Tommy's PregnancyHub

My premature baby's development in the womb-week 34

If you have been told you are at risk of a premature birth, you may be feeling anxious. Here’s some information about your baby’s development this week.

This information is for women who have been told that they are at risk of a premature birth

If you are not at risk of having a premature baby, we have information for you in our pregnancy calendar - our week-by-week guide to the stages of pregnancy.

Your baby's development this week

Babies are usually growing very quickly now. Their sucking reflex will become properly established during this stage and the baby will be sucking on their thumbs or fingers. However most babies born before 35 or 36 weeks still need some practice, which means that breastfeeding may be difficult to establish.

Your pregnancy symptoms

Varicose veins

Many women notice that they have varicose veins during the later stages of their pregnancy. Varicose veins are veins that have become swollen. They may be blue or dark purple, and are often lumpy, bulging or twisted in appearance. They can be uncomfortable but aren’t harmful. You may have noticed that you developed varicose veins during pregnancy, but most women find that these improve a lot after their baby is born.

However, there are other things that cause varicose veins, such as genetics (if varicose veins run in your family) and being overweight. 

Varicose veins are rarely a serious condition and they do not usually require treatment. But speak to a GP if they are causing any pain, discomfort or irritation. 

Any red skin, swelling or tenderness in the leg may also be a sign of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT isn’t common in pregnancy, but you are more likely to develop it than non-pregnant women of the same age. This needs immediate medical treatment. Contact your GP or call NHS 111 (NHS 24 in Scotland) straight away. 

You’ll probably have an antenatal appointment this week. Your midwife or doctor should: 

  • use a tape measure to measure the size of your uterus
  • measure your blood pressure and test your urine for protein
  • offer your second anti-D treatment if you're rhesus negative (a blood type). 

Other symptoms

If you are at risk of giving birth early, it’s important to take care of yourself. There are also some things you can do to try and reduce the risk of giving birth early.

Tell your midwife or doctor if you have any symptoms that you are worried about. Do not worry if you've talked about it before and don't be concerned about whether you're wasting anyone's time. This is your pregnancy and it's important to trust your own instincts if you feel something isn't right.

You can also call the Tommy’s midwives on 0800 014 7800 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm), or email us at [email protected]

Symptoms of early labour

Call your midwife or hospital maternity unit straight away if you think you are in early labour. It may be a false alarm, but it’s best to get checked out. Find out more about the symptoms of early labour

Your mental health

If you have been told that you are at increased risk of giving birth early, it’s important to try and reduce stress and take care of your emotional health. Find out more about coping with the idea of a premature birth.

What may happen if your baby is born this week

If you have any questions about your pregnancy or risk of premature birth please talk to your doctor or midwife.

You can also call the Tommy’s midwives on 0800 014 7800 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm), or email us at [email protected]

If your baby was born this week, they would be classed as moderate to late preterm.  

Babies born now are less likely to have any severe problems associated with being born prematurely. They may still need to go to the neonatal unit for specialist care, if this cannot be provided on the maternity ward with you. They will need to be watched more carefully than full-term babies. 

The risk of any breathing problems is lower, but some babies may need some support. They may need small prongs put into their nostrils or have a mask put over their nose connected to a machine (called ‘CPAP’ or ‘high flow’) that provides air, with or without extra oxygen, with pressure to make the effort of breathing easier for them.

Most babies will need support while they are learning to feed. They will need a thin tube passed through their nose or mouth into their tummy that milk can be given through. They may also need fluids (a ‘drip’) through a thin tube into a vein (intravenous or IV line). Some babies may also need support if they develop jaundice.   

Your baby will also be tested and may be treated for infection.

Your healthcare team will monitor your premature baby closely to make sure they receive the best possible care. 
 

Regan, Lesley (2019) Your pregnancy week by week, Penguin Random House, London

NHS. Varicose veins. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/varicose-veins/ (Page last reviewed: 07/05/2020 Next review due: 07/05/2023)

NHS. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in pregnancy. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/dvt-blood-clot-pregnant/ (Page last reviewed: 23 October 2019. Next review due: 23 October 2022)

NHS. Your antenatal appointments. https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/your-pregnancy-care/your-antenatal-appointments/ (Page last reviewed: 2 September 2019 Next review: 2 September 2022)

Macdonald, Sue (2017) Mayes’ Midwifery. London, Elsevier Health Sciences UK

British Association of Perinatal Medicine. (2019) Perinatal Management of Extreme Preterm Birth before 27 weeks of gestation British Association of Perinatal Medicine. https://hubble-live-assets.s3.amazonaws.com/bapm/attachment/file/182/Extreme_Preterm_28-11-19_FINAL.pdf

BMJ Best Practice (2021) Premature newborn care. https://bestpractice.bmj.com/topics/en-gb/671/pdf/671/Premature%20newborn%20care.pdf