With 6 weeks to go you baby is almost at birth length. Weighing in at more than 2.1kg or 4.7lb and at around 45cm or 17.7in from crown to heel, your baby is approximately the size of a cantaloupe melon.
Your baby is continuing to fill out and grow. To keep your baby warm after birth hhe has been laying down a special type of fat called brown fat. This is helpful as newborn babies can’t regulate their core body temperatures very well. Brown fat stops growing after birth, and you will need you to make sure she has the right number of layers so she doesn’t get too hot or cold. Your midwife will guide you about how to keep your new baby cosy and safe.
Your baby can recognise your voice and your partner’s voice, and she may also be able to recognise lullabies and songs that you may have been singing or playing too. This is because the part of her ear that sends messages to her brain (cochlea) is becoming more mature as she grows in your womb.
Research shows that if you regularly sing a particular song to your baby before she’s born, she’s more likely to be soothed when you sing it again after birth. Singing to your bump is a great way to bond with your unborn baby too. One study found that babies were calmed by the theme song to a TV show their parents watched a lot during pregnancy! Your baby will love listening to you talk and read to her from the moment she’s born.
You may be worried about going into labour early. If so it may be reassuring to know that the majority of babies born from 34 weeks onwards thrive and are perfectly healthy. Your baby’s lungs are continuing to develop at this time and should any breathing issues present itself, at this stage it can be easily treated. If, once you have taken your baby home you are concerned, call your midwife or 111, and in an emergency 999.
At this stage in your pregnancy heartburn and indigestion may be creeping back in again now your baby’s pushing up against your tummy. To help with this it may help to eat small meals throughout the day instead of three big meals and not to lie down straight after eating.
You could also try avoiding foods likely to make the problem worse some of which include rich, high-fat or spicy foods, as well as chocolate, citrus, alcohol and coffee. If the problem is worse at night, try raising the head of your mattress or bed a little, with the help of your partner. If you are really struggling you should contact your GP for some advice and possibly medication.
In later stages of pregnancy some mothers find that their vision becomes blurry or that their eyes become dry and irritated. This is down to your hormones and things go back to normal once you have delivered. If you experience more extreme eye issues it could be a sign of preeclampsia and you should speak to your GP or midwife for advice.
Other symptoms you may experience at 34 weeks include bloating, gas, increased discharge, leg cramps, shortness of breath, , backaches, swelling of your feet, constipation and insomnia amongst others. If you are worried about any of these or any other symptoms please contact your GP or midwife for more advice.
Some women may lose some of their symptoms at around 34 weeks due to the baby becoming ‘engaged’. This is when your baby moves head down into your pelvis which frees up space in your abdomen. If you’ve been feeling breathless until now this will ease up as your lungs will have more space. It also reduces the pressure on your stomach, so symptoms such as heartburn could disappear as well.
This drop down of the baby is called ‘lightening’ and although you’re getting closer to your baby arriving it doesn’t mean you’re about to give birth and you should think about talking to your midwife about the possible signs of labour.
Things to think about this week
You’re potentially only one month away from your little one (or ones) arriving! If you’re having your baby in hospital, try contacting the maternity unit to see if you can visit beforehand and if that isn’t possible it’s a good idea to find out if your hospital offers an online tour. This can help you familiarise yourself with where you need to go when the time comes to going into the hospital. It saves the stress of having to ask for direction whilst in labour.
This week you are likely to have an appointment with your midwife so it’s worth making a list of any questions you may have about your birthing wishes. You may already have been told (or experienced) that birth plans don’t always go to plan and it’s a good idea to talk to your midwife about how this feels and what you can do to remain calm should anything change during your labour. Also, if you haven’t already, share your wishes with the person who will be joining you throughout the labour process so they are aware and support you communicate anything during your labour.
It’s helpful to prepare for a potentially early labour and you should read up on admission procedures in early labour, so you know what to expect when you arrive at the hospital. Ask your midwife if you want to know how your baby will be monitored in labour. And ask her what your hospital’s policy is on eating and drinking during labour, so you know what to expect in advance.
You’ve probably already chosen a date for your maternity leave to start. The earliest that you can usually start your leave is 11 weeks before the expected week of the birth. However, if your baby comes early, then your leave will start the day after the birth. It will also automatically kick in if you’re off work with a pregnancy-related illness in the four weeks before the week that your baby is due. If you wish to change your maternity leave start date, employers require 28 days’ notice however some employers may be flexible and you should think about raising a change of date with your employer if you want to bring the date forward or back. This being said, many women work right up to their birth date and it’s key to do what is right for you.
Your pregnancy to-do list at 34 weeks
- Install your baby car seat into the car ensuring you follow all the baby safety guidelines. The NHS website provides great advice for parents in the UK – NHS car seat guidance
- Go for a walk to boost your energy levels.This will help increase blood flow and boost feel-good endorphins. This helps you feel more energised and can particularly help with daytime fatigue.
Your partner may be feeling slightly anxious about what the next month or so will bring. Encourage her to take part in gentle exercise. Perhaps you could join her on a walk – it’s a great time for her to share her thoughts, in particular her birth wishes, so you are up to date on what she is hoping for in terms of her labour.