Week 34

Baby: Your baby measures about 19.8 inches from head to toe and weighs about 5 pounds. Baby is probably settling into the head-down position, although it might not be final. Organs are now almost fully mature, except for lungs, and the skin is pink instead of red. Fingernails reach the ends of fingers, but toenails are not yet fully grown. Baby might have lots of hair. Movements are less frequent because of the tight fit.

Mom-to-be: Your uterus hardens and contracts as practice for labor, known as Braxton Hicks contractions, but you may not feel them yet. Your pelvis has expanded and may ache, especially at the back. Uterus is pushed hard against your lower ribs and your rib cage may be sore, and your navel is probably pushing out as a result of your abdomen being stretched.

and?

So the best part about 34 weeks is the fact that, from my hospital’s perspective, I’m in the clear.  What does that mean?  The short answer is it means I get to have the small one at the hospital I intended. 

The long answer is that the hospital where I plan to give birth does not have a best in class NICU like the teaching hospital in town, so any baby that’s born who needs respiratory support is placed in an ambulance after birth and driven the two miles down the road to the University Hospital.  This is a great working relationship between hospitals but right now I happen to know that the NICU is over capacity at UVA so they are now sending pregnant ladies they suspect will give birth early to the next nearest NICU-equipped hospital, which is 90 minutes away in Richmond. 

But back to 34 weeks – it’s my hospital’s policy that babies born before 34 weeks are presumed to need NICU support, meaning that I’ve just crossed the threshold where, unless something goes wrong, the small one is not NICU-bound.  Yippee!

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