9 Months Pregnant: Symptoms and Foetal Development

Months Pregnant

At nine months pregnant, your due date is in sight and fast approaching. Most mums-to-be give birth in the week or two either side of their due date, but it’s impossible to know exactly when your baby will decide to make a grand appearance. With each passing day you may be feeling more and more ready for your little one to be born but hang in there – it’s not long now until you finally get to meet your little one in person.

Symptoms at 9 Months Pregnant

Some of the symptoms you might experience at nine months pregnant include:

  • Frequent urination. You may already have experienced this common symptom of pregnancy, especially in the first trimester. Now though, at any time before your labour starts (if it hasn’t happened already), your little one may shift downwards into your pelvis in readiness for birth. This can increase the pressure on your bladder, meaning you may find yourself rushing to the loo more often than usual at around nine months pregnant.

  • Swollen legs, feet and ankles. Your growing uterus may also be pushing down on veins that supply blood to your legs, causing a build-up of fluid during the day, which may lead to swollen feet, legs and ankles. You may be able to help prevent or reduce swelling by not standing for too long, taking plenty of rests with your feet up, and making sure you drink enough water. Gentle exercise like walking or swimming can also keep your circulation up.

  • Braxton Hicks contractions. A sudden feeling of tightness in your bump, starting from the top and spreading downwards could have you reaching for the phone to call your midwife. It might not be the real thing though. It could be Braxton Hicks, or practice contractions, which are just your body’s way of preparing for labour. You may already have experienced them as early as the second trimester, but they’re more common in the later stages of pregnancy. Some mums-to-be don’t get them at all. If you feel contractions that come at regular intervals, and get longer, stronger and closer together as time passes, call your midwife or doctor – these could be true labour contractions, meaning that labour has started.

  • Back pain. As pregnancy hormones soften your ligaments to get them ready for labour, more strain is placed on your joints and muscles. In the third trimester the extra weight of your bump, and the change in your centre of gravity, may also be putting extra pressure on your back muscles. Trying to practice good posture and giving your back plenty of support are the best things you can do to prevent back pain. This means: At nine months pregnant it’s best to avoid heavy lifting of any kind. If you need to pick something up from the floor, bend at the knees and keep a straight back. If you turn, avoid twisting your spine. Get plenty of rest, but always make sure your back is firmly supported if you sit up for any length of time. If you get a sudden or unusual backache at nine months pregnant, it could mean your labour is about to start. If you experience this, or any other signs of labour like regular or painful contractions, call your midwife or doctor.

  • Stretch marks. If you notice pink, red, brown, black, silver or purple streaks appearing on your bump, breasts or thighs, then you’re not alone Some 90 percent of mums-to-be experience this common symptom of pregnancy. Although using a gentle, non-scented moisturiser can help reduce dry skin and itching, there’s no proven way to stop yourself getting stretch marks completely. The good news is that they usually fade and become far less visible over time after your baby is born. You might like to think of your stretch marks as a badge of motherhood – wear them with pride!

  • Skin pigmentation changes. Those hormones coursing through your body during pregnancy can increase the production of melanin, which can result in brownish patches appearing on your face (known as melasma) or a dark line down the middle of your lower belly (known as the linea nigra).

  • Tingling or numbness in fingers and hands. If you feel a numbness or tingling in your hands or wrists, it could be carpal tunnel syndrome. The carpal tunnel is a system of bones and nerves on the palm side of your wrist. Increased fluid retention during pregnancy can put extra pressure on these bones and nerves, causing that tingling or numb sensation you’re feeling. This discomfort usually subsides after you give birth, but chat with your healthcare provider if you’d like to get some relief sooner.

Your Baby’s Development at 9 Months

At nine months pregnant your little one is probably ready to be born, although precisely when that happens is anybody’s guess. There’s a good chance that he or she is now facing head-down in readiness for that journey through the birth canal. Not all foetuses perform this somersault though, and others leave it until the last minute to change position. A foetus that’s still in the feet-first or bottom-first position when your labour’s about to start is referred to as ‘breech’. If your little one is in the breech position, your midwife of doctor may offer to try and manipulate him or her into position. If this doesn’t work, you may be offered a caesarean birth, although this isn’t always the case. Whether a vaginal birth or caesarean is the safest option depends on lots of things that are unique to your pregnancy. These include the position of your little one’s feet, and where the placenta is. Keep in mind, it’s also possible that your little gymnast may change positions on her own more than once before being born. Your doctor will be keeping an eye on your foetus’s position at your check-ups.

Your Baby’s Movements at 9 Months

By the time you’re nine months pregnant, it may be getting a bit squashed inside your belly, but this doesn’t mean your little one won’t keep wriggling and moving about in there. You’re probably familiar with your foetus’s patterns of movement by now – the quiet periods, little naps and more active times. If you notice any changes or a reduction in this activity, let your midwife or doctor know straight away – any time of night or day. It could be a sign of a complication that needs to be checked out as soon as possible. Kick-counting apps or charts can be useful for getting a rough idea of what’s normal for your little one, but these should never be used to ‘self-diagnose’ any health problems. If you have any doubts or concerns, call your midwife or doctor to be on the safe side.

How Big Is Your Baby When You’re 9 Months Pregnant?

At the start of this month, your foetus is about the size of a rhubarb, measuring close to 49.8 centimetres from head to heel, and weighing in at around 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds).

At birth, most babies weigh about three to four kilograms.

What Does a Foetus Look Like at 9 Months?

Check out these illustrations for a glimpse at what your foetus might look like when you’re nine months pregnant:

Changes to Your Body at 9 Months Pregnant

You might be feeling big, tired and possibly a bit impatient at this point, and rightfully so! But hang in there – you’re only weeks, days or maybe hours from holding your newborn baby in your arms. At nine months pregnant you’ll probably have antenatal appointments every two weeks, or at least once a week if you’re 40 weeks pregnant or more. At these visits, your doctor or midwife will measure the size of your uterus with a tape measure to keep track of your little one’s growth. Your blood pressure will also be taken, and your urine may be tested for protein. These tests are to screen for pre-eclampsia, a rare but serious blood pressure condition that needs to be managed immediately. If you still haven’t gone into labour by your 41-week appointment, you may be offered a membrane sweep. This is a vaginal examination, which may trigger labour by stimulating your cervix to produce hormones. The choice of whether to have a membrane sweep is yours. Your midwife or doctor can tell you about the benefits and risks. At the 41-week appointment, you’ll also be able to discuss your options for the induction of labour if it doesn’t start spontaneously by around 42 weeks. If you choose not to have your labour induced, you’ll be offered closer monitoring to make sure that you and your little one are both doing well.

Signs of Labour

Cramps or contractions can be signs of labour at nine months pregnant, so it’s important to remember that there’s a difference between Braxton Hicks contractions, which are practice contractions, and the real thing. Here are a few of the main differences you might notice:



Braxton Hicks contractionsTrue labour contractions
Contractions occur at irregular intervals and don't get closer together. These come at regular intervals. Over time, they occur more frequently and become more intense. 
Contractions are usually weak, and don’t increase in intensity over time. They get stronger over time and might feel more painful. 
Contractions stop when you move or change positions.Contractions don’t stop, even if you move around. 
They’re usually felt only in the front of your abdomen. The sensation often starts in the back, radiating around to the front. 


Two other signs that your body is getting ready to go into labour are your water breaking and seeing the mucus plug discharge.

How Far Along Are You at 9 Months Pregnant?

At nine months pregnant, you’re nearing the end of the third trimester and your pregnancy. You might still be wondering how many weeks translate into being nine months pregnant. There’s no simple answer, as the weeks of pregnancy don't fit evenly within nine distinct months. This final month could start sometime around 38 weeks and last until 42 weeks, or the birth of your baby.

FAQs at a Glance

Common symptoms you might experience at nine months pregnant include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Swollen legs, feet and ankles
  • Braxton Hicks contractions
  • Backache
  • Stretch marks
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Varicose veins.

Checklist for When You’re 9 Months Pregnant

  • Ask your doctor in what circumstances he or she might recommend induction or a caesarean section.

  • Find out whether you’ll have access to equipment like birthing stools, balls and pools during labour.

  • Pack your hospital bag and practice your route to the hospital.

  • Put the finishing touches on your birth plan, if you plan to have one.

  • If you’re planning to take your baby home by car, read up on these car safety tips, and make sure you know how to safely fit and remove your infant car seat or baby carrier.

  • Put any finishing touches to your baby’s nursery, and check that you have all these baby gear essentials.

  • Get started babyproofing your home, or give your baby-proofing measures one last check.

  • Start preparing in advance for the first few weeks and months after you bring your newborn baby home. For example, freeze some meals, ask friends and family for help with chores, and arrange childcare for older children.

  • Read up on healing after childbirth so you’ll know what kinds of things are in store for you as your body heals after bringing a new life into the world.

  • Check out our nappy size and weight chart so you can decide what to buy and how many nappies you’ll need for those first day days and weeks.

  • Sign up for even more weekly pregnancy tips here:

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.

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