Pregnant person sitting on couch with laptopShare on Pinterest
Diversity Photos/Offset Images

By now, at 9 months pregnant, you’ve been anticipating the birth of your little one for what feels like forever. (Remember when you wondered if your bump could possibly get any bigger? That was adorable.)

You’ve read all the pregnancy books, taken the birthing classes, and likely oohed and awed over tiny baby clothes at your baby shower — virtual option included, of course. And while anticipating your baby’s arrival has been fun, you’re probably ready to get this show on the road.

Here’s what to expect at 9 months pregnant — from how you can tell if labor is starting to when it’s time to head to the hospital. (Finally!)

The main symptom you may notice at this stage in pregnancy is called “Get-this-baby-out-of-me-itis.” Rest assured, it’s completely normal.

You’re probably feeling more than a little uncomfortable as your baby reaches full-term — on average, around 7 pounds 6 ounces for boys and 7 pounds 2 ounces for girls — so your discomfort is for good reason.

Along with that sizeable baby and your body preparing for birth, here’s what may be in store for you this month:

  • back pain, thanks to the constant work required to keep you from toppling over frontward
  • pelvic pressure, as baby’s head moves lower and grows bigger
  • lightening, when the baby drops into the birth canal and you may be able to breathe easier (but you’ll probably feel more discomfort with the baby in a lower position)
  • interrupted sleep, as those once-fluttering kicks become quite forceful
  • exhaustion, because, well, you’ve been growing a human (or two) for 9 months
  • constipation, as the baby grows and interferes with traffic flow
  • frequent urination, due to pregnancy hormones and your baby literally tap-dancing on your bladder
  • changes in appetite, but it’s different for everyone — you could feel hungrier or experience a decreased appetite, thanks to the cramped abdominal real estate

You may also have:

During your last weeks of pregnancy, your baby goes through a lot of growth, which means that you will, too.

Depending on your body mass index 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.

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, baby’s lungs are maturing to breathe outside of the womb, their reflexes are more coordinated, and they can blink, turn their head, 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-section or induction until 39 weeks, unless there’s a medical reason.)

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 head 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.

If you’re expecting twins, there’s a good chance that you’ll be meeting them this month. A majority of twins 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 poundsbabies 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.

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.

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 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.)

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, you 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

Free birthing or birthing without support isn’t medically recommended.

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?