Reaching the 34th week of pregnancy means that you are almost through the eighth month and are just one week away from stepping into your final month. The 34th week marks a crucial landmark for your baby’s development as his chances of survival goes up over 98% if he were to be born this week .
Your baby can now differentiate between daytime and nighttime by the light entering the uterus through the gradually thinning uterine walls. His eyes are now mature enough for him to close them while sleeping and open them when awake, helping your baby to set up a distinct sleep schedule .
With the growing fat layer, your baby now appears more like a newborn with rounder cheeks and smoother skin .
The fetal central nervous system and lungs are now developed enough to function on their own if you were to deliver your baby this week . However, most babies require external respiratory support to help their little lungs to continue working in a proper pace.
If you are having a boy, his testicles are moving down to his scrotum from the abdomen. In some rare cases (3%-4%), baby boys have undescended testicles at birth, that move down into their proper place within the first year of their birth .
By the 34th week, your baby is almost as big as a cantaloupe , being about 18 inches (45.72 cm) long, with his weight ranging around 4.7 pounds (just above 2 kg) .
The amniotic fluid levels continue to increase, enabling your baby to still move about in the limited space within your womb, sometimes even allowing you to see a tiny hand or feet through your belly .
Most babies already settle into a head-down birth position (cephalic presentation), with their legs folded up in front of the chest, by the 34th week . However in some rare instances, the baby remains in a breech (feet-down) or transverse (lying sideways) position. In such cases, it is recommended to consult your doctor regarding the ways of turning him externally unless he gets in the proper position by the next few days .
The top of the uterus can be felt about 5.5 inches above your bellybutton by this week  as your little bundle of joy is going through a growth spurt. Your uterus is still sitting high in your abdomen, meaning things are quite cramped for your baby inside the womb. It will start dropping down lower in your belly within a few weeks in preparation for labor and delivery . You are still growing about 1 pound each week with most of this weight going to your developing baby.
An ultrasound exam performed at this stage helps the doctor to check for complications like a low lying placenta, in addition to assessing the baby’s position and health.
Your prenatal visits now probably involve routine blood pressure checkups to assess any risk of high BP or preeclampsia . Rhesus negative women require a repeat antibodies and group blood test between the 34th and 36th weeks to make sure their body continues screening for antibodies to ascertain proper fetal growth. Your doctor might also recommend a vaginal swab screening test to rule out any bacterial infection (especially Group B streptococcus) .
Women carrying twins or multiples are often recommended to have a nonstress test once or twice per week after the 33rd-34th weeks . It enables the doctor to check for early signs of gestational diabetes and hypertension while making sure both the babies are growing properly.
Published on September 4th 2014 by Pregmed Editorial Team.
Article was last reviewed on 16th March 2015.