9 Months Pregnant: Symptoms, Baby Development And Diet Tips

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Your pregnancy journey is ending now that you are 9 months pregnant. Your water may break at any time now, and you may go into labor. You may be yearning to hold your baby in your arms, but now is also the time to be patient and stay calm. It’s also crucial to track the changes you’re going through this month.

Read on to know more about the physical and emotional changes you may undergo, the baby’s development, labor signs, diet to follow, foods to avoid, and other precautions to take throughout the ninth month of pregnancy. The post also offers some tips for dads-to-be.

What Symptoms Do You Experience In The Ninth Month Of Pregnancy?

The symptoms you experience now are the same as the ones you have been experiencing in the last couple of months (1), (2).

  • Weight gain, ideally as per the BMI (3).
Pregnancy monthBMI < 25BMI 25-30BMI > 30
9th9-11 kg6-8kg5-6kg
  • The expulsion of the mucus plug, which acts as a shield to the vagina, a few days before delivery indicates that labor is imminent.
  • The walls of the vagina and the cervix soften, resulting in increased vaginal discharge to prevent any bacteria from reaching the uterus through the birthing canal.
  • The growing uterus adds to the strain of the lower back, causing a backache.
  • The pressure that the growing uterus put on the inferior vena cava (largest vein in the body) restricts backflow of the blood, which leads to pooling of blood in the veins. The result is varicose veins or swollen veins.
  • The extra work that the body does to fulfill the demands of the fetus leads to fatigue.
  • The water retention in the body causes edema or swelling of the ankle and feet.
  • The extra weight, vitamin deficiency, or being too active or inactive can cause leg cramps (4).
  • The body pains and frequent urination deprive you of sleep, which can lead to insomnia.
  • The extra weight of the baby puts pressure on the pelvis causing pelvic pain.
  • The baby drops down into the pelvis and relieves the pressure from the diaphragm that makes breathing easier.
  • Braxton Hicks contractions become more prominent as your body is at the final stage of preparations for childbirth.

These changes affect your physical and mental state. Keep reading to know more.

Physical Changes In The Ninth Month

Here are a few physical changes you’ll notice:

  • The pregnant belly is more protruded, and you can feel the baby dropped down by this time. Your belly button sticks out.
  • Your breasts may leak a bit of colostrum, a yellow fluid that becomes the baby’s first food. Contact your gynecologist soon in such cases since breast milk discharge may indicate impending complications.
  • The nipple and the areola become darker.
  • The expanding uterus leads to tearing of the skin tissues, creating stretch marks.
  • Due to the hormonal changes, your hair becomes beautiful and fuller.
  • Linea nigra, the dark line that runs from the belly button and the pubic hairline, becomes darker due to skin pigmentation.

You will also experience emotional ups and downs due to the continuing hormonal changes.

Emotional Changes That You Experience This Month

Here are some emotional changes:

  • Mood swings, stress and anxiety
  • Absent-mindedness and forgetfulness
  • Nesting instincts start to surface as you get ready for the arrival of the baby.

The baby is fully developed by now but continues to grow and change every day until delivery.

Baby Development In The Ninth Month Of Pregnancy

The ninth month of pregnancy is from weeks 33 to 36 (5). By this time, your baby grows from the size of pineapple to as big as the head of a romaine lettuce (6).

Baby weight (7): 4.2 – 5.8lb (1.918 – 2.622kg)

Baby’s CRL (crown-rump length): 17.2 – 18.7in (43.7 – 47.4cm)

Here is how your baby is developing this month (8), (9), (1), (10), (11), (12):

Body partsDevelopment
SkinSmooth and pink
LungsAlmost fully developed
EyesStarts to open and close. They also begin blinking.
LanugoCompletely gone
GenitalsIn boys, the testes begin to move from the abdomen to scrotum.

In girls, the labia begin to cover the clitoris.

HeadCovered with hair
NailsGrow till fingertips
MusclesToned and the baby can turn and lift the head
EarsEarlobes are soft with little cartilage

This is a crucial time for your baby to attain the ideal position before delivery.

Baby’s Position And Movements In The Ninth Month

Position: The baby remains in the head-down position with the head properly fit into the pelvis. It is the ideal position and makes the movement of the baby through the birthing canal easier. Even if the baby attains a breech presentation (bottom-down position) now, there is still a chance to attain the ideal position before delivery (13).

Movements: With the baby fully grown, there is little space for it to move inside the uterus. The movements are restricted, except for a few arm and leg movements. You may feel the baby’s kicks under your ribs as the baby is now in the head down position.

Follow a healthy diet as you did before, and do not miss taking the supplements.


Pregnancy Diet For The Ninth Month

Here is the list of foods that you must add to your diet (14):

  • Eat a lot of green leafy vegetables, bread, milk, and fortified cereals that are a rich source of calcium. It is necessary for strong bones and teeth in your baby. A pregnant woman should take 1000mg of calcium/day as per the ACOG.
  • ACOG recommends 600mcg of folic acid a day during pregnancy. 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 a good source.
  • Iron is necessary for the production of red blood and can be obtained from whole grain products, green leafy vegetables, dried fruit, beans, lean pork and beef, and sardines. The recommended intake including the supplements is 27mg/day.
  • The recommended daily intake of vitamin A is 770mcg per day. It promotes bone strength and healthy eyesight. Orange or yellow vegetables (such as sweet potatoes or carrots), leafy vegetables, liver, and milk supply the required amounts.
  • Vitamin D promotes healthy eyesight and strengthens the bones and teeth. The recommended intake is 600IU per day. Salmon and vitamin D fortified milk are good sources of this vitamin.
  • Protein can be obtained from lean meat and poultry, eggs, seafood, peas, soy products, beans, milk, and unsalted seeds and nuts. It is necessary for the muscles and brain.
  • Vitamin C is essential for healthy gums, teeth, and bones. Citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, and broccoli are a good source of vitamin C. The average daily recommended intake is 85mg.

When it comes to pregnancy diet, ensure that you do not fumble on foods that can make you uneasy.

Foods To Avoid During The Ninth Month Of Pregnancy

Here is the list of foods you need to avoid:

  • Avoid too much caffeine (anything more than 200-300mg/day) (15).
  • Avoid raw or uncooked food as it can cause listeriosis, a foodborne disease caused by bacteria (16).
  • Do not eat swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel, and shark that contain a high level of mercury.
  • Avoid having unpasteurized milk and cheese.
  • Stay away from deep fried and spicy foods as they can aggravate heartburn.
  • Avoid food containing gluten if you have celiac disease (17). Instead, you can eat vegetables, fruits, potato, beans, poultry, and meat.

Next, we talk about the tests and procedures that the doctor may recommend during your ob/gyn visit.

What To Expect During Your Visit To The Ob/Gyn?

The doctor will carry out some examinations such as:

  • Blood pressure check
  • Weight check
  • Measuring the fundal height
  • Monitoring the fetal heartbeat and the position
  • Checking for the cervix ripening or dilation (18)
  • The doctor will recommend the Group B streptococcus test. The vaginal or rectal swab will be tested to check for any infection. In the case of a positive test result, antibiotics will be prescribed. If the labor starts before the completion of the test, then antibiotics will be administered intravenously during the labor (19).

Since you are closer to the due date now, pay extra attention to any unusual symptoms during this month and contact the doctor in case of any discomfort.

What Do You Need To Know In Your Ninth Month Of Pregnancy?

If you experience any of the following symptoms, then call your doctor right away (20):

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Water break
  • Blurred vision
  • Belly or pelvic pain
  • Cramps in the lower belly
  • Fever or chills
  • Less or painful urination
  • Nosebleed that doesn’t stop
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches that do not subside even after taking acetaminophen (Tylenol*)
  • Constant leg cramps
  • A sudden weight gain of 2 pounds in a week

The risk of preterm labor cannot be overlooked this month. Seek immediate medical help in the case of (21).

  • Five or more contractions in an hour or one in every 10 minutes
  • Menstrual-like cramps
  • Vaginal fluid leak
  • Vaginal bleeding (pink or bloody)
  • Increased vaginal discharge
  • Cramps in the abdomen, with or without diarrhea
  • Pelvic pressure
  • Ache in the lower back

Here is what to do when you experience the symptoms mentioned above:

  • Lie to your left side or take a walk to check if the contractions get stronger. Also, drink plenty of water.
  • Use a sanitary napkin in case of vaginal bleeding or water break.
  • Keep emptying the bladder.

A healthy routine keeps you active and healthy during pregnancy.

Precautions To Be Taken In The Ninth Month

  • Avoid standing for a long time.
  • Avoid sitting and standing up suddenly as it can lead to a drop in your blood pressure, causing dizziness (22).
  • Count the number of times the baby kicks. If you do not feel the kicks as often as you do, then eat something sweet because sugar rush makes the baby move (23).
  • Keep stress at bay.
  • Avoid smoking, and drinking alcohol.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
  • Give enough rest to your body.
  • Take a warm bath to relieve the back pain and leg cramps.
  • Do not lie on your back.
  • Maintain oral hygiene.
  • Have a smaller meal at regular intervals.
  • Do not lift heavy objects.
  • Try walking and Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic muscles and to boost your energy levels.
  • 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.

Your partner is the best person to stay beside you during this crucial time. Keep reading to find out how he can help.

Tips For The Dad-to-be

  • Help you with the household chores.
  • Help pack the maternity bag.
  • Accompany you to the prenatal appointments.
  • Take you out and spend some quality time discussing your plans for the baby.
  • Join you during the workout sessions.
  • Keep all the necessary documents ready for the hospital visit and delivery.
  • Search for a good pediatrician nearby.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is pregnancy a full nine months?

No. Since it may not always be possible to track down the exact date you conceived, a general calculation is used by gynecologists (24). The pregnancy period is calculated from the first day of your last menstrual cycle when you are not pregnant yet. Hence, the extra weeks combined make a total of ten months of pregnancy (25).

2. What are some signs that labor is nearing?

Signs that you may start your labor are (26):

  • Vaginal discharge in the form of clear, bloody, or pink color increases
  • Your nesting instincts kick in, and you start to prepare for your baby, such as organizing and preparing the clothes
  • Your cervix is dilated about ten centimeters
  • Your baby drops into your pelvis

Now that you are at the end of your gestation period, you may notice physical changes such as a protruded belly button, leaking breasts, and stretch marks. When you are 9 months pregnant, you may also experience mood swings and anxiety due to hormonal changes. These changes are normal and shouldn’t cause you to stress out. Instead, focus on maintaining a nutritious diet rich in minerals such as calcium, iron, and folic acid. Further, avoid excessive caffeine and standing for long periods. You can have a healthy and safe delivery by taking the necessary precautions.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
1. What happens in the ninth month of pregnancy?, Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc (2019)
2. Stages of pregnancy, Office on Women’s Health (2018)
3. Fact Sheet Gestational weight gain, NSW
4. Leg cramps during pregnancy, Healthdirect
5. Pregnancy – week by week, Betterhealth
6. Week by Week Fetus Size Demonstrated by Fruits, EPAOA
7. Fetal Development, UNSW Embryology (2018)
8. Fetal development – month 9, Sutter Health (2008)
9. Stages Of Pregnancy, Cleveland Clinic (2019)
10. Embryonic Fetal Development, S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control
11. Baby Development Week by Week, National Women’s Health (2010)
12. Fetal Growth And Development, South Dakota Department of Health
13. Breech birth, NIH
14. Nutrition During Pregnancy, ACOG
15. Pregnancy Precautions: FAQs, The Nemours Foundation (1995-2019)
16. Listeria Infection (Listeriosis), Organization of Teratology Information Specialists
17. How Celiac Disease Affects Pregnancy, Celiac Disease Foundation (1998-2018)
18. Pregnancy Month by Month, Hunterdon Healthcare (2018)
19. Pregnancy: Third Trimester (28 weeks to delivery), AACC
20. When to call us, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc (2018)
21. Premature Labor, Sutter Health (2008)
22. Low Blood Pressure – When Blood Pressure Is Too Low, American Heart Association, Inc (2019)
23. Fetal Movement Counting, Stanford Children’s Health (2019)
24. Pregnancy Week 1 – 2; American Pregnancy Association
25. How long does pregnancy last?; ACOG
26. CONTRACTION AND SIGNS OF LABOR; March of Dimes

 

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shreeja pillai

Shreeja holds a postgraduate degree in Chemistry and diploma in Drug Regulatory Affairs from the University of Mumbai. Before joining MomJunction, she worked as a research analyst with a leading multinational pharmaceutical company. Her interest in the field of medical research has developed her passion for writing research-based articles. As a writer, she aims at providing informative articles on health... more

Dr. Annal Vaidya

(MS)
Dr. Annal Vaidya is a former assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the prestigious Seth GS Medical College and KEM Hospital, Mumbai. He currently works as a consultant in various hospitals in the city. Dr. Vaidya specializes in managing high-risk pregnancies, infertility, and complicated pregnancies. He has a special interest in Cosmetic Gynecology and Endoscopy.