Your Pregnancy, Week 34
By week 34 you may be starting to feel like you have had enough of being pregnant. If you are feeling this way, take comfort in the fact that you are not alone; many mothers-to-be at this stage have had enough of feeling tired, needing the bathroom constantly, not being able to move around as easily as before, and just generally sharing their body with a wriggling companion who gets larger by the day! Try not to wish the days away though, these last weeks are the perfect time to continue your preparations for the big day.
The average woman at week 34 of pregnancy has gained about 13.5 KG. Your uterus is now between 12 and 14cm above your belly button, where it will be restricting the movement of your diaphragm, making it harder to take a full breath. Believe it or not, your uterus will continue to grow over the next six weeks, so your ability to take deep breaths may be hindered for some time.
However, around this time, some women experience “lightening.” This occurs when the baby drops toward the birth canal, actually lowering your uterus in your abdomen. This might make it easier to breathe, but it can feel strange at first as different abdominal organs need to shuffle to accommodate the expanding uterus. Whilst it is a sign that the end is in sight, it is not a symptom of premature labour, just an indication that the baby is getting into the right position for delivery. This movement can put extra pressure on your bladder, causing you to need the bathroom more frequently; it can also compress the nerves slightly, which can lead to the sensation of pins and needles in your feet and legs. The pins and needles will go away after delivery, but if it really bothers you, try lying on your side to alleviate the pressure on the nerves in the lower back. Some women never get this symptom; others will only experience it in the last few weeks of pregnancy.
Your baby is now 32 weeks old and weighs 1.8 to 2 KG, with a total length of about 45cm from the top of the head to the tip of the toes. In terms of size, your baby is now about the size of a cantaloupe melon, or a large butternut squash.
Whilst these last 6 weeks of pregnancy can feel arduous and you may be more than ready to get your body back to yourself,remember that there is a good reason why babies need to develop for the whole 40 weeks of pregnancy. Although babies born at week 34 typically require less medical support than those born earlier, many will still need some medical intervention and most will spend at least some time in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) before they are allowed to go home. The main issues for babies born around this time are under-developed lungs, difficulties regulating their own body temperature and unstable blood sugar levels.
As you near the end of your pregnancy, your healthcare provider will probably ask you to come in for weekly check-ups. These visits are not a cause for alarm, they simply give your doctor or midwife a chance to carefully monitor you and your baby as the due date nears.
“Some mothers-to-be work until they go into labour, whilst others stop around now to have time to rest and finish up preparations.”
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