Fetal Development and Changes in the Last Month of Pregnancy
The last month is a crucial time when a pregnant mother is preparing to give birth to her baby. During this time, both the mother’s health and the baby’s development undergo significant changes, demanding close monitoring to ensure a successful labor process.
Changes in a Pregnant Woman’s Health in the 9th Month
The last month, marking the final stretch of the 40-week pregnancy journey, often presents expecting mothers with various health challenges, including:
- Sleep Difficulties: Hormonal changes lead to digestive discomfort, causing problems such as belching, constipation, and bloating, making sleep elusive. Comfortable sleeping positions, light exercise, and other strategies can help alleviate these issues.
- Breathing Challenges: Hormonal fluctuations, along with the expanding uterus, can make breathing more difficult in the last month of pregnancy. This is due to heightened lung and respiratory center stimulation.
- Mobility Issues: The growing belly increases pressure on the legs, leading to swelling and discomfort, making walking difficult. Muscle and joint pain can also affect mobility.
To reduce swelling, maintain a balanced diet, indulge in gentle foot massages, engage in light exercises, and ensure adequate rest.
Fetal Development in the 9th Month
As the due date approaches, fetal growth accelerates. Pregnant women in the last month should be aware of the balanced development and weight gain of the fetus:
- By 33 weeks, the baby’s senses become active, and the brain develops rapidly. The baby weighs approximately 4.2 pounds (1.9 kg) and is around 17 inches (43 cm) in height.
- At 34 weeks, fetal movement might decrease as the baby’s growing size leaves less room for kicking.
- By 35 weeks, the baby’s central nervous system continues to develop, and lung readiness for breathing is achieved.
- At 36 weeks, babies weigh around 6.6 pounds (3) to 7.7 pounds (3.5 kg) and are about 19.7 inches (50 cm) in length. All organs are fully developed.
- During weeks 37 to 40, babies may be born early or may wait beyond their due date. It is advisable to consult with a doctor regarding the birthing process.
The health and development of both mother and baby during the last month of pregnancy are of utmost importance for a successful and safe delivery.
Key Considerations for 9-Month Pregnant Women
Approaching the final month, the baby’s weight increases rapidly, leading to increased venous pressure, which slows down blood circulation in pregnant women. This period can cause fatigue, excessive sweating, and difficulties in walking. Thus, it’s crucial to strengthen the nutritional intake for the health of both mother and baby.
Balanced Diet for Pregnant Women in the Last Month
A well-balanced diet during the last month of pregnancy should meet healthy criteria, providing sufficient energy for both mother and baby. It should promote fetal development and reduce the risk of pregnancy complications.
Recommended Foods for Pregnant Women
- Include iron-rich foods such as egg yolks, chicken, beef, fish, amaranth, and raisins.
- Consume fiber-rich foods like vegetables, whole grains, and seaweed.
- Incorporate foods high in vitamin A such as spinach, gac, carrots, and sweet potatoes.
- Opt for foods containing vitamin C, including oranges, lemons, papayas, strawberries, and tomatoes.
- Integrate folic acid sources like spinach, amaranth, legumes, and seeds.
- Ensure calcium intake through legumes, milk, broccoli, oats, almonds, and sesame seeds.
Furthermore, pregnant women should be mindful of consuming clean and pesticide-free vegetables. The last month of pregnancy is crucial for rapid fetal development, so an additional 200 to 300 calories are recommended to sustain the baby’s nutritional needs.
Foods to Avoid
- Refrain from high-fat foods, especially those fried multiple times, and animal organs, particularly the liver.
- Avoid seafood with high mercury levels such as tuna, tilefish, shark, swordfish, mackerel, and other predatory fish.
- Say no to unpasteurized milk and overly salty or sour dishes.
- Steer clear of undercooked or raw foods, as well as beverages containing alcohol, gas, or stimulants.
Scientific Activity Plan for 9-Month Pregnant Women
What can pregnant women do during the last month of pregnancy to promote their well-being before childbirth? Following a scientific lifestyle, exercising moderately, and maintaining proper sleep patterns are essential.
Sleep and Rest
Pregnant women should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night, along with short naps to ensure their health and the healthy development of their babies. Coping with insomnia during this period is common, and these tips might help achieve better sleep:
- Take a warm foot bath before bedtime.
- Use a pregnancy pillow for support.
- Consider gentle body massages, especially for the legs.
- Engage in relaxing activities such as listening to soothing music or reading.
Gentle walking for about 20 minutes daily is advisable. Pregnant women should exercise in cool areas with ample trees and fresh air, avoiding strenuous activities that put pressure on the abdomen, as it may impact the fetus.
Maintaining daily hygiene, including regular bathing and changing clothes, is crucial. Ensure the bathroom is well-ventilated to prevent catching a cold. When washing the private area, use a shower or washcloth, avoiding direct faucet contact or internal stimulation.
Furthermore, gently wiping the breasts with a soft, warm towel daily is important. Exercise caution during cleaning to avoid nipple stimulation, as intense stimulation can pose risks to the health of both the mother and the baby.
Is It Safe for Pregnant Women to Have Sex in the Last Month?
As per the guidance of reproductive health experts, it is advised to abstain from sex during the final month of pregnancy. Unsuitable positions during intercourse can trigger uterine contractions, potentially affecting blood supply to the fetus and leading to premature labor.
Nevertheless, couples can nurture intimacy through gentle caresses and cuddling gestures.
If desired, couples can engage in gentle lovemaking, ensuring the appropriate posture and avoiding pressure on the pregnant belly. Limiting the intensity of intercourse to 1-2 times a week can ensure the stability of the pregnant mother’s health.
Optimal Sleeping Positions for the Health of a 9th-Month Pregnant Woman
The expanding belly during the last month of pregnancy can make lying down more challenging. Opting for a side-lying position with slightly bent legs can help reduce muscle tension and prevent the abdomen from compressing the major blood vessel.
While either side can be comfortable, it is recommended to prioritize the left side, as lying on the right may cause blood vessels to dilate, potentially affecting the baby’s oxygen supply.
When lying on the side, placing a small pillow or thin blanket for belly support is beneficial. Avoid lying on the back as it can strain the back muscles.
When Should Pregnant Women in Their Last Month See a Doctor Immediately?
The final month necessitates close monitoring of the mother’s health as the baby can be delivered at any moment. Regular prenatal check-ups are crucial to ensure a smooth delivery process.
Prenatal Check-up ScheduleIn the last month of pregnancy, the frequency of prenatal check-ups increases to enable the doctor to monitor fetal development closely. Pregnant women should undergo bi-weekly check-ups during the 9th month, with one final examination just before labor.
During the final month’s prenatal care, the doctor assesses the fetal position, the baby’s ability to pass through the mother’s pelvis, the quantity of amniotic fluid, and the development of the placenta. Based on these factors, the doctor can predict whether the birth will be via vaginal delivery or cesarean section, determine the timing of hospital admission, and plan the delivery location.
Signs of Labor to Look Out for
Labor signs generally manifest around the 40th week of pregnancy, with potential early onset in certain cases. Here are some signs that pregnant women should be attentive to during the last month:
Frequent contractions: Persistent and frequent contractions occurring every 10-15 minutes signal impending labor. Cramps and bleeding may also accompany this sign.
Feeling the fetus ‘dropping’: Known as abdominal prolapse, this sensation typically occurs 2-4 weeks before labor begins.
Bleeding and increased vaginal discharge: An increase in vaginal discharge, transitioning from thin and viscous to thicker consistency, may contain traces of red blood. If the discharge appears more red than white, immediate hospitalization is advised, as labor may commence within 3-4 days.
Amniotic fluid leakage: The uterus might experience tightening before the amniotic fluid breaks. In some cases, the amniotic fluid may rupture unexpectedly, indicating the onset of labor, necessitating an immediate visit to the hospital.
The article aims to provide pregnant women in their last month with essential information to prepare them for a successful labor experience.
Johnny Jacks was born in 1985 in Texas, USA. He is the founder of Good Health Plan and is passionate about helping people improve their health and physical well-being. With over a decade of experience working in the healthcare industry, he currently works at Goodheathplan.com – a blog that shares knowledge on beauty and health.