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What’s Happening with You

Physical Changes

  • Braxton Hicks contractions - These “practice” contractions may intensify or increase in frequency.
  • Leaky breasts - By now, your breasts are nearly ready for the job of breastfeeding. You may experience some leakage of a yellow-like liquid called colostrum.
  • Itchiness and stretching - Many women experience itchiness as their abdomen and breasts stretch and grow. Use a good skin cream to help alleviate the itchy symptoms.
  • Fetal movement - You should continue to feel strong, regular fetal movement. As your delivery nears, you may notice a significant decrease in fetal kicking, but an increase in rolling, stretching and quiet periods. Call your health care provider if you do not feel the baby move in a 12-hour period.
  • Back and leg pain - These pains may increase due to the increasing weight of your baby.
  • Varicose veins - Varicose veins may begin to appear on your legs - support pantyhose may help to ease the discomfort and aching.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Increasingly heavy vaginal discharge - Be sure to call your health care provider if you experience vaginal bleeding.
  • Cervical changes - Upon internal examination, your health care provider may find that your cervix is beginning to efface and dilate in preparation for delivery.

Emotional Changes

  • Apprehension and excitement may increase as the “big day” begins to approach.
  • Joy and wonder at this growing baby inside of you.
  • Anxiety over your safety and the safety of your baby during delivery.
  • “Nesting Instinct” may increase as you spend more and more time shopping for baby items, cleaning the house, etc.
  • "Will this pregnancy ever end?"
  • Fears of misinterpreting or not recognizing signs of labor.

What’s Happening with the Baby

By the eighth month (29-32 weeks), your baby weighs nearly three pounds and has fat stores under his or her skin.

Because your baby has probably surpassed the two-pound mark, chances of survival in a neonatal intensive care unit are very good, but still with the possibility of complications.

Your baby weighs approximately five pounds and is about 18 inches long by the end of the ninth month (33-36 weeks). Brain growth will now accelerate, and your fetus should now be able to see and hear. Most other systems of the body are well-developed, although the lungs still may be immature, especially with boys. If you delivered now, your baby has an excellent chance of survival outside the womb with minimal serious complications.

And by the tenth month (37-40 weeks), your baby is approximately 20 inches long and weighs seven to eight pounds. With fully mature lungs, your baby has an excellent chance of survival outside the womb.

Special Concerns

Breech Position - Some time between weeks 32 and 36, most babies will turn themselves into a head down position to prepare for delivery. However, approximately three to four percent of full-term babies will remain in a breech position. If your baby is found to be in the breech position, your health care provider may discuss several options with you.

Some practitioners recommend exercises, such as walking, in the last eight weeks of pregnancy to help encourage a breech baby to turn. While there is no medical proof that these exercises work, there is also no harm in trying.

Your practitioner may also recommend trying an external cephalic version (ECV), where he/she applies his/her hands to your abdomen and, with ultrasound guidance, gently tries to shift the fetus to the head-down position. This procedure is done while monitoring the baby to be sure that the umbilical cord is not accidentally compressed or the placenta is disturbed in any way. Once turned, most fetuses do remain in the head-down position; however, there is still the possibility that the fetus will turn back to a breech position.

Some health care providers will attempt to deliver a baby that is in the breech position, while others will opt for a cesarean delivery. This is something that you should discuss with your provider.

Call Your Health Care Provider - If you experience any of the following, be sure to call your health care provider immediately:

  • No fetal movement in 12 hours.
  • Sudden decrease in fetal movement compared to what has been “normal” for you.
  • Severe cramping.
  • Bleeding or spotting.
  • Diarrhea or nausea.
  • Severe lower back pain.
  • Pressure in the pelvic or groin area.
  • Change in vaginal discharge, especially if it is watery or tinged or streaked pinkish or brownish with blood.
  • Rupture of membranes (a trickle or rush of fluid from your vagina).
  • Severe contractions.
  • Vaginal bleeding.
  • Visual changes, especially if your blood pressure has been a problem.
  • If you can’t differentiate between false and real labor - often, he or she can tell from your voice if it is the real thing or not.
  • If you are experiencing the signs of real labor.
  • Talk with your health care provider about how regular your contractions should be when you call - typically, five, eight or 10 minutes apart.