You’ve experienced morning sickness, gotten that second trimester glow, and now you have a long to-do list before you meet your baby!
After seven months of it, you may feel like you’ve mastered being pregnant. It might even be hard to remember what it feels like not to be pregnant. Are there any real surprises ahead?
In fact, month 8 can be quite different than month 7. As you start on your final prep before welcoming your little one, we’re here with a breakdown of some of the symptoms, growth, and warning signs to look out for during your eighth month of pregnancy to make sure you know what may be coming!
Wondering if you’re actually 8 months pregnant, as in, according to the medical establishment and staff (or doula) getting ready for your labor and delivery? You’d prefer everyone — including baby — show up on time. (And you’re definitely not alone if trying to translate the number of weeks you’ve been pregnant feels like doing calculus!)
Weeks 32 to 35 are often considered the eighth month of pregnancy, but there can be a little wiggle room and debate about this as it’s hard to make 40 weeks separate perfectly into 9 months.
Just know that there’s no need to lose sleep over this — or those 2 weeks at the start of pregnancy that “count” when you’re, um, not even pregnant. Weeks 28 to 40 are frequently considered the third trimester, and the weeks in the middle of this are the eighth month of your pregnancy!
It’s normal to feel a range of emotions during this month. Whether you’re excited to meet your baby (and for your pregnancy to be done!) or feeling overwhelmed by the thought of being a parent soon, having all types of emotions this month is common.
Spending some time around your friends (even via Zoom or FaceTime!), getting a mani/pedi (especially nice if your bump is starting to make it hard to paint your toenails yourself), or doing meditation and prenatal yoga can all help you to relax and unwind.
Since you may be feeling very tired by this point in your pregnancy, taking some time to relax and pamper yourself can also have the added bonus of putting some pep back in your step.
By this point in your pregnancy — with the famous “honeymoon period” of the second trimester in your rearview mirror — you’re probably getting used to some aches and pains. A few particular things to keep an eye out for during the eighth month include:
- Shortness of breath. As your uterus grows bigger, space in your abdomen gets tighter. As it grows, your uterus may press your stomach up against your lungs, which can make it hard to breathe. Standing and sitting up straight can help you to get some deep breaths when you need them.
- Increased urination. As your baby moves lower, they may put more pressure on your bladder. This can lead to more frequent bathroom visits.
- Pelvic pressure. Also as your baby drops lower, you may begin to feel pressure in your pelvic area.
- Skin stretching. As your belly continues to expand, you may notice that stretch marks appear. If you’re hoping to avoid these, regular use of lotions and creams can help.
- Braxton-Hicks contractions. You may have felt some Braxton-Hicks contractions earlier in your pregnancy, but as you get closer to your due date, they may become more frequent.
- Varicose veins. Increased blood circulation can cause enlarged veins that are itchy or even painful. Varicose veins commonly appear in the legs, and you may try different types of compression socks or stockings to help with them.
- Hemorrhoids. When varicose veins occur in the rectal area, they’re called hemorrhoids. Eating lots of fiber and staying hydrated can help prevent this. If they do appear, you may want to try an ice pack or warm bath for some relief.
- Dizziness. Taking your time standing up and making sure that you’re eating frequently to keep your blood sugar levels up can help with this common eighth month complaint.
- Fatigue. Not only are you carrying more baby weight, but the further along in your pregnancy you get, the harder it can be to find a comfortable position to sleep in at night. (Pregnancy pillows may help.)
You can expect to gain about a pound a week during the eighth month of your pregnancy.
It’s important to keep in mind, though, that this is an average, and pregnancy weight gain varies from person to person and pregnancy to pregnancy.
Many factors go into determining an appropriate amount of weight to gain during pregnancy. Speak with your doctor if you’re concerned about your weight gain. While you may be tempted to compare your baby bump with other moms (or even pictures you see in magazines), factors like height and abdominal muscle strength can impact how you carry your baby.
Those who are taller tend to carry their baby more in front, and those with stronger abdominal muscles may carry their bumps a little higher.
Your baby’s organs are developing rapidly this month! One organ that really progresses is the brain, as it begins to have newborn-style brainwaves. Your baby’s kidneys also reach maturity.
With all the growth that’s going on, it’s probably not surprising to find out even your baby’s nails are getting longer. By the end of the eighth month, they may extend beyond the fingertips.
At the end of this month, your baby may be 16 1/2 to 18 inches long and around 4 to 6 pounds.
As you get closer and closer to delivery, your baby will begin to settle into your pelvis. As they move down, you may notice that your bump even begins to hang a little lower! (This may even provide some relief from pregnancy heartburn.)
By the end of this month, your baby will likely be head down. If your baby has not flipped by 36 weeks, your doctor may begin to suggest some methods to help turn your baby.
You may find that you feel less frequent movement from your baby, since your little one now fills more of your uterus and has less room to stretch out. This may be stressful if you’re used to feeling these movements! But baby shouldn’t actually be moving less.
The movements you do feel can be more painful as the baby stretches against your ribs and organs. These movements are now so strong they may be visible on the outside!
If you are worried about the types of movements you’re feeling (or that you’re not feeling enough movement), chat with your doctor. They may suggest a modified schedule of kick counts or perform some diagnostic exams to put your mind at ease.
You’ll want to make sure that you’re continue to eat a balanced diet of fruits, low fat diary, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains this month so you have the necessary nutrients to help your baby develop. As an added bonus, eating well can also help give you energy as your pregnancy progresses and you feel more tired.
Even though you’re nearing the end of your pregnancy, you should continue to avoid any foods like raw fish and soft cheeses your doctor has advised against. If you have special circumstances like gestational diabetes or hypertension, work with your doctor on any needed modifications.
Thinking about a babymoon or one last trip to see some friends before the baby is born?
You’ll want to let your doctor know. For most uncomplicated pregnancies, travel before 36 weeks will be fine medically — though it may not necessarily be comfortable!
Your doctor may advise against travel if you have certain pregnancy complications like:
- signs of preterm labor, such as abdominal cramps, dull back ache, or contractions
- premature rupture of membranes (PROM)
If you are planning on traveling, you’ll also want to give some thought to your comfort. For example, you may prefer an aisle seat on the airplane that allows you to get up and walk around more easily.
Because travel can increase the risk the risk of deep vein thrombosis, you should plan to drink lots of noncaffeinated beverages before and during the trip, stretch and move about frequently as you travel, and check with your doctor about the use of compression stockings.
If you do decide to travel while you are 8 months pregnant, you may want to research local doctors, check to make sure your health insurance will be accepted by providers in that area, and take your health records with you — just in case.
As your due date gets closer, you can expect more frequent visits with a midwife or OB-GYN. (By 36 weeks, you’ll generally be seeing them at least once a week.)
During your visits, the medical professional will monitor your health and the health of the baby. They may take your weight and blood pressure, measure your bump, and listen to the baby’s heartbeat.
You should contact a doctor right away if:
- your water breaks
- you notice vaginal bleeding or any signs of infection
- you experience frequent contractions or other signs of early labor
- you experience severe vomiting or diarrhea
- you have signs of preeclampsia (headaches, vision problems, swelling in the hands and face)
The end of your pregnancy is in sight, but you’re not there yet! You’re likely a little anxious for your baby to arrive and nervous about being a parent to them. This is a great month to spend some time preparing for your little one.
Once you check some items off your to-do list, if you’re thinking about a babymoon, make sure to speak with your doctor about it first.