Pregnancy: The Eighth Month

Pregnant mom holding child 
Physical changes in the eighth month of pregnancy

In week 32, your baby becomes even more energetic and has periods of extreme activity. Her movements will peak this week. You will be able to feel her twist and turn. By week 33, your baby’s movements will become smaller because she will be too big to swoop around in the womb any more. She may hiccough from time to time, causing small rhythmic bumps in the uterus. She may assume a head-down position in the uterus this month and hopefully will stay that way until birth. By week 35, your baby will fill most of your uterus and it may be uncomfortable if she moves around. She will do more body rolls now instead of the energetic movements she did earlier.

Your heartburn will continue this month, caused by the uterus pushing on your stomach. You may continue to have trouble sleeping at night, due in part to the frequent bathroom trips that you need to make. You may notice a bit of stress incontinence, which is a condition where a few drops of urine come out when you cough or sneeze. Hormones from the placenta will start to activate milk production in your breasts. Your blood pressure may be slightly raised and you may have swelling in your hands and feet, so make sure to take it easy and get plenty of rest. Always report any swelling to your health care provider.

This month, you will notice more and more Braxton Hicks contractions. You may have a backache because the muscles supporting the joints in the small of your back are softening and relaxing. You might also have aches and pain in your pubic area or down the insides of your legs. These pains are caused by your baby’s head pressing on your nerves and your pelvic joints softening in preparation for labour. You may also have pain under your ribs caused by pressure on your ribs from the expanding uterus.

By the end of this month, most babies are in the head-down position, although 4% are in a bottom-down or breech position. The baby will start to snuggle down into your pelvis, enabling you to breathe more easily but causing the need for more frequent urination. At any time, your baby may drop down into the pelvis in preparation for childbirth.

Kick counts

It is recommended that you keep track of your unborn baby’s kick counts from about six months of pregnancy, as a way of making sure that she is OK. Each day, record how long it takes for your baby to make 10 kicks, flutters, swishes, or rolls. You should feel at least 10 movements within two hours, but you will probably feel that many movements in a much shorter amount of time. Alternately, time how long it takes your baby to make three movements. You should feel at least three movements in a half hour.

You may start to notice patterns and a general length of time that baby usually takes to make a certain number of movements. If you notice major deviations from the pattern, check with your health care provider.

Medical visits in the eighth month of pregnancy

From weeks 32 to 35, you will see your health care provider once every two weeks. From week 36 until the end of your pregnancy, you will have a medical visit once each week. Each medical visit will be similar to previous visits. Your health care provider will check the following:

  • weight
  • blood pressure
  • urine
  • fetal heartbeat
  • height of the top of your uterus, called the fundus
  • size and position of your baby
  • swelling of ankles and feet, especially if accompanied by headaches, visual changes or abdominal pain, which could indicate pregnancy-induced hypertension

Some health care practitioners perform a second ultrasound between weeks 32 to 34 of pregnancy to make sure that the baby is growing normally.

Concerns in the eighth month of pregnancy

Bleeding

Bleeding after the 28 th week of pregnancy may indicate a true emergency. Bleeding may be very mild or extremely heavy and might be accompanied by abdominal pain. Causes of late pregnancy bleeding include problems with the placenta such as placenta previa, where the placenta is lower than the baby in the womb, and placenta abruption, where the placenta comes away from the walls of the uterus. Another cause of bleeding in late pregnancy is rupture of the uterus. All of these conditions are very dangerous if not treated right away. If you notice bleeding, which is more than spotting or blood on the toilet tissue when wiping, or abdominal pain during this month or afterward, contact your health care provider immediately.

Premature labour

You should continue to be aware of the signs of premature labour so that you will know if you need help. The symptoms are:

  • more than five contractions per hour
  • bright red blood from vagina
  • swelling of the face or hands
  • pain during urination
  • sharp or prolonged pain in stomach
  • acute or continuous vomiting​
  • sudden gush of clear, watery fluid from vagina
  • low, dull backache
  • intense pelvic pressure

Other things to consider in the eighth month of pregnancy

If you have not already done so, now is a good time to learn about the three phases of labour and the basics about childbirth. Also educate yourself about the possible interventions that may be needed during labour and delivery, such as:

  • induction
  • fetal monitoring
  • pain relief
  • epidurals
  • episiotomy
  • forceps and vacuum extraction
  • caesarean section

Emotional changes and depression in the third trimester of pregnancy

This is a trimester of pride, fulfillment, and anxious anticipation of the unknown. Thoughts about your baby are ever present, and you will probably talk constantly about her. You may ache to hold your baby. You might still worry about losing her.

The reality of pregnancy is inescapable now and your protruding belly will bring lots of attention. You will feel quite special, as strangers will want to give you their chair or help you in other ways. Some women appreciate these gestures, while others may feel annoyed if they are treated as though they are helpless.

You may need to stop working at some point this trimester. If work has been important to your self-esteem, you may find this to be a very difficult adjustment. Add to this the fact that you will have renewed energy this trimester, with an intense urge to bustle around and do things. You may wonder what you will do with your time if you stop working before your due date. There are lots of last-minute preparations to be made, though, and these should keep you occupied.

Body image is a major issue in the third trimester. Your belly may swell larger than you thought it would. You may feel unattractive and sloppy, and will need lots of reassurance from your partner.

If you are a first-time mother, the unknowns of labour and delivery may be frightening and worrisome. You might be concerned about “losing control” during the labour process. You may worry about unexpectedly having to deliver your baby at home. If you have had children before, you might be concerned about reliving the pain of childbirth or any previous complications you may have had.

The physical symptoms of pregnancy can lead to irritability, mood swings, and impatience to get on with the birth. These feelings are perfectly normal. However, if you feel continuously sad, hopeless, and resentful of the pregnancy, you could be depressed and you should seek help from your doctor. Depression symptoms in late pregnancy often carry over into the postpartum period, so it is important to get these feelings checked out.

How your baby is developing

Nicolette Caccia, MEd, MD, FRCSC

Rory Windrim, MB, MSc, FRCSC ​

9/11/2009


Notes: