Congratulations! It is almost time for you to become a mother! You have made it through almost your entire pregnancy, so these last few days are going to seem to stretch out forever. Don’t worry—this is a perfectly normal experience. If you are having a natural birth, don’t be surprised if your baby decides to wait until after the due date. Your baby will arrive whenever she wants to, so all you can do is wait impatiently for her to enter the world.
You are now entering the home stretch, and there are a number of pregnancy symptoms that you can expect. Find out more about baby development, body changes and other tips during the 9th month of pregnancy.
Symptoms During the 9th Month Pregnancy
There are a number of symptoms from the last eight months that will continue, and you may also experience some new pregnancy symptoms as well. Some of the most common symptoms include:
You have probably dealt with this symptom throughout your pregnancy, and it will keep going during your ninth month of pregnancy. Right now, the baby is pressing against your bladder. As a result, you feel like you have to go to the bathroom all the time. It can even be challenging to control when you urinate. All you can do is stay close to the restroom and deal with it. Do not ever reduce your liquid intake. You and your baby need plenty of fluids to be healthy, and reducing your fluid intake will only make you dehydrated. It could also make you develop a urinary tract infection. During the day, drink plenty of water. If frequent urination keeps you up at night, avoid drinking liquids right before bed.
Another unfortunate symptom is diarrhea. After spending months constipated, this change may be welcome at first. Before long, you are tired of the annoyance and inconvenience. The good news is that diarrhea is one of the early signs that labor is about to happen. Your body basically does this to empty your bowels in preparation for labor. You may notice frequent bowel movements, nausea and abdominal cramps.
Dropping occurs a few weeks before your due date. Suddenly, you may stop having symptoms like breathlessness or heartburn. This is because the baby is dropping further into pelvic area as it prepares for birth. Some babies will drop as early as eight months, but other babies wait until a few hours before labor. Second-time moms tend to drop later than first-time moms because their pelvic muscles have already been stretched enough for the baby to be comfortable.
While dropping will help reduce symptoms like heartburn or breathless, it will worsen symptoms like constipation and lower back pain. If you put your hand on your pelvic bone, you can tell that the baby’s head is resting there. Dropping means that labor is close, but it may still be a few days or weeks until contractions actually start.
First-time moms will generally experience the baby dropping two or three weeks before the actual delivery. Some first-time moms and most second-time moms will not have dropping happen until a few days before their labor starts. Some moms do not even have this symptom at all until the delivery. If you are already carrying the baby low, you might not notice the change at all.
Vaginal Discharge With Blood
Your mucus plug is a gelatinous substance that serves as a cork or plug. It is at your cervix and helps to protect your baby. When your cervix dilates, this mucus may be discharged through the vaginal canal. It may be clear in color, but it could also be tinged with blood. While this may be a sign that labor is on the way, it can also happen weeks before labor starts. This symptom is fairly normal after sex, but talk to your doctor if it smells bad or is yellow in color. Either of these signs could indicate a vaginal infection.
If your breasts have not started leaking yet, they are probably going to begin leaking now. The fluid that is leaking out is called colostrum. This yellow liquid is the baby’s first breast milk and is loaded with nutrients that they need. The majority of women notice this symptom during the ninth month of pregnancy, but some women experience it far earlier than this. It does not mean that labor is just around the corner though. If this symptom bothers you, use breast pads to keep the colostrum from leaking through your shirt or dress.
Braxton Hicks Contractions
When you first experience Braxton Hicks contractions, you may assume that you are going into labor. In reality, these contractions are just your body warming up for labor. While they were less painful last month, they may increase in pain and intensity around this time. They will become more frequent until you actually go into labor.
While these false contractions were once painless, they can now hurt a bit. They are strong enough that they can thin out your cervix. Switch your position or try walking to reduce the pain. Make sure to drink plenty of water to help alleviate the Braxton Hicks contractions. While this is a normal symptom, you may need to see a doctor if they radiate pain from your lower back toward the pelvis. Call your doctor if you have four or more contractions in an hour or experience vaginal discharge.
The Baby Kicks Less
Your baby is getting too big to move around easily. Don’t worry if your baby is kicking around less now because he lacks the space to move that much. When he does kick, he makes up with his fewer kicks by making them more powerful. Your doctor may have you count his kicks each hour to make sure that the fetal activity does not decrease too much. Your baby will also have a set time for sleeping and waking up now.
Bodily Changes During the Ninth Month of Pregnancy
During this month, you are just about ready to give birth. You have gained a decent amount of weight over the course of your pregnancy, and your uterus is now located above your navel. It fills up almost all of your abdomen. Because of the baby’s wait, walking is quite cumbersome. Luckily, you may experience relief from symptoms like heartburn after your baby drops. Unfortunately, you may have symptoms like backaches more often now. A massage or a warm bath can help with any back pain.
The Baby’s Development During the 9th Month Pregnancy
You are almost there! If you were to give birth during the start of the ninth month, your baby has an excellent chance of surviving and thriving. His organs are completely developed, and he is just waiting for his brain and lungs to completely mature. He is gaining weight and fat is increasing on his arms and legs. Around week 38, the weight gain starts to drop because his muscles are strong enough. His head moves further down the pelvis area, but your cervix is not dilated for birth yet. While his bones are developed, his skull is soft so that he can pass through the birth canal safely. In addition, his body is creating antibodies to protect himself from disease during the first days of life.
Common Concerns During the 9th Month Pregnancy
If your baby was born during week 35 to 37, he would be premature but probably fine. Babies born at this time are less likely to have complications. If you are counting down the minutes to your due date, don’t be disappointed if your baby is not born on that day. Only 4 percent of babies are actually born on their due date. Most babies are born before or after their due date.
For the moment, your first concern is probably figuring out when labor has started. If you have never given birth before, then you may be worried about how to spot the early signs of labor. Some of these signs include discharge of your mucus plug, lower backaches, your water breaking and diarrhea.
While you may be afraid of your water breaking in public, it probably won’t be a problem. Only about 15 percent of women have their water break before contractions start. In some cases, the doctor has to rupture the amniotic sac at the hospital to induce labor. This could also be done if the baby is in distress. Normally, the amniotic fluid will be odorless and colorless. If it smells oddly or is green in color, call your doctor.
While you are waiting for the big day, continue to eat a healthy diet. There are many, many old wives’ tales and myths about foods that can induce labor. In reality, there is no scientific proof that any of these foods actually work. Instead of trying to guzzle down hot sauce to induce labor, continue to eat a healthy diet. You need to make sure that your body is consuming plenty of iron, protein, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids.