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Pregnancy Calendar

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cute illustration of pregnant woman who can't reach her feet

Week 34

Your Baby:

  • Weighs as much as your average cantaloupe (4.75 pounds-ish) and is almost 18 inches long.
  • Reaching the 34-week mark is a big milestone for anyone concerned about pre-term labor, as babies born at this stage usually do just fine (provided they’re otherwise healthy). Other than a slightly longer stay at the hospital, they generally don’t experience any of the long-term health problems that prematurity can cause.
  • That said, don’t let your baby go and get any big ideas about escaping just yet. More baby fat and a few more weeks of lung maturity will still make everybody’s lives easier.

You:

  • Fatigue, heartburn, nausea, frequent trips to the bathroom. It’s like the Return of the First Trimester, only much bigger and rounder and gruntier.
  • Don’t forget to do your Kegel exercises, not only in preparation for childbirth but also to stop the unfortunate peeing-when-you-laugh-or-sneeze phenomenon, which can get pretty out of hand in these final weeks.
  • SO NOT KIDDING ABOUT THAT.

The Birth Plan

So. Does everyone have their Birth Plan written up yet? Have you typed it? Double-spaced it? Printed up back-up copies and filed one with the county courthouse and gotten one notarized?

Yes, I am a little bit snarky when it comes to the Birth Plan.

Not that I don’t understand and agree with the logic behind a detailed Birth Plan — I’m all for removing the fear from childbirth, for helping mothers feel empowered and in control of their bodies and the entire situation, and for doctors respecting their patients’ desires to go natural or stay upright and out of bed or have immediate post-delivery skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding or whatever the hell they want. All for all of that.

It’s just that I’ve also seen the Birth Plan morph into something terrifyingly inflexible — more like a woman trying to choreograph the birth down to the right song playing on the iPod. These ultra-detailed plans, with their high expectations and hopes for everything going so incredibly perfectly, sometimes seem more like the mother-to-be is trying to obsessively checklist her fears away rather than work through them with her midwife or doctor, or perhaps confront her instincts that her OB is not the sort who will respect even the most basic of her wishes. And even worse, anything that deviates from the Birth Plan will often get classified as failure.

Look, they don’t give out medals in the maternity ward. There’s no I Avoided The Episiotomy wall of fame bulletin board and they don’t put little stickers on the babies’ foreheads to distinguish whose mother had an epidural or not. (Although I do remember seeing a sticker on Noah’s bassinet chart that read “I’m a breastfed boy!”, but somehow I doubt the bottle-fed babies’ stickers featured frowny judgement faces, or anything.)

Obviously, birth choices are personal. And important, to a degree. We all have our preferences and images of how we’d like childbirth to happen — hospital, home, birthing center, water, dolphins, whatever. And you absolutely should voice your wishes and concerns with everyone involved in the experience. But like motherhood, childbirth requires a certain acceptance that you cannot control every aspect of it, and that sometimes you simply must stop and reassess things. Be it your own tolerance for pain or your baby’s well-being. And you need to be able to reassess these things without feeling like you…gag…FAILED. Seriously, THEY DON’T GIVE YOU GRADES.

If you had asked me for a birth plan before my first son was born, I would have probably started AND finished it with the epidural. I was certain I’d want it right away. I did not want to be miserable and in pain. Oh, that and breastfeeding as soon as possible. And I was pretty terrified of c-sections. So…let’s try to avoid one of those.

Then I went into labor and discovered that I could handle the contractions after all, and that I found the whole thing incredibly amazing and empowering. I started thinking of going all the way unmedicated, but changed my mind at the very last minute (9 centimeters), when it was confirmed that the baby was badly positioned (occiput posterior), fairly large (macrosomia) and very, very high up in my abdomen. Lots of pushing in my future. I needed some rest.

So I reversed courses AGAIN and got the epidural after all and fell asleep for a little bit. Then I woke up and pushed and pushed, until alarms started going off and the baby wouldn’t budge any further down the birth canal and his heartrate started to plummet with each contraction. Time to reassess again.

C-section time.

As I breastfed my 9 pound, 15 ounce son for the first time in the recovery area, I did have a few minutes when I felt like I’d been hit by a truck. My childbirth experience was nothing like I had expected or planned for. When I tell the story to other women, it almost sounds like a worst-case scenario to them. But it really wasn’t. It was amazing. I’m completely happy and at peace with how it went and how it ended. I did what I could. I experienced everything I really wanted to, but in the end, it was never about me and what kind of transcendent empowering experience I wanted. It was about a safe delivery of a healthy baby, full stop. And I got that. Oh, yes, I got that.

Oh Yeah, THIS: I’m done. I’m SO READY TO BE DONE. A few weeks ago the thought of being “done” was terrifying — my due date was approaching much too quickly for my taste. I wasn’t ready. I needed more time, GAH. I couldn’t imagine feeling impatient and swore I would treasure every day of pregnancy because hoo boy, SO NOT READY TO BE DONE. And now I’m big and uncomfortable and awkward and just…just…DONE. Let’s have a baby already!

New This Time Around: Oy, the heartburn. Nausea. Food aversions. All back in full force. If this keeps up until my due date, I’ll have had exactly three months of NOT throwing up or suffering major gastrointestinal problems throughout the entire pregnancy. That is backwards as hell, and I would like to officially file a complaint with someone.

Finished with the Pregnancy Calendar and want more? Visit Amalah’s postpartum weekly column, Bounce Back. Bounce Back is about the postpartum experience — the good, the bad and the gory.

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Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering ...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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About the Author

Our Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty, was written by Amy Corbett Storch while she was pregnant with her second son, Ezra.

Amy, also known as Amalah, writes the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back here at Alpha Mom. You can follow her daily mothering adventures at her own site, Amalah.

About the Illustrations

The Zero to Forty illustrations were created by the artist Brenda Ponnay, aka Secret Agent Josephine. Brenda is very talented and these images are copyright-protected. You should hire her if you want your own unique ones.

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Comments

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Katelin
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Katelin

Thank you for writing one of the first real things about a birth plan. I was one that semi-micromanaged my birth. Not a single thing happened that was on my birth plan and after all that I had read and was told, I felt like a miserable failure. It took me a while (yay, severe post-partum depression) to realise the fact that I had my baby and she was utterly perfect was all that mattered. Thank you again. I hope your own experience and the wonderful way in which you put it into words will help some future mom not… Read more »

Hilary
Guest

I wonder how many non-pregnant women read this because I have enjoyed every week of it. 🙂 Also, this seems TOTALLY real to me, this “Birth Plans kind of not always 100% happen that way” kind of deal. You have eased a lot of my fears for what I hope to one day experience. Thanks!

Arwen
Guest

I didn’t have a birth plan, aside from a general wish to avoid interventions as much as possible. Due to some minor complications (including delivering at a completely different hospital than I’d planned) I ended up with IV fluids, constant monitoring, and an episiotomy – all things that would have been on my “I’d rather not” list. Still, I felt good about my birth, and I’m not sure if it’s because I did get what I really wanted (to avoid a c-section) or because I understood all the interventions I had and accepted them as necessary. At any rate, it… Read more »

Amy in StL
Guest
Amy in StL

Okay, I’m not pregnant but I’ve been glued to every week of this. It’s funny and insightful. Plus, someday when I am pregnant it’ll be good to remember some of this so I don’t think I’m the only one.

Kelly
Guest
Kelly

I am not a mother and have never been pregnant, but I read this every week. Amalah cracks me up to no end, plus she talks about the real and not-so-glamorous things about pregnancy that no one else wants to talk about. I work on a Mother/Infant unit, where I interact with antepartum and postpartum women. It is nice to hear someone say that it is ok for things to go differently than originally planned during birth. I can’t tell you how many times I have been with a patient and her partner, where they cry and cry, wondering where… Read more »

Ruth
Guest
Ruth

Ooh, thanks for that link, Arwen. I love Moxie, but I don’t remember having read that post. I think Moxie’s point about a good birth being one in which you feel respected as a person is important. Clearly, Amy, you felt respected and affirmed in Noah’s birth, regardless of the fact that it wasn’t as you had imagined it would be. (And not so much with the affirmed and respected in the post-birth lactation consultant phase, if I remember your experience correctly.) It is when people lose sight of this right of the mother for respect and when they insist… Read more »

Mouse
Guest

I’m another who had to make peace with a wildly different birth than planned. I was sure I didn’t want an epidural and told my OB; the best thing she said to me was, “Just keep in mind that sometimes plans have to change, so don’t completely exclude the possibility in your mind.” She wasn’t dismissive of my desires, just injected a little realism. Good thing she did–I wasn’t progressing and was headed towards 24 hours after my waters broke, so they were talking about c-section. Since I knew (shout out for pre-natal education!) that I would end up with… Read more »

Tara
Guest
Tara

Looks like someone read the Girlfriend’s Guide. I have to tell you, I am 34w as well, and I have really enjoyed having you along for this ride with me. Let me take this opportunity to say thanks for the laughs!!!
XXX!!!
Tara

psumommy
Guest
psumommy

Something else that’s never talked about is women who fully intend on having an epidural and never even consider the possibility that they might give birth drug free…not common, surely, but still. Definitely something I’d never thought about until my neighbor, who volunteers at a clinic, said something to me about it the other day. She had to deal with 3 women who had never even considered that they might not get what they wanted, and so entered into a drug-free birth completely unprepared and terrified- which makes for a *horrible* birth experience. Just thought I’d throw that out there… Read more »

Binary Blonde
Guest

I am pregnant (34 weeks this Friday) with my first baby (it’s a boy) and read this every week. I find it incredibly helpful, especially because she expresses humor with all the not-so-fun things about pregnancy. In the end, that amounts for a lot in my book! I love this weeks a whole lot because I am facing a c-section if my boy doesn’t turn around before 39 weeks. Seeing as I am birthing with midwives at a birthing center, a c-section is not something I want.. AT ALL. But, I’ve come to accept that if it was meant to… Read more »

Mel
Guest
Mel

This was my birth plan: walk into hospital, have csection, be pushed out in a wheelchair with carseat/baby combo in lap. Lots thought I was crazy for having a planned csection with my first…then they all had babies themselves and 1/2 had to have emergency csections. That shut everyone up. I’m not advocating a csection for everyone, it was a good (and ob-endorsed) plan for me and I couldn’t be happier with it. #2 will be delivered in the same fashion.

professormama
Guest
professormama

So I had a list of things I wanted to have happen at my son’s birth and things I did not want. You can’t really plan a birth, this is very true. But it’s important to go into what will likely be the most intense experience of your life feeling empowered about what you want and don’t want so you are not bullied by doctors, nurses or midwives, all car providers are there to give care, but they are also on a schedule and often over worked, they can and do make mistakes in being to pushy and not always… Read more »

Della
Guest

That whole “Oh yeah, This” section? That is ME RIGHT NOW. And was me two weeks ago. If you are reading ahead and you’re at, like 20 or 25 or 30 weeks, oh geez, please don’t panic. You have a LONG TIME TO GO and no matter how easy it is (this pregnancy has been a breeeeeeeeeeeze for me), you are going to be READY way before you are actually ready. Hang in there. Get stuff done at that 20 weeks because by 35 weeks you’re going to be going “uuuuuuggggghhhh.” Not to say you’ll be miserable or something, but… Read more »

Ashley F
Guest
Ashley F

Oh god Della – I am RIGHT there with you. WHEN WILL THIS BE OVER? I haven’t had a terrible pregnancy, but honestly? I’m just not a fan of being pregnant. I WANT MAH BABY. 🙂 I”m so ready and so excited for him to get here and honestly… 6.5 more weeks are you KIDDING ME? UGH. As far as the birth plan goes… my plan is to have healthy baby at the end of it, with relatively little mental anguish for Mom. So, I’m a roll with the punches kind of gal. If I can make it without the… Read more »

LMK
Guest
LMK

Oh the joys of pregnancy, I think this week was a turning point. I’ve noticed I can no longer touch my toes or put on my shoes. The baby hiccups so many times a day that it’s actually annoying to me now. I am starting to swell and look fat despite eating healthy and exercising 5-6 days a week. My backs hurts all the time, standing, sitting, sleeping.. ALL the time! My tailbone hurts too. I have a terrible pain in my right rib, i think the baby lays with her foot just wedged in there. I cant breathe, so… Read more »

Kim
Guest
Kim

Oh, the leakage. The horrible leakage. I caught my husband’s cold, and now all I do all day is cough and projectile pee, cough and projectile pee. I could barely get a sample out at the OB’s- most of it was in the Depends pad. Because that is what this child has brought me to. But – having given birth at 35 weeks after 2 weeks of bed rest with my first, I am not ready to be DONE. This baby has turned, I’m getting kicked in places I’ve never been kicked before, and she refuses to let me slouch.… Read more »

AShley
Guest
AShley

I agree wholeheartedly with how ProfessorMama put it! Duh, I know I can’t control the unexpected things that may happen during labor, and I know that if something pops up and it means the life or death of me/my child—I will take whatever means necessary for a healthy delivery. BUT, at the same time, I don’t want to be pushed into unnecessary procedures just because the Dr.’s late for dinner, etc. My Birth *wish* is for things to take their course naturally, for me to hold my baby and try to feed her ASAP, for her to get all of… Read more »

KT
Guest
KT

To anyone reading this in the future – if you think there’s even a chance your doctor would push you into something because he or she is late for dinner, switch doctors. To have that low opinion of the person who is supposed to be providing your care is crazy.

rd
Guest
rd

It’s not having the opinion that’s crazy…you’re wording that very backward-ly. It’s treating patients like trash that is crazy

Amy J
Guest
Amy J

Sigh. I should have been reading this at the beginning of this week excitedly thinking about there only being 6 weeks until I’d get to meet my baby. Alas, our little miracle man was born at 23 weeks and we’ve been navigating the NICU for the last 11 weeks. We are so blessed that he’s fighting to stay with us and he really is doing well considering his very early arrival. I mourn the fact that I didn’t get to have a normal pregnancy, complete with baby showers and swollen ankles. As Kim said, tell the babies to stay where… Read more »

Sarah
Guest
Sarah

If the standard of hospital L&D care was that of patience and respect then I wouldn’t feel so particular about my birth plan. As it is, I do (but I don’t know why- one of the nurses at my hospital said they don’t even look at the birth plan- “Oh we just chuck it. It doesn’t matter.”). It’s not about medals or grades, it’s about what I, after careful research, believe is best for my baby and myself.

Navan
Guest
Navan

Okay, I felt like a failure earlier this week cause I went into my doc’s office and declared “I AM SO OVER THIS!” and begged her to put me on medical leave until my due date (which is in early November…heh.) Glad to hear that I am not over reacting totally. For the record, she did- in two weeks. So there’s that.  As for the birth plan- mine is “LEAVE ME THE HELL ALONE.” Going for a Bradley birth here- I’m going to the hospital because that’s where my (family doctor, not OB) delivers, but other than being physically IN… Read more »

Wendy
Guest
Wendy

Thank you everyone for your candid responses.  Its so refreshing to hear I’m not alone (misery loves company).  I think my biggest hurdle is the disappointment that pregnancy wasn’t this magical thing that everyone tells you it is.  I wish more people could be honest and say that growing a kid inside of your body is uncomfortable and difficult most days.  My mind is mostly the same, but my body can’t keep up.  My biggest comfort during this pregnancy is when I saw the movie What to Expect and the character Wendy had such a hard time.  I too call… Read more »

Rebecca
Guest
Rebecca

I’m between 34 & 35 this week with my 2nd babe and, while this has been a much less ’24-7 nausea’ pregnancy, it is, instead, a ‘wow, that frickin’ hurt’ pregnancy because he is laying differently than my first, apparently (something to do with placenta placement…). ANYWAY, the first time ’round, I was in serious denial that this baby had to come.out.of.my.body at some point. My husband actually had to force us to take a ‘prepared childbirth’ course in the last few weeks of that pregnancy, because there was no way I was going to acknowledge the fact that I… Read more »

Erika
Guest
Erika

Best advice I got from my midwife:  make a detailed birth plan and then leave it at home.  That way you’ve thought through the options, but you can take the decisions as they come. I think it’s a great balance of being prepared and empowered, but allowing yourself to roll with whatever comes. 

So ready to be done with pregnancy, but also aware that he’s going to be easier to carry while he’s still inside…so here’s to a few more weeks of getting some things done before all beta are off!

Meredith
Guest
Meredith

I would also check with your hospital to see what their “Birth Plan” is and go from there.  Our hospital practices baby rooming in with the mother the whole time and a “procedure only” nursery, as well as 1 hour minimum of skin to skin contact after baby is born.  Meanwhile the hospital 20 minutes away will take them all night to the nursery if you want.  So you may need to find out what the hospital’s position is on everything. Also, Amalah is right.  Just like with anything else…you can plan as much as you want and life is… Read more »

Jennifer
Guest
Jennifer

hoo boy i’m sort of late to the game here lol. Just want to say that I’m due late December and have made my birth plan, but I am totally ok with most of it not being followed. Important stuff like letting the drs know what my plan is if they have to make a baby vs mommy life or death decision I absolutely am firm on, since the hubs has already agreed to those types of things just does not do well under pressure and having the drs stop mid procedure and have to go ask him would be… Read more »

Julie
Guest
Julie

Definitely no one should feel like a failure because they cracked and got the epideral or whatever.  But I do agree with those who say that having a healthy baby is not all that matters.  It takes top priority…but all that matters? No.  It matters to me if my health is arversely effected by a procedure I didnt need.  At least half if not more of c-sections are unnecessary.  In my family, no one in 4 generations needed any intervention other than one who needed her water broken.  No IVs, no epiderals, no episiotomies and certainly no c-sections.  So just… Read more »

Emily
Guest
Emily

I hear you that C-sections shouldn’t happen when unnecessary – but sometimes they ARE necessary. And I don’t think it helps women who need to have them to hear them described as being “chopped 6 ways to Sunday.” Everyone’s experience is different, but my C-section recovery was really pretty great – the women recovering from vaginal births looked a whole lot more beat up than I felt afterwards, and things were really pretty smooth for me. Also, without it I and my son would NOT have been okay. While C-sections are riskier for moms, they’re actually safer for babies. I… Read more »

Laura
Guest
Laura

I needed this today. Thank you so much. I actually started crying at my desk reading it, it made me feel so much better. I attended a publically funded regional pre-natal class on the weekend and was made to feel like I was crazy for even wanting to know about an epidural. And made to feel that my baby would be disadvantaged if I did, so why would I ask about it? They didn’t even discuss why a C-section may end up being necessary, just that it was bad and we do too many of them in Canada, which wasn’t… Read more »

Kate Hurt
Guest
Kate Hurt

Sometimes C-sections are necessary, but getting an epidural makes them way more likely. Epidurals slow labor and restrict the type of movement in labor which can allow complications to be avoided (like baby getting stuck in the wrong position). It’s just a fact. People need to know this information and take it into account without feeling or being made to feel less-than if they do choose the epidural. If avoiding a c-section is a priority, avoiding an epidural is going to greatly increase your chances of achieving that goal. My baby was also occiput posterior. I credit not getting the… Read more »

rd
Guest
rd

Nope. The birth plan is key. And defaulting to hospitals for birth is insane we’re utterly brainwashed. Staying home.