Your pregnancy: month 9
The last month of pregnancy is finally here! Find out what will happen in the final few weeks before you meet your baby…
The last “month” of pregnancy can be anywhere from four to six weeks long depending on when you give birth. Here’s everything you need to know about the ninth month of pregnancy, including:
- What to expect during weeks 35, 36, 37, 38, 39 and 40 of pregnancy
- Common symptoms during the ninth month of pregnancy
- Emotions during month nine of pregnancy
- To-do list in the ninth month of pregnancy
- Self-care during month nine of pregnancy
- Your partner during the ninth month of pregnancy
Pregnancy weeks 35 and 36
Your baby is the size of: a pineapple
Your baby measures up to 20 inches and weighs about five and a half pounds, but it’s not done plumping up. Between now and the day of delivery, its body fat percentage will increase from 15 to 30 percent. The last organs to fully mature are the lungs, but they’re almost there.
By week 36, your baby’s growth is slowing down to prepare for the delivery. Most of its systems – including blood circulation and the immune system – are ready to go, but the digestive system won’t be fully developed until after birth. Your baby’s first bowel movement (called meconium) will be composed of lanugo and vernix caseosa (the downy hair and waxy coating on your baby’s skin that’s shed before birth) as well as some amniotic fluid. Yum!
Pregnancy Weeks 37 and 38
Your baby is the size of: a large cantaloupe
Your baby is considered “early term” because its lungs are fully developed, but growth will continue until birth. Your little one is busy preparing for the outside world by practicing breathing, blinking, sucking and wriggling. The head (which is still big in comparison to the rest of the body) should be down and engaged in your pelvis now. If you have a stubborn breech baby, your doctor or midwife may recommend exercises such as pelvic tilts to try to turn it around. They may also try to manually turn your baby using their hands on your stomach in a procedure known as an external cephalic version (ECV).
At 38 weeks, your cantaloupe is nearly 21 inches long and weighs close to seven pounds. The lungs are producing surfactant, a substance that will enable breathing in the real world, and the brain and nervous system are receiving some last-minute tweaks.
Pregnancy Weeks 39 and 40
Your baby is the size of: a watermelon
You’ve made it! Your baby is considered “full term” and could be here any day now. Watch out for signs that labor might be approaching, including the loss of the mucous plug (a yellow, sometimes bloody discharge that can occur weeks to days before birth), the bloody show (a pink or brown discharge that occurs shortly before birth) and the rupture of the membranes (water breaking). Your doctor can also check your cervix for dilation (opening) and effacement (thinning), which happen as labor gets closer.
If all goes well, you should be meeting your baby in week 40 (although some babies like to stick around a little longer). Your little one should weigh between six and nine pounds, and measure 19 to 22 inches. At birth, its vision will be blurry, so cuddle your new addition tight to comfort them with your smell and voice.
Common symptoms during the ninth month of pregnancy
This month, you might experience:
- Heartburn and indigestion
- Bloating and gas
- Diarrhea (shortly before birth)
- Frequent urination
- Leg cramps
- Bleeding gums
- Varicose veins
- Stretch marks
- Skin rashes
- Forgetfulness and clumsiness
- Braxton Hicks contractions
- Lightening (baby drops into your pelvic cavity)
- Changed fetal movement (due to less space)
- Loss of mucous plug
- Bloody show
- Dilation and effacement of the cervix
Emotions during the ninth month of pregnancy
As the big day approaches, you’re probably getting increasingly excited to meet your baby. But you might also be increasingly worried about the birth. Calm your nerves by going for a walk, taking deep breaths, meditating and reminding yourself that billions of women have done this before you. You’ve got this!
What to do during the ninth month of pregnancy
Do your best to get these tasks done before your baby arrives:
- Only five percent of babies come on their due date, so avoid leaving any essential tasks – such as installing the car seat and setting up the nursery – until the last minute.
- Nesting instincts are real and they may make you feel like you can quickly repaint the house before baby arrives. But don’t overdo it! Schedule in plenty of rest too.
- One great nesting task you can tackle is cooking hearty meals in batches and freezing them. You’ll thank yourself when you have a newborn and no time to cook.
- If heartburn is haunting you, sit upright, eat slowly and chew well to keep it at bay.
- Keep counting your baby’s kicks at least twice a day. You should feel a minimum of 10 movements within an hour, but at this stage the movements will feel more like squirming than sharp kicks. Talk to your doctor right away if your baby’s movements decrease.
- Look into meditation, relaxation, breathing and visualization techniques that could help you manage your pain during labor. These techniques can be useful on their own or in addition to pain-relief drugs.
- Have you heard of lightning crotch? It’s a humorous term for shooting pains that radiate from your vagina down your legs because your baby is putting pressure on your pelvic nerves. The good news is it’s harmless.
- If you’re feeling heavier than a beached whale and your joints are aching, head to the pool and enjoy the feeling of lightness as you float around.
- If you’re past your due date, talk to your doctor about natural ways to induce labor. Acupuncture and sex might work, but eating pineapple and spicy foods are old wives’ tales.
Self-care during the ninth month of pregnancy
Even though you may feel like pregnancy will never end, the finish line is almost in sight! Try to keep your spirits up with a solid self-care routine. Rest as much as you can, exercise regularly (gentle walks or yoga are enough), snack often, watch funny movies or TV shows, and chat to positive friends who make you feel good about yourself.
Your partner during the ninth month of pregnancy
Make sure your partner always keeps the gas tank full and knows the route to the hospital like that back of their hand. Try to spend some special moments together – such as having a picnic or going to the movies – before your baby arrives. And make sure your partner always has their phone charged so they don’t miss the call that you’re in labor!