Pregnancy Week 34 / Third Trimester

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Week 34

What happens to you?

Your body is really getting ready for labor and delivery.  You may notice that you have more and more contractions, and that some of them feel real.  This is a good sign that your body will be ready for delivery, but it can also mean pre-term labor.  Talk to your healthcare practitioner to be sure.

Here some of the labor basics, broken down into the three major stages of childbirth:

First Stage

This begins when you start to have regular contractions that increase in frequency and intensity.  Make sure you know how to time contractions.  Usually labor will start off slowly, and you may not be sure that it is really labor.  When the contractions are more intense and come more frequently, then you will be in the active phase of the first stage of labor.

Your healthcare practitioner will give you guidelines as to when you should call him.  Some want you to go to the hospital as soon as your water breaks.  Or he may say to call him when you have steady contractions that are so many minutes apart.

The next phase of the first stage of labor is transition.  Transition is the short but hard part of labor.  Your uterine contractions will come very close together, but are not usually any stronger than the contractions of the active phase.  By the end of transition your cervix will be completely dilated to 10 centimeters - big enough for the baby's head to pass through.

Second Stage

This stage begins when you are completely dilated.  You will begin pushing the baby out of your body.  Your contractions will get further apart and feel differently.  Most women feel the urge to push, if they haven't had too much medication.  If you have been medicated, you might or might not feel the urge to push.  Your labor nurses will help you get ready to push at the right time (during a contraction).  The end of the second stage will be marked by the birth of the baby.

Third Stage

Soon after the baby is delivered, the placenta will detach from the wall of the uterus.  This can happen five minutes to an hour after delivery.  You will be asked to give a few small pushes to help get the placenta out.

What happens to the baby?

The baby is continuing to grow and is now 4 pounds 7 ounces (2 kilograms), with a length of 42.5 cm or 16.8 inches.  The baby urinates almost a pint a day by this week.

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