You feel a thump in your belly — is it your baby, or is it your nerves flaring up about what’s to come? The third trimester is such an amazing time in your pregnancy. You’ve seen your baby on an ultrasound, and you may already know their gender. You’ve felt little kicks and hiccups, and you may have started stocking up on cute clothes and nursery furnishings, preparing for your little one’s arrival.
But you may also be entering the final stage of your pregnancy with a bit of trepidation. What can you expect from the third trimester? Here’s everything you need to know.
When Does the Third Trimester Start?
When you reach week 28 of your pregnancy, you’re into the third trimester. This is the final third of your pregnancy, and it lasts until you give birth, which should be around 12 weeks later. Of course, this isn’t always the case: one-fifth of babies stick around for 41 weeks or longer, so your third trimester could last a few extra days.
Don’t worry, though. Your third trimester will end by the time you surpass 42 weeks’ gestation. At that point, your doctor will consider your baby overdue, and you will have labour induced — if you don’t find natural ways to induce it yourself!
How Will I Feel During the Third Trimester?
Every mum’s experience will be different, but some typical aches and pains come with the third trimester. Your baby will grow rapidly at this stage, which means your belly will get larger and may feel uncomfortable. Many find it hard to get comfortable and sleep well, although there are a few hacks for making it happen much more easily.
On that note, you might feel sharp aches in your abdominal area and back as your belly grows. There’s not much you can do to change this, unfortunately. You’ll just have to rest when you feel these pains.
Plenty of mums start to feel extra fatigued during the third trimester, too. Again, this makes sense: you’re carrying around a bigger and bigger baby. You’ll have to listen to your body: rest when you need it and eat plenty of foods to give you as much energy as possible.
Next up, your body will start to prepare to feed a little one, so you might notice that your breasts get larger and even start to leak. Pregnancy hormones might also cause you to be more forgetful and clumsier. And if you have crazy dreams at this stage, you’re not alone: it’s the hormones talking once again.
There will be some physical symptoms that might alarm you but try to remember that they’re normal for mums-to-be. For starters, you might have Braxton-Hicks contractions.
These contractions help your uterus to prepare for actual labour, but they tend to be a false alarm that you’re actually going to deliver your baby. Remember that real contractions will start to get more and more intense, and they will get closer and closer together time-wise. If your contractions stay at about the same intensity, then they’re probably Braxton-Hicks.
Some pregnant women will also experience spotting in the third trimester, especially toward the end. Don’t panic — light bleeding can actually be a sign that labour is on the horizon.
Again, if you experience any of these symptoms, don’t worry. You are going through what many other mums go through, and your pregnancy is on the right track. You only need to see a doctor for extreme side effects, such as severe nausea or dizziness.
What’s My Baby Doing in the Third Trimester?
You’ll meet your baby soon, which means they’ll be doing quite a bit of growing in the third trimester. When you enter into the third trimester weeks, your little one will weigh about 2.5 pounds. By the time you give birth, you can expect your baby to weigh between 6 and 9 pounds, which means you can expect your belly to get a whole lot heavier during the third trimester.
It’s not just your pregnant tummy that will change, though. Your baby will be going through quite a few physical changes in the womb.
For starters, babies’ cartilage will change into bones during the third trimester. So, they’ll need plenty of calcium, which they’ll get through your diet. Be sure to add lots of calcium-rich foods into your daily menus — your weird pregnancy craving for ice cream will pay off!
Your baby’s digestive system develops during the third trimester, and their hair, skin, and nails start to grow. Your little one’s brain amps up, too, and they will start to blink and even dream in the womb. Their senses switch on, as well: so, when you chat to your baby in your belly, they’ll start to hear you at around week 31.
On top of all of those changes, your baby will start to prepare for labour. They should change positions to have their head down toward the birth canal at around week 34. Your doctor can help manually twist them around if they haven’t gotten into the proper pose by week 37.
How Can I Prepare for What’s Ahead?
You now know the physical changes that you and your baby will go through in the third trimester. Now, you need to know how to prepare yourself for your little one. The third trimester is a great time to do it.
For starters, you might want to sign up for a class to help you with the mothering skills you have yet to master. A breastfeeding course can introduce you to the proper skills and terminology. You can sign up for a Lamaze class, too, to arm you with skills to get you through labour as painlessly as possible.
Next up, you might want to talk to other mums you know and learn their best motherhood hacks. What are the must-haves to bring to the hospital? What skills or baby items can’t they live without?
Add these to the list of nursery must-haves for your first child. You probably started decorating already but use the third trimester as a time to put the finishing touches on your baby’s space. Wash their clothes, put away their diapers and put a sheet in the cot — you never know when the baby will arrive, so it’s good to be prepared.
Now’s a great time to start selecting the carers for your baby once they arrive, too. If you have yet to find a good paediatrician, ask around or speak to different doctors until you find the right person to care for your little one. Or, consult with your GP to learn about the services they provide to new mums and babies.
What Should I Have Ready For the Big Day?
Your final task is to prepare for the day you go into labour. Most mums will want to pack a hospital bag that they can grab when it’s time to go to hospital and deliver.
So, before that happens, grab an overnight bag and fill it with the essentials you’ll need. Things like maternity pads, snuggly pyjamas for the baby, a phone charger and a pregnancy pillow will be very useful once you’re in hospital preparing to have your little one.
Some mums will have family members or friends who bring them meals to help them get through the first few weeks of parenthood. If you haven’t set up a meal train yet, consider cooking a few freezer-friendly dishes and storing them there. That way, you have dinners and lunches at the ready once life becomes a new kind of chaotic.
Finally, if you haven’t already, it’s time to put together your birth plan. If you plan to have your baby in hospital, then tour maternity wards and make sure you’ve found the right place to deliver. Decide now if you’d like to have a natural birth or use medication to help you through — whichever suits you best is the right choice.
If you want to have your baby at home, then build your plan with your midwife. You probably have an idea of what you want — and you may already have your birth plan in place. But now’s the time to make sure your partner, family members and midwife know exactly what to expect, too.
Get Ready to Meet Your Baby
The third trimester is such a special time and, with the above information, it should be a bit less daunting. If you want to feel even more at ease, though, you may consider having one last scan before delivery. Seeing your little one in 4D will help you feel more excitement than trepidation — you’ll get to see your baby’s face and personality before they’re in your arms.
So, click here to set up a free appointment and learn more about the services we can offer you throughout your pregnancy.