The 34th week of pregnancy is considered part of the eighth month and third trimester. During the third trimester, many symptoms, such as nausea and fatigue, may return. The mother is gaining approximately 1 lb. per week, and the baby is rapidly approaching delivery. Babies born at 34 weeks are considered premature but have an excellent survival rate.
At the end of 34 weeks, the baby is approximately 12 inches long from crown to rump and weighs almost 6 lbs. The fundus, which is the top portion of the uterus, can be felt approximately 14 cm above the navel. Uterine size is considered normal when felt within 2 cm below or above the corresponding week.
At 34 weeks, the baby is perfectly formed. A white, cheesy coating called vernix covers the baby’s skin. This is a protective coating that keeps the baby from becoming wrinkled in the amniotic fluid. As the baby matures, the vernix becomes thinner. The baby’s skin is pink, and a thin layer of fat will help to regulate her temperature after birth. All of her organs are mature except her lungs. The longer she stays inside of the uterus, the more her lungs will mature and be ready to breathe when she’s born. She is also probably head down, which is known as the birth position.
At 34 weeks, the mother may be wondering if pregnancy is ever going to end. As the baby gets bigger, small kicks turn into large rolls and become uncomfortable. It may be extremely difficult to sleep, and some of the symptoms from the first trimester, such as nausea, fatigue and emotional disturbances, may return. The breasts may start leaking a sticky substance called colostrum, which is the baby’s first milk.
Sometime between the 34th and 37th week of pregnancy, the doctor will recommend a Group B streptococcus test. Group B streptococcus is a bacteria that lives in the vagina and anus of many healthy women. However, if it is colonized during delivery, the baby could come in contact with the bacteria and get sick. The chance of illness is slim, but because of the severity of the illness, the doctors will treat with antibiotics during labor if you test positive.
The baby should be head down at this point in pregnancy, but if it’s not, it can still turn around. If the baby is in a transverse or breech presentation, talk to him while using your hands as a gentle guide to encourage him to move. You can also use other methods such as acupuncture, massage, acupressure and the Webster technique.
If you were to go into labor now, it would be considered preterm labor. Some of the signs that you should watch for are: uterine contractions that become regular, menstrual cramps, a dull lower backache that won’t go away and doesn’t change with activity, a sudden gush or leaking of fluid from the vagina, or lots of vaginal and rectal pressure.