8 Months Pregnant: Symptoms and Foetal Development
It’s been a long journey so far, with plenty of ups and downs, but you’ve got loads to look forward to at eight months pregnant because you’re on the home straight now.
Depending on precisely how many weeks along you are, your pregnancy may be almost full term. Keep in mind, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re about give birth any day now.
The last few weeks of the third trimester are about your little one growing, developing and putting on weight so that he or she will be ready to meet you when the time comes.
For you, this stage of pregnancy can be hard work, and you might find yourself getting more tired than usual. Take a moment, to find out what’s in store for you at eight months pregnant.
Common Pregnancy Symptoms at 8 Months Pregnant
At eight months pregnant, you might be facing some new symptoms alongside the familiar ones. Hang in there if you’re experiencing any of these this month:
Shortness of breath. It’s not just the extra weight you’re carrying around that could be leaving you a little winded. As your uterus grows, space in your abdomen is getting tight. Your uterus might be pushing your stomach up against your lungs, making it harder to take a deep breath. The good news? Sometime before your labour starts, your little one is likely to move further down into your pelvis in readiness for birth. When this happens (if it hasn’t already), it could take some of the pressure off your lungs, letting you breathe a deep sigh of relief. In the meantime, try not to overexert yourself, and take plenty of breaks as you go about your day.
Frequent urination. That downward shift of your foetus (if and when it happens) might make it easier to breathe, but the trade-off could be more frequent trips to the loo as your foetus’s head pushes down on your bladder. Keep drinking plenty of fluids to stay hydrated; but consider cutting down on caffeine-based drinks and avoid drinking immediately before going to bed, to reduce some of those night-time visits to the loo. When you use the toilet, rocking backwards and forwards may help empty your bladder properly by momentarily relieving the pressure on it.
Piles. Haemorrhoids, commonly known as piles, are caused by swollen veins around or in your anus, and they can be itchy or painful at times. You can get them any time, but when you’re pregnant the increased blood supply and pregnancy hormones can make them more likely to appear. Added to this, in the third trimester your uterus may be putting pressure on the veins carrying blood to your lower body, increasing the pressure in them. Constipation can also cause piles if you need to strain when doing a bowel movement. To help prevent this condition, make sure you’re eating a healthy diet with enough fibre, and drinking plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
Varicose veins. Swollen veins may also appear on your legs. These are often blue or purple in colour and may seem lumpy or twisted. They can be itchy or sore. You might not like the way they look, but they’re usually harmless. Warm weather can make your varicose veins worse, and so can long periods of standing. Help relieve any swelling or pain by resting with your feet up and taking little walks.
Leg cramps. Experts aren’t entirely sure what triggers these uncomfortable muscle spasms in your feet or calves, but they seem to be especially common during the third trimester. You may not be able to stop leg cramps completely, but gentle exercise that works the legs, such as walking or prenatal yoga may help prevent them by keeping your muscles supple. Stretching your calf muscles before bed is another good prevention strategy. If a cramp strikes, try pulling your toes up hard towards your shin, or give the knotty muscle a vigorous rub. Tell your doctor or midwife if you have cramps that last for longer than 10 minutes.
Fatigue. Nobody could blame you for feeling more tired this month. After all, at eight months pregnant, you’re carrying around quite a lot of extra weight. That bump, and possibly more frequent trips to the loo, might also be getting between you and a good night’s sleep. Get comfy by lying on your side, supporting your bump with extra pillows and putting another pillow or cushion between your knees. You can also fight fatigue by following your healthy pregnancy diet and continuing to take gentle exercise (unless your midwife or doctor has advised you not to). Oh, and be sure to rest whenever you can.
Braxton Hicks contractions. At eight months pregnant you might start experiencing practice contractions, known as Braxton Hicks contractions, if you aren’t familiar with them already. These contractions don’t hurt, come irregularly and don’t get stronger over time. They usually last 20 to 30 seconds before the muscles relax again. True labour contractions, on the other hand, come at regular intervals and get progressively stronger. At eight months pregnant, true labour contractions are a sign of premature labour. If you think you may be having regular contractions – even if you’re not sure – call your midwife or doctor, who will know what steps to take.
How Is My Baby Developing This Month?
When you’re eight months pregnant, your little one is almost ready to be born. The lungs become fully developed around this time, and the digestive system is primed and ready to start processing breastmilk or formula.
There’s still plenty of growing and maturing to do though. The next few weeks will be about your little one gaining weight and developing the strength and capabilities needed for life outside your belly.
Your little one is now curled up into the classic foetal position, with knees drawn up to the chest, as things start getting cramped inside your belly.
There may not be much room in there, but your foetus should be as active as ever. In fact, any reduction in movement could be a warning sign of a potential infection or complication, so it’s important to call your doctor or midwife and get it checked out as soon as possible.
Keep in mind that your little one has quieter and more active periods of the day, and even takes brief naps occasionally, so it’s good to be familiar with his or her daily routine so you can detect any changes in movement early.
No two pregnancies are the same, so there isn’t a set number of kicks you need to feel in a given time period.
For this reason, kick counting apps or charts may help give you a rough idea of the usual patterns of movement, but they aren’t suitable for diagnosing the health of your foetus – always leave that to your doctor or midwife.
8 Months Pregnant: Your Body’s Changes
Eight months into your pregnancy, your growing belly might slow you down from time to time. You’re more likely to experience symptoms related to your changing weight and body shape, like backache, so it’s best to take it easy in the next few weeks.
Not only are you helping provide essential nutrients to your baby during the final stages of pregnancy, but you’re also boosting your own energy levels and building strength.
Besides the physical challenges of pregnancy, you may also be experiencing more emotional ups and downs, and stress in this stage of pregnancy.
However excited and happy you are about having a baby, it’s normal to worry about childbirth and how your life might change once you bring your little one home.
Added to this, the changes that having a baby brings can test even the strongest relationships, so it’s not unusual for couples to argue from time to time.
Talking to your partner, family, friends, your midwife and other mums about your thoughts and fears can help put things into perspective.
If you’re on your own or if you want some impartial advice, your midwife can direct you to support groups in your local area.
If you haven’t already signed up for antenatal classes, this is also something you might want to do.
Besides arming you with the information you’ll need for labour, delivery, and beyond, these classes are also a great way to meet other parents-to-be.
How Many Weeks Is 8 Months Pregnant?
It’s difficult to say precisely how many weeks pregnant you are at eight months, because months don’t divide up cleanly into weeks.
However, roughly speaking, the eighth month of pregnancy covers approximately 33 weeks to 37 weeks.
This means an important milestone is coming up, if you haven’t reached it already: At the end of 37 weeks you will officially be ‘full term’. When your pregnancy reaches full term, it will no longer be considered a premature birth once your little one is born.
Even once your pregnancy is full term, every day or week longer that your little one spends inside your belly gives him or her more time to develop and mature in readiness for that day (or night) when you finally get to cradle your newborn baby in your arms.
Because you can’t be sure when this special time will be, it’s worth getting to know the signs of labour.
FAQs at a Glance
FAQs at a Glance
What symptoms could I have at eight months pregnant?
Common symptoms you might experience at eight months pregnant include:
It is safe to give birth at eight months pregnant?
At eight months pregnant, you may be nearly full term, or already full term. Once your pregnancy is full term but before the due date, your little one still has a little growing to do inside your belly but is usually ready to survive in the outside world, although some extra care and monitoring might be needed. If your baby is born at eight months but just before your pregnancy is full term, both you and your little one will be getting specialised care from doctors to make sure you both remain safe and healthy.
What is the best exercise at eight months pregnant?
Water-based exercises like swimming or ‘aquanatal’ sessions can be great option at eight months pregnant. Moving in water works lots of different muscles, and the water supports your bump and gives you a feeling of weightlessness to reduce pressure on your joints.
The movement of the water can also be relaxing, and experts believe that exercising in water may relieve all sorts of pregnancy related symptoms, including the water retention that causes swollen ankles and feet.
Always check with your doctor or midwife before starting on any new forms of exercise at this stage in your pregnancy.
How we wrote this article
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the National Health Service (NHS).
The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.
Checklist for When You’re 8 Months Pregnant
Still haven’t found a name for your little one? Try out our Baby Name Generator for some fresh ideas.
Pack your hospital bag with all the things you’re likely to need at the hospital or birthing centre. Don’t forget to pack for yourself, your newborn and your birth partner (if you’re having one).
Learn the quickest route to the hospital or birthing centre where you plan to give birth. Don’t forget to find out where to go once you’re inside the building, and which car park is nearest to the entrance you need. When practicing the route, you might like to try a few different options in case heavy traffic or a road closure is blocking the way when the time comes.
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