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Week-by-Week Pregnancy Guide: 34 Weeks

Week by Week Pregnancy Guide

 

At this point in your pregnancy, you're likely in full countdown mode, with only about six weeks left to go.

The 34-week mark brings some good news for baby's health, as well as some different symptoms that you can prepare for.

As you head toward the last half of your third trimester, here's what you can expect to feel and what you should prepare for at 34 weeks pregnant.

Baby at 34 weeks

If you've recently seen your doctor or have an upcoming appointment, you'll likely hear some good news. Once you reach this point in your pregnancy, unless you have specific health issues that your care provider has noted to look out for, you're now in the "safe zone." A baby that reaches 34 weeks is at a much reduced risk for premature birth - and that means Mom can worry less about preterm labor.

Currently, your little one is about 17 to 18 inches in length, and weighs just under five pounds. He's about the size of a cantaloupe, and he'll continue gaining protective weight to help guard his internal organs and systems through the final weeks of the pregnancy.

Your baby is also developing what's called vernix caseosa, a light-colored, waxy layer that coats the skin. This layer will thicken to help protect baby's skin ahead of and during birth. If you've watched any birth footage, you may already be a little familiar with vernix caseosa - this white substance usually covers newborns at birth but will be washed off by health care staff shortly after.

medical 3d animation of a fetus in week 32 pregnancy
A fetus at week 32 in pregnancy

While you may have felt a lot of movement over the last few weeks, you may start to notice that movement slowing down. This is normal as baby continues to grow and take up more space in your uterus. Around this point in the pregnancy, your baby is working to get into birthing position (if he hasn't gotten there already), with his head turned downward and his feet up near your ribs. You'll still feel some small movements, but these will be slight in comparison with the big kicks and position changes you may have felt in previous weeks.

It may be hard to believe, but at this point, your baby is actually beginning to form his first memories. These likely won't last long, but your baby can hear your voice and recognize changes in light. Keep talking to him and encouraging his progress!

If you're having a boy, the 34-week mark brings a milestone - it's at this point that baby's testicles, which were in his abdomen, drop to his scrotum. In some cases, one or both may not descend into the scrotal sack, which is a normal occurrence. Moms shouldn't be concerned - your boy's testicles will drop on their own closer to or after birth.

Your body at 34 weeks pregnant

At 34 weeks, the Braxton Hicks practice contractions that began a few weeks ago are continuing, helping to prep your body and baby for birth. You may continue to feel tightening sensations in your lower abdominal muscles through this and the coming weeks.

This stage in the pregnancy may also bring additional swelling, especially in your feet and ankles. Slight swelling here is normal, and can be part of ligament spreading in your feet that typically starts near the beginning of the third trimester. However, if you start to notice puffiness in your upper extremities, like your hands or especially your face, you should reach out to your doctor. This swelling could be a symptom of pre-eclampsia, a serious condition affecting about 10 percent of first-time moms.

Your uterus has grown to about five inches above your belly button, giving baby the space he needs to grow and move. Through the final weeks of your pregnancy, your uterus will grow about an additional two to three inches.

34 weeks pregnant ultrasound

Your baby may already be in a head-down position, preparing for the big day. Your doctor will be able to tell you what position your little one is in. If he hasn't moved head-down, closer to your cervix, that's okay - this repositioning may happen over the next few days or weeks. Your doctor can also give you more detail on next steps if baby doesn't seem to be moving where he should be.

Your baby's nails, which began developing a few weeks back, have likely reached to tips of his fingers and toes. This may be visible on high-definition images.

You may also see your baby's mouth open in ultrasound images around 34 weeks. He may be drinking the amniotic fluid or taking it into his lungs, which is a benefit for respiratory system development.

34 weeks is how many months pregnant?

At this point, you're just under eight months pregnant, with six weeks left until you've reached your full, 40-week term.

Common symptoms at 34 weeks pregnant

Once you've reached 34 weeks, you may notice vaginal discharge, which is normal at this point. If things seems off, however, you may have a yeast infection - it's a good idea to mention this to your health care provider who can prescribe medication to clear up the infection before your baby's arrival.

You may also feel especially tired or overwhelmed. This is another common symptom heading into the end of your pregnancy, and it's important that you get enough rest. If you haven't already, now may be a good time to reduce your working hours, operate from home when possible or even begin your maternity leave.

Pregnancy checklist as 34 weeks pregnant

A few things to think about at this stage of your pregnancy include:

  • Your work schedule. If you feel particularly exhausted or uncomfortable, it may be time to consider starting your maternity leave.
  • Car seat and other preparations. Now's the time to ensure that you'll have everything you need during your hospital stay and when you bring your bundle of joy home for the first time.

What to Expect at 35 Weeks Pregnant

 

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