34 Weeks Pregnant
By 34 weeks pregnant, you might be feeling huge and slow and may even be a tad bit cranky. It’s normal to get a little sick of being pregnant at some point. The good news is, labor is just around the corner, and pretty soon you’ll be holding your baby in your arms. Believe it or not, once you meet your little one, you’ll forget about all the aches and pains of pregnancy.
What’s happening with your body?
By week 34, you might look like you put a basketball or a watermelon under your shirt. As you baby bump pushes up to your boobs, you might think your tummy could not possibly get any bigger, but you still have about six weeks to go.
Your growing tummy may make you feel happy knowing your little bundle is getting bigger. But a bigger belly may also mean increased gas and bloating and more trouble sleeping. Unfortunately, you might not get much relief until your little one is born.
One thing that may bring relief this week is that fact that your baby may drop. When your baby settles into your pelvis, it’s called lightening. If it has not happened yet, sometime in the next few weeks, your baby should move south in order to get closer to the exit. When your baby drops, it may mean less pressure on your lungs and breathing may be a bit easier.
The bad news is you may feel more pressure in your pelvis. You’re also more susceptible to hemorrhoids. Awesome; right? Be sure to do what you can to prevent constipations including eating enough fiber and drinking plenty of water.[inads]
What happening with your baby?
At 34 weeks, your baby is about five and a half pounds and as big as a cantaloupe or squash. Her skin is not as saggy, and as she fills out, it’s also smoother. Her fingernails are also continuing to grow and may have reached her fingertips. Pretty soon you’ll be clipping her nails, so she does not scratch her little face.
If you are having a boy, his testicles have descended from his abdomen to his scrotum. In a small percentage of boys, their testicles don’t descend until around their first birthday.
The cheesy covering called the vernix, thickens at this stage in pregnancy to continue to protect your baby’s skin from the amniotic fluid. But the fine hair he developed all over, called lanugo is almost gone. Lanugo provided insulation when your baby had little fat. But the fat your baby is gaining now provides insulation.
Baby’s central nervous system is well developed and functioning as it will once he is born. His lungs are almost ready to take their first breath of air. Although most doctors prefer you not deliver until 38 weeks to make sure all systems are fully developed, most babies born at 34 weeks do well.
Things to keep in mind
Although you have an obstetrician or a midwife, you might wonder if you should also hire a doula for the birth or during the post-partum period.
A doula is a non-medically trained birth coach who provides support during labor and delivery and possibly the postpartum period. Your doctor or midwife is there to provide medical care. Although they can also certainly provide emotional support, it might not be their main focus. After all, your healthcare provider needs to make sure you and your baby remain healthy during labor and delivery, so it makes sense that is their main role.
But a doula is focused on the non-medical aspects of labor. For example, a doula may coach you through breathing exercises, recommend labor positions and provide massage for pain relief. A doula can also be a great source of encouragement and emotional support. Some doulas also provide postpartum services, which may include assisting with newborn care and breastfeeding education. The exact duties of a postpartum doula may vary based on the needs of the mother.
Hiring a doula is a personal decision. It is important to consider how much support you already have and whether you want to have a natural childbirth without pain medication. You may also want to consider your finances. Doulas are often not covered by health insurance, and their cost can vary.