What Is The Third Trimester?
The beginning of the third trimester is the final lap of your pregnancy. Your baby will do a lot of growing in the third trimester, and you will do a lot in preparation for the birth. The third trimester officially starts in the twenty-eighth week of your pregnancy and lasts until you give birth to your baby. Although it is possible to go into preterm labor, most women give birth around the 40 week mark, with only 10% of births happening after week forty-two.
How Your Baby Is Developing In The Third Trimester
During week 28 of your pregnancy, your baby is around 10 inches long. The baby’s central nervous system is developing to where it can control breathing patterns. The baby’s eyes will be able to open, at least partially, and their little eyelashes are forming.
In week 29, the baby starts to be more active. The baby’s muscles are developing more fully, and women start to feel kicks. At this stage the baby can stretch and move their hands like they are grasping at something.
In the 30th week of pregnancy, your baby should have some hair on their little heads. They have grown about a half an inch since week 28, so they are about 10 ½ inches long. They weigh around 3 pounds. Red blood cells are forming in your baby’s bone marrow at this point.
Week 31 is when the baby’s most rapid growth starts. The baby has finished most of their major development, so they will start to gain weight quickly.
In week 32 of your pregnancy, your baby has packed on a few pounds. They are around 11 inches long, but they now weigh almost four pounds. The baby starts to practice breathing, swallowing, kicking, and sucking, which are all skills that they will need in eight weeks when they exit the womb. The baby’s skin starts going from transparent to opaque as fat begins to accumulate under the skin. Their toenails are visible at this point as well.
During week 33 of your pregnancy your baby is able to detect light. Your baby’s pupils can grow and contract in response to light stimuli. Their bones are beginning to harden, but their skull remains soft and flexible.
At 34 weeks of pregnancy your baby weighs about 4 ½ pounds and might be around 12 inches long. Your baby’s fingernails have also developed to reach their fingertips. The baby’s intestines are also maturing so they can feed once they are born.
In the 35th week of your pregnancy, your baby’s skin starts to become pink and smooth. This is good! The fat formed under the skin will help regulate the baby’s body temperatures. The baby is starting to look chubbier because throughout the rest of the pregnancy the baby only had less than 3% of fat on their body.
Week 36 is usually when the baby starts to run out of room in the amniotic sac. The baby might not punch or kick anymore because of the cramped conditions, but they should still be able to roll and wiggle.
At week 37, you and your baby are preparing for birth, so your baby’s head will descend further into your pelvis. Your baby’s head should be down. If it isn’t then you should contact your healthcare provider.
During week 38 your baby might weigh around six and a half pounds. Their toenails have reached the tip of their toes. The baby has mostly shed all of their lanugo, which is a soft, pigmentless coat of hair that covers the baby in the womb.
In the 39th week of pregnancy, if you are having a baby boy, the testes continue to descend to the scrotum. At this time your baby will continue to pack on the fat.
Week 40 marks the time when most babies are delivered. By week 40, the baby has developed to weigh in around seven pounds. However, do not be alarmed if your baby weighs a little bit more or a bit less than the average. Healthy newborns come in all shapes and sizes!
How Your Body Is Changing In The Third Trimester
Your baby is becoming stronger every day, so the kicks might start to feel more powerful. The baby is also growing rapidly, and your abdomen is getting bigger and heavier. If stretch marks have not formed earlier in the pregnancy, they should start to appear in your third trimester.
Many women also experience pelvic pain during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester. It is highly common, with up to 80% of women experiencing it. A lot of the time it occurs after the baby has dropped into the pelvic region in preparation for birth. Your baby’s head is pressing hard against your bladder, hips, and pelvis, which puts extra pressure on your joints and muscles. This causes a variety of sensations ranging from mild aching or pressure to searing pain. There are a few things you can do to relieve pressure from your pelvic floor. You could get a specialty belly sling. Warm baths will give you bump a rest from fighting against gravity all day. Pelvic exercises can strengthen the muscles around your pelvis, so this could offer some relief.
Especially common in late pregnancy, a woman might start noticing swollen limbs. This swelling is caused by an increase of fluid. During pregnancy, the adrenal glands produce more of the hormones that makes the body retain more fluids. Fluid also accumulates because your enlarged uterus. To minimize the swelling women are advised to avoid standing for long periods of time and to rest with their feet elevated whenever possible.
False Labor Signs vs. Real Signs Of Labor
Before a woman actually gives birth, her body is getting ready. There can be some false signs of labor that a woman experiences, especially in the third trimester. Braxton Hicks contractions are the name given to the false labor pains that do not open the cervix. They can be compared to mild period cramping. There are a few differences that highlight the difference between real and false labor pains. Firstly, Braxton Hicks contractions are not as painful as true contractions. Braxton Hicks contractions also do not intensify and get closer together over time. Finally, Braxton Hicks contractions do not happen at regular intervals and they may stop with a change in your activity or position. You know the contractions are the real thing when they are intense, coming at regular intervals, and they get stronger and stronger over time.
To-Do List For The Third Trimester
As your are preparing for your little one to enter the world, there are a few things that should be on your “to-do list”.
First, you’re going to want to be tracking the baby’s movement. By now, your baby has established a fairly regular sleep schedule, so you can mark long periods of rest. However, you should be paying attention to active your baby normally is when they are awake. If there is a sharp decrease in movement, then you should contact your doctor.
You need to be watching your weight in your third trimester. At the beginning of your third trimester you should be starting to pack on the pounds more quickly. As your due date approaches your pregnancy weight gain might slow down. You might even lose a couple of pounds in the last few weeks of your pregnancy. If you are gaining or losing too much weight make sure you contact your doctor to get your pregnancy diet back on track. You can also continue pregnancy safe exercises up until your due date.
Crucial to you and your baby’s health, you need to schedule your third trimester checkups. You should be expecting to be tested for glucose levels, anemia, and group B strep during your checkups in month seven and eight. At your 9 month checkup your doctor will evaluate your cervix to see if it is dilating.
You are going to need a lot of things for your baby. Firstly, you will need a car seat to bring your baby home from the hospital. Go to your nearest baby supply store and pick out a crib, a stroller, a baby changing table, and a baby monitor. You will need other supplies like diapers, baby powder, wet wipes, and formula. Many people organize baby showers early on in their third trimester, and their friends and family can help you get everything you need for your new addition.
Get educated on the things you will need to know about the birthing process and how to care for your baby. You will need to know about how to push during labor and how to deliver the placenta. You will need to be educated on the different methods of pain relief that are available and which is best for you. Make sure you have your birth plan set in place.
If you have more questions about the birthing process, check out our birthing classes offered right here in Cleveland, TN. Just give us a call or ask about the classes at your next checkup. Hang in there, mom! You’re going to do great!