Week 34

Your baby this week

5

POUNDS IN WEIGHT

His skin is now smoother as there’s more fat to plump it out.

Your baby is gaining a little more weight.

He’s quite cramped in your uterus now.

How big is your baby?

By now he weighs 2.2kg (5lb) and measures 45cm (18in) – he is about the weight of a honeydew melon.

How big is your baby?

By now he weighs 2.2kg (5lb) and measures 45cm (18in) – he is about the size of a honeydew melon.

What does your baby look like?

With each week that passes, your baby is gaining a little more weight as he gets to the right size for birth. He’s quite cramped in your uterus now and his limbs will be folded together tightly as his available space is gradually reduced. This will probably mean an arm or a leg wedged uncomfortably under your ribs at some point or other.

Changes in your body this week

By week 34, tiredness has probably struck again. But this time it isn’t down to pregnancy hormones, it’s simply the result of physical demands placed on your body combined with restless nights as you toss and turn. Plus, those ever more frequent nightly trips to the bathroom, as the little one inside bounces on your bladder, mean sleep deprivation may have already set in.

How your baby is developing

By now, 99% of babies would survive outside of the womb if they were to be born. Hearing will have developed to the stage at which your baby can hear you and will recognise your voice after birth.

You should take this opportunity to talk to your baby whenever you can so he becomes very familiar with your voice. If you shine a torch at your bump, or play some music, you might get an answering kick in return.

How your baby is developing

By now, 99% of babies would survive outside of the womb if they were to be born. Hearing will have developed to the stage at which your baby can hear you and will recognise your voice after birth. You should take this opportunity to talk to your baby whenever you can so he becomes very familiar with your voice. If you shine a torch at your bump, or play some music, you might get an answering kick in return.

There’s a lot less wriggling going on now as his available space reduces day by day. However, you should still keep an eye out that his movement patterns remain the same because they will probably be less vigorous, but the frequency shouldn’t alter. His lungs are almost completely developed and his skin becomes smoother as there’s more fat to plump it out.

Health concerns

If you’ve been thinking about labour and have made the decision to avoid pain relieving drugs if at all possible, you might now want to learn a little about the natural pain relief options that you have.

Repeated studies have shown that warmth applied to a painful area can provide relief as it relaxes the muscles. For childbirth this means a hot water bottle or heat pad on your lower back during the early stages. In addition, it sounds improbable considering the gargantuan task that is ahead of your body, but focusing on your breathing really does help to relax you and get you through those contractions.

Are there any symptoms you should be looking out for?

If you notice sore, red, itchy bumps developing on your tummy, and sometimes your thighs and buttocks, this could be a condition called ‘pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy’ (PUPPP for short). This is harmless, but the spots can be uncomfortable; you can consult your GP for topical creams that may help. Any severe itching should be reported to your healthcare providers as it can be a sign of a more serious liver condition.

Safety first

In later pregnancy, you may find that your eyesight is affected, leading to slightly blurry vision, dry eyes and eyes that feel sore, gritty or sensitive. Some straightforward, over the counter, eyedrops should help, but if you find that your vision is severely compromised then it might be time to hang up your car keys for a while.

Thinking about driving, many pregnant women worry that the seatbelt may harm their unborn child, but worry not, you are far more at risk by not wearing a seatbelt and being involved in a crash, than if you don’t wear one. There is no medical evidence to suggest that the wearing of a seatbelt under normal driving conditions will harm you or your baby. And, even when heavily pregnant, you MUST wear a seatbelt – it’s the law, unless your doctor has issued you with a medical exemption certificate.

Important issues this week

Pain relief in labour is a vitally important consideration for most expectant mums. There’s no getting away from it, labour is usually very painful, but there are numerous pain relief options available and they do work:

  • A TENS machine delivers tiny little electric shocks via a small pad stuck to your lower back. These tend to be used during early labour at home.
  • Gas and air (or Entonox to give it its proper name) is a combination of oxygen and nitrous oxide you breathe in through a mouthpiece as each contraction starts. You can remain completely in control of how much you inhale and there is absolutely no effect on your baby.
  • Pethidine is given via an injection in your leg or bottom which works a bit like a sedative and allows you to distance yourself from the pain. It’s especially effective when used in conjunction with gas and air, but it can make you feel sick and dizzy so it’s usually given alongside an anti-sickness medicine. Pethidine can also make your baby drowsy.
  • If you really want to wheel out the painkilling big guns, then an epidural is the way forward. This is an anaesthetic which is injected directly into your spinal column in your lower back. This does provide complete pain relief, but it also limits your options about the rest of labour. You’ll have to stay on the bed and, typically, be attached to a monitor throughout.

Keeping fit, staying healthy

If you’re suffering with constipation, then it’s time to take your bowels to task and rev up any slow-moving behaviour. Laxatives are to be avoided, instead you should rely on dietary measures, such as eating wholegrains, fresh and dried fruits and vegetables and, you guessed it, staying really hydrated. If this isn’t working, Then you should consult your GP before contemplating any medication.

Looking forward; planning ahead

It’s worthwhile researching caesarean sections, because even if you’ve had a straightforward pregnancy and anticipate a straightforward labour, complications can always arise unexpectedly.

Common situations which may necessitate a C-section include:

  • your baby is too high and not descending properly
  • your cervix stops dilating
  • your baby’s heart rate becomes an issue and a quick delivery is needed
  • you’ve had more than one previous C-section
  • you’ve had a myomectomy procedure carried out (when fibroids are surgically removed)
  • you have a twin, or other multiple, pregnancy
  • your baby is in the breech position, or would be at risk during a vaginal delivery due to a known abnormality or other issue
  • you have placenta praevia
Important – If you or your child are unwell you should seek medical advice from a professional – contact your GP or visit an A&E department in an emergency. While My BabyManual strives to provide dependable and trusted information on pregnancy and childcare 24/7 via our website pages, we cannot provide individual answers to specific healthcare questions.
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