3rd Trimester of Pregnancy: When It Starts, Weeks, More
This detailed guide will help all the expectant mothers to prepare for the last phase of pregnancy.
As the due date approaches you will feel so many emotions that it might be overwhelming. When you are in the 7th month of your pregnancy, the third trimester begins and it lasts until you give birth.
There may be early signs of labor during this period and it is better to always consult your doctor if you notice any concerning symptoms.
When you are in your third trimester, the time will go by so fast that one day you are just resting on your bed and the next day you are there holding your newborn baby so while resting, try to tick off all the items listed in your third-trimester checklist.
Normally, a pregnancy lasts for 9 months and then a mother gives birth to her baby. The 9 months are divided into a couple of phases and when the pregnancy is in the last phase, it is called the third trimester. From month 7 to month 9 is the typical third-trimester duration.
There will be noticeable changes in your body in the third trimester as your belly would be bigger since your baby is growing. By the time you reach the 40th week of your pregnancy, you will feel like your belly has grown to the size of a pumpkin.
I know that at this time you are exhausted because of the physical fatigue because it is no easy job to carry another life inside you and give birth. But you have to be careful because many expectant moms have noticed that they became a bit clumsy as they reached their last phase of the pregnancy.
This time is uncomfortable as well because by now, you will find it so very hard to pick things up or tie a shoelace, or even bending over just a little will be very exhausting. Since the baby is growing eventually it will crowd the belly and the other organs of your body so you might find it hard to take deep breaths.
In the third trimester, getting comfy in bed will also be a struggle. The times you need to go pee will also increase and might be very often. The stretch marks will appear because of the stretching of your skin due to your belly size. It is natural so do not worry about stretch marks as even people without pregnancy can also have stretch marks.
You might notice your legs cramping from time to time in your third trimester and your feet will swell up a lot. These are just a few common symptoms that most expectant moms have during this time.
If you are an expectant mom and you are waiting for the due date and the late pregnancy is making you nervous because of a few unknown factors such as the time of your labor and how the delivery would go, about the health of your baby and your new life as a parent — feel free to consult your doctor for reassurance.
The fears you are facing are natural but that does not make them easy to bear so reach out to other people for moral and physical support during this time. You can check in with your provider as well as share your experiences with other moms-to-be. In this case, it might be better for you to join a birth club since it will give you a lot more insight.
Self-care and positive affirmations are other ways you can make yourself feel a little better and get peace of mind. However, these experiences are very subjective and they will be different for every mom. You might not even suffer much and have a good time with your family and friends.
You may have already started to alter the housing set up to be more baby-proof and this can be due to the nesting instinct. The last phase of the third trimester is the time when your baby’s heart, kidney, lungs, and brain have matured quite a lot and he or she can now hear the sounds of the outside world from your belly.
Typically, this time the head of your baby will face towards your pelvic area and this is just your body preparing for the actual child-birth through natural means.
When you have reached the 28th week of your pregnancy the third trimester starts right after. Now the third trimester or the last phase will go on until you have given birth so typically around the 40th week.
So your 7th to 9th months will be the time of the third trimester. I am adding a “maybe” after these times because most women do not give birth exactly on their due date, it is just an approximate measurement of the time around which the expectant mom might go into labor and give birth which means the timings can vary.
It is more than common for you to find that the due date is over but your little one still doesn’t want to come out yet. You may expect the delivery to get delayed for 1 or 2 weeks but your provider or doctor will give you a few medications that will induce the labor quickly at this point.
You should know that the complicated pregnancy factors may rise mostly in the third trimester which includes preeclampsia and another common issue – premature labor. However, be extra aware of the symptoms and do not hesitate to ask for advice or consultancy if any unnatural signs are noticed (just to be on the safer side).
Some signs are common factors of pregnancy that you will notice in your third trimester, for example, your breasts might leak milk and you will get contractions (Braxton Hicks Contractions.
Headaches are a common symptom even when you are in your first and second trimester so it is no surprise when you get headaches in your third one as well. The good news is that headaches occur mostly because of the changes in your hormonal level, increasing stress level, or sometimes the lack of sleep and not from anything severe.
It is a common factor that during pregnancy the ankle, as well as the feet, swell up a lot and that happens when you are in the third trimester. This occurs because during pregnancy your body will retain more water than usual.
However, the swelling should not be too severe so if you notice any sudden swelling of the area around your eyes, feet, ankle, and hands it is better to consult your doctor because these are signs of preeclampsia, a severe complication during pregnancy.
Around the 15th week, you will start to feel nausea as an effect of pregnancy but there is a chance that it might disappear for the last couple of months of your pregnancy. There might be various reasons for nausea such as bloating, heartburn, or even as minor as gas. All these indicators are common factors to occur during the third trimester.
However, nausea should go away during the last months of the third trimester so if you are still feeling nausea and vomiting then it is time for you to ask for professional help as these can be a sign of pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia.
Cramping is also another common symptom when you go through pregnancy but it might increase when you reach your third trimester. Usually, this means that you are having early labor.
When you have contractions but that does not induce labor it is called a “false” labor pain or Braxton Hicks contraction. Typically, an expectant mother will start feeling these contractions when they reach their second or third trimester. You should educate yourself on how to differentiate a false contraction and the real contraction which leads to labor.
The last phase of the pregnancy is where your uterus is growing and your body is trying to adjust to the changes by loosening, stretching as well as pulling tissues around your pelvic area. In the third trimester, the baby’s head will also start to be lower and closer to the pelvis. You will feel “lightning crotch” which is when you feel shooting, sharp pains caused by the pressure on the nerves situated in your lower uterus and pressure on the cervix.
The hormones are changing so the body is in a state of change where the energy level is going up and down frequently. On top of that since you are carrying extra weight it makes breathing harder for you. You will have problems sleeping as well during your third trimester so all these factors contribute to fatigue.
If you are in the last phase of the pregnancy you are probably having problems sleeping which leads to insomnia. You need to make efforts to rest whenever and however you can. For example, you can use a couple more pillows than usual, guided imagery, and a room with dim lights or a dark room — whichever makes you more comfortable and helps you sleep better.
Few mothers have reported that they had experienced diarrhea when they were in their last phase of pregnancy and right after they went into labor. If you are suffering from diarrhea and also having vaginal discharge along with contractions and cramps for more than one day then seek help from your doctor.
Back pain is common and bound to happen because of the heavyweight of your baby whom you are carrying in the front of your body. As you reach the third trimester, it will only increase and be constant. You can ask for advice from your doctor about what can be done to relieve the back pain you are feeling but naturally, it will go away after you have given birth.
The mucus plug in your body will pop out when you are closing in on your labor and this will create a watery discharge that may look bloody and have a mucus-like appearance. However, if the vaginal discharge you are having amounts to a lot then you might not notice when the mucus plug came out.
Since your baby is growing every day and as you get closer to your delivery date, the baby will push on the stomach and the organs would rise upwards inside your body which can cause heartburn. Since there is no particular way of keeping this from happening you will get relief after you give birth.
In the last trimester, there will be some cardiovascular changes due to the pregnancy which can cause dizziness sometimes. Don’t worry as they are a normal symptom when you are near your delivery date.
The blood flow will increase in your labia which can cause itchiness, swelling and you might feel full in the area. These feelings are temporary and will go away after you have given birth (after a few weeks). You can try looking online for homemade remedies that will help keep control of swelling labia.
The third trimester will be the peak of your gas and bloating problems as you will feel full so it will be quite a struggle for you to eat a full meal. Make some good changes in your diet so that you can keep the boating in control or you can opt for some medications but make sure you have taken advice from your doctor beforehand.
Since you are pregnant and are in your third trimester, the prolactin hormone will be super active. Prolactine is the reason behind breast milk and the liquid you will see leaking from your breasts is not breast milk but colostrum (a nutrient-dense substance) which is produced by your body before the actual milk is produced.
You need to increase your weight one pound a week when you are in your third trimester because your body will spend 450 extra calories every day to support your pregnancy-related internal work. You can search for some healthy foods that are appropriate for expectant mothers.
However, if you feel like your appetite has decreased since you reached the third trimester it is not uncommon. Since your internal organs are getting crowded because of your baby, it will be more difficult for you to eat anything. You can divide your meals into small portions and eat them frequently to minimize the full effect.
You should take medical advice if you have any concerns about weight gain or if you have lost weight during the last phase of your pregnancy. Your doctor will monitor how much you are gaining or if you are losing your weight and then help you manage your weight better for a healthy pregnancy.
You can use a pregnancy weight gain calculator which will help you manage your weight by keeping track.
You can have sex in your third trimester as it is safe but that is only when you have no complications in your pregnancy. If you are healthy and have no problems at all you can have sex up until the time when your water breaks. There will be a few challenges physically to have sex when your belly is huge and you have back pain and pain in everywhere your body.
If you have cervical insufficiency, vaginal bleeding, placenta previa, or preterm labor you will be advised by your doctor/midwife to abstain from sex for your third trimester.
Here is a list that will help you keep track of your third-trimester pregnancy tasks which cover the whole area from making a birth plan to how to choose the name of your newborn baby.
From the 28th week to the 36th week you will need to have a checkup from your doctor every two weeks. Then as you gain in on your due date, the visits will be more frequent – once a week. The physical check-ups will become more regular and the tests related to pregnancy will also happen during these times.
Your provider will discuss some details about pregnancy beforehand about the labor as well as the birth.
Various classes teach you how to cope with pregnancy and how to handle parenting after birth. Birth classes are a must but along with that, you should consider joining a breastfeeding class, Baby Care, and Infant CPR classes. Some hospitals offer these class services but you can also discuss this with your provider and get a recommendation.
It will be better if you choose someone who is trusted by your family or recommended by your close friends who have first-hand experience with the doctor. This will guarantee safety as well as build trust while searching for a new doctor about whom you don’t have much knowledge can be a bit concerning.
Ask your friends, family, co-workers as well as neighbors and gather the info of their recommended family practitioners and pediatricians. If you have a prenatal caregiver then you can ask for a recommendation from them as well.
Choose a doctor that will accept your health insurance and schedules check-ups or consultations according to your available time and the office is suitable for you. If there are staffing privileges available they can see your little one while you are occupied in the hospital.
However, if that does not happen, the hospitals themselves provide other pediatricians for the time being.
If you are concerned about COVID and do not want to risk the safety of your baby as well as yourself then you can choose the hospital or a birth center after going through the video tour of their services and accommodations.
In-person, you might be able to cover a lot more ground and get details that an online video tour does not allow. You might get to observe the room for labor, the nursery, and the room designated for recovery.
It is also necessary to get an overview of the hospital policies and also ask them if there are preregister options available in the weeks so you can register before your delivery.
A trained coach who guides expectant mothers through their labor and pregnancy is called a doula. They assist you in your process of delivery ensuring a safe environment. They are also great at giving emotional support to expectant mothers and ridding them of their worries.
They are also experts in the non-medical aspects of pregnancy care services. It is better to start searching for a doula as soon as you are in your third trimester.
Our bodies are different and every woman feels pain on a different level than one another which is why the pain can’t be compared. However, it is good to be aware of the options available for an expectant mother such as a medicated/non-medicated vaginal delivery.
If you opt for natural unmedicated delivery then you can take birth classes early on which will help you in knowing necessary things about pregnancy. Choose a birth class that is teaching you things keeping in mind the natural delivery goal. It will prepare you for the process both physically and mentally.
You will be given a guideline by your midwife or doctor about when you have to contact for medical help long before you get your first contraction. If you are having a home birth then the guidelines will be different otherwise if you are having a baby in the hospital or a birth center then they will tell you when you need to visit them for delivery.
You need to decide who will take you to the hospital beforehand and after that, you have to keep a few other people as your second, third, or fourth option who can take you to the hospital in case the other person is not available.
If you have pets or older kids in your home then you also have to make a plan for where you can keep them when you are going to the hospital. If your relatives can help you out, it is well and good, however, keep a few extra plans at hand for an emergency.
If this is your first time giving birth then you need to know the duration of labor which is approximate 15 hours. Though it is not uncommon for the labor to last for 20 hours. If this is not your first time delivery then the labor will last for only 8 hours.
There are 3 stages of labor and you need to familiarize yourself with them so you feel more prepared when the real deal happens.
When it comes to childbirth, there are risk factors so you have to be flexible in your options because the safety of your baby and you are the most important focus. Though you will not follow the birth plan word by word that does not mean you can avoid making a plan altogether.
It is better to figure out your preferences beforehand such as what techniques will you apply for managing the pain during childbirth. Whom do you want to stay by your side while you go through the delivery? You can make a worksheet listing all these vital details and then get an opinion from your midwife/doctor if the plan is appropriate or not.
Some things you will need while you stay at the hospital so you need to pack those things beforehand because during your labor it will not be possible for you to organize those things. Things such as —
There can be more items and that depends on you, I would advise you to take only the most necessary things. Now, it may not be necessary but it will be very generous and appreciated if you can bring some snacks like chocolates for the nurses who have helped you during and after your pregnancy.
Decisions about work — what your heart wants vs your head; Is staying at home with your baby the right thing or should you go to work?
If your baby turns out to be a boy then would you circumcise him. Is there any religious ceremony taking place after your baby is born and are you planning on banking the blood of your baby’s cord?
All the queries above are important decisions which you need to think about and discuss with other significant people in your life.
Deciding on baby names can be fun as well as very confusing because there are so many good names but if you want to name your child after something meaningful then you need to give it more thought. What better time to do it than before your pregnancy.
You can refer to a few online websites that will help you find some good names for your baby and if you are not sure about the gender of the baby, you can pick names for both genders or unisex names.
Some websites will provide you with some details about how popular the name is, where it is originated from and what the name signifies. You and your partner both can suggest a few names and then discuss among yourself which names you love and keep them selected.
There will be very little time on your hands to read after your baby is born so you have to read about parenting and important things about baby care before your pregnancy. The third trimester is a good time to start reading about baby care tips as well as parenting. You can start by reading about BabyCenter’s newborn area.
Newborn screening tests are a must to determine any serious rare conditions (for example hearing loss, metabolic disorders, or heart defects). The tests determine these symptoms beforehand to help you prevent or control any long-term diseases so they don’t become fatal. Make sure to find out about the tests and what type of process is involved before delivery.
In your third trimester, your baby will have developed the ability to listen to his/her surroundings. You can narrate your daily activities to your baby. You can read any book aloud or it can be a magazine as well. This will help your baby to develop language skills much quicker while working as a bonding process for you two.
You are probably feeling your plate has so many things on it all at once so my advice to you is to make a list with your top priorities first and then add the less important ones later once you are done with all your immediate tasks.
More importantly, you have to take care of yourself better in your third trimester as both your physical and emotional state will be very stressed. You can start with a few techniques involving meditation and relaxing methods.
If you want to throw a baby shower then it will be a great way for you to attain the important things you will need before your delivery. However, if you think that a baby shower will drain you out more then avoid it.
You have to do this step before your delivery because once your little one starts to toddle from swaddle the safety measures need to be extra. Check for safety gates, get smoke detectors, baby-proof the cabinets, and double-check on other things as well.
Once you have attained all the necessary must-have baby gears you need to set them up properly. You can ask for your partner’s help or you can ask your friends to help you with these tasks.
It is difficult to put together a bassinet/crib or a stroller in your pregnant state being sleep-deprived so start doing these things early. Keep enough batteries ready at home because monitors, swings, and mobiles require a lot of batteries.
You can observe for one hour and then track 10 movements that occurred in that hour and track them. Though it is not always necessary because there will be barely any movements until you reach your third trimester.
I started feeling the kicks in my third trimester and then I kept a track of those kicks. However, if there is a need for you to track the movements (or if your doctor specifically asks you to) then you should keep strict track of those movements.
There will be an intake process before you can pre-register a hospital. As I have discussed earlier you need to get your insurances in order and pre-register accordingly. You do not want to search from hospital to hospital when your labor starts.
When you are going to check out the hospitals, they will show you their newborn policies before you pre-register. Start looking for hospitals from your second trimester. Read about the standard procedure the hospital provides for newborns.
If you notice things you would like to avoid or things you would like to add then add them to your birth plan. If you want any additional services then you need to discuss them with the hospital authorities first.
You should choose a provider, the person who will deliver your baby, and the hospital where you would like to give birth to your baby. If you are unsure then making a birth plan for these things would make the process go smoother.
Discuss your doubts and questions with your provider and sort them out making a detailed draft. Make sure that the hospital and your provider know about your birth plan and are all on board with it.
Avoid listing any standard procedures for your birth plan because a lengthy plan will not work well with people. When you are going to the hospital for your actual D-Day, you will have to take the super-condensed version of your birth plan consisting of only a few most important things.
A detailed version of the birth plan is necessary as you can sort out the most important parts so you don’t miss out on/change anything last minute.
It will be ideal if you can finish all your classes before your baby arrives but if for some reason your classes are left unfinished, you can continue them once the little one has been born. You might realize that the rest of the class will not be a necessity and if that’s the case, you can stop taking the classes.
When you reach the final weeks of your third trimester, it is time to re-stock your fridge and get rid of the old stuff. You will have a lot of space once you eliminate the unnecessary products in your fridge. It would also help you get a new fresh start on a new journey of being a parent.
You need to have basic supplies ready at home once your newborn comes home so it is better to stock up on supplies before your delivery. You can buy toilet paper, diapers, paper towels, etc. most things that you need daily should be your top priorities.
You can take your newborn too but make sure the environment you are taking your baby is safe. Though it will be a very tedious journey as you have to take care of your newborn while carrying supplies.
However, if you don’t want to go by yourself, there are always options of online shopping available for you. You can opt for 2-day delivery with Amazon Prime.
Figuring your finances and paying the due bills are extremely important so you can lead a stress-free life. Being a mother is already so much work so why add more to it when you can reduce some of the work by organizing your finances.
If you have thrown a baby shower then you have received quite a few gifts so it would be appreciated if you write thank you notes for the people who cared and supported you and helped you get through this journey of pregnancy. If you didn’t have a baby shower then also you can write thank you notes to people who made your difficult journey a little less difficult. It is not a necessity but an act of gratitude.
When you are in your third trimester, cleaning the house will not be possible for you because your body can only take so much. Get your partner to help you out in these chores or splurge on cleaning services.
You have to have a car seat installed if you want to drive your baby somewhere. The installation process of the car seat in the car might seem complicated so do not wait until the last minute and do it now. If you are struggling with the instructions you can call the manufacturer at their toll-free number. They will provide you with an expert that will guide you on how to install the car seat.
You can also get help from a car seat safety inspector. You can find one if you look in the office of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The clothes or beddings you are planning to use for your baby, all need to be washed thoroughly. New sheets or clothes have irritants so you need to wash them away before you use them near your baby.
Purchase a detergent that is made for washing baby clothes because they do not consist of any toxins. Detergents for adults can be rough or harmful for your baby’s skin or if your baby has hypoallergenic skin.
I would recommend gearing up when you are in your first or second trimester because in your third one, you will be physically exhausted and it will be very hard for you to bend and pick up a pen let alone setting up baby gear.
While installing baby gears, there might be complications so it’s best not to leave it for last. If you have a pet then it will be better for you to change the structure of your home decor beforehand so that your pets can also adjust to the new environment.
You can set up the baby corner in the family room because you can check up on your little one often. You also need to train your pets not to be all over the baby equipment. That will also help establish boundaries before your little one arrives.
Speaking of pets, when you go to the hospital for your delivery, you need to make prior arrangements for your pets such as — where they will stay and who will take care of them? — things like these need to be thought about beforehand.
You need to ask someone whom you trust greatly to take care of your other children (if you have any) while you go into labor and go to the hospital for childbirth. If you are bringing your kids to the hospital with you then make sure you pack their things in advance.
Having siblings can be a joyful experience but initially, it might sow the seed of jealousy in your older children as you give more attention to your newborn. Now to avoid this and create a more positive environment you can’t buy your older children special gifts. Gifts will work as a positive reinforcement for modifying good behavior.
Sit down with a calculator and get your finances in order. Organize those recurring payments and pay your bills on time and avoid leaving anything due. Once your baby arrives, you would not have much time to get your finances in order and of course, you will get peace of mind if you do it before your delivery.
You only have to go to the hospital when you have rhythmic contractions so for other contractions you do not need to go to the hospital. An app will help you track the contractions so you know when to get to the hospital.
You can follow the thumb rule of 5-1-1 / 4-1-1 which means having contractions 4 to 5 minutes apart and lasting for 1 minute and this whale process keeps repeating for an hour. Instead of writing it down or trying to remember, an app would be easier to use.
When you have 30 days left till your due date, most insurance companies will allow you to purchase a complimentary breast pump but some insurance companies do not let you buy one until after your baby is born.
Check the policies of your insurance company and get the prescriptions from your care provider.
A breast pump is necessary even if you decide to breastfeed your baby as you don’t know when an unexpected situation will arise.
There was a youtube video where a mother was lifting weights under her doctor’s surveillance and she said that it did not affect her baby’s health in any way. Now, I am not saying you should go prove how strong you are by lifting tons of heavyweights because that could be very dangerous.
Simple walking or workout can be done if you have no complications with your pregnancy. You also need to discuss which type of physical exercise will be good for you and not affect your baby in a bad way.
Giving birth to a child demands an unmeasurable emotional and physical strength and working out would be of help for D-Day if done correctly.
Try to look for pediatricians who have privileges at the hospital you have pre-registered to for your delivery. Otherwise, the staff of the hospital will be shown to you. Also, get the information of when it will be your first visit. You can also choose a pediatrician based on a good reputation and good reviews. Pediatricians with in-house lactation consultation.
At the hospital, you want to be as comfy as you can get considering your bodily state. You need to take care of the postpartum sweats as I had difficulty in this area. It is a big adjustment from your normal life to postpartum life and it will require you some new equipment that is not yet stocked in your home.
You have to be prepared for at least the first 1 to 2 weeks after your baby comes home and stock up according to it. These are the things I needed for the first few weeks —
Making meals, cleaning the house, taking care of your baby, doing the dishes, taking care of your pet, or taking out the trash — all these work will seem too much at once so if you have family or friends who are willing to help you out then make a schedule for each one having to do a different task.
You have to celebrate your journey because you have come so far to achieving one of the greatest joys of your life. Spend some money and get yourself some aesthetic maternity photos. You can also do something unique or follow the trend by decorating your pregnant belly while designing beautiful patterns or you can even get a henna tattoo (make sure that the henna is 100% natural) to commemorate your pregnancy.
Other than stocking up on daily household items for your entire family, especially for your newborn baby, you need to purchase personal supplies such as sanitary pads for postpartum bleeding, extra comfortable underwear, toilet paper, shampoo medicine, etc. for your newborn be sure to have diapers, baby bottles, clothes, wipes are all there when you reach for them.
The memories of your pregnancy will be bittersweet because there will be happiness and pain at the same time but the journey will be no doubt very fulfilling to your heart. The third trimester will be a great time when you can take pictures and add a few notes under those pictures to remember the time when you look at them later.
You can keep a journal or you can write short notes and keep them for when your child grows up and asks you about it, you can share all these amazing stories and they will know how strong you were and how greatly you loved them.
The fears you are facing are natural but that does not make them easy to bear so reach out to other people for moral and physical support during this time. You can check in with your provider as well as share your experiences with other moms-to-be.
Self-care and positive affirmations are other ways you can make yourself feel a little better and get peace of mind. However, these experiences are very subjective and they will be different for every mom.
You might not even suffer much and have a good time with your family and friends. I hope this article was helpful in giving you a general idea of the essential things.
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