During week 34, a white wax (vernix) is beginning to increase to protect the baby's fragile skin from the amniotic fluid it is immersed in, and it will help lubricate their way down the birth canal. The lanugo hair is almost gone, and when the baby is born, you will see a little bit of the white gunk in crevices and behind the ears. The baby might be covered in lanugo, wax, and some globs of red stuff, so don't be alarmed when you see him; it's probably normal.
At this stage, the baby's lungs are in the final stages of maturation, and if your baby was born this week, he could likely breathe independently without much assistance. His adrenal glands have been producing increasing amounts of cortisol to help his lungs stimulate surfactant production. His practice of breathing created a best-case scenario for breathing outside the womb.
At this point, your amniotic fluid has likely reached its peak volume with about 2 pints or 1 liter of liquid. This fluid also contains a significant amount of urine and amniotic fluid. Your doctor might start estimating your fluid levels to avoid complications when amniotic fluid is low. Lower fluid levels could result from a baby with kidney problems or growth restrictions in the womb. If your amniotic fluid takes a nosedive or is significantly lower than expected, it could indicate potential problems for the baby, and your doctor may decide to induce labor or other interventions to avoid further complications for the baby inside the womb or during delivery.
While the hospital will give the baby his first rinse off and potential hair scrub to get most of the gunk off before he goes home, you will still need some products at home to keep his skin and hair clean and healthy. Don't forget to stock up on some baby-friendly, chemical-free bathing supplies to keep the baby fresh as a daisy.
- American Pregnancy Association - Week 34