Third trimester

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 time between 28-40 weeks 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 life outside the womb. Although they have been fully formed since week 12, 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 organise one 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 that 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 get a little pampering for all your hard work growing your baby.


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Now, Where Did I Put That Suitcase?

This will be the time you need to think about packing your hospital bag. Remember, you won’t be going away for a month so be practical with what you pack. Toiletries, maternity pads, nightdresses and comfortable day clothes, as well as nappies and clothing for the baby are some of the essentials.


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 older children and pets taken care of.


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 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. Preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, hypertension, bleeding or problems with the amniotic fluid can all occur, which is why your antenatal check-ups 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 other people present apart from your partner, talk to them about how you both see their role. Remember that labour can be unpredictable and despite planning, there are often unforeseen events that 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 now, are much better than in the previous weeks. For every day baby remains in your womb, their body systems further mature towards independent life.


When you have your antenatal check-ups, don’t be alarmed if your baby is lying in any other position than head down. It is not uncommon for babies to prefer to lie in the breech position early in the third trimester. This may cause you some discomfort underneath your ribs; for instead of a nice round bottom nestling under your ribcage, a hard bony skull is making its presence felt!


Hints for Your Third Trimester


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  • 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 your 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 hear music, your partner and other children’s voices and everyday domestic noises as well.


Weekly Development


Week 28 pregnant

Your baby is weighing in at over 1 kg this week, its head is now in proportion to its body, and it’s looking more like a baby every passing day. There has been lots of brain development in baby’s sleep processes and there are REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep phases from this week on. Dream a little dream of me, baby.


Week 29 pregnant

Your baby has gained 300-400 grams this week. This is one of the reasons why so much time is spent sleeping - they are conserving energy and laying down fat stores.


Week 30 pregnant

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 that contains high levels of mercury. Fish that are predatory and higher up in the food chain are generally the ones you must avoid.


Week 31 pregnant

If your baby is born now, it would probably be able to manage pretty well without too much intensive or special care. Baby’s temperature regulating ability wouldn’t be too good, so they would still need to be in an incubator or humidicrib to maintain an even body temperature.


Week 32 pregnant

Your baby is spending a lot of its time sleeping. When it is awake you may see your tummy rolling as it changes position. You may see the odd elbow or knee poke you and feel it hiccupping away. There’s a lot going on!


Week 33 pregnant

Your baby is gaining lots of weight this week, up to 450 grams. That’s a lot, considering the average weight gain for a newborn in the first few months is 150-200 grams per week.


Week 34 pregnant

Your baby is blinking, moving, grabbing and grasping, not knowing it’s doing these things of course as conscious thought and intent are still months away. Baby is also having regular cycles of rest and activity.


Week 35 pregnant

Your baby is around 50 cm long this week, with its brain developing at an enormous rate. Eat foods high in DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid), such as cold-water fish. Speak with your midwife or doctor about taking a daily supplement of this important fatty acid.


Week 36 pregnant

From this week on your baby could drop down into your pelvis, i.e. ‘engage in your pelvis’. This means more breathing room for you, but more pressure on your bladder. If this is your first baby, it’s not unusual for baby to only engage in the pelvis until labour has already started.


Week 37 pregnant

If a baby is born in this week, their lungs would be able to work effectively. They would be able to breathe on their own and not require support.


Week 38 pregnant

From this week on, your baby is considered “term” and may be born anytime from now on, so be prepared. Baby’s skin looks less wrinkly and has more of a visible layer of fat underneath it. The vernix that has been covering your little one until now starts to be reabsorbed.


Week 39 pregnant

It’s all systems go from now on. Your baby is virtually ready for independent life and is preparing for birth. If you are going to have a booked caesarian section delivery, this will often be the week in which it is planned.


Week 40 pregnant

You’re there - ready to pop at any moment! It’s not entirely clear what causes the onset of labour. One theory is that the baby emits a particular protein that causes the mother to start contracting.


Week 41 pregnant

You’re probably short-tempered even with your own shadow this week, waiting in anticipation for “D” day. Even though your planned due date has come and gone, don’t feel as if you’re experiencing humanity’s longest gestation.


Week 42 pregnant

Being overdue means different things to different 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.

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