third trimester

The final countdown starts as you enter the third trimester of pregnancy. D-day is getting closer! Yet you still have a few weeks to prepare for it.

Up to this point, you may have felt pregnant, but now you will also look very pregnant! Indeed, among pregnancy trimesters, the last one is defined by how fast you are going to gain weight and how much your little one is going to grow. Your centre of gravity will probably change, due to the increase in size, and your balance may be a little off. During the third trimester of pregnancy, it is very normal to be anxious, since you want everything to turn out right, but try to be positive. You've been doing such a great job so far, and now it's just a matter of completing the process.

As a final flourish, we want to finish the guide dedicated to trimesters of pregnancy providing you with the best hints. Our goal is for you to exceed your expectations!

 

Third trimester of pregnancy: One bump, multiple effects 

By the third trimester of pregnancy, which goes from 28 to generally 40 or 42 weeks pregnant, most of your symptoms will revolve around your bump as it gets bigger and bigger. During these last months, be prepared to deal with:

  • Leaky breasts: You may see that your breasts, besides growing yet a bit more, also start leaking colostrum, the 'first milk' that's characterised by its yellowish colour.
  • Weight gain: women who had a normal Body Mass Index (BMI) before getting pregnant, are now expected to put on 250 grams per week.
  • Abdominal cramps: suiting your growing baby to your body may cause the ligaments of the uterus to stretch, which can be achy.
  • Varicose veins and haemorrhoids: your lower body may get covered by varicose veins, including haemorrhoids, because of the blood flow increase to the area.
  • Backache: if you've made it to the third trimester without suffering from backache, consider yourself lucky. As your bump grows, it pulls your centre of gravity forward, and that makes your back become arched. This is usually translated into more pain.
  • Clumsiness: your enlarged belly will make you lose some balance. Don't stop being active, but be careful!
  • Urine leakage: get ready to visit the toilet many times a day. You'll have frequent urination and, on top of that, lack of bladder control. The pressure on your pelvic floor could accidentally make you pee!

Though these are the most common pregnancy side effects in the third trimester, there others to take into consideration: don't be surprised if you also have vivid dreams, stretch marks, heartburn, Braxton Hicks contractions or vaginal discharge.

 

Third trimester: On your mark, set, go! 

Before the arrival of the due date, your baby-to-be has yet many skills to improve. He's going to get way bigger during this third trimester, and you'll be able to tell!

By week 28, your baby is developing some layers of fat and is practicing his breathing! Before 30 weeks pregnant, your little one may already open his eyes and produce his own hormones. Your baby is getting 'trendy', since he's getting rid of lanugo, the 'hairy coat' that's been covering his body for the last few weeks.

Past the the 30th week of pregnancy, the foetus will get more well-proportioned, as his body size will finally match his head’s. His now fully developed senses allow your future munchkin to 'dance' and 'play' with his body, especially by pedalling his feet inside of the womb. Then, it's reasonable that so much activity turns into longer sleeping cycles (he deserves some rest!). Around week 32 of pregnancy, he may make his way down the uterus, adopting a head-down position as a way to warm up for birth. 

When you reach week 35, he could already measure between 18 to 20 inches, almost like a newborn. At this point, his liver is capable of filtering unwanted substances, while his immune system is getting stronger day by day. What you can expect within the next few weeks, even if your pregnancy does last until the 42nd, is your baby slowing down his weight gain, which should finally be around 7 or 8 pounds. Before he leaves the womb, the vernix caseosa will come off his skin, and he'll work intensively on his breathing ability, which he'll have to put into practice as soon as he's born. By then, his size may be anywhere from 19 to 22 inches!

 

Third trimester: Doctor, I'm worried

As normal as it is to get a little paranoid about your baby's health during the third trimester, there are legitimate signs that you can't ignore. Sometimes, distinguishing between 'false' and real symptoms of labour isn't easy, and that's why you need to be in touch with your doctor. What's more, call him right away if:

  • You have labour contractions: don't confuse them with Braxton Hicks contractions, which lower their effect the more you move. Normal contractions get worse when you do so!

  • Waters breaking: typically, when your water breaks, labour is coming. Sometimes, though, there's a delay that can require your health provider to induce your labour.

  • You are passing the bloody show: if you have a blood-tinged mucus discharge, which could be accompanied by mucous plug, you may be close to the finish line.

  • You experience dropping: also known as lightening, it occurs when the baby settles into your pelvis. It generally means that labour is about to start.

Either you experience any of these sooner than expected or not, you should do some research and read about the typical signs of labour so you are prepared when they come.

 

Extra care during the third trimester

When you get to the third trimester, you'll soon realize that your visits to the doctor become more frequent. No, there's nothing to worry about. This is part of such an important moment, and doctors want to make sure that everything turns out right. Around week 28, you may start having check-ups every other week, and the closer you are to your due date, the more monitored you will be. In fact, from week 36 on, you'll have appointments every week. 

And what's going to happen during these antenatal appointments of the third trimester? For a start, the healthcare professional will check your weight and blood pressure, and he may ask you different questions regarding symptoms that you could be experiencing. He or she will also check your baby's heart rate and size, and perform vaginal exams. For example, they may want to look for your baby's position and determine whether your cervix has started dilating or not. These are details that can help them predict when you may go into labour.

Basically, their goal will be to assure both your health and the baby's by ruling out possible complications. If he or she thinks that you may be having conditions like gestational diabetes, anaemia or Group B strep, you may need additional screening tests. At some point in the third trimester, you may also be offered the Tdap vaccine, which prevents your baby from Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis. 

Remember that in the third trimester, as your due date approaches, you should decide on a birth plan!

 

Third trimester: It's easy to be wise 'before the event'

When you are a few weeks from giving birth, don't miss out on the chance to plan ahead for both medical concerns and logistics revolving labour and maternity in general. If you have a case of nesting, you're probably ahead in the following list, but it's better not to let events catch you unprepared, be detail-oriented and think of every possible aspect.

When it comes to healthcare issues, we suggest trying to:

  • Know all your antenatal appointments: it's basic to keep in almost constant contact with your health care provider, once you enter the third trimester. Don't forget to schedule the necessary appointments and to seek help in case it's needed.

  • Choose a paediatrician: having a person to take medical care of your child, once he's born, may make things a lot easier for you. The sooner you have one, the better.

  • Check your weight: it's normal that your weight gain diminishes in the late days of your pregnancy. However, whether you'll have to make up for it or not will depend on how much weight you've put on until now. Talk to your doctor about it.

  • Learn about breastfeeding: It's time to decide whether you'll breastfeed your baby or not. And if you do so, you'd better start getting as much information as possible. An easy tip is talking to other mums with breastfeeding experience.

  • Pay attention to foetal activity: is your munchkin going to be a future kicker? How regular are his foetal movements? Keep track of how many times you feel your baby every day, so you can report if you note any changes.

  • Take a hospital tour: one good thing to do during these stressing days is visiting the hospital or the birthing centre in which you'll give birth. Aren't you excited to see the facilities where you'll see your child for the first time?

 

Moreover, you should be planning for the baby's arrival by: 

  • Washing the baby's clothes: keeping good hygiene is essential when dealing with newborns. Not only do his little clothes need to be clean, but also his towels, bed clothes and so on.

  • Read about baby care: take advantage of your last weeks as a pregnant woman to learn everything you need to know about taking care of a newborn. What to expect from newborn babies, all the baby milestones, what to do and when to look for medical help are some of the basic questions to get answers to.

  • Set up the car seat: some people forget about this particular detail, but you'll need it as soon as you leave the hospital. And trust us, you don't want to do it then!

  • Keep your fridge ready: you may want to go ahead and stock your fridge and freezer with different meals or leftovers that you can easily use during your first weeks as a mum. You won’t have much time to cook!

  • Commemorate your bump: before giving birth, you and your baby deserve to have a picture of your full baby bump. It will be one of those photos that you'll always cherish and that will remind you of such a unique time in your life.

  • Go over tour baby checklist: you’ll need to make sure you have all the baby essentials ready, and the way not forget any is to go over and over your checklist!

  • Pack your hospital bag: you have no idea of when you'll have to run to the hospital, so you'd better have a bag full of essential things (mostly, comfortable clothes) to bring with you.

  • Relax: the third trimester is an ideal time to learn relaxation techniques to reduce stress, like, for instance, meditation. Try not to lose your temper if you are overdue. Remember that you are in the hands of professionals.

Finally, the third trimester of pregnancy leads you to what you are looking for: holding your precious one in your arms. You may be exhausted, but keep in mind that there's just one more effort to make and it will be over. Come on, mum, you've got this!

You can also read CaptainMum's exclusive guides for the other trimesters of pregnancy: the first trimester and the second trimester!

 

Need help? Ask other mummies in CaptainMums' forum!

 

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