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Eight months into the pregnancy, your anticipation is likely to increase with every passing day. Your journey into becoming a mother is almost complete. At the same time, your body is going through a number of changes and you are required to cope up. The continuously growing foetus inside you also requires you to be well nourished so that both of you enjoy prime of health.

The size of the belly increases and expands to the maximum by the end of 8th month of pregnancy.

It is likely that the thought about the outcome of birth terrifies the expecting mother, which may lead to anxiety and sleep deprivation. Worry not, depression and fear before the birth of a baby are natural. But it is important to keep yourself calm and prepare for the days ahead.

This article includes all you need to know about the eighth month of pregnancy and how to prepare yourself for the baby’s birth.

  1. 8 months pregnancy signs and symptoms
  2. 8 month pregnancy baby: weight, position and movements
  3. 8 months pregnancy diet
  4. Exercise during pregnancy month 8
  5. Tests during pregnancy month 8
  6. Vaccines during the eighth month of pregnancy
  7. Do’s and Don’ts in the eighth month of pregnancy

The body of the mother is undergoing a lot of changes in the 8th month of pregnancy. The common changes that are observed in women who are eight months into pregnancy have been described in detail below.

  • The continuously expanding uterus limits the space available for the internal organs in the pelvic region and also restricts bowel movement. Excess pressure also sometimes causes blood to be released along with the stool. This condition can be easily treated with the help of laxatives. It is, therefore, important to consult with your doctor in case you experience constipation.
  • The baby bump growing continuously in the 8th month of pregnancy adds extra kilograms to the body. The expanding uterus also puts pressure on the lungs and causes them to compress. These changes within the body result in breathlessness. This condition gradually improves when the baby moves in the cephalic (head first) position during this month.
  • False contractions also known as the Braxton Hicks contractions occur during the pregnancy month 8. These are similar to the real labour time contractions and usually, last only for a few seconds. This is a natural way of the body preparing the uterine muscles for the delivery. A reduced water intake can trigger these contractions more.
  • The mother’s body prepares the colostrum (first milk) much in advance beginning at around the fifth month as a preparatory step towards breastfeeding. In the eighth month of pregnancy, it is likely that small amounts of this colostrum leak from the breasts, though it is not common for all women.
  • Another common eighth-month pregnancy symptom is a pain in the lower back. This is due to the increasing baby weight that puts pressure on the lumbar region of the back. The body’s centre of gravity also changes and causes awkward standing positions. All of these result in back pain in the mother’s body, especially prolonged standing or sitting.
  • During the eighth month of pregnancy, some women may also experience urinary incontinence. Water retention, swelling of extremities, and leakage of amniotic fluid are also observed during this month. It is best to consult your doctor in case these conditions occur. 

The foetus starts growing rapidly during the eighth month of pregnancy. The important changes that occur in the baby in the pregnancy month 8 have been mentioned below.

  • The baby’s position in the 8th month of pregnancy changes from breech to cephalic, ie, the baby moves around and fixes its head inside the cavity formed between the pelvic bones. This step is important in the preparation of the baby for delivery. The baby’s head, once fixed, causes it to stop moving around in the amniotic fluid and the cephalic position is retained until delivery.
  • There is a rapid development in the neural connections in the baby’s brain and it starts processing the perceptions of sound and light from outside the womb.
  • The baby’s kidneys develop in the eighth month of pregnancy. The level of amniotic fluid starts reducing as a sign of the development of the baby’s kidneys.
  • The baby gains considerable weight and height during the eighth month of pregnancy. The baby weight in the pregnancy month 8 is more than 2.1kg and its height is about 45cm from heel to head. The movement of the body before it changes to the cephalic position is also very limited due to its increasing size and limited space available.
  • As part of the development of the genital organs, displacement of the baby’s testicles (boy) or the development of vulva (girl) occurs in the eighth month of pregnancy. The soft hair that covered the baby’s skin initially in the first and second trimester start to shed and the maturation of the skin begins.

As the body prepares itself for the baby’s delivery, it is important that the mother takes proper care of her diet. The continuously growing organs of the baby also require appropriate nourishment for proper development. Let us have a look at what the ideal diet in the 8th month of pregnancy should consist of.

High protein foods
Sources of high protein need to be included in the eighth-month pregnancy diet of the mother. This is essential for the mother, as it helps in accelerating the growth of the baby. Proteins also improve the general health of the mother and the baby.

Foods rich in iron
The important sources of iron are leafy greens, fish and nurs. Adequate amounts of iron are important in the eighth month of pregnancy. Its deficiency results in anaemia, that can cause a feeling of general fatigue in the expecting mother. Besides fish also contains other important nutrients like protein and omega 3-fatty acids which makes it a great addition to the eighth-month pregnancy diet chart. You must be careful that the fish is properly cooked before consumption.

Fatty foods
Fats are an important requirement for the body during pregnancy month 8. It is, however, essential to restrict within healthy limits. Omega-3 is a vital and healthy fatty acid. Healthy fats contribute greatly to the brain development of the foetus. Peanut butter and eggs are also rich sources of healthy fats.

Calcium
One of the vital nutrients essential for the baby's development is calcium. It helps in developing the baby’s bone and assists in other functions. The richest source of calcium is dairy products. Expecting mother intolerant or not preferring dairy products can opt for alternatives as soymilk.

Potassium
Potassium is another important nutrient for the mother and the baby. Bananas are a good source of potassium along with many other nutrients. Also, bananas enhance digestion and relieve constipation in the mother and thus, should be included in the eighth-month pregnancy diet.

Vitamin C
Another nutrient that is required in the mother and the baby is Vitamin C. Vitamin C is important as it absorbs iron from the body. The important sources of this vitamin are oranges, lemons, tomatoes, and pear.

Leafy vegetables
It is essential that the mother includes green leafy vegetables in her diet. Leafy vegetables are rich in fibres which prevent constipation occurring due to the additional weight and excess hormone secretion during pregnancy month 8. Leafy vegetables also contain other minerals like iron, potassium and calcium. They are a thus, a valuable addition to the 8th-month pregnancy diet of the mother.

While it is important to eat timely and right, there are certain foods that you need to avoid in the eighth month of pregnancy which has been mentioned below.

  • Fried foods
  • Coffee
  • Unpasteurized milk
  • Tobacco
  • Alcohol
  • Processed cheese
  • Raw meats and partially cooked eggs

The exercises that are meant to be performed during the eighth month of pregnancy are aimed towards a better delivery experience. Mentioned below is a list of exercises that can be performed in pregnancy month 8.

  • Stretching the pelvic region is a major exercise that can be performed in this month. Sit on a workout ball with a straight back comfortably. Hold the contracted muscles for about 3-10 seconds. Repeat the process about 10 times.
  • Simple squats are another exercise that can be performed during this month. standing straight with feet at shoulder width distance. Flex your knees perform a simple squat and breathe at least five times. Get back to the starting position gradually.
  • Yoga can be very helpful during the eighth month of pregnancy. The various asanas that can be helpful are vakrasana (twisted pose), konasana (angle pose), and yastikasana (stick pose). (Read more: Anulom vilom benefits)
  • It is also important to remember that you should try and sleep on your sides more preferably to your left so as to avoid any kinds of discomfort.

Though exercises can be of great help in pregnancy, if any of the following conditions occur, stop exercising and consult your physician at the earliest.

There are no mandatory tests that need to be performed during the eighth month of pregnancy. However, some of the tests mentioned below may be recommended by the doctor to ensure the sound health of the mother and the baby.
Non-stress test
This test is usually performed after the 28th week of pregnancy, though most often after 32 weeks. In the case of high-risk pregnancies, it is performed on a weekly basis. It involves a fetal monitor strapped to the mother's abdomen to measure the baby's heart rate as it moves. This is usually ordered if the mother feels that the baby is not moving normally or is past the due date, or the doctor wants to ensure that the placenta is healthy and functioning well. There are no known risks of this test for the mother or the baby.
Contraction stress test
This test measures the heart rate of the foetus like in response to uterine contractions elicited by administration of the hormone oxytocin or by the stimulation of the nipples. The test is sometimes referred to as an oxytocin challenge test. Normally, the flow of blood to the placenta slows during contractions, but if the placenta is functioning well, the baby's heart rate remains stable. If the placenta is functioning poorly, the baby's heart rate will temporarily slow after a contraction. Monitoring the baby's heart rate in response to uterine contractions can help the doctor estimate its response to the stress experienced during labour.
Amniocentesis
This test is usually recommended during the second trimester. However, there are certain conditions such as a risk of premature delivery or chorioamnionitis that may require an amniocentesis later in pregnancy to measure the lung capacity of the foetus.
Ultrasound
An ultrasound is performed in the eighth month of pregnancy in order to evaluate the growth of the foetus and check for any problems with the placenta.

The vaccines that are required to be taken in the eighth month of the pregnancy include the following:

Influenza: This vaccine is administered to the expecting mother and protects the mother and the baby from influenza. It is the best to get vaccinated at the earliest.  
Tdap (diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus): This vaccine is meant to provide protection from whooping cough and is usually given between 27 to 36 weeks.

Do’s

  • Take a healthy diet at regular intervals.
  • Opt for healthy snacks to satisfy your mid-meal hunger pangs.
  • Practise walking or any of the exercises discussed to increase the flexibility of your pelvic area.
  • Drink lots of water regularly to stay hydrated.
  • Get healthy exposure to the morning and evening sun as Vitamin D is very important for the bone health of you and your baby.
  • Be equipped with the knowledge of breastfeeding and other techniques of baby care to prepare yourself for after delivery.
  • Avoid stress.

Don’ts

  • Don’t eat junk or processed foods to avoid indigestion and heartburn.
  • Do not try yoga poses or exercises without the supervision of a trained instructor.
  • Do not drink or smoke during this period and avoid carbonated drinks and caffeine.
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References

  1. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists [Internet] Washington, DC; Vaccinations for Pregnant Women
  2. Better health channel. Department of Health and Human Services [internet]. State government of Victoria; Immunisation and pregnancy
  3. Louise E. Simcox et al. Fractional fetal thigh volume in the prediction of normal and abnormal fetal growth during the third trimester of pregnancy . Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2017 Oct; 217(4): 453.e1–453.e12. PMID: 28651860
  4. Andrea Alex Schiavo et al. Endothelial properties of third-trimester amniotic fluid stem cells cultured in hypoxia . Stem Cell Res Ther. 2015; 6: 209. PMID: 26519360
  5. Russell L. Deter et al. Fetal growth pathology score: a novel ultrasound parameter for individualized assessment of third trimester growth abnormalities . J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2018 Apr; 31(7): 866–876. PMID: 28277911
  6. Center for Disease Control and Prevention [internet], Atlanta (GA): US Department of Health and Human Services; Pregnant? Get Tdap in Your Third Trimester
  7. S. M. Tafsir Hasan,et al. Magnitude and determinants of inadequate third-trimester weight gain in rural Bangladesh . PLoS One. 2018; 13(4): e0196190. PMID: 29698483
  8. Mie Korslund Wiinblad Crusell et al. Gestational diabetes is associated with change in the gut microbiota composition in third trimester of pregnancy and postpartum . Microbiome. 2018; 6: 89. PMID: 29764499
  9. Barbara A. Cohn et al. Third Trimester Estrogens and Maternal Breast Cancer: Prospective Evidence . J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2017 Oct 1; 102(10): 3739–3748. PMID: 28973345
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