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 .
34 weeks pregnant: baby development
Sensory organ development
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 .
Internal system and organ development
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.
Sexual organ development
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 .
How big is your baby?
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) .
34th week of pregnancy: fetal movement and breech baby
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 .
34 weeks pregnant: weight gain, belly and body changes
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.
34 weeks pregnant tests, exams and ultrasound
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) .
34 weeks pregnant with twins: tests and exams
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.
Pregnancy week 34 signs and symptoms
- Dry and irritated eyes with or without blurred vision (due to the pregnancy hormones decreasing your tear production)
- Hot flashes
- Indigestion, heartburn, gas and acid reflux 
- Restless leg syndrome and insomnia
- Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP) or itchy skin rash, mainly around the belly and thighs (more common in twin pregnancies and first time mothers) 
- Braxton Hicks contractions (occasionally feeling your uterus tightening for a few seconds) 
- Tiredness and fatigue 
- Shortness of breath and occasional sharp chest pain (with the pressure on your lungs, ribcage and diaphragm increasing due to the growing uterus)
- Joint (jaw, hips, knee) and back pain
- Leg cramps 
- Pelvic pain
- Tailbone pain
- inner thigh and groin pain
- Itchy skin, especially around the belly, breasts and nipples 
- Stretch marks
- Itchy, hive-like rashes on the belly (Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy or PUPPP) 
- Edema or swelling, mainly of the hands, feet and ankles 
- Varicose veins, hemorrhoids and spider veins 
- Depression, emotional changes and unexplained crying
- Leaking urine, especially when sneezing, coughing or laughing (due to the growing uterus putting pressure on the bladder and the pregnancy hormones relaxing the pelvic muscles) 
When to call the doctor
- If you notice decreased fetal movement or any other change in your baby’s movement pattern
- Sudden swelling, especially of the face and hands along with sudden weight gain, vision changes, feeling out of breath, upper abdominal pain, persistent headaches and lightheadedness (might indicate high blood pressure or preeclampsia) 
- Contractions becoming more frequent over time along with bleeding or spotting, period-like abdominal cramps, feeling pressure in the pelvic area, pinkish, brown or clear mucus discharge (losing the mucus plug), nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and lots of watery thin discharge (might be early signs of preterm labor) 
- Pain or burning during urination, dark yellowish or orange urine with or without foul odor accompanied by lower back or abdominal pain (around a kidney), thick egg-white, greenish or yellowish jelly-like discharge, nausea and vaginal itching (might indicate conditions like a UTI , kidney or yeast infection )
- Extreme thirst and dry mouth along with abnormally frequent urge to urinate, sudden blurred vision, extreme fatigue, dizziness and ketones in the urine (might indicate gestational diabetes) 
- Unilateral swelling, meaning one foot more swollen than the other, with or without pain and tenderness in the leg (might indicate a blood clotting disorder) 
- Considerable lower back pain in left or right side (around the kidneys) that often spreads toward the abdomen and groin, pain during urination, dark or cloudy urine, nausea and vomiting (might indicate a kidney stone) 
Tips for a healthy pregnancy and baby
- Getting up slowly from a lying or sitting position because jerky movements like standing up too fast can make you dizzy by suddenly lowering your blood pressure 
- Taking a warm (not hot) bath to relieve the symptoms of leg cramps, back pain and hemorrhoids 
- Finding out all you can about childbirth and pain relief options (breathing techniques, medications and anesthesia), in addition to making your detailed birth plan, as you might need alternative options during labor and delivery 
- Having an early dinner and avoiding heartburn triggers like carbonated drinks and spicy or citrus foods to prevent acid reflux and heartburn 
- Lowering the amount of water intake for at least one hour before bedtime for managing the frequent urge to urinate throughout the night to get proper rest
- Taking a couple of hours off to do a daily kick count for making sure your baby is growing properly
- Doing prenatal yoga or following a regular exercise routine, like going for a short walk twice a day or taking a swim, to strengthen your muscles and joints, preparing them for labor and childbirth
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