You are probably feeling as if you’ve reached a significant milestone by this stage. Getting to the start of your third trimester really is the beginning of the countdown to when you will be having your baby. Officially, the third trimester relates to the weeks between 28 – 40 of gestation. There can be a week or two of variation though, depending on the source.
This is the trimester when all of your baby’s organs and systems will be preparing for extra uterine life. Although they have been fully formed since 12 weeks, an enormous amount of maturity and development has been taking place since then. Your baby’s movements will become stronger, more defined and less subtle than they have been. As your baby grows, less room will be available for it to move freely, so kicks and obvious changes in its position will all be clearly felt by you.
Time to Unwrap Some Presents!
It’s baby shower time. If your friends and family want to put one on for you, accept their offer in the spirit that it’s made. Showers can be a lot of fun. It will also give you an opportunity to get together with people who you may not have time to catch up with after the baby is born. If you don’t like being the centre of attention or worry that you’ll feel awkward, just aim to keep it low key. Everyone loves a baby and gets excited when one is coming. Remember, this is your chance to have a little pampering for all your hard work growing your baby.
Now, Where Did I Put That Suitcase?
This will be the time you need to think about packing your hospital bag. Try to remember you won’t be going away for a month and be practical with what you include. Toiletries, maternity pads, nightdresses and comfortable day clothes as well as nappies and clothing for the baby are some of the essentials. If you plan to bottle feed, you’ll need to take formula, bottles, caps and newborn teats as well.
At some stage, sit down with your partner and make a list of the people you will want to contact when the baby is born. Straight after birth is not the time to be searching for telephone numbers or giving your partner instructions on where at home you’ve written them down.
You’re Having a Little Holiday Too
Make clear arrangements with another trusted adult regarding who will be minding your older children when you have the baby. If your partner is going to stay with you at the hospital, you may even need to make arrangements to have your pets cared for.
Apart from just being a time when the baby is finally maturing, the third trimester really is the time for organising practicalities. Make lists, cross them off as you do things, write important dates on your calendar and generally try to keep on track of things. You can avoid a lot of anxiety and stress just by being organised.
Your Physical Changes in Your Third Trimester
- You are certainly going to get bigger in the third trimester. Your tummy is growing upwards and outwards, making deep breaths a thing of the past. You’ll be feeling increasingly bulky, breathless and swollen, not a great combination really.
- Some women carry their pregnancy neatly, as if they have popped a basketball under their jumper. Others seem to spread from their front to their back and around again. It really depends on individual shape and size and your baby’s growth. There is no one way to appear.
- The third trimester is when the risk of complications can peak. Pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, hypertension, bleeding or problems with the amniotic fluid can all occur. This is one of the reasons why your ante-natal checks will increase in frequency.
- You could feel unsteady on your feet and become more prone to falling. Avoid wearing high heels and take your time getting to where you want to go.
Your Emotional Changes in Your Third Trimester
- You will tire more easily during your third trimester and feel the effects of nurturing your growing baby. As you get closer to term, you may feel exhausted on some days and totally fed up with being pregnant. This will undoubtedly have an effect on your mood and how you feel generally.
- You could become increasingly concerned about the labour and delivery. The concept of the unknown and leaving things to see how they turn out may not bode well with you, especially if you normally like to feel you are in control and have everything sorted.
- You may be placing a significant emotional investment into planning a natural, drug free labour and delivery and building your hopes on this. Keep an open mind and try to remember that although the majority of births proceed without complications, there is always the possibility that intervention may become necessary.
- Invest some time and energy into writing up your birth plan. Include your partner’s wishes and how you feel he could best support you. If you are considering having a doula or other support people present, talk with them about how you both see their role. Remember that labour can be unpredictable and despite planning, there are often unforeseen events which can occur.
- You may seriously start to wonder how you are going to cope looking after a new baby. If you have other young children whose demands on you are high, the thought of caring for another child may seem overwhelming. Talk with your partner and organise some early supports within your family and friends.
Your Baby’s Changes in Your Third Trimester
As your baby progresses past 30 weeks of gestation, its chances of survival, if it were born, are much better than in the previous weeks. For every day it remains in your uterus, its body systems are further maturing towards independent life.
When you have your ante-natal checks, don’t be alarmed at your ultrasound if your baby is lying in any other position than head down. It is not uncommon for baby’s to prefer to lie in the breech position early in the third trimester. This may cause you some discomfort underneath your ribs. Instead of a nice round bottom nestling under your ribcage, a hard bony skull is making its presence felt.
Hints for Your Third Trimester
- Rest and put your feet up when you can. Don’t push yourself. Try to have a daytime rest everyday and nurture your body.
- Get the nursery ready. Wash and fold those tiny clothes and take pleasure in nesting for you little one. Take a moment, each day to just sit in your baby’s room and think about how your new life will be when you have your baby. This is a lovely thing to do.
- Eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full. You probably won’t feel like big, heavy meals, there’s just not enough room for your stomach to hold much anymore. Remember to drink at least 2 litres of water every day to keep you well hydrated and your mind alert. Don’t venture too far from a toilet; it will become your new best friend in the third trimester.
- Read to your baby every day, this isn’t as crazy as it sounds. Your baby will also hear music, your partners and other children’s voices and everyday domestic noises as well.
Your baby is over 1 kilogram this week. Your baby’s head is in proportion to its body and it’s looking more like it should. There’s been lots of brain development in its sleep processes and is starting to have REM(Rapid Eye Movement) sleep phases from this week forwards. Dream on little baby.
Your baby has gained 300-400 grams this week. This is one of the reasons why so much of its time is spent sleeping; to conserve energy and lay down its fat stores.
Your baby’s brain is maturing at a fast rate this week, so eat lots of brain food and head to the fish market. Remember to avoid eating fish which can contain high levels of mercury. Think of fish which are predatory to others and which are higher in the food chain. These are the ones you need to avoid.
If your baby is born now, it would probably be able to manage pretty well without too much intensive or special care. Its temperature regulating ability wouldn’t be too good, so it would still need to be in a humicrib which would help it to maintain an even temperature level.
Your baby is spending a lot of its time sleeping. When it is awake you may see your tummy rolling as it changes its position. You may see the odd elbow or knee poke you and feel it hiccoughing away. There’s a lot going on.
Your baby is gaining lots of weight this week, up to around 450 grams. That’s a lot, considering an average weight gain for a newborn in the first few months is 150-200 grams/week.
Your baby’s skin is very red and still a little loose. Your baby is blinking, moving, grabbing and grasping. It doesn’t know it’s doing these things of course, conscious thought and intent is still months away. It’s also having regular cycles of rest and activity.
Your baby is around 50 centimetres long this week. Your baby’s brain is developing at an enormous rate. Eat foods high in DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid), such as cold water fish. Speak with your midwife or doctor about needing to take a daily supplement of this important fatty acid.
From this week it could engage in your pelvis and you may feel a sense of it “dropping” lower. This means more breathing room for you, but more pressure on your bladder. If this is your first baby though, it is not unusual for it to engage in the pelvis until labour has already started.
If your baby was born now, its lungs would be able to work effectively. It would be able to breathe on its own and not require support.
From this week on, your baby is considered term. It may be born anywhere from now on, so be prepared. Its skin looks less wrinkly and has more of a visible layer of fat underneath it. The vernix which has been covering it starts to be reabsorbed.
It’s all systems go from now on. Your baby is virtually ready for independent life and is preparing for birth. It is still gaining a little weight and its brain is still maturing. If you are going to have a booked caesarian section delivery, this will often be the week it is planned for.
You’re there, ready at any stage to have your baby. Don’t worry if you still haven’t got your mind around it, lots of mothers feel this way. It’s not entirely clear what causes the onset of labour. One theory is that the baby emits a particular protein which causes the mother to start contracting.
You’re probably short tempered even with your own shadow this week, waiting in anticipation for “D” day. Even though your due date has come and gone, don’t feel as if you’re experiencing humanity’s longest gestation.
Being overdue to have a baby means different things to people. Some pregnant women will be quite relaxed about it, confident that the baby will come in its own sweet time. Others are anxious, waiting nervously for something, anything to happen.
For more information see Pregnancy or Week by Week.