Trimesters: Third Trimester
You’re finally in the home stretch. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel but it isn’t quite over yet. The last three months can feel like an eternity. But, don’t worry, they do not last forever and you will soon be rocking your baby in your arms and singing him to sleep.
The third trimester lasts from week twenty-eight to the birth of your child. This is approximately nine to fourteen weeks. It is very normal to deliver a baby anywhere from thirty-seven to forty-two weeks.
Symptoms you have been experiencing in the second trimester may continue and some will even become more pronounced. If you ever start experiencing any extreme or sudden discomfort, call your care provider immediately.
- Abdominal aching from the round ligaments stretching
- Increased heartburn
- Braxton Hicks contractions
- Varicose Veins/Hemorrhoids
- Stretch marks
- Backache/Sciatica (consider chiropractic care)
- Incontinence or lack of bladder control
- More frequent visits to the ladies room
- Leaky breasts
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling in ankles, feet, and face (if sudden or extreme, call your healthcare provider immediately it can be a sign of a more serious condition)
- Breast tenderness
- Belly button may stick out
- Difficulty sleeping
- Baby dropping or moving lower into your pelvis
- Weight gain
- Belly expanding
- Unusual dreams
Third Trimester Changes in Baby
During this last period of pregnancy, your baby will mainly be fine tuning his body functions and putting on weight.
- Baby can taste and smell
- Eyes can produce tears
- Sucking and swallowing skills are improving
- Baby may be starting to dream while sleeping
- Touch receptors are fully developed
- Baby is practicing smiling
- Adrenal glands are making a chemical that causes the placenta to produce a hormone that will stimulate your body to make prolactin
- Brain is starting to wrinkle to make more room for more cells
- Head to body ratio is now that of a newborn
- Lanugo is starting to disappear
- Bone marrow is now completely in charge of making red blood cells
- Eyes can track light
- Baby can turn head from side to side
- Continuing to gain weight
- Baby’s skin is no longer transparent
- Starting to turn head down to make more room
- Practicing making faces, swallowing, sucking, and breathing
- Baby closes eyes while asleep and opens them while awake
- He can start to see light changes through the thinning uterine wall
- Baby is receiving antibodies from you in order to protect him from infection after birth
- Practicing taking deep breaths
- Pupils are dilating and constricting
- Vernix is thickening
- A boy’s testicles will descend into his scrotum
- Amniotic fluid is starting to decrease
- Organ systems are continuing to mature
- Baby is practicing all the skills he has learned
- Accumulating fat
- Starts to shed the vernix
- Continuing to practice and gain weight
- Baby may “drop”
- Intestines are building up meconium
- Dexterity has improved, he can grasp smaller objects like toes
- Lungs have strengthened
- Vocal chords are fully developed
- Lungs continue to make surfactant
- Intestines continue to produce meconium
- Fat continues to accumulate
- Baby is fully developed
What To Do in the Third Trimester
During the third trimester, your doctor/midwife appointments will become more and more frequent as the nine months come to a close. You’ll probably be checked for anemia and group B strep. In the last few weeks, your care provider will start checking your for dilation and effacement to get an idea of how soon you may expect labor to begin. If you have been classified as “high-risk,” your provider may recommend a non-stress test.
If you haven’t taken a childbirth education class, sign up for one today. You should also arrange for a birth location tour if you are planning to birth in a hospital or birthing center. If you are planning on birthing at home or laboring a long time at home, make sure you have ordered and organized any supplies you may need or want. Make sure everyone invited to the birth knows his/her jobs. Keep your doula up to date after every appointment and exam. Touch base at least one more time with your birth photographer.
Continue to eat well, drink plenty of water, exercise daily, and get plenty of rest. Your doctor may want you to keep a closer eye on your weight gain this trimester, as well.
Make sure you have all the baby essentials you will need for at least a couple of weeks. Have a few friends over to help you put together any furniture or finish decorating the nursery.
Complete your birth plan. Make sure you cover how you plan to control pain, who you want at the birth, and what procedures you do or do not want performed on your newborn. Have your provider read your plan and go over your birth wishes. Once you two understand your desires and what the policies are of the provider and place of birth, have the provider sign your plan. Make copies, giving one to your provider, one to your doula, keep one yourself, and have one for the nurse if you plan to birth at a hospital.
Stock your fridge, pantry, and freezer with easy meals that you or your husband can make while you recover. Also consider asking a friend or family member to arrange a meal train. You and your husband will be thankful for not having to think about preparing a healthy meal while you are enjoying your new blessing.
Pack your birth bag. If you are birthing outside of your home, make sure you pack a bag full of everything you will need. Check with your place of birth for what they suggest and then have fun on Pinterest and YouTube looking at what others found helpful or not necessary.
Check out some local breastfeeding or moms groups in your area. You will benefit from hearing other mom’s stories and gaining wisdom from their experience. You may also form some close bonds that will help you through every stage of raising a family.
Your baby is almost here! Your wait is almost over. You will soon be holding your bundle of joy in your arms and trying to see who he looks like the most.
Behold, children are a gift of the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
If you are in the Denton, TX area and are interested in hiring a doula for your birth experience, contact me today to schedule a free consultation. If you enjoyed this article, you may be interested in checking out my Comfort Measures in Labor page.