Congratulations to you, soon-to-be-mommy! You’ve made it so far to the journey- and you will be cradling your little bundle of joy in your arms in a few weeks from now! So how does it feel to be in 9th month of pregnancy? And, when is it safe to deliver the baby? Read on to know more.
Symptoms In 9th Month Of Pregnancy:
Now you know why the home stretch is the hardest to run, don’t you! The symptoms remain the same, but they strike with twice the intensity. Here are some of the most gnawing ones:
- Leaking Breasts:
By the end of your pregnancy, your breasts start leaking yellow colostrums, a liquid. Colostrum constitutes your child’s initial breast milk and contains loads of nutrients. While most women experience the symptom around the last few weeks of the ninth month, some notice colostrum earlier. Just as Braxton Hicks contractions prepare your body for impending labor, leaking breasts get you ready to feed the baby- even if you’ve chosen not to feed the baby. But leaking colostrum is neither a sign that labor’s near, nor does it mean that there’s a problem just because your breasts don’t leak. They’re a normal phenomenon, which many women experience. Wear a breast pad when going on to prevent the leaking breasts from soiling your blouse.
A few weeks before the due date you may notice a marked relief from symptoms like heartburn and breathlessness. It happens when the baby assumes the birthing position and drops further into the pelvic area. Some babies drop as early as eight months and some babies do not do so until labor. And some others do so just a few hours before delivery. It is especially true for second-time moms because the pelvic muscles have already been stretched enough for the baby to stay comfortable and snug. Although you’ll find relief from heartburn, other annoying symptoms like lower backache and constipation will intensify. Place your hand beneath the pelvic bone and you’ll notice the baby’s head resting. Dropping is a sign that labor’s close by, but it could be a few weeks or even a few days before contractions start. Besides, they signal the arrival of other symptoms like vaginal discharge and lower backache.
- Frequent Urination:
As the baby engages into the pelvic area, it pushes the bladder, thereby making you rush to the bathroom every few minutes. You’ll also find it increasingly difficult to control the urge to pee. There’s little you can do except making sure to wait until you’ve peed until the last drop. Don’t even think about cutting down on liquids (except before bedtime) because the body needs these fluids to supply nutrition to the baby. Besides, without an adequate water intake, you increase your chances of a urinary tract infection.
- Braxton Hicks Contractions:
Towards the end of your pregnancy, Braxton Hicks or false contractions increase in intensity and become more frequent than ever –it continues until a few or two weeks before labor. Although they’re not as strong as actual labor contractions, these warm-up contractions are no longer painless to go unnoticed. In fact, they’re strong enough to thin out the cervix. Try and change positions or start walking when you experience these contractions- they should become less intense. Dehydration also causes contractions- another reason for you to drink plenty of fluids. Braxton Hicks are common and a normal part of pregnancy. But you may have to speak to the doctor if you experience four or more contractions in an hour. If your contractions accompany a radiating pain, which arises from the lower back towards the pelvic area, or vaginal discharge, contact your doctor at once. And sometimes, these contractions make you feel giddy and lightheaded. These could be signs of actual labor.
[ Read: Types Of Contractions During Pregnancy ]
Diarrhea is a surprising symptom because you’ve been constipated for months now. Unlike the other symptoms, Diarrhea is an early sign that labor is near. In fact, it is nature’s enema to make sure you’re ready for labor. Besides frequent bowel movements, you may also observe abdominal cramps and nausea.
If this is your first pregnancy, you may experience your baby ‘dropping’ or engage in the cervical area about two or three weeks before delivery. But for most others (including some first-time moms), it doesn’t happen until a few days before labor. And for some moms, the baby doesn’t drop at all until delivery. As for noticing the change, it depends on how you are carrying. For example, if you are carrying low, you might not notice anything at all except for relief from heartburn.
- Change In Fetal Movement:
As the baby grows, he doesn’t kick as much as earlier. That’s because there’s little room left for him to move around. But quality sure does make up for quantity- for the kicks are now more pronounced than ever. You may also notice a decided pattern in these movements- the baby now follows a set time pattern for sleep and remaining awake. The doctor may have asked you to count the number of kicks per hour. Your job is to report a sudden decrease in fetal activity.
- Vaginal Discharge Streaked With Blood:
The mucus plug is a gelatinous cork-like substance that accumulates at the cervix. As the cervix dilates, you may notice bits of this mucus discharged through the vagina. Sometimes, it is clear and sometimes it’s streaked with a tinge of blood. But vaginal discharge isn’t a sure sign- it could be a few weeks or days for labor to start. Ideally, there’s nothing to worry as the vaginal discharge is a normal symptom that’s especially seen after sex. But contact the doctor if the discharge is yellow in color or smells odd to make sure you don’t have a vaginal infection.
By the ninth month, you’ve gained considerable weight and almost ready for delivery. As much as you want to get over and done with the pregnancy thing, you’ll have to wait because it’s good for the baby to be born close to this term. Your uterus is now well above the navel and fills almost all the abdomen. Thanks to the baby’s weight, your gait looks funny- in fact walking becomes a cumbersome task. As the baby drops into his birthing position, you may experience relief from some symptoms like heartburn and breathlessness. But your back is going to hurt more than ever- take warm baths or get a massage for relief.
The Baby During 9 Month Pregnancy:
Your baby is now all set to be born. From now on, it’s all about the weekly countdown. At 35 weeks, the baby rapidly gains fat, especially around the arms and legs. While his organs are completely developed, the lungs and brains continue to mature. By week 36 and 37, the weight gain continues. He also loses most of his lanugo and vernix. His body also begins producing antibodies that protect him in the initial days. By week 38 and beyond, weight gain slows down- his arms and muscles are strong enough. His head moves further down the pelvic area, but the cervix isn’t dilated enough to trigger contractions. Surprisingly, although his bones are now developed, the skull remains soft to allow him pass through the narrow birth canal safely.
Although premature, babies born between 35 to 37 weeks of gestation are less likely to develop complications. In fact, only 4% of babies are born on exactly their due date. The rest are either born before or, after their due date. Besides premature delivery, some of the other concerns ninth month of pregnancy include:
- Identifying When Labor Begins:
It is a common concern among first-time mothers. Even those who’ve been there and done that earlier tend to be worry about not recognizing the early signs of labor. As we discussed earlier, some of the early signs include a discharge of the mucus plug, diarrhea, lower backache, etc. Water breaking is also a sign of labor.
- Water Breaking:
Breaking their waters in a public place is probably one of the worst fears of pregnant women. But relax, because, very few women do so. In fact, less than 15% women break their water before contractions begin. And sometimes, the doctor may decide to rupture the amniotic sac artificially. This could either be done to induce labor or if the baby is in distress. Ideally, the amniotic fluid should be colorless and odorless. Contact the doctor if the liquid appears green or smells funny.
- Passing Meconium:
Meconium is a thick and sticky substance consisting of water, bile salts, lanugo, etc. and is considered the baby’s first stool. This is ideally passed out a few days after birth. But sometimes, the baby may inhale or aspirate this thereby blocking its airways making it difficult to breathe. This is called MAS or Meconium Aspiration Syndrome – depending on the amount inhaled; this condition can be serious or harmless.
[ Read: 9th Month Pregnancy Care ]
From drinking ghee (clarified butter) and spooning castor oil to gobbling spicy food, there are plenty of myths related to labor-inducing-food. While there’s no proof of the effect that any of these has in inducing contractions, plenty of women swear by them. And there are others who’ve guzzled down bowls of spicy Indian food with no effect. Your diet in the 9th month pregnancy isn’t different from the one you’ve had to follow until last month. Your body needs plenty of calcium and iron besides protein to meet the baby’s nutritional requirement (and yours as well). Dairy products are a rich source of calcium while iron can be sought from green leafy vegetables. Fish such as sardines and mackerel are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. To prevent constipation, make sure to include fiber-rich food like vegetables, fruits, and grains.
[ Read: 9th Month Pregnancy Diet ]
On Your Mind:
There’s little doubt about what’s going to keep your mind occupied during the ninth month of pregnancy. When not thinking about impending labor, you’d be spending your waking moments planning about motherhood. Whom will the baby look like? And if you do not know the sex of the baby, you’ll probably be thinking if it’s a he or a she! Thoughts are also likely to veer towards your style of parenting. If you haven’t discussed until now, spend time with your partner about setting up some basic ground rules of parenting. For example, the other parent will not interfere when one is disciplining the child. Or, that there shall be no excuse for certain behaviors. It may seem too early to consider these issues, but it’s better to discuss beforehand.
Tips For Dads-To-Be:
As they inch towards parenthood, many fathers-to-be are overcome by a strange desire to escape. And sometimes, the effect is just the opposite- fatherhood makes them feel responsible and protective. Here’s how you can help your partner cope with the ninth month:
- Help Her Practice Breathing Lessons:
Your partner may either forget or be too tired to practice her breathing lessons. It is your job to remind her and be there for her to continue these exercises. They help her remain calm and composed.
- Help Her Pack The Hospital Bag:
If she’s taken up the task of packing the hospital bag, you may help her pack things. And don’t forget to pack your stuff- you may need a fresh set of clothes, some books, toiletries, etc.
[ Read: Checklist For Hospital Bag For Delivery ]
- Get Ready With An Action Plan:
Whom does your wife have to call if you aren’t there to take her to the hospital? Whom do you call when your partner has contractions? Where are the hospital insurance details? Answers to questions like these form a part of the action plan.
To Do List:
There’s a reason women suddenly feel energetic and wanting to tick off things on the to-do list. Your genes are driving you towards preparing your nest. And frankly, you could do with some extra bouts of energy. For one, you need to get the hospital bag packed and ensure that nothing is missing, which includes the battery charger and the camcorder chargers. You may also need to stock up on food in the refrigerator to avoid eating from takeaways. And there’s also the responsibility of allocating someone to pass on the good news to family and friends.
At The Doctor’s Office:
This ninth month pregnancy onwards, you’ll be asked to visit the doctor every week. She’ll measure the size of the uterus (to know the size and position of the baby) and check your weight, blood pressure, urine, fetal heartbeat. She may also look for visible signs of edema and perform a physical examination to look for signs of dilation.
Here, we’ve mentioned some of the common experiences of women during the 9 month of pregnancy. Was yours different? Share your stories with us here.
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