Welcome to week 34 of your pregnancy! Baby is growing big and strong, and you’re probably a mix of exhausted and excited. Let’s take a look at baby’s growth and development, your weight gain, symptoms you may experience, and discuss what it would be like if your baby was born this week.
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Updated August 25, 2021
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Baby’s Development in Week 34 of Pregnancy
It may seem like there’s not as much to report in baby development at the end of pregnancy as there was in the beginning. Those early weeks and months were full of new organs and systems, and flashy updates on development. At this point, a lot of what’s happening is just growth and refinement of the existing systems. This is still newsworthy! It means that baby already has everything he or she needs to thrive on the outside.
Size of a Cantaloupe
By week 34 of pregnancy — 32 weeks from conception — your baby is about the size of a cantaloupe, weighing in at around 4 3/4 pounds. He or she is about 12 3/4 inches from crown to rump, or 17 3/4 inches from crown to heel (1). If you could take a peek inside, you would see:
- Baby’s skin is less wrinkled because of the increase in fat that’s being added underneath the skin (2).
- His or her skin is becoming less transparent for the same reason.
- Baby is quite cramped in your uterus.
- Baby is likely in the vertex, or head-down, position now. (Learn more: How to Tell if Baby is Head Down) Your doctor or midwife won’t worry about it if he’s not, though. There’s still time for him to turn.
As your baby gets bigger and more crowded, you may notice a change in the way he moves. You no longer feel the gentle flutters that you did in the middle of your pregnancy. Now your baby’s movements likely feel slower and stronger. You may even be able to see your belly move. It’s a bizarre but also pretty cool phenomenon.
Week 34 of Pregnancy: Pregnant Belly
You’re sporting quite the bump these days. You can now feel the top of your uterus about 5 1/4 inches above your belly button. You may wonder how you’ll possibly have room to grow for another six weeks. Just remember that the growth you’re seeing is an outward sign of the healthy, growing baby inside.
As your baby bump grows and grows, your skin stretches. (And in the case of most women — 80 to 90%, in fact — it stretches faster than it can keep up with, causing stretch marks.) While this isn’t painful, it may cause your skin to be itchy. The best thing you can do to fight the itch is to keep your skin moisturized. Tackle it from the inside and outside, drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated and using a gentle, perfume-free and alcohol-free moisturizer.
Week 34 Pregnancy: Weight Gain
You’ve probably gained between 23 and 29 pounds, assuming you started your pregnancy at an average weight. (Probably a little less if you came into your pregnancy overweight and a little more if you were underweight.) Through most of the pregnancy, women are urged to be careful about weight gain, to remember that you’re not exactly “eating for two,” and that baby only needs a few hundred calories a day.
While that is all still true, by late pregnancy the problem can swing the other direction. It may be that you don’t feel like eating very much. You may feel uncomfortable after eating as your stomach is increasingly cramped. You may experience nausea or heartburn. As we suggested in the week 33 article, eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day can help. You should continue to gain some weight, likely totaling around a pound or two through the rest of your pregnancy.
Week 34 Pregnancy Symptoms
Diarrhea is defined as having three or more bouts of loose stools in a day. Just like constipation, diarrhea is not at all uncommon in pregnancy. Some reasons may be related to pregnancy, caused by hormones and increased sensitivities. Other bouts of diarrhea are completely unrelated to pregnancy, such as illness. If you experience diarrhea, be sure to drink plenty of fluids to avoid getting dehydrated (2). And be sure to contact your provider if it persists for more than 24 hours.
You may have heard that diarrhea is a sign of impending labor, and this is true. However, not all diarrhea means that baby is on the way. Know the signs of labor so you can more reliably tell when it’s time.
At this point in pregnancy, some pain is just a fact of life for most women. Your back may hurt, your legs may be sore, and you may have headaches. Another pain is likely to join these at some point before delivery — pelvic pressure.
Pelvic pressure increases as baby moves down and settles deeper into your pelvis (2). It can be uncomfortable to have your baby’s head putting pressure on your pelvis, bladder, and hips. For this and all the pains you’re experiencing, try to rest. When it comes time to exercise, consider water-based activities such as swimming and water aerobics. And if the pain is severe, call your provider to see if there’s anything you can safely take.
Your body is working hard, and you are tired. There’s no easy fix for that. Growing a baby is hard work! Although they seem contradictory to each other, the best solutions to your problem are exercise and rest. Keep up with your regular exercise; it keeps your body strong and is good for your mood. Yet, listen to your body and put up your feet when you need a rest. Caring for your body is paramount during the last stages of pregnancy.
What if Baby is Born at 34 Weeks?
As we discussed last week, a baby born at this gestational age is expected to have a very good outcome. However, he may need a little extra time in the hospital to bring his lungs to maturity, help him regulate his body temperature, and learn to eat. A 34-week baby will likely have a fairly short stay, though. And there’s a very good chance he will come away with no long-term effects of his early arrival.
What can you expect your little one to look like if you were to meet him now? He’s smaller than a full-term baby with redder skin. He looks frail, with little fat or muscle. His head looks large compared to his body, and he has fine, downy hair called lanugo on his body. His fingernails and toenails are there, but haven’t grown to the end of his fingers and toes yet (3). Despite these differences, your baby at 34 weeks looks an awful lot like he’ll look at term.
Join us next week to learn all about week 35 of your pregnancy!
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- Glade, B.C., Schuler, J. (2011). Your Pregnancy Week by Week, 7th edition. First Da Capo Press.
- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2010). Your Pregnancy and Childbirth Month to Month, 5th edition.
- Simkin, P. (2010). Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn, 4th edition. Meadowbrook Press