All About Baby
Your unborn baby’s muscles are maturing along with the rest of his body. He can hold his head up and turn it from side to side. He’ll practice his newfound muscle tone by stretching out his arms and kicking his legs.
If you are indeed having a boy, the testes have descended into their proper place. Your baby’s eyes are now open when awake, and closed when sleeping. Most of the lanugo is gone and replaced with a thick coat of vernix.
All About You
Have you written your birth plan? How about setting up a phone tree to share the happy news? (That way, once baby has arrived, your birth partner only has to make one phone call—and the news will be spread from there.) This week you’ll need to iron out all your birth details.
And be sure you know the signs of premature labor!
- Menstrual-like cramps (sometimes with diarrhea, indigestion, or nausea)
- Watery, pinkish, or brownish discharge (sometimes preceded by a thick mucus plug)
- Amniotic fluid, trickling or flowing from the vagina
By now you’re getting used to the backaches, leg cramps, and other pains that come with the final weeks of pregnancy. You may also experience swelling in your ankles and feet, and sometimes in your face and hands. The swelling is caused in part by pregnancy hormones, which encourage your body to hang on to water to fuel a variety of baby-growing needs. Try drinking plenty of water and elevating your feet as much as possible to relieve swelling. Don’t worry—most of your uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms will disappear once you deliver. In some cases—five to 10 percent of pregnancies—persistent swelling may be a sign of a potentially serious condition called preeclampsia. Your healthcare provider will be checking you regularly, however, to make sure that you do not have this condition.
Getting Ready for the Hospital
On TV and in the movies, having a baby often seems quick and dramatic. In real life, you’ll most likely be at the hospital for hours rather than minutes before your nurse or physician announces, “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!” And unless it’s an emergency situation, you won’t likely be rushed into a delivery room. That said, if you plan ahead, you can make your hospital or birth center experience less hectic.
Take a practice run: Sounds like a silly question, but do you know how to get to the hospital? How about what entrance to use or where to park your car? Go on a practice ride so you know the answers to these questions.
On your run, take notes. For example, parking can be stressful, especially when you’re in labor. Find out how close the hospital’s parking structure is to the hospital. Once in the hospital, find out exactly what floor houses labor and delivery (L&D). Ask whether you go directly to L&D or whether you need to check in somewhere else first.
Your hospital may offer tours for parents-to-be; call to find out more.
Fill in your paperwork before delivery day: You shouldn’t have to worry about anything other than having a baby once you’re in labor, but the hospital needs information about your health insurance and medical history before you can be admitted. Most hospitals will allow you to fill out pre-admission forms a few weeks before your expected due date. Certified nurse midwife Dr. Joanne Motino Bailey, PhD, says that your physician may be able to provide you with the necessary forms you need to fill out to make check-in at the hospital a quick process.
You should also contact your health insurance provider before delivery day, as you will need to add your baby’s name to your insurance policy shortly after birth.
Check the hospital’s costs for incidental expenses: You may take it for granted that you’ll have a phone and a TV in your room, but depending on hospital policy, you may be charged if you use them. Whether you’re in the hospital for two days or more, these costs can add up (and aren’t likely covered by your health insurance).
You may also be charged more if you are in a private room. Call the hospital and your health insurance provider beforehand to make sure you understand these costs.
Choose a pediatrician for your baby: As part of your hospital paperwork, you may be asked to include the name of your baby’s pediatrician. Consult with your health insurance provider, your physician, or even ask friends for recommendations when selecting a doctor for your child.
Once you’ve chosen a pediatrician, contact him or her with your baby’s expected delivery date. A pediatrician will need to examine your baby before he leaves the hospital. Your pediatrician will then suggest when to schedule follow-up appointments and immunizations for your infant.
Q & A
Got questions about Week 34? Other ladies have wondered…
Q: Can I do anything to prevent placenta previa?
“Placenta previa occurs when the placenta either partially or completely covers the internal opening to the cervix, obstructing the baby’s path for birth. Placenta previa can lead to heavy vaginal bleeding as the cervix starts to open, and may require a Cesarean birth. The diagnosis of placenta previa is usually made by ultrasound. Read more about placenta previa.
Q: Is it normal at 34 weeks to have back pain, nausea, and diarrhea?
Many moms-to-be don’t feel great towards the end of pregnancy. Nausea may return, and backaches are very common, due to the change in weight and posture. Diarrhea is less common as a pregnancy symptom, although it can be caused by trying to eat a healthier diet than usual. Read more about pregnancy pains.
Q: What kind of vaginal discharge is normal?
Most of the time vaginal discharge is normal. The combination of increased blood flow to this area and increased estrogen will cause an increase in whitish mucousy discharge, also known as leukorrhea. Leukorrhea is what many women experience even when they are not pregnant at different times in their cycles. Read more about vaginal discharge during pregnancy.
Bonding Tips for New Dads
Many new fathers don’t know quite what to do with their new babies. The truth is it doesn’t really matter what you do with Baby, just that you do things with him or her.
Wondering how to get started? Try these tips:
- Hold your baby. You don’t have to do anything special, just hold her. You may want to try kangaroo care—holding your bare baby to your bare chest. You can sit anywhere comfortable and either take your shirt off or wear a shirt you can unbutton, and lay your newborn directly on your chest. Put a blanket over her so she stays warm. To make it even more special, read or talk to her so she can hear the comforting sound of your voice. She may even fall asleep like that. In fact, you may as well.
- Feed your baby. If your partner is breastfeeding (and has a routine pretty well established), ask her to pump a little bit every day so you can give your baby a bottle. It’s important that the two of you share some valuable Daddy-Baby time together. And it is good for Baby to know that you, too, can take care of her hunger needs.
- Take a walk with your tiny one in a baby carrier (Baby Bjorn, baby sling, etc.). You can also just carry your newborn. When she’s a bit older, you can take her out in a stroller, too.
- Read, talk, or sing to your baby. She needs to hear the sound of your voice. You can read anything:Sports Illustrated, an Abraham Lincoln biography, really anything … try not to read your work papers, though! (By the way, Baby can hear your voice after the fifteenth week in the womb.)
- Hold your partner while she holds your baby. This is another good way to build intimacy and closeness in your family.
- Change diapers/dress your baby. Just as with feeding, your baby needs to know you can meet her core needs. Not only does changing diapers and dressing your little one help to build a bond, but it is one-on-one time that you’ll find yourself cherishing while easing the burden on your partner.
- Trim or file her nails. Babies nails grow fast and can cause quite a bit of damage to their delicate skin (and yours too!) when they get too long. You don’t have to use nail clippers if doing so makes you nervous; a nail file works well, too.