It’s getting harder to get around and maintain your usual activities at 34 weeks of pregnancy. Your lungs can’t inflate as much as they’d like to and there’s a general sense of everything being squeezed and squashed into your mid-section. You’ll want to stretch out whenever possible and wish you were just a few centimetres taller, especially in your trunk.
Quick – where can I hide?
People will be commenting on your size when you are 34 weeks pregnant and everyone will have some opinion on how you look. “Ooh, you’re big”, “Ooh you look small”, “Ooh that’s going to be one big baby”, are comments which will descend on you from everywhere. It may seem that everyone else is an expert on your pregnancy and they don’t hold back on giving their advice. Learn how to smile sweetly and walk away. Let their comments wash over you and stick with some trusted sources of guidance instead. You, your midwife and/or obstetrician, are really the only people who are experts in how you and your baby are growing.
It’s hard not to feel some niggling sense of concern around now. Although you know you and your baby are unique, you still want to be like other pregnant women and fit in with what is considered “the norm”. You could even find your partner becoming a little more protective, especially if he sees you becoming upset by other people’s comments. This may be a new side to him which you haven’t witnessed before. Your roles are changing and it is likely he is feeling his contribution to your pregnancy has been a little limited to date. If he sees his role as being emotionally supportive and protecting you and your baby, this can only be a good thing. These are attributes which will help to secure your relationship and help your baby to build strong emotional connections as well.
Your physical changes this week
- The top of your uterus is about 14.5 centimetres from your belly button this week. You can probably balance a cup on top of it when you are sitting down, which makes it handy if you are at a party. You are likely to compare your shape and how you are carrying with other pregnant women. Remember that every pregnancy is different and no two women are exactly the same. Your baby is a unique blend of your own and your partners DNA and how your body supports it is also unique.
- You could be feeling short of breath in week 34. Your lungs and diaphragm are being compressed and the baby is sitting high in your belly. It still hasn’t “dropped” into your pelvis which means it’s getting very cramped in your upper mid section. You may find it more comfortable to sleep propped up on a couple of pillows. Remember to sit upright with your shoulders back, this make a huge difference.
- More heartburn, acid reflux and indigestion this week. Aim to have 6-7 small meals each day rather than big, infrequent ones. You’re probably not feeling as hungry as you were and are satisfied with smaller portions anyway. Try not to limit the tastes and flavours of the food you are eating. Your baby will pick up the different tastes through the amniotic fluid and this will help them be more willing to try different foods once they are old enough for solids.
- When you have your antenatal checks, your baby is probably lying with its head down by now. This is known officially as a cephalic presentation (cephalic means head). Don’t worry if your baby is lying sideways or even head up now, especially if you have had a baby before. There is still time for it to move into its correct position before you are due to deliver.
- Your legs could be showing evidence of varicose veins in week 34. If your mother had them or there is a family history, you are more likely to experience them as well. Aim to sit when you can and elevate your feet and legs up high. Help your legs in whatever way you can to return their blood supply up to your trunk. Some women swear by supportive stockings and find that if they put them on first thing in the morning, they are most beneficial. Watch your weight gain. It won’t help if your major blood vessels are being compressed by too much surrounding fat.
- You are hot and even when everyone else if cold, your internal temperature is at least a couple of degrees higher. If you place your hand just above the skin on your tummy now, you’ll feel a radiant heat coming off your body.
- Even though your partner may find you and your body almost irresistible, the last thing on your mind is a little bedroom bonding. Just the thought of getting up close and exerting more energy in having sex may completely turn you off. Let him down gently by telling him you’re not interested. He’s bound to understand. After all, it is his baby too that you are working so hard on maturing.
Your emotional changes this week
- If indigestion isn’t niggling away at your stomach, excitement probably is. In around six weeks, you will be seeing your baby and holding it in your arms. There will be times when you feel as if you can hardly wait, the time of your baby’s birth still seems a lifetime away. Other times, it will feel as if your pregnancy has gone too fast and you’ll have a sense that you need to treasure it as a special time.
- At 34 weeks pregnant, you could worry that there may be something wrong with your baby which hasn’t been detected yet. You may wonder how you and your partner will cope if there is a problem and how this will impact on your life. Many women become very superstitious at this stage of their pregnancy and see “signs” which they interpret as being proof there is something wrong. Dreams, seeing someone with a physical or intellectual impairment, hearing of other new parents who’ve had a baby with problems can all cause great concern. Speak with your midwife or doctor if you are worried.
- Looking at the calendar and counting down the weeks could come as a shock to you. Try not to leave everything until the last minute. Babies have a tendency to come when they are ready, leaving their parents rushing about in a mad panic to get jobs done.
Your baby’s changes this week
- If your baby is a boy, his testicles will be migrating their way down from his abdomen and into his scrotum. Some boys will have undescended testicles at birth, though they usually descend within the first year. If you have a boy, your pregnancy hormones will cause his scrotum to be swollen at birth. Similarly, if you have a baby girl, her vulva will appear puffy and swollen as well. Both of these changes settle down in the first few weeks after birth.
- Your baby is opening and closing its eyes easily now, blinking, and practicing how to focus. When strong light filters through your abdominal wall your baby may pull away, close its eyes and its pupils may contract to limit the amount of light entering the eye.
- The vernix caseosa which has been covering your baby’s skin is still protecting it at week 34. However, the lanugo – the soft, downy hair which has been covering its skin is starting to disappear this week. If your baby is born now this will be one of the things you really notice, especially across your baby’s back, shoulders and even on its little ears.
- More cortisol is being produced this week, by the specialist glands which sit on the top of your baby’s kidneys. Somehow those adrenal glands just know that they need to communicate with their lungs to produce the all important surfactant. In most respects, other than your baby’s lungs, it could manage almost independently if it were born now.
Tips for Week 34
- Have a weekend away. A “Babymoon” is a great chance to spend some quality time with your partner and focus on what is important. Take your camera and make sure you get some photos of your pregnant belly. You may not be feeling too attractive now but there will come a time when you look back on them and take pleasure in how clever you were.
- Don’t be in too much of a hurry. Your centre of balance is changing and it is common for pregnant women to fall over. You won’t be able to see the ground as clearly because your tummy is getting in the way, so take your time and tread carefully.
- Make plans to finish work if you haven’t already. Be realistic about what you can finalise and what you need to delegate to others. You want to be able to walk away from your work with a firm and clear attitude that your work is done and it is time for another, vastly important phase in your life.