In week 34, around six weeks before your due date, you should now be on maternity leave, having handed over responsibility for your job to your colleagues or deputy. This will allow you to relax and focus your mind on what you’re about to experience.
Your baby, who will see the light of day in a few weeks’ time, is now around 45 cm long. They’re putting on weight faster and faster and now weigh 2237 grams, so they’ll soon be at their birth weight. Don’t worry if your baby doesn’t appear to be growing as much as they should or putting on the right amount of weight: this will vary from baby to baby and is hugely influenced by their genes.
Arrangements for the birth
In these last few weeks, you'll want to think about how you plan to get to the hospital or birthing centre and ensure there’s always enough petrol in the car. Make a list of the phone numbers you'll need - from the midwife and hospital numbers to details of the friends and family you’ll want to phone after the birth. Can you use your mobile in the hospital? If not, keep a supply of loose change or a phone card. Change might also come in handy for your partner to use in the hospital canteen - labour can be a long business sometimes!
If your birth partner plans to stay with you throughout, think about taking a sleeping bag and pillow in the car just in case - plus a supply of snacks for sustenance.
If you haven’t already done so, preparing a birth plan might help you to feel more settled, and will help you to think about all those last-minute arrangements and decisions. Download our handy birth plan.
What it’s like for the mum-to-be in week 34
Your baby grows bigger, your pregnancy becomes harder. It’s no wonder the law dictates that you now don’t have to go to work every day.Focus on yourself and try to enjoy this time.
Statutory maternity pay should mean that you don’t take a financial hit by becoming a mum. So you can relax and adjust to the new circumstances – even after your baby is born, it’ll be some time before you have to go back to work. During this time, you should focus all your energies on your baby and enjoy spending time with your new family without worrying about money.
You may have noticed an unusual sensation of downward pressure. This is caused by the weight of your baby pushing down on your pelvic floor, and it can increase after false labour as your baby moves towards your lesser pelvis. You can alleviate this yourself by doing some gentle exercises, such as rocking from side to side while sitting down. This will relax your pelvic ring and the surrounding tissue, preventing tension in this area.
False labour or actual labour?
You should pack your bag for birth and have it ready in a safe place before false labour begins, as many parents-to-be aren’t sure if it’s false labour or actual labour. First-time parents in particular very often head straight to the hospital, only to be sent back home when it turns out to be a “false alarm”. Don’t worry too much if that’s the case – in fact, it’s excellent practice for the big day when real labour begins and you give birth. If you're nervous,you can read our run-down of what really happens during labour.