Quick - where can I hide?
It's hard not to feel some nagging sense of concern around now. Although you know you and your baby are unique, you still want to be like other pregnant women and fit in with what is considered "the norm". You could even find your partner becoming a little more protective, especially if they see you becoming upset by other people's comments. It’s quite normal for partners to be a little protective around pregnant woman. Being emotionally supportive and protective are attributes which will help to secure your relationship and help your baby to build strong emotional connections as well.
Your physical changes this week
You could be feeling short of breath in week 34. Your lungs and diaphragm are being compressed and the baby is sitting high in your belly. She still hasn’t "dropped" into your pelvis which means it's getting very cramped in your upper mid-section. You may find it more comfortable to sleep propped up on a couple of pillows. Remember to sit upright with your shoulders back since this does make a difference.
More heartburn, acid reflux and indigestion this week. Aim to have 6-7 small meals each day rather than big, infrequent ones. You're probably not feeling as hungry as you were and are satisfied with smaller portions anyway. Try not to limit the tastes and flavors of the food you’re eating. Your baby will pick up the different tastes through the amniotic fluid and this will help them be more willing to try different foods once they are old enough for solids.
When you have your prenatal visits, your baby is probably lying with her head down by now. This is known officially as a cephalic presentation (cephalic means head). Don’t worry if your baby is lying sideways or even head up now, especially if you have had a baby before. There is still time for baby to move into her correct position before you give birth.
Your legs could be showing evidence of varicose veins in week 34. If your mother had them or there is a family history, you are more likely to experience them as well. Aim to sit when you can and elevate your feet and legs. Help your legs in whatever way you can to return their blood supply up to your trunk. Some women swear by support hose and find that if they put them on first thing in the morning, they are most beneficial.
Be mindful of your weight gain. It won’t help if your major blood vessels are being compressed by too much surrounding fat.
You’re hot and even when everyone else is cold, your internal temperature is at least a couple of degrees higher. If you place your hand just above the skin on your belly now, you’ll feel a radiant heat coming off your body.
Even though your partner may find you and your body almost irresistible, the last thing on your mind is a little bedroom bonding. Just the thought of being close and exerting more energy having sex may completely turn you off. Let them down gently by telling them you're not interested. They’re bound to understand. After all, it’s their baby too that you’re working so hard on maturing.
Your emotional changes this week
At 34 weeks pregnant, you could worry that there may be something wrong with your baby which hasn’t been detected yet. You may wonder how you and your partner will cope if there is a problem and how this will impact on your life. Many women become very superstitious at this stage of their pregnancy and see "signs" which they interpret as being proof there is something wrong. Dreams, seeing someone with a physical or intellectual impairment, hearing of other new parents who've had a baby with problems can all cause great concern. Speak with your provider if you’re worried.
Looking at the calendar and counting down the weeks could come as a shock to you. Try not to leave everything until the last minute. Babies tend to come when they’re ready, leaving their parents rushing about in a mad panic to get jobs done.
Your baby's changes this week
Baby is opening and closing her eyes easily now, blinking, and practicing how to focus. When strong light filters through your abdominal wall, Baby may pull away, close her eyes and her pupils may contract to limit the amount of light entering the eye.
The vernix which has been covering Baby’s skin is still protecting her at week 34. However, the lanugo, the soft, downy hair which has been covering her skin, is starting to disappear this week. If she is born now, this will be one of the things you really notice, especially across your baby's back, shoulders and even on its little ears.
More cortisol is being produced this week by the specialist glands which sit on the top of Baby’s kidneys. Somehow those adrenal glands just know that they need to communicate with the lungs to produce the all-important surfactant. In most respects, other than the lungs, your baby could manage almost independently if she were born now.
Hints for the week
Don’t be in too much of a hurry. Your center of balance is changing and it’s common for pregnant women to fall over. You won’t be able to see the ground as clearly because your belly is getting in the way, so take your time and walk carefully.
Make plans for finishing work if you haven’t already. Be realistic about what you can finalize and what you need to delegate to others. You want to be able to walk away from your work with a firm and clear attitude that your work is done and it’s time for another, vastly important phase in your life.
Week 35 is next!
The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.