Writing down your goals and expectations will help you to mentally prepare for the trying task. Also, it’s time to do your research. Know your options with pain relief, pain management and laboring practices of the location where you will be delivering. It’s important to know your options, as well as the risk factors associated with those choices.
As much as you plan for a certain result, you might not get it. Nearly 30% of all births in America end in Cesarean Section. Being prepared for the possibility of complications, surgery and the recovery afterward will help ease your way if that does end up being your birth story. Many women bring their babies into the world this way. A healthy baby is a healthy baby-that is the ultimate goal of labor. It will help you to feel more empowered if you do end up with an emergency c-section if you understand the process before hand and know what to expect.
Also, begin compiling a list of things you want to have with when you give birth and what needs to be done at home while you’re away. If you have other children, begin thinking about who will take care of them. Begin thinking about how you will introduce your older child to the new baby. This isn’t always the easiest introduction to make. You’re most likely still many weeks off from the big day, but don’t expect yourself to think of all of these things as your contractions begin! You’ll want to be prepared.
Featured photo credit: Laura Flores via flickr.com