Can 34 Weeks be Full-Term?

I'm battling Braxton-Hicks contractions all the time lately, those so-called fake contractions that either inch you toward real labor or do nothing but make you uncomfortable, depending on whom you believe. My post at 5 Minutes for Parenting is about one such battle, which occurred yesterday at Target.

I don't remember enduring Braxton-Hicks of this ferocity with previous pregnancies. (Maybe I've just forgotten?) They don't hurt, exactly, but it feels like someone is suddenly pulling the strings to a metal girdle that runs from my chest to my hips. I can be walking across the room, and out of the blue, I can barely breath, much less move.

And honestly? I'm nervous about it. This baby feels so strong and these contractions are ruling my life, it makes me to wonder -- can 34 weeks be full term? I wouldn't mind so much, except Corey is supposed to be out of town the majority of the next two weeks. So not only will I be alone for most of Weeks 35 and 36, but I'll be the sole adult in charge of kids ages 8, 6 and 2, responsible for feeding, clothing, bathing, breaking up fights and everything else in-between with no back-up. And if you remember Connor's birth story, the last time I went into labor by myself I barely made it to the hospital to deliver. Teyla is pretty precocious for a two-year-old, but I'm not sure she's up to being a midwife just yet.

I have a doctor's appointment on Friday, and you better believe I'll be discussing all this with my wonderful OB. Reassure me, fellow Moms. This is all in my head, right?


Just to clarify: I'm not trying to get my doctor to induce me this week or anything drastic like that. I'm more just hoping she can reassure me that there's no early dilating going on. If I'm not dilating yet, I will rest easy that I can make it another two weeks, minimum, without having a baby in my living room.


  1. I have no idea what it means. I've never had B-H contractions in other pregnancies, but I'm having them this time. I was up in the middle of the night last night with a backache that would have really freaked me out (the one time I labored on my own it was back labor) if the baby wasn't moving so much.

    As for being on your own the next two weeks, good luck! Can your 2 yo take a shower with your 8 yo? My girls (8 and 7) take turns letting our 2 yo get in the shower with them. Such a HUGE help!

  2. 34 weeks... My sis had hers then. He was 6 lbs & healthy. But he did have a lot of preemie issues. Jaundice, very sleepy, softer head so he ended up needing a helmet to correct it later.

    As for B-H, I seemed to have more with each successive pregnancy. REALLY tired for final 3-4 weeks of 3rd preg.

    I'd be surprised if an OB would induce at 34 weeks. They tried really hard to STOP my sister's labor.

    And I really hope you can find some kind of backup. That does sound tough. Maybe small group members at your church? Fly mom in?

  3. I had severe BH contractions for almost 6 weeks. They were so bad I didn't even get to go to my "big" baby shower. I spent all night in the hospital because they were so intense.

    Now, I only have the one baby. So this was my first pregnancy and I know they tend to take longer to get the heck out.

    They did tell me that been even the tiniest bit dehydrated can make them signifigantly worse. And being big and pregnant makes you need like 2 gallons of water or something ridiculous like that to not be dehydrated.

  4. Praying for you that the baby will cook a little longer - the idea of a newborn with no husband around - yeesh.


    Sorry, that wasn't very reassuring, was it? BAD SUE.

  5. I've had five, and I definitely had more and more BH with each pregnancy. Like Steph, I was VERY tired by the time d-day arrived. I'd say have a backup plan, but don't panic. Take it VERY. EASY. and drink lots of water.

  6. No, 36-38 weeks is considered full-term. Yeah, Braxton-Hicks seem to increase with each pregnancy.

  7. Bless your heart, that is not fun! With my two, I had BH from like week 13. Awesome! Every time I was checked and told "no progress" I just had to marvel at my cervix of steel. I'm praying right now that God will show His graciousness in the timing of this sweet one's birth.

  8. Drink lots of water...and cross your legs! :) Truly, I hope you can stay pregnant a little longer!!!!

  9. I'd mention this to your doctor, for sure, and maybe even have your cervix checked for dilation. Remember, though, if you are dilated a centimeter or two that is normal if you've had more than one kid. It's effacement you have to be wary about.

    With every pregnancy, I have more BH. They actually called it "irritable uterus" which is common in moms of many. The littlest sneezes would set off a string of contractions. If my tummy brushed the counter, contraction. If I drove over a pothole, contraction. Carrying an empty laundry basket, contraction. Laughing, contraction.

    I expect more of the same this time.

    Get checked, just for peace of mind. You don't want a 34-weeker. It's 99% guaranteed time in the NICU. And stay super-hydrated. Even a little dehydration can make a big difference at your stage.

    Keep cooking, Baby Lovewell.

  10. I had 2 boys (pregnancy #2 and #3), each at 34 weeks. Both were totally fine, one was 6 pounds and the other 7 pounds. Baby would most likely be fine. Good luck!!

  11. My friend from church just had her baby at 35 weeks (7lbs 9oz or something, way bigger than Elizabeth was) and although early he isn't showing any signs of being premature yet.

    Also, my mom suffered from BH a great deal especially with kid #3. Mom was a bit older when she had my sister and she said that she felt like she was in labour most of her last trimester. To the point where she had to breathe through the contractions. Janice was a couple of weeks early but not 35 weeks early. I was terrified of this but I never had anything of the sort and managed to skip labour altogether. I can't quite decide whether I feel gyped or not.

  12. I am not a medical professional, but am guessing that you are feeling it more because it is your 4th pregnancy. The 4th was the only one that I actually thought I was in labor a couple of times when I wasn't. But check with your Dr.
    I am concerned about you caring for the other three with no outside help-I think you need help!!! Are there women at your church who can come help you, start bringing meals, come and help for an hour at bedtime, even?? Maybe come over just to clean or do your laundry? Any bit will be a big help to you. Seriously, it's best for you to get some rest if possible, which means REACH OUT AND ASK FOR HELP!!!! I am sorry that you live so far away, I would help you!
    P.S. Like everyone else said, drink a lot of water, don't try to be "super mom."

  13. You just don't know, babe. Could be nothing, could be something...can't your husband cancel the trip? Your peace of mind is important to the whole family at this point.

    Also, I dealt with incredibly irritating labor pains that never led to labor with babies 3, 4, and 5. For at least a week, I was kept up all night with the dumb things. The sixth baby, I took raspberry leaf supplements. Not a peep from my uterus until it was time...definitely worth a try.

  14. 1 - Ikey was born at 34 weeks and was a hoss at 6.12. He stayed in the NICU just because he couldn't suck and once we knew he was going to be okay, I learned to just be grateful for the fact that I had 2 full weeks of nice sleep before he came home - on a perfect 3 hour schedule, thanks to those nurses. So while I would never want a baby in the NICU, there are definite silver linings. I enjoyed his infancy way more than the other three because I was RESTED.

    2 - Remember real contractions start in your BACK and wrap around to your tummy. Tummy contractions = nada. Just annoying. Probably nothing going on downtown that you need to worry about.

    3 - By worrying about premature labor, you are pretty much guaranteed to require an induction at 42 weeks.

  15. its easier not to worry...yes eaier said than dsone! so far with my onl preganancy didnt suffer said contractions...

  16. I had TONS of B-H with the twins plus I was dilating and they actually put me on bedrest and this nasty drug...i forget the name but I hated it...for a whole 10 days till I made it to 37 weeks, which is considered full term for twins. They let me up and my dr thought they'd come right away but they waited 4 more days!
    So I'm pretty sure the end is in sight for you, my dear! :)
    The good news is another quick and intense delivery, I bet. I like those kind myself. No time for drugs, just do it, et voila! You're a stud :) (Me, it took me 1 1/2 hours to deliver TWO babies! Yes! I would have rocked "Little House on the Prairie"! Too bad I didn't want 10 kids)
    Can't wait to hear what your dr says.

  17. I had lots of contractions with Ashley, and Matthew as well, they were way too early! With Ashley, I was in denial but with Matthew I got medication. I probably didn't need it because I carried Ashley full term without any. I should have been resting more so if that is AT ALL possible with young kids try to sit and rest at every opportunity. I was teaching and determined to finish out my time but my students knew I needed to take it easy and called me on it when I was doing too much standing or on my feet too much. Enlist your older two to help with whatever they can. They are probably just BH though if they aren't causing you any pain. The only thing left to do is to trust God and have a back up plan. ;-) I will pray for the timing of your blessing coming into the world.

  18. I had BH contractions with my second (and last) child. I would get them at night after taking care of children all day (I was a child care provider for 8 little ones). They would go away after I drank a few glasses of water. When I did finally go into labor for real, I was so dehydrated I couldn't give the urine sample they needed. So please, drink plenty of fluids if you'll be alone with your children.

  19. Yep, B-H much worse in my case the 4th time around. Much worse. As was the heartburn. And the girth of my belly.

    Doctor induced me at 37. So there's that hope! :-)