And finally, you have entered the last or the Third Trimester of your Pregnancy journey! The third trimester is a cocktail phase of joy, excitement, anticipation, scepticism, anxiety, thrill, kicks and a few aches. The last trimester is going to be beautiful with each passing day as you are now moving closer and closer to meeting the miracle you created.
Third Trimester of Pregnancy
How long is the Third Trimester?
The last trimester is from Week 28 to Week 40. A full-term pregnancy lasts about forty weeks, however, some women may deliver prematurely in the seventh or eighth month also.
The position of the baby becomes important now as it determines if you are going to deliver vaginally or if it will require a cesarean section to deliver the baby.
Typical Symptoms of the Third Trimester of Pregnancy
The third trimester may slow you down a bit because of increased baby weight and bulge in the tummy. Try to remain as active as you can be. With the growing baby, you will notice his movements becoming more and more obvious.
These exciting sensations are often accompanied by increasing discomfort and other signs and symptoms, including:
Braxton Hicks Contractions: Braxton Hicks Contractions are mild, irregular contractions which are felt like a slight tightness in your abdomen. These contractions are more likely to occur in the afternoon or evening, after physical activity or after sex. These contractions also tend to occur more often and become stronger as you approach your due date. Contact your doctor if the contractions become regular and steadily increase in intensity.
Backaches: Pregnancy hormones relax the connective tissue that holds your bones in place, especially in the pelvic area. These changes can exert pressure on your back, and often result in discomfort during the third trimester.
Shortness of breath: You may feel shortness of breath quite often. With a good posture and providing ample space for the lungs, this can be minimized.
Heartburn: Pregnancy hormones may cause the valve between the stomach and the oesophagus to relax hence making stomach acids reflux and causing heartburn. To prevent heartburn, eat small, frequent meals, and avoid fried foods, citrus fruits, chocolate, and spicy or fried foods.
Spider veins, varicose veins, and haemorrhoids: Increased blood circulation may exert strain on the veins leading to a condition called varicose veins. The veins may become dark purplish and become prominent on your face, neck, and arms which fades after delivery. This is a painful condition. Soaking feet in warm water may help with haemorrhoids and varicose veins.
Frequent urination: As your baby presses deeper into your pelvis, you may feel more pressure on your bladder. You might find yourself urinating more often. This extra pressure might also cause you to leak urine — especially when you laugh, cough, sneeze, bend or lift. If this is a problem, consider using panty liners. If you think you might be leaking amniotic fluid, contact your doctor immediately.
Mood Swings: As anticipation grows, fears about childbirth might become more persistent. Will, it hurt too much? How long will the labour last? How will I cope? The reality of parenthood might begin to sink in as well. You might feel anxious, especially if this is your first baby.
Itching: During the last trimester some women might experience itching on the palms, and soles of their feet which eventually spreads to the abdomen and the whole body. This is an alarming situation called Cholestasis – a condition in which bile flow from the liver is obstructed causing malfunctioning of the liver. If you experience such itching, you should immediately consult your Gynae about this.
Swelling: Increased weight and pressure on feet may cause swelling. Sometimes thyroid malfunction is also a cause of the swelling. Your doctor may want to screen your thyroid function to rule out the possibility of hypothyroidism.
Stretch marks: Your skin especially around your belly is undergoing massive stretching due to the growing baby. Dehydrated skin may lose elasticity and cause stretch marks. Stretch marks may appear on thighs, buttocks, waistline, stomach, and sometimes on arms and legs too.
Baby Development In the Third trimester
Week 28: Baby’s eyelids can partially open and eyelashes have formed. The central nervous system can direct rhythmic breathing movements and control body temperature. Baby is around 10 inches long from crown to rump and weighs nearly 1 kg now.
Week 29: Your baby can kick, stretch and make grasping movements which can now be felt very prominently. You can even see the baby's movements on your belly. He may also respond to familiar voices. You can talk to your baby now and he may respond to some specific music, stories or voice.
Week 30: Now the baby’s eyes can open wide. Your baby might have a good head of hair by this week. Red blood cells are forming in your baby’s bone marrow. He is rapidly growing and by now he might be more than 10 1/2 inches long and weigh nearly 1.3-1.5 kg.
Week 31: Major developments of organs is now complete in your baby. Now it is time to rapidly gain weight and increase muscle mass.
Week 32: Baby’s toenails are visible and the layer of soft, downy hair (lanugo) that has covered your baby’s skin for the past few months starts to fall off this week. His height and weight are increasing rapidly.
Week 33: Your baby’s pupils can change size in response to a stimulus caused by light. If you throw some light from a torch or flashlight on your belly, you can feel the baby move. His bones are hardening. However, the skull remains soft and flexible for easy delivery.
Week 34: Your baby’s fingernails have reached his or her fingertips. By now he might be nearly 12 inches long and weigh more than 2.1 kg.
Week 35: Your baby’s skin is becoming smooth. He is gaining weight rapidly.
Week 36: Baby is now tightly packed in the uterus due to his increasing size which might make it harder for him to give you a punch. However, you will probably still feel lots of stretches, rolls and wiggles.
Week 37: Baby has developed a firm grasp by now. To prepare for birth, your baby’s head might start descending into your pelvis. If your baby isn’t head down, your doctor might discuss about the possible measures for this issue.
Week 38: The circumference of your baby’s head and abdomen are almost the same. Toenails have reached the tips of his or her toes and mostly all of the lanugo has been shed by now. Weight might have reached a mark of 2.5-3 Kg.
Week 39: For male babies, the testes continue to descend into the scrotum. Fat is being added all over your baby’s body to keep him or her warm after birth.
Week 40: Your due date might be approaching soon. Don’t be alarmed if your due date comes and goes with no signs of labour starting. Your due date is simply a calculated estimate of when your pregnancy will be 40 weeks. It does not estimate when your baby will arrive. It’s normal to give birth before or after your due date. Your little one might be out anytime soon.
What all you can you Eat
Continue to eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, and milk.
Take foods rich in protein, low in fat, and high in fibre.
Avoid fried food, and food with too much salt or spices.
Keep yourself hydrated by drinking lots of water, coconut water, freshly squeezed juices, etc.
Also, keep supplementing yourself with prenatal vitamins as advised by your doctor.
Do’s and Don’t’s
Stay Active and keep doing light exercises and prenatal Yoga as advised by your instructor
You can do kegel exercises to help your pelvic muscles.
Wear low heeled footwear but not completely flat. Cushioned footwear will be a better option.
Start journaling your thoughts to keep anxiety at bay.
Plan your baby nursery and start looking for baby names
Plan a baby shower party to enjoy the last few days of your pregnancy journey. You can choose a gender-neutral theme if baby gender identification is not allowed in your area.
Talk to your doctor about vaginal and cesarean delivery to prepare yourself better.
If you are employed, plan your maternity leaves with your employer.
Prepare your hospital bag with maternity clothes, sanitary pads specially designed for post-delivery use, a book of your choice, few baby essentials like cloth nappies, baby clothes, a blanket, a clean and soft bedsheet or a swaddle cloth, baby wipes, sanitiser, etc.
Prepare about what to expect after delivery like lactation, latching baby on the breast, breastfeeding, and post-partum care of yourself. Check with family members who are going to stay with you and pass on any information you might share with them regarding baby care or your needs.
Avoid strenuous exercises.
Avoid lifting any heavy object or bending down at your waist. Bend at your knees instead.
Don’t sleep on your back. Always sleep on your sides.
Don’t stress yourself too much by googling everything. Talk to an experienced friend or relative to ease your anxiety.
Avoid smoking, alcohol or caffeinated drinks.
Don’t miss out on any screenings or tests advised by your doctor. Follow your doctor’s advice.
Avoid eating raw sprouts, and unpasteurized food items.
Don’t take hot baths or sauna baths. High temperatures may cause discomfort to the baby.
Don’t ignore any kind of fever, vomiting or vaginal bleeding. Contact your doctor immediately.
Don’t stress or fuss over a particular kind of delivery (vaginal or caesarean). Let your doctor decide what is best for you.
What to Shop For?
Nursing bras and maternity clothes.
Nipple cream, breast pads, and nursing pillow
Belly band for support to belly after delivery.
Items for your baby nursery- baby cots, diaper bags, diapers, swaddle cloth, etc.
Baby wipes, sanitisers, cloth nappies, baby clothes, soft blankets.
Sanitary pads and toiletries
Baby carriers made of cloth for using post-partum.
The third trimester is a good time to get your hospital bag ready.
Reading all this, you might be very excited by now. Keep your happy hormones flowing and your excitement level high – you are going to meet the miracle of your life anytime soon!