The ninth month is the last part of pregnancy and is considered full-term. In some ways, these final few weeks are a bit like the first three. Aches and discomforts in the belly and back are more common. In the 9th Month of Pregnancy, the woman feels big, heavy, tired, weary, and impatient.
What Happens in the 9th Month of Pregnancy
Feeling uncomfortable might even make it fidgety sitting or lying down. The woman may be getting tired of pregnancy and eager to move on to the next stage. At times, there may also be experience a surge in energy, as the body prepares for birth. Thus, the ninth month could be physically and emotionally challenging. As the end of pregnancy is nearing, here are some facts that may help with what to expect in the meantime.
Physical changes in the 9th Month of Pregnancy
The baby is now fully formed and continues to grow and change getting ready for life outside the womb. The baby is probably around 20 inches long and weighs between 1.918 – 2.622 kg. The baby gains weight until he/she is born, mostly accumulating fat around the elbows, knees, and shoulders. Eyes and pupils are more developed. The brain continues to grow and develop until delivery.
Bones have hardened but the skull remains soft to make its way through the birth canal. Reflexes are coordinated to blink, and grasp, and muscles are well-toned to turn the head.
The Head is covered with hair and nails grow to fingertips. Less vernix is found on the body now and the downy lanugo has most probably disappeared. Baby’s chest becomes more prominent. For boys, the testes start to descend into the scrotum, and for girls, the labia start covering the clitoris.
Your baby bump in the 9th Month of Pregnancy
During your last weeks of pregnancy, your baby goes through a lot of growth, which means that you will, too.
Depending on your body before becoming pregnant, and if you’re pregnant with one baby or twins, you may gain approximately 1 to 2 pounds per week during the third trimester. (This may slow in the final weeks before giving birth.)
While it can be tempting to compare, everyone’s baby bumps look different. Your height and abdominal muscle strength make a big difference in how your body carries your baby.
If you’re taller, you may tend to carry your baby more in front, and if you have more toned abdominal muscles, you may carry higher.
If you have any concerns about your weight gain or the size of your pregnant belly, let your doctor know. They may request an ultrasound if your measurements aren’t what they expect.
Changes in the mother
The situation of the mother-to-be when she is nine months pregnant does not vary too much if compared to the previous weeks. However, the discomforts she was already experiencing might get even worse due to the advanced stage of pregnancy.
If the baby is already settled into a head-down position, the mother might feel some relief, as pressure on the stomach decreases. But this position means the baby’s feet are located under the breastbone, which makes kicks very annoying and may lead to shortness of breath. Simultaneously, the head adds pressure to the bladder, thereby increasing the urination frequency.
It is very likely that bloating and liquid retention become worse during the hot summer months. It is normal that you feel that your feet and ankles are excessively swollen.
A common affection of pregnant women is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS), which is caused by the inflammation of the nerves located in the median nerve and accumulation of fluid, causing pain and numbness of the wrists.
It is also normal that the belly button pops out during this month due to the expansion of your abdomen. A few months after birth, skin, muscles, and uterus go back to their normal position, and your belly button will go back in.
When a woman is 9 months pregnant, she is expected to have gained between 10 and 14 kg of weight, which makes back pain, cramping, pelvic pain, and exhaustion more common. These nuisances can be relieved with the following exercises:
Fetal Development in the 9th Month of Pregnancy
Since last month, your baby has most likely packed on 1 to 2 extra pounds and 1 to 2.5 inches.
In addition to rocking an impressive growth spurt, your baby experiences significant development during the ninth month of pregnancy.
For instance, babies’ lungs are maturing to breathe outside of the womb, their reflexes are more coordinated, and they can blink, turn their heads, and grasp.
Because babies are still developing every day in the womb, it’s important to avoid induction before 39 weeks unless medically indicated. (You’re considered full-term at 37 weeks, but most doctors recommend avoiding elective C-sections or induction until 39 weeks unless there’s a medical reason.)
My developing baby’s brain continues to develop in the 9th month of pregnancy
Your developing baby is working hard at developing his brain as much as he can. During these last few weeks, his brain continues to make the connections that will support his cognitive development in the future.1
This means that in this final trimester, your developing baby will have an increased need for omega-3 and omega-6 fats, such as DHA and ARA, which are essential for healthy eyes and brain development.
You can help your developing baby reach his developmental milestones and give him valuable nutrients from a well-balanced diet. Nutrients such as DHA can be found in fatty fish such as salmon and sardines. Choline is another important nutrient that supports his brain development, including memory skills4 – so stock up on milk, eggs, and beans.
Your diet should also be well-balanced with a variety of foods from different food groups. Make sure you are including lean meat, grains, legumes, and soy products in your daily meals. A nutritious diet also helps your body recover and repair itself after you give birth6, ensuring that you are in the best shape to enjoy those first moments with your developing baby.
Fetal movement in the 9th Month of Pregnancy
As you near the end of your pregnancy, your baby will start to settle lower in the abdomen. Your baby’s position should also change to head down to prepare for delivery. (Most babies turn their heads down by week 36 of pregnancy).
If your baby hasn’t flipped yet, your doctor will discuss any next steps with you. They may recommend some methods to help turn your baby — or a C-section may be recommended for babies that insist on staying breech.
It may seem like your baby is moving less during this time due to the tighter space. Your doctor may ask that you keep a kick count to keep track of fetal movements. If you notice any decrease in your baby’s movements or have any concerns about your baby’s activity, be sure to contact your doctor.
Twins at 9 months pregnant
If you’re expecting twins, there’s a good chance that you’ll be meeting them this month. A majority of twinsTrusted Source are born before 37 weeks and some even before 34 weeks.
And although there’s a good chance your twins will be on the smaller side — most twins weigh less than 6 pounds trusted Source — babies born between 34 and 36 weeks have a near 100 percent chance of survival.
And if your babies do require any care after birth, your medical team will be prepped and ready as they welcome them into the world.
What else is my developing baby doing in the final moments of pregnancy
Besides the brain, other changes are happening to your developing baby’s body. For example, you may feel that your developing baby has moved down into your pelvis – that’s your developing baby getting his body ready to see the world as he shifts into the fetal position.
When he moves downwards into the fetal position with his head down and his arms and legs pulled against his chest, that’s his preparation for the big event! At this stage, the bones in his head are soft and flexible. This makes it easier for him to move through your birth canal if you have a natural birth.
After all, your developing baby is not so little anymore! At this final stage of pregnancy, your developing baby should now weigh around seven pounds (3.1 kilograms), and he’s making the most of these last few weeks in the womb to grow as much as he can.
Activities you can do in the 9th Month of Pregnancy
As your due date approaches, you may find yourself slowing down activity-wise, and that’s completely OK. Every pregnant person is different.
Some may stay active right up until their due date, while others may need to kick back and put their feet up more often. Listen to your own body and rest when you need to.
The good news is there’s no reason to slow down your activities unless your doctor has told you otherwise. You can maintain your normal exercise routine — although now isn’t the time to take up anything new, like CrossFit or rock climbing — and modify exercises as needed.
If you’re still feeling frisky, you can still engage in sexual activity unless your doctor has told you otherwise. In fact, sex might help speed up labor if you’re full-term. Sperm in the vagina could help the cervix ripen, and orgasms may help get contractions going.
On the other hand, if you’re at high risk for preterm labor, your doctor may ask you to refrain from sexual activity. Also, keep in mind that if your water does happen to break, you’ll want to avoid any sexual activity after that, as it could pose a risk of infection.
Checklist for 9 months pregnant
The big day is coming, so make sure you’re ready by checking these pre-baby items off your list:
- Finish up any prep classes you might need. You’ve probably already finished your childbirth classes (and if you haven’t, it’s not too late!), but you could also take an infant CPR class, lactation class, or baby care course.
- Take a hospital or birth center tour. Call your birthing facility to arrange an in-person or virtual tour.
- Pack your labor and delivery bags. You don’t need a ton of stuff for the baby — a take-home outfit or two will do — but you’ll want to be sure to bring:
- your insurance card
- your COVID-19 vaccination card, if you have one
- comfy clothes for you
- a pair of cheap slippers or slides, as hospital floors can be pretty gross
- some comfort items, like a favorite blanket or pillow
- phone chargers
- snacks, but keep in mind you may not be able to eat during labor
- copies of your birth plan
- Pick a pediatrician. Many pediatricians offer consults to new parents, so you can determine if they’re a good fit. You’ll visit your baby’s pediatrician a lot in the first year (and for many years after!), so it’s worth spending time finding one you connect with.
- Prep your birth team. There will most likely be restrictions on who can be in the room with you, but if you have a doula or partner, prep them about what to do when you go into labor.
- Research photographers. If you’d like any final pregnancy photos, want birth photography, or are hoping to squeeze in a newborn photoshoot, now is a great time to get this scheduled.
- Wash a few of your baby’s outfits. There’s no need to wash everything, but take advantage of your nesting instincts (if you’ve got ’ ’em) to get a few outfits ready. Leave tags on the other outfits in case you need to return them.
- Install the car seat. To bring your baby home, you’ll need an up-to-date infant car seat. Check if it’s installed correctly with a trained technician, and ask for tips if you need help figuring out that weird buckle. (We’ve all been there.)
When to see a doctor
After you hit 36 weeks, you’ll see your doctor every week until you give birth. Each appointment will include routine checks of your baby’s position, your and your baby’s vitals, and of course, your pee. (You know the drill by now.)
This month, your doctor will also check you for group B strep (GBS). GBS is a type of bacteria that some pregnant people have. It can harm your baby, so if you test positive for it, you’ll need antibiotics when you’re in labor.
You should notify your doctor or head to the hospital if you have these symptoms:
- contractions lasting 1 minute long that are 5 minutes apart for at least 1 hour
- a gush of fluids (your water breaks)
- any vaginal bleeding
- severe abdominal pain
- a decrease in fetal movement
- constant, dull back pain before you’re 37 weeks
What to do if you don’t have a doctor
If you haven’t found an OB-GYN or midwife yet, there’s still time, even at 9 months pregnant! You can also change medical professionals if you decide that yours isn’t the right fit. Ask friends or a local doula for a referral.
If you go into labor without a doctor, head to a local general hospital. If you can’t get to the hospital, call 911 as soon as possible.
Whether you’re counting down the days until you get to meet your little one or wishing you could freeze time, your baby is officially coming soon. In other words, you won’t be pregnant forever, promise.
Try to use this time to finish up any last-minute prep you need to do, keep a close eye out for any signs of labor, and be sure to sneak in some self-care before the big day. Foot massage, anyone?