Last Month of Pregnancy

Reaching the 35th week of pregnancy means one thing for anxious parents – the end is near. Hormone levels are out of control and many mums-to-be are "ready" to not be pregnant anymore. During the last month of pregnancy, your baby and your body will experience a variety of changes. As an incubator for this new life, you will feel restless, anxious, and likely experience bursts of energy followed by heightened fatigue. Natural motherly instincts start to set in which lead to swings of emotions and nesting practices.

Nearly all first-time moms start to feel the strain of pregnancy during those final weeks. They anxiously count the days until the due date, excited to meet their little bundle of joy. The unfortunate truth is that only 3% of babies will arrive "on time". During these last few weeks, there are some things you should expect.

What to Expect for the Last Month of Pregnancy

Exhaustion and discomfort are the two words parents most often associate with the last month of pregnancy. Your body is undergoing a lot of changes to prepare for the arrival of your very own tiny human. Some of the feelings you may experience include:

  • Feeling bigger. Supporting the growing child inside of you is no easy task for the human body. The excess weight will cause extra stress on your pelvis and leg bones, leading to feeling wider. As the baby shifts inside of you to prepare to exit the birth canal, you will notice that your silhouette also appears wider.
  • Exhaustion. Carrying around excess weight and another human being is exhausting. The last few weeks will have you feeling like you can barely pick up your feet.
  • Weight loss. There may be no weight increase or even a decrease in body weight during this time period. The drop is caused by the decrease in amniotic fluid that your body is producing. While your child is growing inside of you, the hormones in your body are preparing for its arrival by shifting fluid within the body.
  • Feeling kicks. The movement of your child will slow down during the last month of pregnancy. Kicks and other movements will be felt less as a result. When you do feel them, they may be hard hits to areas like your ribs or pelvis. It may even feel like your child is trying to "escape" as their hands and feet move about in your pelvic region.
  • Aches and pains. Feeling stiff, arthritic, and various shooting pains is another thing to expect during this last month. Your baby's head may rest on nerves, causing pinching sensations in your body, while the added weight and stress may lead to leg cramps, sore joints, and a general feeling of weakness in your arms and legs.

Baby Dropping and Braxton Hicks Contractions

One of the normal but often more concerning parts of the last month of pregnancy is having the feeling that your baby has "dropped". In preparation for the final voyage, your body will move the baby closer to the pelvis, leading to a physical shift in where your belly is. This awkward feeling will also trigger your hips to widen to support the baby, and likely cause you to "waddle like a duck" when walking.

Some women may also experience Braxton Hicks contractions. These are irregular uterine contractions that can feel like the real thing. Medical professionals believe that these are caused by your body being ready for delivery – even if your child is not. They are generally nothing to be concerned about, but if they prevail and become more steady, or escalate to more than 3 per hour, then you should seek medical attention and advice immediately.

Understanding the Mucus Plug

The mucus plug is a thick "plug" that stops up your cervix. As you near your due date, this will pass in the form of a clump of mucus or as vaginal discharge. In some cases, women also notice a tinge of blood in the mucus. Passing your mucus plug is a sign that you are close to meeting that special someone growing inside of you. For the most part, this is a natural part of the birthing process which may also be followed by your water breaking within the following days. If you feel that you have questions about the changes you are experiencing, consult your healthcare provider.

How Is Your Baby in the Last Month of Pregnancy?

Your child experiences substantial development during these last few weeks.

  • Its bones and muscles will strengthen which gives the power behind those sometimes painful kicks.
  • The white waxy substance,vernix that protects your child's skinfrom the amniotic fluid in utero, will start to shed slowly, giving your baby's skin a wrinkly look just like yours after long time of soaking in water.
  • Vital internal organs such as the lungs and heart will be fully developed. These changes are designed to prepare your child for life outside of the womb. The skull, however, is not fully formed and fused until after the baby is born. This creates the soft spot on the back of their heads.
  • Your baby's hair and fingernails will be growing fast by this time, hair becoming thicker and fingernails longer.

Tips for the Last Month of Pregnancy

The most important thing that you can do during the last few weeks is take the best care of yourself. With fatigue, cravings, and hormones clouding your brain, proper nutrition and self-care can fall by the wayside. Here are some helpful tips during this time:

  • A healthy diet consisting of fruits and vegetables, whole grains like oats and brown rice, and lean meats will give your body and your baby the nutrients it needs. In addition to your pre-natal supplements, be sure that your diet is rich in fish that is high in omega-3 fatty acids as this nutrient is vital for brain development.
  • Additionally, take part in light exercises such as pre-natal yoga to relieve stress and help stretch stiff muscles and joints.
  • Be sure to have your birth plan prepared and discuss it with your physician or midwife. Pack your care bag for the hospital stay and put it by the door or even in your vehicle so it is ready when you are.
  • To help move delivery along, you can practice squatting with an Indian toilet or on a stability ball.
  • You can also take warm baths before sleep.

With these tips and tricks, your last month of pregnancy will fly by and soon you'll be holding your bundle of joy.

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