You’re nearly there! It won’t be long until you meet baby—what here’s to expect in the last weeks.
You have completed the second trimester! Excellent work. While you’re this close to receiving your new baby, some of the most difficult symptoms of early pregnancy, such as exhaustion and the urge to pee, return during the third trimester.
In addition, you’ll begin to experience additional pregnancy symptoms such as Braxton-Hicks contractions, hemorrhoids, and vexing aches and pains. As the due date of your baby approaches, you may begin to feel apprehensive as well. It’s time to pamper yourself—take naps, meditate, or do whatever soothes you.
During the third trimester, your baby is extremely active, putting the finishing touches on their growth as they prepare to enter the world. They’ll be piling on the pounds—it’ll start to feel crowded in there—and brain and neuron development will be at an all-time high during these weeks.
Here’s what to anticipate throughout your pregnancy’s third trimester.
Third trimester growth of the baby
Baby is roughly 14.8 inches this week at 28 weeks, the start of your third trimester. This is around the size of a bowling pin. By the end of your third trimester—when you’ll meet your baby!—they’ll be 19-21 inches long and weigh between 6 3/4 and 10 pounds. You know, like the size of a real baby.
After 30 weeks, your baby will begin to gain half a pound every week until delivery. As the room becomes tighter in the amniotic sac, your baby will begin to cuddle into the fetal position.
As they prepare for delivery, they’ll begin to change their position down away from your ribs and toward your pelvis at about 36 weeks. This is known as “lightning,” and it is one of the first phases of labor.
Your baby’s brain and nerve growth are at their peak during the third trimester. The brain continues to form essential neurological connections for the five senses, preparing your baby to see, feel, touch, taste, and hear when they are born. They even begin to dream—rapid eye movement has been observed!
Your baby’s bones are hardening, but his or her skull will remain soft at delivery to allow the head to slide into the birth canal (which is excellent because that’s where your vagina is). These soft patches between portions of their skull are known as fontanelles, and they can take many years to close. Crazy!
Your baby’s kidneys and liver will be fully functional by 36 weeks. Your baby’s brain and lungs will continue to grow throughout childhood and beyond, but all of his or her other internal organs are fully functional.
At 37 weeks, your baby is considered completely developed and ready to make its appearance at any moment.
Pregnancy symptoms in the third trimester
Contractions caused by Braxton Hicks
As your body prepares for delivery, you may begin to feel Braxton Hicks contractions throughout your third trimester. Your uterine muscles tense for 30 seconds to two minutes during these “fake” contractions.
How do you tell the difference between Braxton Hicks’s contractions and genuine contractions? Labor contractions do not stop whether you change positions, get up, or walk around, and they get more intense and frequent with time. Use these Braxton Hicks contractions to practice the breathing techniques you’ll learn in birthing classes if you attend them.
Aches and pains in the third trimester of pregnancy
Lower back and hip pain: As your hormone levels rise, the connective tissue in your pelvic area will begin to soften, preparing your body for the passage of your baby via the birth canal. As a result, you may experience hip or lower back pain. Regular exercise, such as walking, swimming, and stretching, might be beneficial. This pelvic spread also contributes to the unique pregnant “waddle.” Mama, it’s time to embrace your inner penguin.
Sciatica: If you suffer tingling, numbness, or shooting pains in your lower back, buttocks, or thighs, you most likely have sciatica. This occurs when your uterus presses on your sciatic nerves. A warm bath or compress might assist to alleviate your discomfort.
Shortness of breath: As your uterus grows, it presses against your rib cage and diaphragm, making breathing more difficult. Try standing up straight to give your lungs a more “breathing” area, and if it interferes with your sleep, prop yourself up with some additional pillows. Your baby will lower at the conclusion of your pregnancy, allowing you to breathe more easily.
Mild edema: It’s normal to have swollen ankles or feet, but if you see abrupt swelling in your hands or face, it might be a symptom of preeclampsia.
Lightning crotch: This silly-sounding symptom is a brief, shooting pain in your pelvic, especially when you or the baby moves. It’s mainly simply unpleasant and passes soon.
This pelvic spread also contributes to the unique pregnant “waddle.” Mama, it’s time to embrace your inner penguin.
Hemorrhoids: It’s unfortunate to say, but hemorrhoids are rather common throughout pregnancy. They can be caused by constipation along with increased pressure on your pelvic region. Pain and itching can be relieved with witch hazel pads, sitz baths, and medicines such as Tucks Pads or Earth Mama Herbal Perineal Spray. (Remember these cures since hemorrhoids are prevalent after delivery as well.) How can hemorrhoids be avoided? Drink plenty of water and eat fiber-rich foods like oatmeal, beans, apples (with the peel), and bananas to avoid constipation.
While these aches and pains are typical (albeit irritating), if you have severe cramping or stomach discomfort, vomiting (in the second or third trimesters), painful or scorching urine, blood, or a high fever, see your doctor immediately. Don’t put it off until your next prenatal visit.
Baby Bumps in the Third Trimester
The third trimester and sleep
After the energy surge of your second trimester, you’ll most likely begin to slow down again. During your third trimester, fatigue returns. Sleeping may be more difficult now since your increasing belly makes it harder to find a comfortable sleeping position, and heartburn and the need to pee may wake you up. Furthermore, worry may prevent you from falling asleep at all.
A pregnant pillow can help you sleep better at night, and providing a dark, cool, and quiet sleeping environment can help you fall or remain asleep. If you’re feeling worried, consider meditating before bed or taking a warm bath to relax.
Changes in the breasts during the third trimester
Your breasts, like your tummy, are undoubtedly becoming bigger by the day. Your breasts may have grown by up to 2 pounds by the end of your pregnancy! Your nipples and areolas darken and grow more prominent, with little lumps surrounding them. Montgomery’s tubercles release oil that keeps your nipple region moist when nursing.
As your due date approaches, your nipples may begin to discharge a yellowish fluid. That’s colostrum, and if you’re nursing, it’s the immune-boosting milk your baby will consume in the first few days after birth.
If you intend to breastfeed your child after birth, the third trimester is an excellent time to begin educating yourself. Consider taking a breastfeeding class or reading a book such as Breastfeeding Made Simple. If you’re going back to work or believe you’ll want to pump so that others may feed baby a bottle, look into which breast pump you might desire. (By the way, your insurance company may be able to provide you with a free breast pump.) Other items that may come in handy throughout your nursing journey? Nursing bras, nipple creams, nursing pillows, and nursing tops are all available.
During the third trimester, you should see an OB/GYN.
During the third trimester, you’ll begin to visit your healthcare provider more frequently, with appointments every two weeks from 28 to 35 weeks, and then weekly until you deliver.
What occurs during these meetings?
They will test your urine sample, take your blood pressure, measure your fundal height, and inquire about fetal activity at each appointment.
Around week 38, your Ob-Gyn or midwife will most likely perform a cervical exam to see if you are beginning to dilate (the opening of the cervix, measured in centimeters) or efface (the thinning of the cervix, which is measured in percentage). Your cervix must be 10 cm long and 100 percent effaced for vaginal delivery to be successful. (Learn how to tell whether you’re in labor here.)
You and your healthcare practitioner will be seeing each other a lot.
You will be tested for Group B strep between 35 and 37 weeks, generally with a vaginal swab. This common bacterium is prevalent in 25% of healthy women who may or may not have symptoms. If you have Group B strep, you will be given antibiotics through IV during birth to keep your baby from catching it from you. (If you intend on having a home birth, check with your midwife regarding having IV antibiotics at home.)
Around week 35, your doctor will most likely examine the baby to determine whether it is heads down (cephalic) or heads up (breech). If the baby is still heads up in the last several weeks, your doctor may propose certain techniques to “turning” the baby before you go into labor.
Kicks are important
You’re usually used to feeling the baby’s spins, kicks, and jabs by the third trimester. Counting kicks might help you track your baby’s mobility.
Sit or lie down in a quiet place and pay close attention to what your baby is doing. In a two-hour period, look for ten unique motions. Most of the time, you’ll feel them within five minutes, although it might take longer at times.
Try to conduct the kick counts at the same time every day (generally when the baby is most active) and timing how long it takes to obtain all ten. If you detect any changes in your baby’s pattern—or if you don’t feel any movement at all—trust your instincts and contact your doctor.
spots and discharge
Because of your increasing estrogen levels, it’s fairly usual to have more white-colored vaginal discharge throughout the third trimester. (If there are any red streaks in the discharge and it is unusually viscous, it might be your mucus plug leaking, which is an early symptom of labor.) If this is the case, contact your midwife or OB.)
A little spotting is common in the third trimester, especially after intercourse, because your cervix is easily irritated. However, if you see a lot of blood, contact your doctor since it might suggest that anything is wrong with your placenta.
Gaining weight throughout the third trimester
You’ll most likely have gained between 12 and 17 pounds by the end of the second trimester. You’ll gain between 1/2 and 1 pound every week throughout your third trimester. That implies you’ll have gained between 25 and 35 pounds by the conclusion of your pregnancy.
This is how the weight increase is broken down:
- 7.5 lbs Baby
- 1.5 lbs Placenta
- 4 lbs Increased Fluids
- 2 lbs Increased Uterus
- 2 lbs Increased Breast Tissue
- 4 lbs Increased Blood Volume
- 7 lbs Maternal fat, protein and other nutrients
- 2 lbs Amniotic Fluid