Surviving Pregnancy: The Third Trimester

If you have any questions regarding pregnancy or labor and delivery, leave it in the comments, or send it to katie @ clarkscondensed (dot) com, and I’ll respond in a video!

Pregnant? Then you’ll definitely want to read these guides to surviving those long 9 months!
Surviving Pregnancy: The First Trimester
Surviving Pregnancy: The Second Trimester
Surviving Labor & Delivery
What You Need in your Hospital Bag
Tips for Managing Morning Sickness (as well as natural morning sickness remedies.)
9 Things I Learned about Pregnancy.

And we’ve made it to the third trimester! That went fast, didn’t it? If only actually pregnancy was over that quickly…On second thought, though, I don’t think I’d like that!

Surviving Pregnancy: The Third TrimesterThe third trimester can definitely be the hardest. Your belly is likely huge. Walking up the stairscan be a hard task. And if you are like me, the heartburn is absolutely unbearable. Even when everyone is telling you to sleep as much as you can, even that may seem like an insurmountable task. But don’t worry, you are in the final stretch, and soon enough, your sweet, bundle of joy will be in your arms at last.

Facts About the Third Trimester

The third trimester is from about 26 weeks, until you deliver! From weeks 26-32, your baby will nearly double in size, and be about 3.5 pounds at the end of the week 32. Baby can hear your voice, so definitely talk to him or her! They might just react. When your baby is born, they can recognize their mother’s voice, and it is very soothing to them. From weeks 33-36, your baby will still gain about 1/2 pound per week, and for the last four weeks, will be adding more fat to their little bodies, to help them survive outside the womb. Baby can technically survive if born anytime during the third trimester, but you will not be considered full-term until 37 weeks. Organ function isn’t totally done until about that time, and staying in until 40 weeks will ensure that their lungs are working correctly. At the time of birth, the average baby weighs around 7 1/2 pounds and 20ish inches, though it will definitely vary. Jack was 6 lb 13 oz, and 20 inches (though, we found out the measurement was way wrong. We took him to WIC, and they have a much more accurate measuring method. He was about 17.5″ at two weeks.)

Appointments

During the third trimester, you might start to feel like you live in the doctor’s office. Starting at around 32 weeks, you will start coming in every other week, and every week from 36 weeks on. The baby’s size and heart rate will be monitored, and the doctor will also check the position of your baby. I always thought this was so funny, because Jack seemed to be in the strangest positions.

Take time to ask your physician or the nurses about anything related to labor and delivery, or the remainder of your pregnancy. This is definitely an exciting time, but also can be scary. Don’t be shy about asking questions. That’s what they are there for!

Tests and Procedures

RhoGAM Shot: During your blood tests, you will find out if you are Rh negative. And if you are, you will need to get the Rhogam shot. Rh is a protein that most everyone has in their blood. Only about 15 percent of people are this way, but it is essential to know either way. If you get the RhoGAM shot, there won’t be any issues during childbirth. However, if you don’t get it, subsequent pregnancies and babies will be in danger. If your child is Rh positive, and your blood mixes, the Rh negative antibodies will attack the Rh positive antibodies. This can cause many problems. However, the shot will prevent these things from happening.

You will get the shot once during pregnancy, at about 28 weeks. It lasts around 12 weeks, and within 72 hours of birth. I am Rh negative, and while the shot was rather big, it wasn’t too bad. Especially because it protected my baby!

Non-Stress Test: I never had one of these, but after the third trimester begins, your doctor may want to perform a non-stress test. Usually, this is done if there has been reports of decreased fetal movement, you have a high-risk pregnancy, or you are overdue. It is non-invasive, and the baby’s heart rate and movement is monitored for around 30 minutes.

There really aren’t a lot of tests done during the third trimester, though, if you have a high risk pregnancy, you will be monitored more often, and possibly have more ultrasounds.

Body Changes and Symptoms

You will continue to gain weight throughout the third trimester, though it tends to slow toward the end. Most likely, you’ll feel like you just keep getting bigger and bigger! At some point, you may notice that your baby dropped, and sometimes, this makes you look smaller than weeks previous

I already mentioned this, but you will likely start feeling winded quite often. Don’t think this means that you are super out of shape or unhealthy. It’s hard to breathe when you have a baby taking up so much space. Just take things easy, and if anything, take it as an excuse to rest a little more. I remember at the end of my pregnancy, my boss insisted on locking up all the doors on the second and third floor of the museum I worked in. It may not seem like it would have been a big task…but believe me, it was!

Not everyone gets stretch marks, but if you do, don’t fret. Most of the time, they fade significantly after pregnancy. During the third trimester, this is when you will most likely seem them appear. There are creams that supposedly prevent, or lessen them. I’m not sure how accurate these claims are, but the cream I used seemed to work! You may also see varicose or spider veins, and those will likely fade as well.

I think one of the most well-known bodily changes in pregnancy is having your belly button pop out. I actually didn’t have this happen, but many women do. So be on the look out!

Swelling is pretty common in pregnancy, especially in the feet. However, if you do swell, make sure you monitor this. In some cases, it can be a symptom of pre-eclampsia, which is very serious.

Hands down, the worst symptom I experienced during the third trimester was heartburn. At about the time that I started throwing up several times a day, it was replaced with heartburn. And I’m talking about the kind of heartburn that wakes you up in the middle of the night, and you wish you could throw up instead. Someone told me that if you have a lot of heartburn, your baby will have a lot of hair. Jack proved that right! If you do experience heartburn, you can get a prescription to control it from the doctor, or just have a bottle of Maalox by your bed. That’s the only way I survived! My doctor said to avoid using Tums, because it doesn’t really last very long…and I found that to be true.

If you haven’t already been using the bathroom a lot by this point, expect frequent urination to soon plague your life. I highly recommend not going somewhere that doesn’t have a bathroom nearby. Baby is probably sitting right on your bladder, which makes it hard to go very long without using the bathroom. It’s kind of inconvenient, yes, but there’s not much you can do about it!

Taking Care of Yourself

Continue doing everything you can to be healthy. Exercise when you can, and eat well. Drink tons of water! As far as exercising go, I went to water aerobics once a week during the third trimester. I loved it, because I didn’t get out of breath, and it was super relaxing.

There are a lot of ways to induce labor, but please, don’t try these until at least after 38 weeks (preferably closer to 40.) Whatever you do, DON’T use castor oil. A nurse told me that they always know when someone used castor oil, and it makes them so mad. Not only is it disgusting, but it actually can cause some problems. If you want to induce labor, try some safer things, like walking or eating fresh pineapple (some people doubt this one, but I swear, it’s what did me in.)

Travel

If you want to go on a baby moon, the third trimester is not the time to do it. Most doctors will ask that you don’t fly past the third trimester, though there’s not really a rule against it. I saw a lady, who honestly looked like she was about two weeks over due, on a plane once, and I was so scared she was going to go in labor the whole time. If you do fly, though, and it’s a longer flight, be sure to get up and walk around every now and then.

And forget about going on a cruise. Most have a policy against people going past a certian amount of weeks (I think 28?) I don’t blame them though. I wouldn’t want to go into labor on a cruise!

Preparing for Delivery and Baby

This is time to make the final preparations for the arrival of your baby. This includes everything from washing all those teeny, tiny outfits, to setting up the nursery, to taking a birthing class.

At our local hospital, they offered quite a variety of classes mothers and fathers can take. We took a class that was specifically for women who were planning on having a medicated birth. Because of that, we didn’t really focus on breathing techniques, but more about what was going to happen before, during, and after labor. I found it to be a great investment of our time. The nurses that taught it were so nice, and more than willing to answer any questions. If you want to take some kind of class, check with your hospital, or do a quick Google search. There’s classes for just about everything (at our hospital, they even have one for preparing siblings for a new baby.)

You’ll also want to pack your hospital bag (I’ll talk about this more next week,) make arrangements for other children (if you have them) for when you go into labor, and if you have enough energy, maybe even make some freezer meals. Also take some time to spend with your spouse. Go on some dates, and just enjoy being together. While I truly believe that having children can strengthen a marriage and make it even more wonderful, there’s no question that you will have less alone time. Enjoy being together!

And this concludes the Surviving Pregnancy series. I hope you learned something, and you feel a little more prepared for your upcoming birth!

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5 Comments

  • Under tests you left out GBS test, Group B Strep. I knew there was a test coming but I did not know how it was performed until I got into the office...swab vagina and rectum...wish I had known a little more about what was coming! I would also list under symptoms Braxton-Hicks contractions. I have personally had some very intense BH, some lasting over 5min, many causing noticeable pressure changes in my head and hot flashes (all considered normal as long as they are painless and irregular).

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