At 8 months or 29 to 32 weeks pregnant, you are only a few weeks away from bringing your baby into the world (1). Now that you have seen your fully developed baby on the monitor during an ultrasound scan, you may be excited about seeing your baby soon. However, since you are close to going into labor, you should take specific precautions to ensure your and the baby’s safety and health.
This post explains the physical and emotional changes you will go through during the eighth month of your gestation; your baby’s growth, position, and movements; the diet to follow; and other measures you should take in this period.
Symptoms You Experience In The Eighth Month Of Pregnancy
- Weight gain: It should increase as per your BMI (4)
|Pregnancy month||BMI < 25||BMI 25 – 30||BMI > 30|
- Breathlessness: The pressure put by the growing uterus on the diaphragm makes breathing difficult.
- Tiredness: The body has to work more to meet the demands of the growing fetus, which causes fatigue.
- Nasal congestion: Nasal membranes expand as the estrogen levels increase and cause more mucus to pass through, resulting in nasal congestion.
- Heartburn: The growing uterus pushes the stomach upward, causing the gastric acids to go into the esophagus and triggering a burning sensation.
- Bloating: The process of digestion is slowed down due to an increase in the progesterone levels. It makes the tummy gassier and leaves you bloated.
- Constipation: As the digestion process slows down, the food tends to stay longer in the intestine, leading to constipation.
- Braxton Hicks contraction: These are painless contractions felt in the lower abdomen. They are normal after the 34rd week of gestation and prepare the body for labor.
- Hemorrhoids: The pressure exerted by the growing uterus on the inferior vena cava (largest vein in the body) restricts the blood flow, causing stasis of the blood in the veins. This results in the expansion of the blood vessels near the anal region, which can be painful and itchy.
- Varicose veins: The pressure put on the inferior vena cava due to the expanding uterus restricts the backflow of the blood through the veins near the legs. It causes swelling of the blood vessels, also called varicose veins.
- Edema: The water retention in the body causes swelling of the ankles and feet.
- Backache: The growing uterus exerts pressure on the lower back, causing pain.
- Insomnia: Frequent trips to the bathroom and the physical discomforts deprive you of a sound sleep.
- Leg cramps: The extra weight, vitamin deficiency, or being too active or inactive are likely to cause leg cramps (5).
- Increased vaginal discharge: The cervical wall and the vaginal wall soften during pregnancy, causing white discharge. It helps prevent any bacteria from traveling to the uterus through the birthing canal (6).
- Abdominal pressure: The baby drops down into the pelvis by this month, due to which there will be extra pressure in the lower abdomen.
Physical Changes In The Eighth Month
By now, you may have experienced several physical changes due to the pregnancy. Here are some more that might become prominent this month.
- The 8-month pregnant belly is more prominent and leans slightly downward as the baby moves to the head-down position by this time.
- Hair fall reduces due to the hormonal changes, which makes your hair look fuller.
- The breast starts leaking a yellow fluid called colostrum, which is the first milk your baby will feed.
- The hormonal changes cause pigmentation that results in darker nipples and areola.
- The growing uterus causes tearing of the skin tissues causing stretch marks.
- The line between the belly button and the pubic hairline, referred to as the linea nigra, becomes darker due to pigmentation.
Emotional Changes In The Eighth Month
Emotional changes that could take a toll on you this month include:
- Mood swings and anxiety
- Stress as you may be worried about the delivery and the upcoming responsibilities
Baby Development In The Eighth Month Of Pregnancy
By this time, your baby grows from the size of a butternut squash to a jicama (7).
- Baby weight (8): 2.54 – 3.75lb (1.153 – 1.702kg)
- Baby’s CRL (crown-rump length): 15.19 – 16.6in (38.6 – 42cm)
|Lanugo||Begins to fall off.|
|Eyes||Starts to open and close.|
|Lungs||Not fully matured, but breathing practices start.|
|Bones||Fully formed but are soft.|
|Nails||They extend till the fingertips and toe tips.|
|Digestive system||Still developing|
|Ear||Can hear sounds, prefers mother’s voice or female voices to other voices|
|Nervous system||It is almost developed and starts controlling the body functions.|
Baby’s Position And Movements In The Eighth Month
Position: By this month, the baby attains a head-down position, which is the ideal position for labor. It helps the baby’s head to properly fit into the pelvis for a smooth movement through the birthing canal during delivery.
However, the baby might sometimes attain the bottom-down position, which is also called breech presentation. But, there is nothing to worry about because your baby still has enough time to flip the position and get back to the ideal one just in time.
Movement: As the baby has grown bigger, there is not much space left inside the womb for free movements. Therefore, you may feel a decrease in the frequency of movements. Also, the kicks are not as stronger as they used to be earlier.
Pregnancy Diet For The Eighth Month
Here is the list of foods that you must add to your diet (12):
- Calcium promotes healthy bones and teeth in your baby. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a pregnant woman should take 1000mg of calcium/day. Add a lot of green leafy vegetables, bread, milk, and fortified cereals to your diet.
- The ACOG recommends a daily intake of 600mcg folic acid for pregnant women. It is necessary for preventing birth defects of the brain and spine in the baby. Leafy vegetables (spinach, broccoli, romaine lettuce, and kale), kidney beans, lentils, nuts, citrus fruits, and beans are rich sources of folic acid.
- Iron is necessary for the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body. The recommended intake is 27 mg/day (including the supplement). Whole grain products, green leafy vegetables, dried fruit, beans, lean pork and beef, and sardines are a good source of iron.
- Orange or yellow vegetables (sweet potatoes or carrots), leafy vegetables, liver, and milk are a rich source of vitamin A. The ACOG-recommended daily intake of this vitamin is 770mcg for promoting bone strength and healthy eyesight.
- Salmon and milk are a good source of vitamin D that promotes healthy eyesight and strengthens the bones and teeth. According to the ACOG, the recommended intake is 600IU per day.
- Protein is necessary for muscles and brain. It can be obtained from lean meat and poultry, eggs, seafood, peas, soy products, beans, milk, and unsalted seeds and nuts.
- Vitamin C promotes healthy gums, teeth, and bones. Add citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, and broccoli to your diet. The average daily recommended intake is 85mg.
Foods To Avoid During The Eighth Month
Here is the list of foods you need to avoid:
- Avoid eating raw or uncooked food. It can cause listeriosis, a foodborne disease caused by bacteria (13).
- Avoid taking too much caffeine, i.e., more than 200-300 mg/day (14).
- Avoid eating swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel, and shark as they contain a high level of mercury.
- Avoid unpasteurized milk and cheese.
- Avoid deeply fried and spicy foods as they can aggravate heartburn, bloating and constipation.
What To Expect During Your Visit To Ob/Gyn?
Here are some of the tests that will be performed when you visit the doctor:
- Blood pressure check
- Weight check
- Measurement of fundal height
Ultrasound is carried out to
- Monitor the fetal heart rate and growth of your baby in terms of weight and fetometry.
- Check the position of the baby and the condition of the placenta.
Pregnancy is a delicate phase when you need to be careful and be aware of things that indicate when something is amiss with your or your baby’s health.
What Do You Need To Know In Your Eighth Month Of Pregnancy?
Here are some symptoms that may warrant a trip to the doctor (16):
- Vaginal bleeding
- Belly or pelvic pain
- Fever of 100.4°F or higher
- Dark-colored urine
- Painful or reduced urination
- Vomiting that worsens and lasts for more than 24 hours
- A nosebleed that doesn’t stop
- Persistent headaches even after taking acetaminophen (Tylenol*)
- Constant leg cramps
Preterm Labor In The Eighth Month
In case of any of the following symptoms, get medical assistance immediately (17):
- Five or more contractions in an hour or one every 10 minutes.
- Menstrual-like cramps
- Any vaginal bleeding (pink or bloody in color)
- A sudden increase in vaginal discharge
- Vaginal fluid leak
- Abdominal cramps with or without diarrhea
- Pelvic pressure
- A dull, low backache
If you experience any of the following symptoms, then:
- Drink a lot of fluids
- Keep emptying your bladder
- Lie to your left side for an hour and check the contraction timing
Precautions For The Eighth Month
Here are some precautionary measures you can follow during this month of pregnancy:
- Avoid standing for a long time.
- Make a note of the number of times the baby kicks or moves. If you do not feel any movement for some time, then eat something sweet because sugar rush makes them move (18).
- Keep your stress at bay.
- Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol.
- Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
- Give enough rest to your body.
- Do not lie on your back.
- Maintain oral hygiene.
- Have smaller meals at regular intervals.
- Do not lift heavy objects.
- Try walking and Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic muscles.
- Avoid taking any medicine without the doctors’ advice.
- Wear comfortable, flat footwear and loose, breathable clothes.
- Avoid cleaning cat litter as it can cause toxoplasmosis.
- Avoid exposure to chemicals
At this time, your partner can also help make your life more comfortable and safe.
Tips For Dad-to-be
- Help you with household chores
- Accompany you during the appointments.
- Plan an outing to make you feel refreshed and relaxed.
- Give you a good foot massage.
- Help you in packing the maternity bag.
- Start shopping for baby essentials.
The excitement of childbirth is almost in the air when you are 8 months pregnant. Doctor visits become frequent so they can monitor your baby’s status and position until delivery. This is also the time when there are chances for preterm birth. Hence, you should stay focused and report your abnormal observations to a doctor. It is also the time to prepare your hospital bag and yourself for childbirth since the delivery is a few days away.
2. Stages of pregnancy, womenshealth.gov
3. What happens in the eighth month of pregnancy?, Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc. (2019)
4. Fact Sheet Gestational weight gain, NSW
5. Leg cramps during pregnancy, healthdirect
6. Vaginal discharge in pregnancy, NHS
7. Week by Week Fetus Size Demonstrated by Fruits, EPAOA (2014-2019)
8. Fetal Development, UNSW Embryology (2018)
9. My Baby’s Growth, Sutter Health (2018)
10. Prenatal Form and Function – The Making of an Earth Suit, The Endowment For Human Development, Inc (2001-2019)
11. Fetal development, NIH (2019)
12. Nutrition During Pregnancy, ACOG
13. Listeria Infection (Listeriosis), Organization of Teratology Information Specialists
14. Pregnancy Precautions: FAQs, The Nemours Foundation (1995-2019)
15. How Celiac Disease Affects Pregnancy, Celiac Disease Foundation (1998-2018)
16. When to call us, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc (2018)
17. Premature Labor, Sutter Health (2008)
18. Fetal Movement Counting, Stanford Children’s Health (2019)