What to Expect When 34 Weeks Pregnant

You’ve almost made it to the home stretch! At 34 weeks pregnant, you’re nearing the end of your pregnancy journey. This exciting time comes with its own set of changes and challenges as your body prepares for birth. Knowing what to expect during this week can help you stay informed and ready.

Key Takeaways When 34 Weeks Pregnant

  • Your baby is around 17.2 inches long and 4.2 pounds now. Their bones are hardening and lungs maturing.
  • Common symptoms include pelvic pressure, Braxton Hicks contractions, trouble sleeping, back pain, swollen feet, and stretch marks.
  • Watch for preeclampsia signs like vision changes, headaches, and swelling. Contact your doctor right away if you notice them.
  • Stay hydrated and try to rest as much as possible. Don’t overexert yourself.
  • You may need to visit your doctor weekly now for checkups and monitoring.
  • Take a childbirth class if you haven’t yet to prepare for labor and delivery.
  • Consider packing your hospital bag if you haven’t already.

Symptoms and Changes in Week 34

You’re likely feeling quite uncomfortable at 34 weeks pregnant. Your belly is still expanding to make room for your growing baby. Common symptoms and changes during this week include:

  • Pelvic Pressure: As your baby drops lower in preparation for birth, you may feel increased pressure in your pelvic area. This can also cause pain and make it harder to walk. Doing pelvic tilts and sitting with your legs elevated can provide some relief.
  • Braxton Hicks Contractions: These practice contractions continue getting more intense now. Stay hydrated and try shifting positions or walking around to ease discomfort. Notify your doctor if they become very frequent, regular, or painful.
  • Trouble Sleeping: It’s very difficult to get comfortable and sleep well at this stage. Try pillows between your legs, under your belly, and supporting your back. Sleep propped up a bit too.
  • Back Pain: Your shifting center of gravity, hormones, and belly weight put strain on your back. Apply heat, massage sore spots, stretch carefully, and watch your posture.
  • Swollen Feet: Fluid retention can cause swelling in your feet and ankles. Prop your feet up when possible, wear compression socks, stretch your legs frequently, and avoid standing for too long.
  • Stretch Marks: Your expanding skin makes you prone to stretch marks on your belly, thighs, and breasts now. Staying hydrated and using creams may minimize them.
  • Increased Vaginal Discharge: You may notice more clear, pink, or bloody discharge as your cervix thins out in preparation for labor. Wear a panty liner and mention any changes to your practitioner.
  • Exhaustion: Your growing belly and discomfort make it hard to rest. Listen to your body’s needs and take it very easy these last few weeks. Ask for help if you need to minimize activity.
  • Swelling: Increased blood flow and fluid retention can lead to swelling in your hands, face, legs, and feet. Elevate swollen areas and notify your doctor of sudden or severe cases.

Stay in close contact with your doctor about any unusual or concerning symptoms you experience at this stage as complications can arise.

Baby Development in Week 34

Your baby is really packing on weight now and developing fast each day as your due date approaches. Here’s what’s happening with them at 34 weeks pregnant:

  • Size: Measuring around 17.2 inches and 4.2 pounds. About the size of a butternut squash. Their limbs are getting chubbier.
  • Brain Development: The brain is developing complex connections and gaining about 100,000 neurons per minute!
  • Lung Maturation: The lungs are continuing to mature in preparation for functioning independently after birth. Surfactant production ramps up.
  • Hardening Bones: Calcium deposits are hardening your baby’s bones in these final weeks of development.
  • Developing Immunity: Antibodies received from you provide immune system protection after delivery.
  • Gaining Fat: Layers of fat develop under their skin for temperature regulation and nourishment after birth before milk supply is established.
  • Positioning: Your baby’s getting snug in there! They are likely head down now, preparing for delivery.
  • Responding to Stimuli: Your baby can recognize and respond to voices and may react more actively to noises, music, or you rubbing your belly.
  • Practicing Breathing: While still receiving oxygen from your placenta, your baby is practicing inhaling and exhaling amniotic fluid to develop and strengthen their lungs.

Your practitioner will track things like your baby’s changing position, heart rate, and growth via regular ultrasounds and fetal monitoring at this stage.

Tips for Your Health and Comfort

Focus on keeping yourself as comfortable and healthy as possible during these final weeks of pregnancy:

  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration, constipation, swelling, and Braxton Hicks contractions. Shoot for around 10 cups per day.
  • Get as much rest as you can. Don’t overexert yourself. Put your feet up often and try relaxation techniques like meditation if you have trouble unwinding. Listen to what your body needs.
  • Maintain a nutritious diet. Eat plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, dairy, and healthy fats to nourish you and your baby. Smaller, frequent meals can ease heartburn too.
  • Do moderate exercise. Short walks, prenatal yoga, and swimming can boost your mood, circulation, and sleep without overdoing it. Check with your doctor first about safe activities.
  • Try massage or physical therapy. This can relieve muscle aches and pains in your back, hips, legs, and other spots bearing extra weight. Just avoid pressure point massage.
  • Consider counseling or a support group. They can help if you’re experiencing depression, anxiety about labor, or need extra emotional support handling discomfort as your due date nears. You’re not alone!
  • Get prepared at home. Do easy freezer meals, stock up on groceries and household items, finish nursery Projects, etc, so things are ready when baby arrives. But take it in stride and don’t overdo it. Ask for help!

Your doctor will likely want to see you weekly at this point for routine checks. Monitor fetal heartbeat and activity between appointments and report any concerns immediately.

Planning Ahead for Labor and Delivery

With your due date about 6 weeks away, this is a good time to complete any final preparations for your baby’s birth:

Take a Childbirth Class

Childbirth classes cover what to expect during labor, pain coping methods, medical procedures you may encounter, and more. This allows you to learn about the process and prepare mentally. Many are offered online or in-person over the span of a few weeks.

Pack Your Hospital Bag

It’s time to pack bags for yourself and baby if you haven’t already. Key things to include are:

  • Insurance cards, ID, and medical paperwork
  • Comfortable loose clothes and nursing bra for mom
  • Going home outfit for baby
  • Toiletries like toothbrush, deodorant, makeup
  • Phone charger, laptop, tablet for entertainment
  • Snacks and change for vending machines
  • Camera to capture memories
  • List of contacts to notify after the birth

Make sure to pack early so your bags are ready to go at a moment’s notice!

Understand Signs of Labor

Look out for these signs that labor may be starting soon:

  • More frequent consistent contractions
  • Water breaking
  • Backache
  • Menstrual-like cramping
  • Increase or change in vaginal discharge

Time and document any symptoms you notice so you can alert your doctor when labor seems imminent. Don’t hesitate to call with any concerns.

Prepare Childcare Plans

If you have older children, make sure childcare plans are in place for when you go into labor. You’ll want to focus fully on delivery.

Install Car Seat and Learn Infant CPR

Install your car seat in advance for your hospital trip home with your bundle of joy. It’s also wise to take an infant CPR class so you can respond in an emergency if needed.

While delivery may seem far away still, the weeks fly by at this stage. Getting ready now ensures you can enjoy these final weeks of pregnancy without last-minute worries!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What precautions should I take at 34 weeks pregnant?

Take it very easy and avoid overexertion. Stay hydrated and nourished. Report any concerning symptoms right away like vision issues, severe swelling, decreased fetal movement, regular contractions, or bleeding. Keep up with your weekly checkups.

How big is my baby at 34 weeks?

Around 17.2 inches and 4.2 pounds. About the size of a butternut squash. Their bones are hardening and fat layers developing.

How can I relieve back pain at this stage?

Apply heat, massage sore spots, stretch carefully, watch your posture, and avoid lifting heavy objects. Sleep propped on your side with pillows supporting your belly and back. Consider physical therapy.

What causes swelling during late pregnancy?

Swelling in the hands, face, legs and feet is often caused by extra fluid retention and increased blood flow at this stage. Elevate swollen areas, drink plenty of water, stretch your legs often, and avoid excessive salt.

When should I be able to feel the baby move during week 34?

You should feel frequent – sometimes forceful – movements from your baby throughout each day now. Report any significant decrease in activity to your doctor right away as it could indicate a problem.

How can I ease trouble sleeping during my third trimester?

Try pillows for belly and back support when side sleeping. Prop yourself up a bit. Sleep in a recliner or use lots of pillows. Keep the room cool. Avoid screens before bed. Listen to calming music. Have a light snack. Do relaxing stretches.

Week 34 Means the Home Stretch!

You’ve made it to 34 weeks! Your baby’s organs are quickly maturing and your body is preparing for delivery. Just a bit longer until you finally meet your little one. Focus on taking good care of yourself and getting ready for their arrival. Before you know it, those first contractions will start and your baby will soon be in your arms!

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