Your baby is now nearly 13 inches long from head to rump (almost 20 inches from head to toes) and weighs about 5 pounds. He is just about complete. He has sharp fingernails that reach to the end of his tiny fingers. He's losing wrinkles and gaining fat.
He now has all of the tools he needs to survive in the outside world (although if he were born today, he would need to stay in the hospital for a week or more of observation.) His immune system can fight off infections, and his lungs are nearly complete. A baby born in week 34 might need to be on oxygen for a few days but wouldn't need the intense medical care that extremely premature babies require.
His brain and his senses are working together as never before. He's listening, tasting, and touching. He pays close attention to music. Some types relax him, and some inspire him to move along with the beat. His sight is well developed, too. Although it's very dark in there, he's been able to make out dim shapes for the last week or so.
Your baby is sending messages to your body. For example, his adrenal glands are starting to produce hormones that will increase milk production in your breasts.
Of course, you don't need hormones to tell you that the end is near. You've been pregnant for eight months now, and your entire body is feeling the strain. Among other things, you may feel like your energy has vanished. There's really only one remedy for fatigue: rest. Nap when you can, and make a renewed commitment to get at least eight hours of sleep a night.
There's more at stake than just your energy. A study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that women who got less than six hours of sleep each night in late pregnancy had especially long labors and were over four times more likely to have a Cesarean section. It doesn't necessarily prove cause and effect, but it's hard to argue against a woman's need for as much sleep as possible in the weeks before she has a baby.
So tuck yourself in early and get some much-needed rest. If it helps, you can put on some relaxing music. And remember: You won't be the only one listening.
American Academy of Family Physicians. Pregnancy Calendar.
Campbell, Stuart, MD. Watch Me Grow. St. Martins Griffin.
Curtis, Glade, MD. Your Pregnancy Week by Week, 5th edition. Da Capo Press.
Shanahan, M. Kelly, MD. Your Over-35 Week-By-Week Pregnancy Guide. Week 34: High Blood Pressure and Pre-Eclampsia. Prima Publishers.
Lee. K.A. and C.L. Gay. Sleep in late labor predicts length of labor and type of delivery. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. December 2004. 191(6): 2041-2046.