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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!
The third trimester can definitely be the hardest. Your belly is likely huge. Walking up the stairs can 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.
Some people can’t wait for the third trimester to end, while others hold onto every last second of it that they can. When I was pregnant with Jack, I was scared out of my mind. As much as I wanted to meet him, the thought of becoming a mother became increasingly daunting as the days drew on!
It’s okay to complain every now and then and not to love every moment of the third trimester. I know that it can be uncomfortable (especially if you are dealing with issues like pregnancy-related acid reflux. So miserable!). So don’t feel bad if you aren’t loving it.
And if you are – that’s great, too! Regardless, you’re almost there!
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.)
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!
I know all of this sounds a bit dreadful – and it can feel that way. But it’s important to do your best to keep your chin up. You are almost there! Be sure to check out our third trimester check list to help make the last few weeks a little more manageable.
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).
Here are a few things you can do to take care of yourself during the third trimester:
- Get a Prenatal Massage – I promise, it’s worth the splurge
- Exercise – as I mentioned, I LOVED water aerobics during pregnancy. Here are some pregnancy workout videos that you may enjoy as well.
- Sleep as much as you can, whenever you can. Let’s be real – for many of us, sleep during the third trimester is pretty much non-existent. However, it’s important to get it when you can. You might find some helpful tips in this post – Common Pregnancy Sleep Issues (And How To Help Them). If you haven’t gotten a pregnancy pillow yet, there is still time. You can get $50 off this really great one with the code C113D4.
- Prop your feet up when you can
- Continue taking your prenatal vitamin
- Order a postpartum care pack from The Dollar Maxi Pad Club. It has all the pads you’ll need and a few other “goodies” for postpartum recovery. HIGHLY recommend this – the pads have a charcoal strip, and recent research suggests this can help with cramping. Get 10% off with the code clarks10.
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 certain 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. You have lots of decisions to make before baby is born!
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).
I highly recommend this Online Prenatal Class. It’s taught by a highly qualified Labor and Delivery nurse – Hilary – and it has some of the best information to get you prepped for birth. You can do it from home in your jammies whenever you want, which is awesome, especially if you are nearing the end of your pregnancy. You can get 10% off with the code Clarks.
You’ll also want to pack your hospital bag, 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!
Contractions, Braxton Hicks, and Kick Counts
During the third trimester, you might start to feel Braxton Hicks and will wonder if you are somehow going into early labor.
Fortunately, most of the time, Braxton Hicks are just practice contractions, and they generally aren’t painful. If you are having a lot of pain, that might be a cause for a concern. Otherwise, your body is just doing what it’s suppose to!
If you aren’t even sure what to expect from contractions, I wrote this post – Labor Contractions 101: How They Feel, Contraction Trackers, and More, which might be able to help you out. I also highly recommend the Bloom Contraction Monitor, which is a wearable, smart device that can help you discern between real contractions and “fake” ones. You can get 10% off for your weekly subscription.
You will also likely be advised to start doing kick counts during the third trimester. It’s essential to make sure baby is still moving regularly, because a decrease in kicks/movement can indicate a problem. This is an excellent article on decreased fetal movement and kick counts.
And this concludes the Surviving Pregnancy series. I hope you learned something, and you feel a little more prepared for your upcoming birth!
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.
Katie is a Colorado-native, BYU graduated, and most importantly, wife to one and mother to three beautiful boys. She is passionate about sharing her experiences with others – especially about pregnancy, breastfeeding, cooking, and crafts. She is currently training to be a Certified Lactation Educator. She loves spending time with her family and helping others find joy in family life.