Week 34 of Your Pregnancy

Pregnancy Week by Week: Week 34

Verywell / Bailey Mariner

At 34 weeks pregnant, your baby is enjoying their time moving around in their amniotic fluid, which hit its peak in terms of volume this week. Meanwhile, you're likely taking more frequent trips to the bathroom and to your healthcare provider's office.

34 Weeks Pregnant Is How Many Months? 8 months and 2 weeks

Which Trimester? Third trimester

How Many Weeks to Go? 6 weeks

Your Baby's Development at 34 Weeks

At 34 weeks, a baby is over 12 1/4 inches (31.1 centimeters) from the top of their head to the bottom of their buttocks (known as the crown-rump length), and baby's height is nearly 17 1/2 inches (44.2 centimeters) from the top of their head to their heel (crown-heel length). This week, baby weighs about 5 pounds (2,312 grams).

Vernix

That thick, waxy, cheese-like coating covering your baby's skin has been thickening until now. By week 34, the vernix starts coming off into the amniotic fluid. Scientists believe that when babies swallow the vernix in the fluid, it may help with the development of their stomach and intestines.

Amniotic Fluid

The amniotic fluid that your baby is living in is at its peak around 34 weeks. There are about 1 1/2 pints (800 milliliters) of fluid surrounding baby, and baby is moving in the amniotic fluid, swallowing it, and "breathing" it in. Amniotic fluid contributes to the development of the baby's muscles and bones, digestive system, and lungs.

Survival Outside the Womb

At 34 weeks, babies graduate from "moderate preterm" to "late preterm." A late preterm baby may look like a full-term baby, but they are still not fully mature.

Babies born at 34 weeks can experience some health issues such as jaundice, difficulty feeding, or difficulty breathing. But, with proper care, they often do well. The survival rate of a baby at 34 weeks is greater than 99%, and the risk of major disabilities associated with prematurity is as low as 5%.

Explore a few of your baby's week 34 milestones in this interactive experience.

Your Common Symptoms This Week

If you haven't already, you're likely to notice that your trips to the bathroom are becoming more frequent again. You may even notice some leaking between trips.

Frequent Urination

Frequent urination returns toward the end of pregnancy when your baby and belly are at their biggest and putting extra pressure on your bladder. You may find yourself using the restroom more often, especially at night.

Leaking Urine

Not only can pressure on your bladder lead to frequent bathroom breaks, but it can also bring on a new symptom: leaking urine. Leaking urine when you cough, sneeze, laugh, or engage in any physical activity is called stress incontinence. Stress incontinence affects about 41% of pregnancies.

Self-Care Tips

In early pregnancy, increased urination is often attributed to changing hormones, whereas in late pregnancy, the pressure from your growing baby and uterus are likely to blame.

Dealing With Frequent Urination and Leaking Urine

Frequent urination is just part of pregnancy, and unfortunately, there isn't too much you can do about it. In the third trimester, leaking urine may be a part of your pregnancy experience, too. Here are some tips to help you get through these last few weeks:

  • Don't try to limit your fluid intake to pee less; continue to drink plenty of fluids.
  • Stay away from caffeine which is a diuretic (meaning it can make you pee more).
  • Go when you have to go; don't hold it in.
  • Lean forward when you pee to help you fully empty your bladder.
  • Go more often; empty your bladder so there's less urine to leak.
  • Cross your legs when you cough, sneeze, or laugh.
  • Wear a pantyliner or pad to catch any leaks.
  • Incorporate Kegel or pelvic floor exercises into your daily routine.
  • Know the signs of a urinary tract infection (UTI).

Consider Learning Perineal Massage

Have you spoken to your healthcare provider about perineal massage? If so, and you are interested in starting, this is the week to begin. This practice helps may help increase the plasticity of your perineum (the area between the vagina and anus), reducing your chances of both tearing and episiotomy, an incision to the perineum during delivery.

What Experts Say

"[For the massage] you or your partner will place two fingers inside your vagina and apply pressure straight downward for two minutes. Then apply the same pressure to each side for an additional four minutes. For the best results, do this daily for the remainder of your pregnancy.”

—Allison Hill, MD, OB/GYN

While you should get your how-tos directly from your physician or midwife, here are some make-it-easier tips:

  • Use a warm compress: Place a warm washcloth on your perineum for about 10 minutes prior to the massage.
  • Wash your hands: Whoever is doing the massage must have clean hands (with trimmed and clean fingernails).
  • Find the right position: Some women prefer to sit propped on their bed with knees bent or squat against a wall with the help of a stool.
  • Use lube: According to Dr. Hill, a water-soluble commercial lubricant such as vitamin E oil or almond oil applied directly on your (or your partner’s) fingers can make the massage more comfortable and hydrate the perineum.
  • Try it in the bath: Your position in the tub may make the massage easier, and the warm water can help your skin stretch.

Your Week 34 Checklist

Advice for Partners

It’s worth making sure you’re there when your pregnant partner talks to her healthcare provider about perineal massage this week, since pregnant women often turn to their partners to help with this daily practice.

While the above can give you a sense of what’s involved, you’ll undoubtedly find it helpful to have full instructions explained to you during the visit if you’re inclined to help with this—and your partner asks you to.

At Your Doctor’s Office

Carrying twins or multiples? This could very well be your last prenatal visit. The average twin pregnancy delivers at about 35 weeks.

For everyone else, this 34-week check-up will consist of the standard tests and measures:

  • Weight check
  • Blood pressure check
  • Urine test
  • Swelling check
  • Fundal height measurement
  • Listening to baby's heartbeat
  • Discussion of symptoms
  • Answering your questions

Weight Gain

The recommended weight gain for those with a normal body mass index (BMI: 18.5–24.9) at the start of pregnancy is 25 to 35 pounds. However, everyone is different, so follow your doctor's advice when it comes to your pregnancy weight gain.

In most cases, you can expect to gain roughly a pound a week at this point in your pregnancy. Based on this loose guideline, you may be up about 25 pounds since the start of your pregnancy.

Position of the Baby

Your provider may feel the outside of your belly to check the position of your baby. As you get closer to your due date, baby should turn to the head-down position.

Size of the Baby

Your provider monitors your baby's growth at each appointment by checking your fundal height (the measurement from your pubic bone to the top of your uterus) and feeling your uterus. Ultrasound measurements may also be used to estimate your baby's size and weight. Estimating the size and weight of your baby helps your doctor manage your pregnancy and plan your delivery.

Vaccination

You may be offered the whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine, also called Tdap, during this visit. The CDC recommends pregnant women receive this vaccine between 27 weeks and 36 weeks.

Question to Ask

During your next prenatal visit, it’s a good idea to ask your healthcare provider about their stand on when to cut baby's umbilical cord. Both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend waiting at least 30 to 60 seconds after birth before clamping the umbilical cord.

The World Health Organization (WHO) takes it a step further and recommends waiting one to three minutes (or longer) after delivery. Because of the formerly routine practice of clamping the cord immediately following birth, this practice is commonly known as "delayed cord clamping," and can offer a number of health benefits to baby with relatively little risk.

Upcoming Doctor’s Visits

Since you're likely still on the every other week schedule, you may be back at your doctor's office for a check-up in two weeks at 36 weeks, after which your provider will want to see you once a week until you deliver.

Between 36 weeks and 38 weeks, your healthcare provider will screen you for group B strep (also called GBS or beta strep), a bacteria found in your genital tract. It's present in about a quarter of all healthy women, and while it may not cause any issues for mom, it can for baby.

In some situations, such as a high-risk pregnancy, or if there's a concern for your health or your baby's health, your provider may order additional testing. These tests can include:

Special Considerations

As you get closer to term, you and your provider will start to talk more about making final preparations for labor and delivery.

Chances of Childbirth This Week

Preterm birth is defined as giving birth before 37 weeks. Approximately 12% of expecting mothers deliver their babies prematurely. One research study of over 34 million U.S. births between 2007 and 2015 showed that about 6% of deliveries occurred between 34 and 36 weeks.

Carrying Breech

During your appointment, your provider will check the position of your baby. If your baby is breech at 34 weeks—meaning that instead of being head-down, your baby's bottom or feet are leading the way—that doesn't mean that your baby will remain in that position come delivery day. Only 3% to 4% of full-term births are breech.

What Experts Say

"At this point in pregnancy, roughly 14% of babies are breech, but by week 36, that number shrinks to 9%.”

—Allison Hill, MD, OB/GYN

Regardless, your healthcare provider will likely go over what you could do to help turn the baby and what will likely happen if your baby doesn't turn. Today, most breech babies are born by planned Cesarean section, but a planned vaginal birth of a single breech baby can sometimes be an option.

Hands-to-Belly Procedure

First, your provider may suggest external cephalic version (ECV), also called a hands-to-belly procedure, to get the baby in the optimal position. This is generally offered for breech babies between week 32 and week 37.

With this procedure, your provider (and perhaps an assistant) applies firm pressure to your abdomen in an attempt to encourage baby to turn. You might be given the terbutaline, a medication that quells uterine contractions and/or an epidural to block pain. Sometimes an ultrasound is used as a guide as well.

More than half of ECV attempts are successful, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The caveat: Some babies who’ve been successfully flipped home-down revert back to the breech position before delivery day.

At-Home Methods

There are also some at-home methods to get your baby to turn that you can attempt. However, it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider before trying these:

  • Acupuncture and moxibustion: According to a report in the Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine, the combo of acupuncture plus moxibustion can be effective for resolving breech presentation. Acupuncture involves inserting skinny needles into specific points on mom's body to painlessly stimulate baby to move, while moxibustion involves burning herbs and applying their heat to specific areas of mom's body to encourage the same.
  • Chiropractic adjustment: A misaligned pelvis can make it difficult for baby to get out of the breech position. However, getting the proper chiropractic adjustment may rectify that situation. Although the study is older and small, a report in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that 82% of practitioners had success turning babies with chiropractic care.

Some methods that people say work but don't have any scientific evidence to back them include:

  • Applying a cold pack: Place an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a light cloth atop your belly where baby’s head is.
  • Use gravity: Lie flat on the ground with a stack of pillows under your hips for 10 to 15 minutes daily.
  • Shine a light: Direct a flashlight at your pubic bone to encourage baby to come toward the glow (and, thus, to turn face up).

A Word From Verywell

At 34 weeks, you're nearing the final stretch of pregnancy, but you likely still have some time before baby is here. Now's the time to really hone in on those to-do list items that you really want done before your little one's arrival so you're ready to go whenever baby decides to make their appearance.

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