Even though you’ve just entered the final trimester of the pregnancy, the baby still has plenty of growing to do. In order to share what you should expect of your third trimester, we’ve put together this guidebook.
We’ll go through every single detail, so make yourself comfortable and prepare to take notes. We’ll cover everything, including the changes in your body and the changes your baby is going through during the final weeks of the pregnancy.
First Things First: When Does the Final Trimester Begin?
Once you’ve entered the 28th week of the pregnancy, you’ve officially stepped into the third trimester. And, this trimester will end with you giving birth to a beautiful child. That’s why it is the most special out of three.
Essentially, pregnancy math says that the third trimester lasts from the seventh month until the due date. But the due date may come a bit earlier or later than the 40-week mark.
As a matter of fact, around one-third of pregnancies pass that mark and last for one, or even two more weeks. In addition to that, if you happen to reach the 42nd week of your pregnancy, you’ll be “overdue.” At this point, your obstetrician or midwife will usually induce the labor (in case it doesn’t start on its own).
Regardless of how far away you are from the due date, entering the final trimester is something you can imagine as the point where you can already see the finish line. So, hang in there!
The Baby’s Growth in the Third Trimester
The final trimester is all about growth! Essentially, your baby will grow the most during this time. To be precise, it will grow from being around 2.5 pounds and 16-inches long to weighing around 6 to 9 pounds and having 19 to 22-inches in length until the 40th week of the pregnancy.
Yes, you’ve heard us right! The baby will start growing really fast because the due date is getting close. Still, while this is great news, you should get ready for some serious kicking and poking as the living space will become a bit tight.
The Biggest Highlights of the Third Trimester
When it comes to the bones, in the third trimester, the cartilage will start transforming around the 7th and 8th month. This is the time when the baby is getting all the calcium from the mom. That’s why you need to make sure you’re increasing your calcium-rich food intake.
Nails, Hair, and Skin
Once you’ve entered the 32nd week of pregnancy, the baby’s skin will turn from see-through to opaque. Then, a month later, fat will continue to accumulate while the baby will be shedding its vernix.
If you have no idea what vernix is, don’t worry! Vernix is a term used to describe the substance similar to wax that protects the baby’s skin from the amniotic fluid.
In addition to shedding the vernix, the baby will also shed its hairy coating around this time. This coating is called lanugo, and its role is to keep the baby warm.
During the closing weeks of your pregnancy, the baby’s first poop will start building up in its intestines. This is called meconium, and it consists of mostly lanugo, vernix and blood cells.
As far as the baby’s touch receptors go, these will develop fully during the 29th or 30th week of the pregnancy. And, by the 31st week, the baby will start getting signals from all five senses! Essentially, at this point, it can perceive light and dark, taste what you’re eating and listen to the sound of mommy’s voice. That must sound exciting!
This is another interesting part of your baby’s development — the brain! Your baby’s brain will start developing really fast in the final trimester. In fact, it will start testing out some skills like dreaming, blinking and even body temperature regulation!
Somewhere around the 34th week of your pregnancy, the baby will start heading southward. As a matter of fact, the baby will start getting ready for labor. That means that it will slowly nest into the head-down, feet-up position.
However, there are some cases in which the baby will stay stubborn, in a so-called breech position. If that happens, somewhere around the 37th week of the pregnancy, the doctor will most likely try to manually turn it around.
How Your Body Will Change During Pregnancy
As you’ve probably noticed, your baby will be pretty busy during the final trimester. Consequently, you will be feeling a lot of fetal activity! And, as your baby bump gets bigger week after week, your body will be changing fast, too!
To be frank, you’re not going to like what we have to tell you in the next section. Remember to think about the finishing line, and you won’t be worried about any of these changes. Now, let’s go over some major changes a future mom will experience:
#1 Achy Tummy
Since your ligaments are meant to support your lower abdomen, they will start stretching out in order to make space for the growing bump. Thus, you might sometimes feel a sharp pain or cramps. Our only advice here is to stay calm and think about the finish line. It will be worth it!
During the third trimester, you’ll most likely be feeling tired and sleepy all the time. In order to handle this, make sure you eat healthily and frequently. Most importantly, try to stay active and nap as much as you can.
The final trimester of pregnancy will cause some serious heartburn. The reason for that is the fact that the uterus will start pushing your stomach and all its content upward. If you find that the heartburn is too difficult to deal with nature, try consulting your obstetrician about taking H2 blockers or PPIs. These are not going to pose any risk on the pregnancy, yet they will be helpful in fighting the heartburn.
#4 False-alarm contractions
This is the one you must have heard of already. Think about these contractions as the perfect chance to practice for the real deal. And, relax — this is your body getting ready for the labor.
#5 Varicose veins
If you start noticing some bulgy veins and hemorrhoids, again, don’t worry. Since the body is pumping way more blood during the pregnancy, this is another natural change that you just have to go through. And, in case you’ve never had these before the pregnancy, chances are they will disappear right after your baby’s birth.
#6 Stretch marks
There is no woman in the world that hasn’t seen a stretch mark. Some are lucky enough to get them during pregnancy for the first time. However, a great number of women already has these tiny tears.
We’re really sorry to break the news to you, but there is nothing that can prevent the skin from stretching out. What you can do in order to minimize the appearance of stretch marks is to make sure your skin is hydrated. So, don’t forget to moisturize!
#7 Back Pain
Another change you probably won’t be happy to know of is severe back pain. Your body will release the hormone called relaxin during pregnancy. This hormone will loosen up the joints in the body. Consequently, your baby bump will start pulling the center of gravity forward, which is when you might start experiencing a sharp, shooting pain starting from your back and then going down to the legs. Remember that finish line? Well, now it might be time to start envisioning it again.
#8 Crazy dreams
This one is wildly interesting. Due to your chaotic pregnancy hormones, you might start dreaming more vividly than you normally do. The intensity of your dreams will build up as you approach the due date. But there’s nothing to worry about — this is completely normal. In addition to that, you’ll have a fun, crazy story to share with your family every single day!
#9 Weird Clumsiness
Let’s go back to the relaxin here. This hormone will make your ligaments wiggly, which might lead to clumsiness. So, as you lose balance from time to time, remember that you have a company (inside you) and do everything that you can to stay safe at all times.
#10 No Bladder Control
Frequent bathroom visits will start becoming even more frequent as the baby is pushing your bladder. All that extra weight will make it hard for you to control it. So, don’t be surprised if you pee a little every time you sneeze. Doing Kegels is the only way to try and keep this under control.
#11 Leaky breasts
In the third trimester, you’ll most likely experience leaky breasts. This is another sign of your body getting ready for the real deal.
These are just some of the most common pregnancy symptoms that you might encounter during the third trimester. We know that none of them sound like fun. However, you should always keep in mind that the finish line is near. Eyes on the prize!
Things You Will Need in the Third Trimester
As we’ve mentioned earlier, for the constantly stretching skin, you’ll need to use a moisturizer on a daily basis. In fact, there are belly oils that are specifically designed to target sensitive pregnancy skin. This way, you will be going the extra mile in order to minimize the appearance of those nasty stretch marks.
Symptoms That You Should Have Checked Out
The labor day is getting closer every day, which may lead to experiencing some false delivery symptoms. However, there are some real signs of labor that you should keep an eye on.
- The baby dropping – Around the 39th week of the pregnancy, the baby will drop to your pelvis, making you waddle around.
- Bloody show – If you spot mucus of pinkish and brown color, with signs of blood, this is a sure sign that you’re about to deliver that cutie pie of yours within a couple of days (or even hours!).
- Labor contractions – We’re talking about real contractions here, though, not the Braxton Hicks contractions. The real ones will build up and intensify, instead of slowly going away. They are another clear sign that you should start packing the D-day bag.
- Finally, the water breaks – In the majority of cases, this doesn’t happen until you’ve reached the hospital.
Your obstetrician and/or midwife will let you know when it’s time to go to the hospital. This is going to be when the active labor kicks in. And, once you’re there, congrats! Your baby is officially on the way!
We’d like to note that, if you experience heavier bleeding at any point of the pregnancy, a high fever, harsh abdominal pain or anything really unusual, you should call your doctor. And, don’t worry about being paranoid. It’s normal for all future moms to worry. So, when you’re worried, call your doctor — they will always be happy to help out!
Your Tasks For the Third Trimester
First and foremost, you ought to keep track of fetal movements. Starting from the 28th week, you can start counting the kicks on a daily basis. Also, keep an eye on any regularities and irregularities.
Then, although this sounds almost redundant to say, make sure you closely monitor the weight gain. In the final trimester, the weight gain will speed up at the beginning and slow down, or even stop completely, by the end of your pregnancy. In fact, in the last week or two, you might even start losing weight.
That is nothing you should worry about. In any case, if you notice a drastic weight gain or loss, make sure you check with your doctor. Better safe than sorry!
Another task for you is to keep moving and stay active! With your doctor’s consent, you might even engage in some low-intensity fitness. Still, we should note that you need to stay alert and make sure you’re safe at all times.
You’ll want to start scheduling your third-trimester checkups as soon as you enter week 27. Your obstetrician will guide you through each and every test. In fact, you can expect numerous tests of the glucose levels, anemia, and frequent cervix examinations, too. These tests will help your doctor determine whether you’re dilated enough and when the due date is.
Another task we’d like you to take on is taking a hospital tour. If you’re planning to give birth in a hospital, you can take a tour of it, just to get to know the environment. This will make you feel more at peace once the due date comes.
Then, you will certainly want to choose a pediatrician for your baby. Take this time to see a couple of candidates and narrow the choice down to your favorite!
Also, the third trimester is the ideal time to start shopping for baby essentials. For instance, this is the perfect time to buy a stroller, a crib, a car seat and a set of baby monitors.
The third trimester will make your baby bump grow wild. That means that you won’t be able to move around as much. So, take that time to read as much as you can and equip yourself with plenty of pregnancy literature.
In addition to that, you can prepare yourself for the actual labor. In fact, reading about all labor stages and symptoms will help you cope with it when the time comes. Moreover, start making decisions on how you want to deal with labor pain. Consult your doctor regarding the options and see what you can settle for as the best solution.
Another important task is setting up the nursery. It’s essential that you stay organized and ready for the day when you’ll bring the little one home. Think about gearing up on bottles, diapers, pacifiers, baby formula, clothes and similar.
Now, here’s something interesting that you might want to do — do a photo shoot of your baby bump. One day, these photos will be some of the most valuable memories you have.
Here’s another one — stock the fridge. The first few weeks upon the delivery will be pretty hectic, so make sure you stock the fridge and let yourself focus on more important things rather than grocery shopping. Also, you’ll want to plan your budget, too. In fact, it’s crucial that you make these plans, as a newborn is going to have a great impact on your spending habits.
Moving on, you should pack your hospital bag. And, please, remember to bring only essentials in it. Pack light!
Finally, you should research what happens after labor. The key to keeping things under control after the baby’s arrival is knowing what you have to deal with. And, while we’re talking about preparation, try to learn everything about the baby’s first year. Get to know all the milestones and make sure you’re ready to face them.
Are you excited? We know we are! The baby is coming — hang in there and get ready for the most memorable day of your life.