This week might begin with a prenatal appointment where your doctor will check your vital functions to rule out any abnormality. He will also check your weight gain, the movement of your baby and her heartbeat (which can now be easily felt without using a Doppler) and also your general well being. If you have tested Rhesus negative1 earlier, you are likely to receive an anti-D this week. Your doctor will pay close attention to any kind of swelling on your hands and feet that could be symptoms of preeclampsia. Your puffy ankles might as well be normal signs of third trimester but if there is unexplained swelling elsewhere in your body, you might be asked to get a urine sample tested for the presence of protein in it.
If you are consulting a midwife, she might want to have a little chat regarding the breaking of waters. She will also speak to you regarding contractions and what to do if you have start having one. She will discuss with you about the pain relief options that you have been considering and also about your birth plan, if you have any.
Your Baby At 34 Weeks
At five and a quarter pounds of weight and 18 inches of length, your baby is almost the size of a cantaloupe this week. She will keep gaining weight throughout these last few weeks and her fat stores will make her look rounder and more newborn-like. Her body is also preparing to regulate the temperature, both inside and out, so that once she is born, she can keep herself warm. Her skin is also becoming smoother and is no longer the previous wrinkled version. Lungs and central nervous system continue to mature and develop at a fast pace. If you have had a complicated or high-risk pregnancy and you feel that you might have to face preterm labor, you could cut down on your worries because babies born after 34 weeks generally do fine after a short stint in the neonatal ward. They generally have a few short-lived health conditions that get better as they grow up.
Your baby has toenails as well as fingernails that have now reached the tips and will very soon need to be trimmed after she is born. Your baby’s nails will be thin and flaky but keep them trimmed at regular intervals because they can be quite sharp. One important thing to remember is to avoid making your baby wear mittens. Keeping their nails in shape is a safer alternative since mittens can hinder effective sensory development in babies.
If your baby is a boy, his testicles will make their descent from the abdomen to the scrotum this week. If your baby is born with his testicles still in his abdomen, there is nothing to worry since four percent of babies are born in a similar fashion and the trip downwards happens after birth without needing any medical intervention.
Your Body At 34 Weeks
As your baby bump continues to grow, your uterus is almost five inches above your navel this week. You continue to be clumsy, wobbly and are forever in search of proper balance. While this is pretty annoying, considering the fact that you have been quite active all your life, you will be relieved to know that this is a temporary phase and will be over very soon.
Your highly dreaded fatigue is likely to be back this week. From 34 week onwards, your body and your baby are preparing for birth more than ever before. With all the last minute developments and hormonal changes, your body is sure to be exhausted by now. To add to all that, you are probably not sleeping well too because of a number of reasons like acid reflux, frequent trips to the washroom, restless leg syndrome2 etc. while tossing and turning in bed, all you could ask for is a restful night that continues to elude you.
This exhaustion is normal and you should give into your body’s need for rest. Slowing down and saving your energy for the D-day is what you should ideally do from this week onwards. Apart from taking a break from your regular exhausting activities, you should also be careful about making sudden moves. Your body’s center of gravity has shifted and you are already carrying around quite a lot of weight.
You will need to give your body time to adjust. Always take time to get up after being seated for a long time. Take time to get up from bed in the morning. There is a tendency for blood to pool in your legs that bring down your blood pressure in pregnancy. This will make you feel dizzy and light-headed and the last thing you would want now is to have a fall.
Are You Seeing Things?
Pregnancy hormones are at work, yet again and this time they are affecting your vision. However, this is just a temporary change and your vision will go back to normalcy once you deliver your baby. There is a significant decrease in the production of tears that makes your eyes dry and blurry. If you need to wear contact lenses, always remember to use your lubricating solution, as recommended by your doctor. If wearing lenses is not compulsory, it is recommended that you wear plain glasses.
It is slightly intimidating to know that the accumulation of fluid behind your eyes can alter their shape and make you more near-sighted or far-sighted than you were before. Until and unless there are major changes happening to your vision, there is no need to change your glasses or contact lenses.
When do you need to call a doctor as far as blurry vision is concerned? Blurry vision could be an early sign of preeclampsia. However, there are other signs and symptoms of preeclampsia as well that you should be aware of and if your blurred vision is accompanied by any one of these, ensure that you let your doctor know about it.
The Thing Called PUPP
PUPP is a harmless skin condition that is one of the common symptoms of third trimester and a majority of women is affected by it. It is characterized by red and itchy bumps on your belly and thighs and also your buttocks. However harmless it might be, it is quite uncomfortable to a pregnant woman who is already dealing with a number of things at her end.
A dermatologist will be the best person to consult regarding this issue. If the itching goes beyond control and if you are having sleepless nights because there is sever itchiness all over your body, let your doctor know about it right away. There is a condition in pregnancy where the gall does not pass out of your system as much as it should which leads to this kind of irritation on the skin. If that is diagnosed, your doctor will put you on medication till you deliver and suggest you to cut down your fat intake till delivery.
Ever Thought Of Preserving Memories?
Your pregnancy is practically an adventurous journey that you would love to share with your child in future. Each day is like a new discovery and there are endless moments that you can cherish at bedtimes and mealtimes with the rest of your family when you are an old granny with grandchildren of your own.
The best possible way of preserving memories of this pregnancy would be to maintain a diary and scribble away before bedtime every day. Including both positive and negative memories is important because that helps in keeping the entire journey realistic. In the age of information and technology, your child will probably cherish handwritten letters, more than anything else.
However, you could also send him or her emails that contain detailed descriptions of how this pregnancy had progressed. You can write about your reaction the first time you got the news of your pregnancy; your fears, your joy and your anxieties. Write about how pregnancy changed your body every week and new signs and symptoms arrived every month. Make it sound memorable so that he or she can relate to these experiences when they are about to be parents.
Talk about how your husband supported you in this journey by catering to all those crazy food cravings you had in pregnancy; whether it was gelato at two in the night or pickles in between work hours. Narrate all those incidents when the ultrasounds would make you emotional and all you would do is to look forward to meeting your baby.
Convey your feelings without any hindrances. Write about how you expect your future lives to be, how you would want to support your baby at every step in life and also allow him or her to learn self-dependence.
Medically termed as leucorrhoea, vaginal discharge is a common symptom of pregnancy and occurs to a lot of women without carrying any side effect. You might experience a thin and milky white discharge that is accompanied by a mild smell and could also be odorless.
Your pregnancy hormone estrogen is being produced in higher quantities that enhance blood flow to your pelvic area. This in turn stimulates the mucus membranes of your body that leads to this annoying pregnancy symptom.
This kind of vaginal discharge actually protects your birth canal from infections and maintains a healthy balance of vaginal flora3. While vaginal discharge is a common symptom, vaginal spotting or leakage of fluids that look like amniotic fluid could be a sign of preterm labor. If you also happen to lose your mucus plug or notice reddish or brownish streaked vaginal discharge, let your doctor know about it right away. Your vaginal discharge could also be indicative of an infection if it smells cheesy or looks thick and has a fishy smell. Vaginal infections need to be diagnosed at the earliest because it can be menacing later in pregnancy.
How Will You Deal With Vaginal Discharge?
Vaginal discharge can be dealt with without needing to be conscious about it all the time. Listed below are a few ways in which you can deal with vaginal discharge:
- Wearing sanitary pads and using panty liners can help keep you feeling dry through this phase.
- You can also keep yourself trimmed and clean down there to avoid feeling wet and uncomfortable all the time.
- Feminine hygiene products can be tricky to use. While some maintain a good pH balance, others make the vaginal area too dry and that could lead to itchiness and infections.
- The one thing that you need to avoid doing is douching with water. Douching upsets the balance of the vaginal flora and could lead to the growth of bad bacteria, causing infections.
- Wear cotton undergarments and change them thrice a day to keep yourself dry and clean.
The Reality Of A Caesarean Section
The number of caesarean sections is going up with each passing day. It is possible that you might deliver vaginally without resorting to medical interventions but if you do end up with a C-section that does not make you any less of a mother. C-sections are mostly unplanned and are done to prevent certain medical conditions. However, nowadays, C-sections are also planned because of our modern day lives that are becoming increasingly busy. More people want to plan and schedule their lives so that there is no disruption.
What Are The Reasons That Could Lead To A C-Section?
You could have an unplanned C-section for a number of reasons. They may range from your cervix not dilating beyond a certain point, your baby’s heart rate dropping to complications in your body. Listed below are the top reasons for a C-section:.
- If you have had a C-section before, it is likely that you will have it this time too. However, there have been many success stories of VBAC4 and if you have a supportive midwife or doula, you might be able to deliver vaginally after the first C-section.
- Most twins are delivered via C-section. Even multiples will naturally need a C-section to be delivered.
- If your baby is very large in size, your doctor might recommend a C-section because excessive pressure during labor and delivery could impact your baby’s brain.
- Your baby is not settled in the cephalic presentation yet. While a few doctors believe in changing the position of the baby just before birth, most pregnancies with breech presentations end up in C-sections.
- If you have had low-lying placenta all through your pregnancy, chances are high that you will have a C-section. In this case, the placenta lies low and almost covers the cervix that does not support a vaginal birth.
- If your baby has a disorder or illness that could put her at risk during a vaginal delivery, your doctor will recommend a C-section.
- If you have tested positive for HIV, your viral load will be high and it would put your baby at risk to be delivered vaginally.
- If you have had an invasive uterine surgery beforehand, you might have to opt for a C-section to be able to deliver your baby.
- If your baby has passed meconium and is in distress and your cervix is not ready for labor, you will need to get a C-section done right away.
- If the umbilical cord is around your baby’s neck and there is a sudden drop in the fetal heartbeat, your doctor might not want to take chances and might recommend a C-section.
- If you have had miscarriages in the past or have had a still baby at birth, you could be asked to opt for a C-section to avoid complications this time.
- Emergency C-sections are often carried out in situations where the mother has preeclampsia and there is severe swelling all over the body. Elevated blood pressure is also a reason to have an emergency C-section.
Understanding The Procedure
With medical advancements at their peak, a C-section is no longer as intimidating as it used to be a few decades back. You will most probably be wide awake during the procedure but will not feel the pain at all. All you are likely to feel is pushing and pulling of abdominal muscles.
You can ask your partner to stay with you during the procedure. The procedure begins by starting an IV and inserting a catheter into your urethra to drain out the urine. The next step is to give you an epidural or a spinal block so that the entire lower half of your body is numb. You won’t feel any sensation but will be able to see everything.
In some hospitals, a screen is put up between you and your belly while in some others, the mother can witness everything. Your doctor will make the final incision on your uterus and ease your baby out. The first cry of the baby may or may not take time. Your baby will be handed over to the pediatrician to be examined and washed. Meanwhile, your placenta will be delivered and you will be stitched back up.
Stitching your uterus will take around thirty minutes and once you are done, your baby will be handed over to you for the golden hour of breastfeeding. After the entire procedure is over, you will be taken to your room to recover and breastfeed your baby for as long as you want to. The effects of the IV and the pain medication might make you feel drowsy and sedated. Hand over your baby to your partner or the attending nurse if you feel that there is any such symptom.
Complications With A C-section
Although C-sections are generally less complicated these days, there could be a few complications that can be avoided if proper care is taken.
You could end up with an infection postpartum5. The number of PP infections used to be higher earlier because the stitch needed to be cut open and dressed again after a few days of delivery. Nowadays, most doctors use dissolvable sutures that do not need to opened or dressed.
The other complication with C-section is the occurrence of Urinary Tract infections. This is because of the insertion of catheter during the procedure. This is more of an unavoidable situation so the best way out is to be prepared for it beforehand.
To avoid any complication post a C-section, you should follow the instructions of your doctor to the T. You will be advised against lifting heavy weights or exerting yourself for 6-8 weeks, depending on your recovery. You may or may not be asked to take a shower after the procedure. Ensure that you do not take chances with this at all.
Your doctor will want to see you after 6 weeks to check your recovery. If you are doing fine, he will give you the green signal for light and moderate exercises or else he will ask you to wait it out for a while.
What Can You Do For Your Wife This Week?
You and your wife are almost there at the brink of becoming parents. That tiny dot on the ultrasound screen is now a full-grown newborn and will be in your arms before you know it. They say there is nothing that can prepare you for pregnancy and parenting but you will still need to be prepared enough for the entire procedure.
Recheck your financials, insurance covers and distribute responsibly if you haven’t done that already. Get that car seat installed because you might have a number of false alarms and the car seat needs to be in place if you want to bring your baby back in time.
Keep your wife busy with happy things to do so that it can drive away her anxiety and apprehension to some extent. All she needs is your complete support at the moment. Keep yourself prepared for all kinds of emergencies and you will never find yourself struggling through any phase.