This week, there’s plenty of exciting things in store. Your baby is nearly ready to be born, and it’s time to start thinking practically, not only about your hospital bag essentials, but about your birth plan! Find out what else you need to know about your baby and your body at 34 weeks’ pregnant.
How big is my baby at 34 weeks?
Your baby is now the size of a cantaloupe, weighing in at five and a quarter pounds and measuring up to 18 inches. She’s been growing steadily, and she’s rounder and cuter than ever thanks to her fat layers filling her out.
What’s my baby doing at 34 weeks?
If your little one is impatient to arrive and pops out sooner than expected - for example, right about now! - it shouldn’t be too dangerous for her as long as she hasn't got any other health problems. She might have to stay for a short time in the neonatal nursery and may have a few health niggles, but generally she should end up as fighting fit as a full-termer.
Oh, and right about now her first poo (meconium stool) is lurking in her intestines ready to be passed once she’s born. It’ll be thick, gooey and greenish black.
If your baby is a boy, this week, his testicles will make the trip down from his abdomen to his scrotum. A small number of babies are born with undescended testicles, but they usually make their way down before their first birthdays.
What is my body doing at 34 weeks?
In this last stretch before childbirth, you’re probably feeling exhausted, though perhaps not as zombie-like as you may have felt during your first trimester. It’s no surprise you’re tired, given your rapidly changing body, the constant toilet breaks during the night, and any worries you might have about the birth or about becoming a mother.
Try to slow down from here on, and to take it easy to save your energy for the big day. There’s no point worrying about insomnia, as it can’t hurt you or your baby, and once you start worrying about not sleeping, the insomnia can become a vicious cycle. If you’re persistent worries are keeping you up at night, talk about them with a friend, family member or partner, or ask your doctor or midwife for advice.
Practically speaking, try to limit what you do before bed: avoid caffeine and chocolate, try not to drink too close to bedtime, and don’t exercise just before going to sleep to avoid that post-workout rush. It’s also worth leaving the smartphone and iPad in another room to avoid the temptation of browsing the internet for cute baby clothes when you should really be trying to sleep.
Common symptoms to look out for:
- Discharge: As you get closer to the birth, you might notice an increase in vaginal discharge. As with so many other delightful symptoms, this is due to pregnancy hormones, which increase blood flow to the pelvic area. The discharge is harmless, but try wearing panty liners if they help you feel more comfortable. Stay away from washes or wipes, as they could increase the risk of infection.
- Itchy red bumps: If you’ve noticed itchy red bumps on your body, normally on your stomach, thighs and buttocks, this might be a condition called pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy, or PUPPP, which is harmless but can be uncomfortable. Consult your doctor to make sure it’s nothing more serious and to offer you treatment if necessary.
- Blurry vision: Pregnancy hormones are responsible for the blurry vision many women experience during pregnancy. A decrease in tear production can leave your eyes irritated and dry, while your vision may seem blurrier than usual. Thankfully, your eyesight should return to normal after you give birth, but bear in mind that for the next few weeks, it may be more comfortable to wear glasses than contact lenses.
What to do this week:
If you haven’t written your birth plan yet, now’s a good time to start. Essentially, a birth plan gives your midwife an idea of what you would like during the labour, whether that’s pain relief, where you want to give birth, birthing companions and equipment you want to use, such as mats or beanbags.
However, it’s good to remember that a baby won’t necessarily follow your plans, so keep your mind open and expect the unexpected. It definitely helps if you’ve read up on all the possibilities beforehand, so you’re fully informed if your birth plan goes out the window.
It’s also worth making sure your baby bag is packed and ready, even if you’re planning a home birth, in case you end up being transferred to hospital. Check our our list of essentials to pack in your hospital bag here.
Don’t forget to pack some things for your new arrival. For you, we advise packing things like your birth plan and maternity notes, a dressing gown, some cosy socks (feet get cold in labour!), slippers, music on your phone or iPod, books and magazines (you might have to wait a while for the baby to show up!) snacks and energy drinks for labour, lots of maternity sanitary towels, a nursing bra and an old nightie or T-shirt to wear during labour.
Your baby will need sleep suits and vests, nappies, blankets, wipes, booties and a hat, plus, of course, a cute (but practical) leaving hospital outfit. And be aware, some hospitals won’t let you leave unless you have a proper, EU approved car seat fitted properly. Take a look at our Mother & Baby award winning car seats below.
Read next: The Mother & Baby award winning car seats: