What to Expect in the Third Trimesterby Elizabeth MacDonald
Your countdown is getting closer and closer to D(delivery)-Day!
Beginning week 28 of pregnancy, you will see your birth team every two weeks for appointments. These appointments are much of the same: baby’s heartbeat is found, blood pressure check, being weighed, a urine sample is taken, measurements of fungal height, and general conversations about your pregnancy.
Your midwife or doctor will be looking for noticeable swelling or a rise in blood pressure. By 32 weeks, your doctor or midwife should be able to feel your baby’s position. Do not panic if he is not head down and engaged yet, there is plenty of time. Most birth providers will give the options of cervical checks beginning at 36 or 37 weeks of pregnancy. It may be wise to avoid these. Yes, you are curious, but they are not an indication of impending labor, and they can potentially disrupt your pregnancy.
Enjoy your baby shower(s), blessingway(s), and all the time you will spend hanging up baby clothes and preparing a nursery. The third trimester is time for all of those little details. While you are nervously anxious and excited, your body is still pretty busy growing this baby!
3rd Trimester Body Changes
Hello third trimester. The pregnant body is feeling more and more ‘pregnant’ each passing week. Eating high quality, healthy foods is still very important, as is getting as much rest as possible. Exercise can be continued throughout the duration of the pregnancy as long as you are feeling good. Listen to your body, it will tell you what is right for you.
Along with extra weight, you may experience your first trimester symptoms again. They may be more or less intense, or may not make a reappearance at all. The most common third trimester ailments include:
Exhaustion: Try to spread your ‘To-Do’ list out and make time to rest. The body is working hard to finish growing this baby. Ask for help if needed so that you can close your eyes at some point during the day.
Stretch Marks: They may wait until the day before labor to appear (if they appear at all), or you may already see them. The good news is that after birth, the stretch marks while fade from purple or red to a tan or white.
Leg Cramps: Increase your magnesium, calcium and water intake! This is most common in the evening or middle of the night.
Dry or Itchy Skin: Stay hydrated and moisturize the skin as often as needed.
Heartburn: Eat small, frequent meals and drink plenty of water. Elevate your upper body while resting or sleeping and avoid bending over or lying down after a meal.
Hemorrhoids: Avoid straining to have a bowel movement, and remember to do your kegels!
Groin Pain: Heavy pressure, pulls, pinches, tweaks, dull aches, and sharp quick pains are all par for the course right now. Your baby is positioning herself for birth and your body is accommodating. Extreme pain should be brought to your birth team’s attention.
Braxton Hicks Contractions: These will become more frequent as you progress through the third trimester. If you are experiencing them regularly at more than 6 an hour, call your doctor. Laying down, taking a relaxing bath, or just resting for a while should end them.
Shortness of Breath: The uterus is rapidly expanding and compressing against the other organs of the body. Practice good posture, visit your chiropractor, and work on deeper breathing to help combat this ailment.
Frequent Urination: Again, the organs are all being compressed right now. This, combined with a growing baby who likes to ‘tap dance on the bladder’ may send you running to the bathroom more often.
Trouble Sleeping: It is hard to get comfortable as your belly grows larger. A body pillow is helpful, but your best bet is to make sure you are really tired. Exercising should help; it will ensure that you have exerted all energy.
Feeling Hot: Increased body temperature will cause you to wear less clothing.
Leaking Breasts: Colostrum may begin leaking. (Remember that this is not needed for a successful breastfeeding relationship.)
Backaches: You are carrying more weight and will start to feel it. Talk to your chiropractor about how you are feeling.
Increased Discharge: Vaginal discharge may increase.
Mucus Plug: Losing the mucus plug does not mean that labor will start. It can regrow. However, if you are nearing your estimated due date, it could be a sign that things may progress over the next few days. (Again, it can also mean nothing!)
The ‘Lightening’ In the last couple of weeks of pregnancy, you may experience something called lightening. This is when the baby starts to move down into the pelvis in preparation for her birth. While you may not feel anything, you may find that you can suddenly consume more food and breathe a little easier. This typically means that baby is engaged and almost ready for birth!
3rd Trimester EmotionsThis is the time that your emotions begin to rollercoaster (again). You may begin ‘nesting’ and feel a need to accomplish quite a few things before the baby makes his appearance. This is common, but it can feel overwhelming. There are a lot of feelings you will work through during the third trimester, feelings over:
- Upcoming labor and birth
- Motherhood (or adding a sibling)
- Maternity Leave
- Caring for a Newborn
If you are feeling anxious, sad or depressed, please reach out to your birth team; they will have resources to help you work through your feelings. Many women feel less attractive and more self-conscious during this time period. Ask your partner for support in this area, as you are a beautiful woman growing this baby! Talk to friends and your partner often about your feelings. Write about them even. Taking a supportive birthing and newborn class will also help you feel more prepared and less anxious.
Preparing for Birth: Birthing classes should be in full swing, or you should be registered to begin them soon. Remember that the earlier you begin preparing for labor, the more time you have to work on your relaxation techniques and emotional readiness to give birth. Pack your birth bag, or prepare your homebirth kit, by week 35 or 36. While most women reach their estimated due date (or surpass it), some go into labor earlier. Use the time you have left before baby arrives to mentally prepare for labor and newborn care.