Your Third Trimester: Here’s What You Can Expect
Although many women say the third trimester is the most uncomfortable point during pregnancy, the good news is you’re close to the finish line!
Your third trimester begins around week 28 and lasts until you give birth, which may be around 40 weeks – however, you may go into labor a few weeks earlier or later.
Here’s what to expect during your final weeks of pregnancy.
Your Baby Continues To Grow and Develop
While your baby has done a lot of work growing in your belly for the past several months, he or she has a little more work to do.
During the first few weeks of your third trimester, your baby will be storing fat on their body and gaining weight. Their lungs aren’t fully mature at the beginning of this trimester, but there will be some rhythmic breathing movements occurring. Though they’re still soft and pliable, your baby’s bones are fully developed. Your baby will finally be able to open his or her eyelids, too.
Around your 33rd to 36th week, your baby will descend into the head down position to prepare for birth. And by week 38, your baby is considered full term and is ready to make his or her debut any day. As your baby gets bigger, you may notice a change in fetal movement since there isn’t as much room as earlier in the pregnancy – however, if you notice a decrease in fetal movement, talk to your doctor.
You’ll Gain Some More Weight
You may feel like there’s no way your baby bump and breasts could get any bigger by the time you reach your third trimester…but they will.
If you had a normal Body Mass Index (BMI) before getting pregnant, you may expect to gain between 25 and 35 pounds before you give birth. Some of this weight gain is due to the size of your baby, but it’s also due to the placenta, amniotic fluid, extra fat stores, increased blood and fluid volume, and larger breasts and uterus.
When you reach your due date, you might have an additional 2 pounds of breast tissue. You may start to see a yellowish fluid leaking from your nipples – this substance is called colostrum and it will nourish your baby during their first few days after birth.
Your Feet and Ankles May Swell
When your uterus grows and you gain pregnancy weight, it puts pressure on the veins that return blood from your feet and legs, which can cause your feet and ankles to swell. Frequently propping up your legs and not sitting with your legs crossed can reduce this swelling. If you have to stand for a long period, try to move around.
You May Have an Achy Back
Between weight gain and the pregnancy hormone relaxin loosening your joints, you may start experiencing backaches – that’s due to extra weight and your growing belly pulling at your center of gravity. You may also have some discomfort in your pelvis and hips as your ligaments loosen to prepare for labor.
You can ease this pain by practicing good posture and sleeping on your side at night with a pillow tucked between your legs. A heating pad may also help. Just be sure to ask your doctor whether it’s ok for you to take acetaminophen.
Braxton Hicks Contractions Will Start
These mild contractions are warm-ups to prep your uterus for labor. These contractions aren’t as intense as real labor contractions and may come and go unpredictably. They may feel a lot like labor and can progress to it, but the biggest difference is that real contractions gradually get closer and closer together while also intensifying.
If your contractions are painful or regular and you're red in the face and out of breath after them, contact your doctor.