The 34th week of pregnancy is an exciting time, as the baby continues to grow and develop inside the mother's body and both get ready for the impending birth. For a woman who has had a healthy, uneventful pregnancy, this time is often filled with anticipation about finally getting to meet her child in a few weeks. Moms-to-be who are high risk or who have encountered problems during the pregnancy will continue to be monitored and treated by their doctors.
The unborn baby is about 17 1/2 inches long at the 34th week of pregnancy, according to the American Pregnancy Association. He should weigh about four and three quarters to five and a half pounds. He continues to put on fat underneath his skin. All of his major organs have formed, and his lungs have developed to the point where survival outside the womb is possible.
At 34 weeks pregnant, the mother's body is making the final preparations before birth. She is visibly pregnant, with the top of her uterus about five and a half inches above her belly button. Many women experience fatigue during the 34th week, says the Baby Center "Your Pregnancy: 34 Weeks" page, even if they had some relief during the second trimester. As the body's hormones ramp up before birth and the baby grows larger, pregnant women at this stage may also experience swollen feet, dizziness and backaches.
Most of the necessary prenatal tests looking for birth defects and problems with the umbilical cord, amniotic sac or placenta have already been done by 34 weeks. At this point, the test for group B Strep, a bacterial infection of the vaginal canal, should be planned for sometime in the next few weeks, says the March of Dimes. This test can determine if the mother needs antibiotics to protect her baby from infection during birth. She may also have a final ultrasound scheduled to monitor any previously discovered issues.
According to the March of Dimes, more than 70 percent of premature births take place between weeks 34 to 36. The survival rate for these babies is over 99 percent, and most preemies born after reaching 34 weeks encounter only short-term medical issues that are solved during a stay in the hospital for a few days or weeks after birth instead of the severe long-lasting problems found in babies delivered earlier than 34 weeks.
A major concern at the 34th week of pregnancy is preterm labor, and women at this point in pregnancy should be on the lookout for signs that signal the start of labor. These can include an increase in vaginal discharge, more than four contractions in an hour and pain in the lower back or pelvic area, according to the Baby Center article "Preterm labor and birth." Generally, because most babies survive birth at 34 weeks, doctors allow labor to progress and do not try to stop or delay delivery if the pregnancy has reached the 34-week mark.