Your Pregnancy: Week 34
One of the biggest developments of the third trimester is the baby’s brain, so this is the time to fill up on omega-3 fatty acids (DHA), found in fish, DHA eggs and supplements. Studies suggest mothers who eat a DHA-rich diet will improve their child’s brain and vision development, as well as prevent postpartum depression and premature delivery. Just be careful not to load up on mercury-heavy fish like swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and tilefish. Talk to your doctor if you’re unsure what to eat.
Your baby is up to a whopping 5 pounds – even though the extra belly weight probably feels like 15 to you. His/her eyes are fully open now, only closing when it’s time to sleep. Even so, that doesn’t mean the eyesight is up to par, considering it takes awhile after babies are born for them to focus clearly.
Your baby can now determine the difference between sweet and sour tastes in the amniotic fluid surrounding them, possibly acting as a “flavor bridge” to breast milk, which also carries different food flavors from your diet.
Wash the baby’s clothes in a gentle, fragrance-free detergent.
Send out thank you notes for the shower (if you had one.)
If you haven’t yet, now is the time to take courses like infant CPR, prenatal breastfeeding and newborn care.
Ask your practitioner about your baby’s positioning. If the baby is head-down (which is good!) but facing up toward your stomach (which causes back labor), spend 10 minutes a day on all fours, gently rocking back and forth. Also be careful not to slouch back in your chair, the baby can slip face-up. Ideally, the baby should be head-down with his or her face toward your back.
Advice from Dr. Shari E. Brasner
I don’t happen to think childbirth classes are essential, but I do think they’re enormously helpful for first-time mothers as well as their doctors. Selfishly, perhaps, I feel that some of the onus is taken off the obstetrician, if, during a delivery, he or she doesn’t have to walk a totally uninformed patient through every detail of what’s likely to happen. These classes are also beneficial for couples, especially those expecting for the first time; the classes get them in the habit of thinking of themselves as a parental team, and they’re an effective way of involving the father.”
Babble recommends Dr. Brasner’s pregnancy book, Advice from a Pregnant Obstetrician.
Mom-To-Mom Advice: But What Does it Really Feel Like?
People sometimes say that birth is like “crapping a watermelon.” Okay…though it’s hard to say what crapping a watermelon would actually feel like. Other common descriptions include “the mother of all menstrual cramps” and the basic yet terrifying “the worst pain you’ve ever felt.” And then there are the people who describe pushing as “a relief,” and those stories of orgasmic birth…
Which of these will be true for you? It’s impossible to know. Maybe none, maybe all. Maybe for you it’ll be more like throwing your back out than menstrual cramps. Maybe “the worst pain ever” will be nothing compared to your parents’ divorce in the ’80s. We don’t know your life. And we can’t tell you exactly what your labor will feel like. Every labor is a unique experience, and pain is totally subjective.
However, there are a few things we can tell you about what will be happening to your body and how that might affect how you feel. Sometimes knowing what’s causing the pain can make an overwhelming sensation at least feel logical, if not pleasant. Keep in mind when you read this that there are lots of ways to cope with pain, from positioning to breathing to medication.
- Labor is not one thing. Early labor can be long and even boring at times. Active labor can be really hard and push you to your absolute limits. Pushing can feel liberating – something you can do at last – or be the hardest part of all. So when you hear that first-time labor tends to be really long (hours to days) please don’t imagine grueling pain for the entire time. The majority of that time is early labor, which tends to be less intense and more manageable.
- The major part of labor is the “dilating” phase where the cervix dilates or opens from 0-10 centimeters. This is achieved through the contractions. At the end of pregnancy, the uterus is the biggest muscle in your body. When it contracts there’s a lot of power going into it. The intensity starts out low, ramps up, peaks and then slowly recedes.
- Unlike many other kinds of pain, in labor, you get breaks. Contractions come and they go. The breaks between them – ranging from 30 minutes in early labor to 1 minute in very active labor – give you time to collect yourself, change position, drink water and rest for the next contraction. When you finish a contraction it can be helpful to think, I’ll never have to do that one again.
- Pain in labor does not mean something is wrong. Birth is a normal physiological process, but it almost always involves pain. But the source of the pain is different from when something is broken: This is a meaningful distinction and can reduce anxiety (which can, in turn, reduce the perception of pain).
Babble recommends From the Hips, by Rebecca Odes and Ceridwen Morris.