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  • You're 9 Months Pregnant! How To Monitor Labor Signs and Get Ready For Birth

    Get ready for labor and delivery, but try not to worry too much about it.
    by Rachel Perez .
You're 9 Months Pregnant! How To Monitor Labor Signs and Get Ready For Birth
PHOTO BY iStock
  • You're officially in your 9th month of pregnancy when you enter Week 36. You're two weeks away from your pregnancy's full term, or 38 weeks. It's really just a waiting game now. 

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    Starting this week, you'll have weekly prenatal checkups with your doctor to check on you and your baby's health. It'll help determine if you can safely wait for labor, even if you reach 40 weeks and beyond. If you're not in labor before the 42nd week, your doctor may induce you already. 

    Pregnancy symptoms and signs at nine months

    At 9 months into the pregnancy, you may notice that your weight gain may have plateaued slightly. Don't worry. You're close to your ideal pregnancy weight. You'll still gain half a pound a week moving forward, thanks to your baby, who's still growing. 

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    Putting on weight and your growing baby have taken a toll on your body. It's getting harder and harder to do simple tasks such as putting on your undies feels or walking, which feels more like waddling now. Your pregnancy symptoms are also worsening.

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    Lightening

    You may be able to breathe better and eat better now that your uterus has dropped or descended further down into your pelvic area. Called lightening, the move gives your diaphragm and stomach more space. 

    Breast changes

    Dark areolas and nipples, inverted nipples popping out, breasts feeling full and heavy, and sometimes leak yellowish, watery, or milky fluid. Your body has been preparing for breastfeeding since you became pregnant. 

    Abdominal pressure, pelvic pain, and discomfort

    Your ligaments are already loosening, and your baby is positioning himself nearer your pelvic area in time for the birth. It's nearly impossible to move without feeling some discomfort in your pelvis, lower back, and even your hips.

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    Your baby's movements may also hit some sensitive nerves in your vagina, giving you sharp, tingling-like sensations. Sometimes, it feels like a mild electric shock shooting from your vagina down your legs.

    Swelling

    At this point, you may feel swollen all over, from your nose, fingers, breasts, legs, feet, and ankles — name it. Water retention is common for pregnant women, especially those approaching their due date. It's because of your body's increased fluid production since conception. 

    Sleep issues

    Pain and discomfort are the main reasons for preggos not having enough sleep. Sleeping on your side is even more crucial now that you're in your third trimester, and pregnancy pillows can make you feel comfortable. Try meditation or drinking warm milk before bedtime to relax you.

    Braxton Hicks

    You've had belly tightenings for a while now. Braxton Hicks contractions are mild and irregular, don't increase in intensity or frequency, and usually go away when you shift positions. Still, monitor them to be sure they're not real labor contractions just yet. 

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    Signs that you need to go to the hospital 

    But in your 9th month, you'll pay more attention to labor signs than managing pregnancy symptoms. Watch for labor signs and signs of pregnancy complications, and alert your doctor or get to the hospital emergency room immediately if you feel any of the following:

    • your contractions are becoming more regular, stronger, longer, and you're out of breath after each one
    • you're bleeding or had a "bloody show" (a blood-tinged mucus on your underwear, which means your cervix is starting to open up in preparation for childbirth)
    • your water bag has ruptured or is leaking (when your undies are suddenly wet without feeling like you've peed)
    • you feel a severe or sharp pain in your abdomen that runs through your pelvis and lower back (like severe dysmenorrhea)
    • you have elevated blood pressure, severe headache, blurred vision, sudden swelling, vomiting,
    • if your baby isn't moving as much

    Baby’s development at 9 months in the pregnancy

    At the start of your 9th pregnancy month, your baby is about as big as a papaya, measuring nearly 19 inches long and weighing close to 6 pounds. The average full-term baby measures more than 20 inches long and weighs a little over 7.5 pounds. 

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    Your little one may not be growing as much, but he’s still putting on weight. He may not have enough room for somersaults, but continue to monitor your baby’s movement. They should not tamer but not fewer than before.  (Click here for ways to encourage baby to move in the womb.)

    Your baby’s lungs are also maturing even more while he practices’ breathing amniotic fluid.’ His liver and kidneys are functioning fully now. He’s also practicing his sucking reflex, but his digestive system also still needs maturing. A lot of it will happen after birth when he starts taking in milk. 

    He is also growing his hair and nails, shedding his skin’s wax covering and tiny velvety hairs that keep him warm in your womb. This only means he’s getting ready for the real world.

    What to do in your pregnancy’s ninth month

    It’s only a matter of time before you meet your little one. If your past your due date and your baby hasn’t arrived yet, don’t panic. About 30% of pregnancies outlast 40 weeks of pregnancy. In the meantime, keep busy with the following:

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    • Don’t miss your prenatal checkups. Your doctor may also order an ultrasound to check your placenta, amniotic fluid levels, and your baby’s biophysical profile, including a non-stress test to help your doctor check your baby’s condition.
    • Prep for labor and delivery. Check your birth plan and review your notes from birth classes. Have your three hospital bags ready, practice going to the hospital, and make sure everyone involved knows your birth plan and postpartum care plan.
    • Take your time nesting. Check if you have everything you’ll need for the first three months of your baby’s life. Do a general clean, pre-wash and arrange his clothes, or redecorate. Spending time in the nursery and talking to your baby can help calm your nerves.
    • Have a perineal massage. It will help gently stretch the skin on your perineum (the area between your vagina and rectum) and prepare it for your baby’s arrival. (Click here to check how.) It can also help prevent tearing and avoid an episiotomy
    • Discuss inducing labor with your doctor. If everything is okay, your doctor will likely wait for you to go into labor. Labor inductions are only performed when necessary and usually at 38 weeks. You can try to naturally induce labor only with your doctor’s advice. 
    • Take it easy and enjoy it! Enjoy the moments you have now with your partner and your family. Cherish your pregnant body and the time you have with each other now. In a few weeks, a baby will shake things up. Oh, and try to get more sleep. 

    READ  MORE STORIES ABOUT LABOR AND DELIVERY:

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