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Third Trimester of Pregnancy: All you need to know and more

Third Trimester of Pregnancy: All you need to know and more

As you come into the third trimester of pregnancy you know you are approaching the big day. The third trimester of pregnancy is a time of tremendous excitement and no small measure of concern. 

On the one hand, the third trimester means you are about to meet your new baby. On the other hand, the process of giving birth and the weight of new responsibility is on the horizon. The third trimester of pregnancy is a time filled with all kinds of feelings. 

There are still things to look forward to in the third trimester of pregnancy. More changes are on the way, and of course, the big day is in sight. Your baby is still developing and making his or her way of being a person in the world. There are some things you will notice during the third trimester of pregnancy. 

What is the third trimester of pregnancy and what can you expect during this exciting time? This guide will give you the facts on the third trimester of pregnancy so you can be ready to meet your new baby. 

What is the third trimester?

The third trimester of pregnancy officially begins at 28 weeks. This extends until you give birth. Ideally, the third trimester goes through 40 weeks. Labor will likely begin about a week before you give birth. Some pregnancies go beyond the 40-week mark. About 30 percent of pregnancies last a little longer than 40 weeks. At 42 weeks you will be determined to be overdue, and doctors will induce labor at that point. 

Third-trimester symptoms

Third-trimester symptoms

The third trimester is bringing you close to the end of things, but there are still big changes going on with your baby and your body. Your body is undergoing the final changes that will make it possible to bring your baby into the world. Some of the things you can expect during the third trimester include: 

Abdominal aches

The ligaments in your lower abdomen will stretch during the third trimester. This is to make room for the growing baby. This can cause pain in your abdomen. The best thing to do for this is to simply take it easy. 

Fatigue

There is a good chance you will be extremely tired during this phase. Make sure you get plenty of good sleep. Stay active as much as possible. And eat a healthy diet. 

Heartburn

In the final weeks of your pregnancy, your uterus expands and puts pressure on your stomach. This will cause the contents to move upward and can lead to persistent heartburn. There are some medications you can get that are safe during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor if this problem becomes unmanageable.  

Braxton Hicks contractions

These irregular contractions are your body's way of getting ready for the big day. Braxton Hicks contractions are not labor contractions. 

Varicose veins

All the extra blood in your body can lead to varicose veins in your lower extremities. These can include hemorrhoids which are a type of varicose vein. The good news in this is that if you did not have varicose veins before pregnancy, these varicose veins will most likely fade. 

Stretch marks

Small tears in the skin can form as a result of the expansion of your belly, breasts, and buttocks. The severity of stretch marks is largely due to genetics. You can moisturize to help minimize stretch marks. 

Backaches

The pregnancy hormone relaxin relaxes the ligaments in the pelvis and softens and widens the cervix. This will cause your center of gravity to move forward and this can lead to back pain. Honestly, the only thing you can do for this is to lay down as much as possible. If the back pain becomes persistent and unbearable, this may be a sign of sciatica. 

Loss of bladder control

The weight on your pelvic floor can put pressure on your bladder. You may find that even the smallest exertion can cause you to urinate. Even a sneeze may make you urinate. 

Leaky breasts

This is simply your body getting ready to breastfeed. 

All of this may sound daunting, and some of it may be embarrassing. Just keep in mind that all of these things are your body's ways of making way for your baby. 

Changes during the third trimester

Changes during the third trimester

There are a few other bodily changes you can expect during the third trimester of pregnancy. As your body shifts toward birth and delivery, you can expect to experience some of the following:

Increased skin temperature

The developing baby radiates body heat and this will cause your own body to heat up. 

Blood pressure changes

The growing baby may put pressure on the main vein to your heart, and this may cause a decrease in blood pressure. 

Edema

You may experience swelling of your legs, face, and ankles as the result of fluid retention. 

Hair growth 

The increases in hormones for the developing baby can sometimes cause hair follicles to be stimulated. This can cause hair growth on your arms, legs, and face. Your hair may begin to feel coarser. 

Decrease in libido 

Some women may experience a decrease in their libido during this trimester due to all other symptoms affecting their bodies at this stage.

Skin pigmentation changes

You may notice dark patches on the skin of your face. 

Most of these changes will abate after your baby is born. These are changes that are almost entirely dependent upon hormone and physical shifts during pregnancy. 

Baby’s growth during the third trimester

Baby’s growth during the third trimester

Your baby is going to get a lot bigger during the third trimester. Your baby will grow from an average size of 2.5 pounds and 16 inches long to somewhere between 6 and 9 pounds and as much as 22 inches long. Many rapid developmental changes occur in the final phase of your pregnancy. 

Bones

The baby’s skeletal system is turning from cartilage to bone. This means your baby needs a great supply of calcium. 

Hair, skin, and nail

The baby’s skin is developing a layer of fat that will make it more opaque. He or she is losing the layer that protects the skin from amniotic fluid. Your baby will also lose the coat of hair that keeps him or her warm. 

Digestive system

In the final weeks of pregnancy, the baby’s intestines will form his or her first poop. This is called meconium and is made up of blood cells, vernix, and lanugo (the layer of hair and cells that cover the body in the womb). 

Senses

Your baby will fully develop a sense of touch at week 29 or 30. They will be able to sense light and dark, they can taste what you eat, and your baby can hear your voice. 

Brain

The third trimester will see the brain fully develop. Your baby will be trying out new things like blinking, dreaming, and regulating his or her body temperature. 

By around week 34 your baby will begin to move downward and move into a position with his or her bottom upward and head down. This will put the baby in position for birth. In some cases, the baby will not turn and remain in what is called the breech position. Your doctor can attempt to move the baby manually at around week 37. 

Third Trimester of Pregnancy To-Do List

Continue visits with your doctor

These will likely go from once every two weeks to once a week until your baby comes. You can expect a mix of routine exams and possibly some late-term testing. 

Choose a pediatrician

It is time to think about taking your newborn baby to a doctor. The third trimester is a good time to start planning for a pediatrician. Research what your insurance will cover. Schedule visits with some doctors to see how things work. 

Get your baby things together

This is the last time you have to get all the things you need for your baby. Cribs, strollers, monitors, blankets, and of course, baby clothes. 

Prepare your baby's space

Get your baby's space finalized by making sure everything is safe. You will want your baby monitors in place and learn about safety guidelines to prevent SIDS. 

Talk to your baby

Your baby can hear you now. Take these final weeks of just the two of you to talk to them and even sing to them. 

Learn about coping with labor

There is no right or wrong when it comes to how you choose to deliver your baby. This is a personal decision that you make. Learn what you can about managing labor pains with and without medications and make the decision that is best for you.  

Get an understanding of the stages of labor

A first-time mother takes an average of 15 hours of labor to deliver. That said, labor can last for more than 20 hours. There are three main stages to labor, and the better you understand these stages the more prepared you will be when the big day comes. 

Develop a birth plan

Childbirth is pretty routine, but it is also unpredictable. Even though most people’s experience will be close to the statistical average, the truth is, anything can happen. Be ready for labor and delivery and have a plan in place for when that day comes. Have your preferences for pain management worked out ahead of time and make your delivery preferences known in advance. You do not want to let circumstances make decisions for you. 

Third Trimester of Pregnancy FAQs

What is the third trimester of pregnancy?

The third trimester of pregnancy officially begins at 28 weeks. This extends until you give birth. Ideally, the third trimester goes through 40 weeks. Labor will likely begin about a week before you give birth. Some pregnancies go beyond the 40-week mark, About 30 percent of pregnancies last a little longer than 40 weeks. At 42 weeks you will be determined to be overdue, and doctors will induce labor at that point. 

What are some of the symptoms during the third trimester of pregnancy? 

You may experience back pain, heartburn, Braxton Hicks contractions, and selling in your legs and ankles. 

What are some of the changes during the third trimester of pregnancy? 

You will continue to get a larger belly as the baby grows. You may also see stretch marks and varicose veins from the high blood flow. Some women experience skin color changes during the third trimester. 

What are some of the changes with the bay during the third trimester of pregnancy? 

Your baby will develop a complete skeletal system that is all bone instead of cartilage. He or she will begin to hear, smell, and taste things. Your baby will turn around and move into a lower position to prepare for birth. 

Conclusion

Perhaps the most exciting thing to say about the third trimester of pregnancy is that this is the final phase before your baby is born. The third trimester is the point at which you can finally get ready to meet your baby. 

There are still developmental changes going on with your baby. Your baby is going through the final changes before coming into the world. His or her brain and bones develop completely. They begin to hear your voice and even taste the foods you eat. This is a time to talk and sing to your baby. 

Your body will also go through more changes during the third trimester of pregnancy. Your belly will continue to grow to make room for a baby that will grow to about 6-9 ounces. There are still some hormone changes to go through, and your body needs to get ready for labor and birth.

The third trimester of pregnancy is an exciting time. This is the time for making ready for baby by setting up his or her space, contacting a pediatrician, and buying baby gear. It is a fun time even if there are still some changes for a pregnant mother to endure. 

Prepared with the right information, you will sail through the third trimester of pregnancy without a hitch. Being informed is part of how you will get through this final leg of your pregnancy.