Welcome to week 34. Only six weeks to go!
Your baby was as big as a butternut squash last week and is growing to about the size of a pineapple. Your baby measures 17.8 inches (45.3 cm) and weighs 5.2 pounds (2.4 kg).
As your uterine and abdominal walls stretch and thin, more light makes its way into the womb. The increase in light causes your baby to open and close its eyes in response. This should help them distinguish between night and day, but don’t expect them to be on your schedule at birth.
Those tiny fingernails have probably reached the tips of your baby’s fingers by now. Once your baby is born, you will be amazed at how fast its nails grow. Get ready to be their manicurist and cut or file them every few days. For more information on what to expect during the first few days, check out the episode on bringing your baby home. There is also an episode on troubleshooting issues that can come up in the first few days.
Your belly will keep getting bigger until you go into labor. With only about six weeks to go, now is a good time to dial in your preparation and plans for birth.
You may find yourself anxious about going into labor. If you are scared about giving birth, you certainly are not alone. The best defense is to educate yourself. If you fear things not going as planned, a backup plan can help you know what you would do in alternate scenarios. If you are nervous about having a bowel movement during labor, there is an episode on the truth about pooping during labor.
You may also consider arming yourself with some additional tools. No matter where you have your baby, you can adjust your surroundings to create the best environment for you to feel calm and safe during labor. This episode dives into the evidence on how your environment impacts your labor and tips to improve your birth room at home, a birth center, or a hospital.
In addition to your environment, a basic understanding of labor positions and breathing during labor can make a massive difference in your labor. Evidence shows that upright or squatting positions can make your labor faster. Some specific breathing techniques can influence your perception of pain. The more tools you have in your toolbox, the better.
During labor and birth, oxytocin is the driving force of your contractions. Other hormones, like beta-endorphins and catecholamines, counteract oxytocin to slow labor. When this works like it is supposed to, this balancing act keeps your labor at a pace where you can experience the positive effects and relief from beta-endorphins, and your body can handle the stress. Labor can slow down, stop, and even reverse when these stress hormones are too high. This is the concept of “pasmo.” This episode covers why your labor can slow down, stop, or reverse with steps you can take to promote your labor progress.
Perineal massage is an exercise done in the weeks before birth to prevent tearing. The theory behind perineal massage is that stretching this area leading up to your birth will allow it to stretch more easily and without tearing when your baby is crowning. There is no consensus on the ideal frequency or duration of the massage but most mothers who utilize this start in week 34 or 35. See this episode to learn about the evidence on this practice and get step-by-step instructions. There is also an episode on everything you need to know about a vaginal tear and episiotomy during birth, including prevention and promoting healing postpartum.
If you are taking a birth class over a weekend, you should attend it within the next few weeks.
Tip for Dads and Partners
A push present is a gift for your significant other after they have your baby. Not everyone is into this, and it is certainly not mandatory. If she expects a gift, you should prepare to give one. The last thing you want is a new mother who is disappointed that she didn’t get a push present if she was expecting one.
Want more evidence-based information to navigate your pregnancy and birth?
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