Ahh, the third trimester, starting at 28 weeks and ending with birth (usually between 40 and 42 weeks). The final trimester of pregnancy and the one that feels like the longest. The bliss and ease of the second trimester may soon be replaced by feelings of eagerness, nervousness, excitement, and restlessness.
On that note, let’s discuss some of the common symptoms of the third trimester.
The second and third trimesters have plenty of symptoms in common such as constipation, hemorrhoids, round ligament pain, and slight swelling of the extremities, but you may notice a few new symptoms pop up like:
Braxton Hicks contractions- these contractions help tone your uterus in preparation for birth. They occur in irregular intervals, feel like a tightening of your abdomen, and you may notice them after physical activity. Some women may not even notice these practice contractions happening, others may feel the sensation increasing as their due date approaches. They may be uncomfortable but should not be painful.
Shortness of Breath- your growing baby and uterus may be pushing against your lungs and making it difficult to breathe.
Frequent bathroom trips- in the first trimester, you may have noticed an increase in urination. In the third trimester, those frequent trips to the bathroom make a comeback. As the baby begins to go lower into the pelvis, they push against the bladder and you may need to empty it more often to accommodate for the increasingly smaller amount of space.
Heartburn- an unfortunate symptom for many. To help combat the unpleasantness of heartburn, avoid eating spicy or greasy foods, avoid lying down after eating, and eat small, but frequent meals.
Growth by Week
The third trimester is mainly about the baby gaining weight, though there are still plenty of development milestones happening. You may begin to find it harder to pick stuff off the floor or get out of bed. Hang in there, the end is near and soon you will be holding your little one in your arms.
By week 28, your baby can open and close their eyes and their nervous system can regulate their body temperature. It is recommended that during every pregnancy, the mother gets a TDaP and flu vaccine between 28-36 weeks to provide some protection to the fetus before they’re born.
Your baby may be kicking and stretching more frequently, and they can even begin grasping.
Your baby’s hair may be coming in by week 30, and bone marrow may start forming red blood cells.
Most of your baby’s major development has been completed by this week, and it’s time for them to start bulking up.
Prenatal visits begin to occur more frequently. By week 32, the midwives will want to give you a check-up every two weeks to monitor symptoms and ensure the baby is growing accordingly.
Lanugo, the soft hair that helps protect the baby’s skin from the amniotic fluid, starts to fall off and their toenails become visible.
This week your baby’s bones begin hardening, though the skull remains soft. The baby’s pupils can dilate in response to changes in lighting.
Week 34, your baby is possibly a foot long! Their fingernails may have reached the end of their fingertips.
Your baby’s wrinkled skin is smoothing out as they store more fat.
At 36 weeks, your midwives will want to see you every week. Your baby is likely running out of space inside your uterus and big kicking movements may be replaced by wiggles and rolling movements. Hopefully, by this point your baby is head-down, however, if they aren’t, you can read our blog post on Tips and Tricks to Turning a Breech Baby.
By week 37, your baby may start descending into your lower pelvis and you might notice your belly sits lower than it did before. Your lungs may be more grateful for the extra space, but your bladder will be getting compressed.
Your baby’s grasping ability is stronger and is known as the Palmar grasping reflex.
By this week the baby’s toenails are most likely at the tips of their toes and the lanugo has mostly been shed.
Your baby is continuing to put on fat to help them keep warm after birth. Their chest also starts to become more pronounced.
It’s your due date week! This means mostly nothing, just a guesstimate to when your baby could arrive. Now is the perfect time to get plenty of rest and prep your home for when your baby does come.
Weeks 41 and 42
If you have gone past your due date, don’t worry! It’s very common for pregnancies to go beyond 40 weeks, especially in first-time moms. The baby is gaining weight these last two weeks and putting on fat to help them survive life outside the womb.
If you haven’t already, go ahead and buy yourself a pregnancy pillow. It’s a bit of an investment sometimes, but it’s worth it for a good night’s rest, they come in handy during labor and postpartum as well. Remember to roll to your side and then push your torso up using your arms to get out of bed.
Stock your fridge and freezer up with pre-prepped meals and you won’t have to worry about what to eat while taking care of a newborn. Focus on nutrition to replenish what you may have lost during delivery.
Frequent baths may help you retain your hydration, just make sure not to have the temperature too high. Moisturizing your skin may help to prevent stretch marks, however, they are genetic so may be unavoidable.
Now would also be a great time to set expectations and boundaries for your close friends and family members. If you want to spend time alone as a family for a month after your baby is born, be sure to tell people that so they don’t show up at your house expecting to meet the little one only to be turned away. You can set a clear list of boundaries and post them to social media to get the word out quickly.
For more information on the third trimester, contact us today!
Dakota Collins is a freelance writer and stay-at-home mother of two precious little girls who is passionate about freedom in pregnancy and childbirth.
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