Pregnancy often feels like it lasts forever. In particular, with my first, I kind of forgot that eventually, this fun of feeling like a whale would end, and I’d wind up holding a baby. You also forget that baby will grow up and not be a baby anymore and then sob with tears of sorrow and joy when Facebook reminds you of all those darling baby pictures.
“Ugh, Mom! Stop! That’s NOT me! I look like a dork!” My seven-year-old. Sigh.
Anyway, I digress. While you might have been preparing for this final month of pregnancy, there’s still a lot of stuff. More changes with you and the baby, plus many preparations to be made. Plus, stuff to watch out for so you know when-ish you’ll be going into labor.
Fun fact: they STILL can’t accurately predict your due date. They can only make rough guesses. I found this article by Live Science fascinating about that, though, and that they’re getting closer to making better predictions, but only about 5% of women deliver on their due date. You know what that means, right? You’d better be ready no matter what!
Once you’ve hit week 28, you’re officially in the third trimester. But once you hit the 26th week, that’s the beginning and end of your pregnancy. Here’s more about what you should be expecting during this time.
Weight Gain During the Last Month of Pregnancy
This is a big one, pardon the pun; I know it weighs heavily on your mind. Pardon that pun too. It certainly was for me. With my first pregnancy, I put on a lot of weight. Slow and steady wins the race, ladies. With my second, I was a lot better at keeping things under control.
I’ve already discussed with you how much weight is normal or not to gain during your pregnancy, and I urge you to keep an open dialog with your doctor about whether you’re gaining too much, too little, or just right.
The baby will go through quite a period of rapid growth and weight gain.
The American Pregnancy Association says your baby will go from about 2 pounds at the end of the second trimester to about 4.5 pounds by the time you hit 32 weeks. And the baby will balloon up to anywhere between 6 ¾ pounds and 10 pounds for full-term deliveries and an astounding 6 inches of growth total during the last trimester.
But the baby isn’t the only thing that’s tipping the scales. You’re carrying around more fluids, blood, and amniotic fluid; your uterus has become ginormous, and the placenta and more fat stores for the baby.
What Should I Eat During the 9th Month of Pregnancy?
Well, sweetie, that’s entirely up to you. You can be like I was that first time around and eat too much and go into labor at week 38, or you can listen when your doctor tells you to watch it. That’s not to say that you should be miserable. If you want something, enjoy it reasonably. But balance it out with healthy stuff.
Keep active too. Unless your doctor orders you on bed rest, get out for a simple walk at the very least. These things will help keep your weight in check during the last month of pregnancy. You don’t want to overcomplicate an already complicated process.
Complications could arise during this home stretch, like high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, a heavier birth weight (ouch!), and premature birth (born at 37 weeks or before).
Symptoms During Your Last Month of Pregnancy
Oh yes, and the oh-so-fun symptoms you’ll experience during this last month of pregnancy will have you begging that kid to vacate your uterus. I remember my cousin telling me that if I could simply find a position to be comfortable in for even 20 minutes of a day, I should consider it a success. I will now pass that information on to you.
So what will happen with all these changes, aside from more fetal activity?
Achy, breaky abdominals
The round ligaments that help support your lower abdomen start stretching out to help you with that bump. When they do, it’s perfectly normal (but no less awful) to get cramps or experience sharp pain. You’ll need to rest when this happens.
More fabulous fatigue
If you thought you were tired before, just wait! Now your body is truly exhausted from creating a new little person. Eat well, stay hydrated, and get plenty of sleep.
The 9th month in both pregnancies was like having a constant heartburn fire burning inside me. Your doctor can give you something safe for this, but even with heartburn help, it still burns even with foods that never set you off. Try propping yourself up on maternity pillows which really helped me but made sleeping a bit more difficult.
Braxton Hicks contractions
OMG, it’s the time! Quick! Get the bag! Oh, wait. Just kidding. Yeah, welcome to Braxton Hicks contractions. These are very irregular and unpredictable. They’ll disappear, usually if you get up and walk around your home.
If you have any doubts, just watch the clock. If it keeps happening, getting more intense, and you can set your watch to it, it’s go-time.
With your center of gravity thrown forward and your pregnancy hormone relaxin working together, you’ll likely find yourself with an aching back.
Best relief: put those feet up and try to relax. If you feel a sharp pain that shoots from your back down through your legs, it could be sciatica and something to tell your doctor about pronto.
Those pregnancy hormones are at it again with some of the most lively dreams you’ll ever have. All very normal but sometimes unsettling; you may find it fun to keep a dream journal to thumb through on sleepless nights after the baby is born.
If you were the picture of elegance and grace pre-pregnancy (Lord knows I wasn’t), then be prepared to be a bit of a bull in a china shop. Your big belly throws that center of balance off, so be careful when you move around.
This is where “Mom Brain” starts to activate. Forgetfulness is going to stay with you for a while now. Enjoy!
Loss of bladder control
Do not, I repeat, do not try to hold in your pee.
It will only backfire. If you even think you must pee, get to the bathroom at once. Also, sneezes and laughter will cause you to leak. Wearing panty liners really helps during these trying times.
Especially when you’re getting closer to labor, your body prepares the milk for your baby. You may even find it happening when you run to the supermarket to grab a few things and hear someone else’s baby cry. Wear breast pads in your bra to keep it from leaking through to your shirt.
And yes, there’s diarrhea, swelling of everything, depression, anxiety, and, my favorite, nesting (the thing that causes you to randomly scrub the house like a cleaning company on pep pills). Just hang in there, though, because that baby will be here before you know it, and holding him or her is the ultimate reward!
Can I Have Sex During the Last Month of Pregnancy?
With all those raging hormones, you may feel more amorous than ever. And your husband might be really hoping to get some action. The good news is that you can have sex during pregnancy. He may even find you more desirable or shy about it due to worrying he could harm the baby. Fellas, you won’t hurt the baby with your member, so go for it.
The only time you may want to refrain from sex during the last month of pregnancy is if your pregnancy has any complications.
If you have any doubts, ask your doctor. You’ll likely get the thumbs up, and nothing beats some hot action before the baby throws you all through a loop. My husband and I were always going for it; if you feel like it, you should too.
What’s That Baby Doing Now? Movements and Positions
I’ve told you before about positions during the last month of pregnancy. If you’re in your 9th month now, you’ve likely been counting those baby kicks and perhaps drawn a map all over your bulging belly. During this time, your baby should already be in the proper position with her head down. If not, you’ll have to discuss with your doctor your options and get ready for the possibility that you might need a c-section.
Both of mine came out on week 38, but yours might want to keep hanging out in there. And why not? It’s a pretty sweet deal, getting carried around and coddled all over the place. If by week 40, your baby hasn’t been born yet, your doctor will keep an eye on things. And if you stretch into weeks 41 and 42, you can guarantee you’ll be discussing inducing labor to get that kid out of there.
Signs of Labor: Is It Time?
With all the last month’s symptoms, you might wonder which of them means it’s baby time. There are 6 signs you’re getting closer to labor, but they mean different things for everyone. They could indicate labor is just days away, or it still could be weeks away. Your doctor will have a better timeframe with each examination when the fetal stations are determined.
The first sign is generally lightening, when the baby has dropped down into your pelvis. That’s great news for your breathing but uncomfortable for your bladder and pelvic region. Bloody show, where you lose the mucus plug (which looks nothing like a plug btw, but rather, a mucus-like discharge), water breaking (usually in a slow leak unless you’re me), and dilation (something your doctor will be checking for during each visit) are other signs.
The surest sign, though, is contractions, and when those start happening for real, then it really is time. Just be prepared that it might be hours and hours (in my case, nearly 24 of them for my first) before you give birth.
Last Month of Pregnancy Checklist
This last month is about ensuring everything is ready for your little one’s arrival. This is when you want to get those last details squared away.
- Did you come up with a name?
If not, now’s the time to sit down with hubby and pick. Keeping sex a secret? Choose a name for each scenario and apply accordingly.
- Prepare for any childcare
If you’re returning to work after having your baby, you’ll want to ensure you’ve got a reliable caretaker. It’s better to lay the groundwork for this before you get home with the baby. You’ll be tired, and having this extra research to do then will be excruciating. I was lucky to have my in-laws take care of my girls when I was teaching, and hopefully, you’ll have the family to rely on too.
Even if you plan on staying home with your baby, you need to find someone who can help give you a break, even if just for an hour, so you can get some sleep. And if this isn’t your first child, you’ll definitely need to make arrangements for your older children while you’re in the hospital and recovering. Plan this all out now!
- Finish the nursery
You do not have to have a catalog-perfect nursery, but you do need the essentials. Check out my post on what you should’ve added to your baby registry list. If you’re missing anything, now is the time to prepare it.
- Double-check your hospital bag
Your hospital bag should have your essentials plus clothes for the baby. Make one outfit for each of you, a going-home outfit that looks nice for photos. Be practical, though. You’ll still look 9 months pregnant when you leave the hospital, so those skinny jeans need to stay in the closet for a bit longer.
Don’t freak out, though, and overpack. If you forget something, your husband or another relative can get it while you’re recovering.
- Get your spouse on board
And guys, this one’s for you. Please remember your wife feels like the Goodyear Blimp right now. Every little thing you can do to help her feel more comfortable or make her feel special really goes a long way.
- Pamper yourself
This is the last time in a while that you’ll have the freedom to just be you without toting baby along on your adventures. And even babies can’t go to the salon. So go get your nails done or get a massage. Treat yourself to lunch with friends. Enjoy this calm before the storm.
- Sleep, sleep, sleeeeeeep!
You know how people tell you to sleep when the baby sleeps? Hahaha! Good luck! You’ll get little snippets of rest here and there, but it’s just not the same. Get that good deep sleep you deserve because you’re not going to get to sleep like that for a long time!
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California, where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs.
She loves eating too much sushi, exercising, and jamming out on her Fender. Read more about Leslie here.