During your final month of pregnancy, visits to the doctor will be weekly. Your cervix will open (dilate) and be measured at each visit. When it is 10 cm wide you are ready for delivery. You may notice some blood either from the mucus plug coming apart or from ruptured capillaries as your cervix thins to make more room for baby.
Some women have bursts of energy in the final weeks in which they feel like preparing the house for baby’s arrival. Do not do anything too strenuous! Consider stocking your freezer with food as you will be very busy in the days following baby’s birth.
Starting this week, you may begin to see your health care provider every week. Your doctor or midwife may give you an internal exam to determine if cervical effacement (thinning of the cervix) or dilation (opening of the cervix) has begun. You may experience engagement (also known as lightening), which is when the baby drops into the mother’s pelvis in preparation for labour. Your appetite may return because the baby is no longer putting as much pressure on your stomach and intestines, and if you’ve been experiencing heartburn, the baby’s descent may somewhat alleviate it.
Do not worry if the baby is in a breech (head up) position. Often they will turn before birthing. If not your doctor may consider an external cephalic version (ECV) where the baby is manually turned. If you begin contractions now your doctor will probably not stop your labour. Your lungs gain a little space as the baby moves down towards your pelvis but your bladder has even less space. Frequent bathroom trips continue! Baby is most likely ready for birth and in a head-down position with their behind up against your ribs.
The lungs are in their final stage of maturation. Baby is still accumulating fat to provide insulation once they enter the extra uterine environment. The skin becomes less wrinkly and smoother as fat increases. Baby’s gums become more rigid.
The bones that make up your baby’s skull can move relative to one another and overlap each other while your baby’s head is inside your pelvis. This phenomenon is called moulding, and it helps the baby pass through the birth canal. Don’t be surprised if your baby arrives with a pointy or misshapen head! After a few hours or days, your baby’s head will be back to a rounded shape.
Baby measures 18.66 inches (47.4 cm) and weighs 5.78 pounds (2622 grams).