As your eighth month of pregnancy begins, you are probably experiencing a mixture of excitement and nervousness every time you look at the calendar. That totally makes sense—you're almost a mom! There's a lot to think about and do over the next few weeks to prepare for your baby's arrival, but try your best to stay relaxed. Another good idea? Take a childbirth class this month to give yourself a realistic expectation of what to expect during labor and delivery, especially if this is your first baby. A better understanding of what happens during childbirth can help keep you calm and focused as the big day draws near!
Until the last trimester, your baby's skin was almost transparent. Part of the added weight your baby will put on this month will form a layer of fat beneath the skin. Fat is necessary for survival outside the womb because it maintains body temperature and provides a protective cushion for the body. By 37 weeks, your baby's skin is smooth and plump.
Other changes going on in your busily moving and twitching belly:
Lanugo hair, which covered your baby's entire body during the previous trimester, begins to disappear. At birth, you might notice some remaining on your baby's upper arms and back. This is normal and will fall out after a few weeks.
Sleeping patterns emerge, including REM (active) sleep. What do you think your baby is dreaming about?
Some babies are already turned head down in preparation for birth.
Your baby gains about 1/2 ounce every day! By the end of this month, your baby will measure about 19.8 inches from head to toe and weigh approximately 5 pounds.
Who knew that the sleepless nights of motherhood begin even before your baby is born? "Your growing belly and active baby may make sleeping through the night a thing of the past, but warm herbal tea or warm milk and a warm shower before bed time can help you relax," advises Kelly Kasper, M.D., assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Indiana University Health. Also try using pillows to support your body in a comfortable, sleep-friendly position.
As for other pregnancy changes you can expect this month:
Your pelvis has expanded and may ache, especially at the back. The uterus is pushed hard against your lower ribs. Your rib cage may be sore and you may experience shortness of breath. Awesome, we know.
Your joints loosen up in anticipation of giving birth.
The top of your uterus is approximately 5 1/2 inches above your belly button; your navel is probably pushing out as a result of your abdomen being stretched.
Things to Start Thinking About
Your Sex Life: For most women, it's completely safe to have sex throughout pregnancy. Some moms-to-be even feel like pregnancy hormones gives their libidos a lift. However, in your eighth month, sex may not feel as comfortable physically. Talk to your partner about your needs and think about exploring whatever intimate alternatives feel good to you. After all, who said a foot rub can't be sexy?
Breastfeeding: Many moms will tell you—sometimes breastfeeding is harder than labor and delivery itself! Part of making breastfeeding a success is planning and preparation. Get in touch with a lactation consultant at the hospital where you'll deliver to see what breastfeeding resources are available, including classes. Look into attending a local chapter meeting of La Leche League to meet other nursing moms. Trust us, they'll end up being an invaluable source of support!
Your Birth Plan: Hospital birth or home birth? Epidural or drug-free? There's more to think about with childbirth than you expected. And while things often don't end up going according to plan, it never hurts to be prepared. Just keep in mind that anything can happen during delivery, so have an open mind and be flexible.