What happens in the 10th month of pregnancy?

You’re in the home stretch. So just what can you expect from the last month of pregnancy? Our expert midwife Anneke Brown from Komu, explains.

5 min read

What happens in the 10th month of pregnancy?

You’re in the home stretch. So just what can you expect from the last month of pregnancy? Our expert midwife Anneke Brown from Komu, explains.

5 min read

What is happening to you in the 10th month of pregnancy?

In your 10th month you may notice your bump drop down now as the baby’s head engages. Your joints become looser as they allow the pelvis ligaments to stretch and open during labour. Just be careful not to strain!

Your cervix is ripening (getting softer), moves forward and sometimes starts to dilate. Some women experience a ‘show’ when the mucus plug in your cervix comes away. Your breasts can start to produce colostrum—baby’s first milk—and you’ll be feeling uncomfortable as you carry your heavier baby around.

This is the time that ‘practice contractions’ can be detected, known as Braxton Hicks. You’ll probably feel the need to go to the loo more often as your baby presses right down on your bladder; your ankles may swell, and you might find you feel the need to clean or cook, called the ‘nesting instinct’. Use this to get the baby's room ready and some meals in the freezer!

“Make sure your hospital bag is packed and ready to go,” says Anneke.

Wait, 10 months? Pregnancy is nine months, right?

“Well,” says midwife Anneke, “pregnancy is defined as 40 weeks because doctors calculate it from the first day of your last period, rather than the day you actually conceived your baby – and a month is not really always exactly four weeks.

“Well,” says midwife Anneke, “pregnancy is defined as 40 weeks because doctors calculate it from the first day of your last period, rather than the day you actually conceived your baby – and a month is not really always exactly four weeks.

What is happening to your baby in the 10th month of pregnancy?

Your little one looks like a full-term baby now and is putting on plenty of fat under the skin; their brain is 30 % bigger than it was just four weeks ago. They can still roll around (and deliver some hefty kicks) though there is less space for them to move and they can suck their thumb and make grasping motions.

They are swallowing, inhaling and exhaling amniotic fluid, their lungs are getting stronger and are lined with surfactant, which stops air sacs sticking together when breathing. They are blinking too and can see some light through your tummy. Their eyes are blue but may change colour after birth to whatever colour they will be for the rest of their life. They have been covered with a fine downy hair called lanugo, which now starts to fall off.

Typical signs to watch out for that show labour is approaching

  • Leaking or rupture of ‘waters’, the amniotic fluid

  • Diarrhoea or nausea

  • A ‘show’ (mucus plug in cervix is released)

  • Backache or period-like pains

  • Braxton Hicks increasing in frequency

How many weeks is an overdue baby?

While babies born before 37 weeks are deemed Preterm, babies that are born after 40 weeks are classified as Postdate.

Going overdue: your options according to Anneke

“While your midwife and obstetrician will be quite relaxed about your going up to 40 weeks,” explains Anneke, “they may start to discuss plans for induction if you go any further.

They could suggest using a membrane sweep (using a gentle finger to separate the membranes of the amniotic sack from your cervix), an ARM (Artificial Rupture of Membrane), a Prostaglandin gel or pessary to sit behind the cervix to encourage the cervix to start dilating or using a drip with a hormone called oxytocin to stimulate contractions and get labour started.

It’s a fact that babies come when they are ready and as long as your baby is happy and healthy, your medical team will allow you to carry on in the pregnancy – they will just ramp up the amount of monitoring you have. However, if your baby shows any signs of distress, they will discuss plans with you for an , if this is something you are happy to consider”.

When is the time to get help?

Many late-stage pregnancy aches and niggles are completely normal but do seek medical help if:

  • You have bleeding from the vagina

  • Your amniotic fluid is leaking

  • You have a severe headache with visual disturbances

  • You have strong pain in the abdomen

  • You have difficulty breathing

  • Vomiting, nausea, chills, or fever

  • Pain when you pee or a decrease in urine output

  • Bad swelling in your hands or face

  • A slowdown in baby’s movements (see below)

  • Or any concerns (you know your body best)

The importance of baby movement in the 10th month

Anneke says: “In the past, people thought that babies’ movements slowed down in the latter stages of pregnancy as the space grew tighter. This is not true, and babies should still be moving regularly every day.

Keep a note of their kicks and rolls and if it seems to slow down, seek medical help immediately. Charity Kicks Count has lots of helpful advice on foetal movement as well as helpful wristbands to help you keep track.”

What examinations and scans can you get during the last month of pregnancy?

According to Anneke: “You won’t be offered routine ultrasound scans after 20 weeks (unless medically indicated), though you can opt for a private 3D or 4D scan. Try to limit the number of elective scans you choose, as there’s not much research yet on whether this is safe for your baby,” says Anneke.

She concludes: “In the last few weeks, you will have more frequent check-ups with your midwife who will measure your bump, check your blood pressure, listen to your baby’s heartbeat and measure your urine for protein.

After 39 weeks, your midwife may well start discussing membrane sweeps and at around 40-41 weeks, your team will discuss your options for induction of labour. After 42 weeks, you will be offered increased monitoring, as often as once a day where suitable if you choose to”.

You can find out more about your antenatal appointments from your midwife, GP and the NHS.

Co-created and led by a midwife, Komu, offers online hypnobirthing, antenatal and postnatal courses as well as group antenatal courses and is the co-creator of My Mindful Midwife pregnancy and birth app. To find out more please visit www.babykomu.co.uk

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