Third Trimester of Pregnancy: Symptoms, Changes, And More

Now that you are at the third trimester, you will probably have a lot of conflicting symptoms. You can expect that it will not be as smooth sailing as the second trimester probably felt like, yet it might not be as tumultuous as the first trimester unless of course, the time comes that you already have to give birth.

The third trimester starts at the 28th week of pregnancy up until the time that you have to give birth to your little bundle of joy at about the 40th week. Just be prepared that going into labour may start a few weeks before you actually give birth. There may be times when you will experience labour later than the other mothers out there. Your doctor will induce labour if you have already reached your 42nd week and you have not started yet.

You have to know more about the normal symptoms that you will get to experience so that you know when you should contact your doctor and when you should relax. You can expect that there will be some major changes to your body and that you might experience emotional discomfort along with the physical one that is inevitably going to happen.

Baby’s Progress In Months 7-9

Of course, your baby still continues to grow up to the final countdown. At this point, you can expect that your baby will become heavier and it will be resembled by the size of your belly. The baby can possibly reach up to about 6 – 9 pounds. The baby will also be around 19 – 22 inches long. It is evident that your baby is growing fast so do not be surprised with the sudden change in the size of your abdominal area.

fetus in the third trimester

Months 7 – 8

You can expect that there will be a few changes when your baby reaches the 7th and 8th month like the fact that bones will start to develop. Make sure to eat calcium rich food products so that your baby’s bones will be strong. The baby’s skin will also become opaque so it is not see through anymore.

Your baby will also develop 5 senses. The baby will be able to know if it is light or dark. It will also be able to taste the food that you will eat as well as recognize various voices. It will be best to talk to your baby at this point in time.

Month 9

You can expect that digestive waste will start to accumulate on your baby’s intestines so that it will be ready to release its first poop by the time it comes out of your body. The poop is usually composed of blood cells, vernix and lanugo that would have to be removed from the body’s system. Of course, the brain will continue developing well into the last month as well.

As your baby nears its inception into the world, your body is also experiencing several changes that you should be aware of and prepare for.

Changes To Your Body

Frequent Back Pain: In the third trimester of pregnancy, this is one of the worst and most common symptoms you should prepare for. Your big belly has become an additional burden on your body and it is difficult for your back to support all that weight gain. The hormone relaxin softens your pelvic joints in order to make room for the baby and facilitate its arrival, which is another cause of back pain in the third trimester.

At this point, you should definitely have invested in one or two pregnancy pillows to help ease the pain and to prevent sciatica and even heartburn (which we will get to later). To maintain your balance, it is quite normal to adapt by changing your posture so that there is less pressure on your lower back. Here are some tips that you should follow to help alleviate all the pain and pressure on your back:

  • Try to sit in an upright position.
  • Support your stomach with a maternity belt.
  • Do light pelvic exercises.
  • Wear comfortable shoes while walking, the more low-heeled the better.
  • Sleep with a pillow between your legs if you do not already have a pregnancy pillow.

Braxton-Hicks’s contractions: These are false contractions that occur in the third trimester. They signal that you should be ready for the real contractions soon and that the delivery is close. These contractions feel like you are going into labor and appear mainly in the front of the abdomen, however they are not persistent which is how you know that they are false. Real contractions that signify that you are going into labor are more intense, they do not stop, you feel them when you change positions, and they appear mainly in the lower back.

Frequent Urination: This occurs before the third trimester, but in the third trimester it reaches its culmination. This happens because the baby puts the greatest amount of pressure on the bladder than ever before. You need to simply use the bathroom whenever you feel the need, but especially before leaving the house or going to bed. You should not reduce your fluid intake in order to decrease the need to urinate. Continue to drink the recommended 8 glasses of water a day because it is more crucial at this point to remain hydrated throughout the day. What you can  avoid instead is caffeine because of it’s diuretic qualities. So instead of water, you should reduce your coffee intake!

Heartburn and acid reflux: This symptom plagues many mothers-to-be. In addition to the immense pressure on your bladder, your growing baby is also spreading some pressure towards your stomach. As a result of this, heartburn may occur. Progesterone and relaxin soften the joints and muscles in your body, including the esophagus, which is the muscle that normally prevents acid reflux from occurring in the stomach and thus rendering the presence of heartburn. During late pregnancy, you will have strong food cravings and temptations that you need to keep in control. To avoid heartburn from occurring,  take note of the following:

  • Eat smaller meals throughout the day.
  • Avoid any spicy or fried foods. You should be eating very healthy foods regardless.
  • Do not go to bed with a full stomach and do not eat 2 hours prior to going to sleep.
  • Once again, a maternity pillow can definitely reduce heartburn in these late stages of pregnancy.
  • Be careful with the choice of clothing as tighter clothes can put unnecessary pressure on your stomach.
  • Try not to lie down for at least 20 minutes after eating.

The above should greatly reduce heartburn and acidity in the third trimester and will surely allow you to sleep much more soundly as you prepare for childbirth.

Breast enlargement and yellow discharge from nipples: This is a common symptom in the third trimester. Your significant weight increase also has a snowball effect on your breast so you will notice that they are larger than ever before. This happens biologically because your body is preparing to breastfeed.Wear a properly comfortable bra and moisturize the skin on your breasts daily in order to prevent stretch marks that you will not want to have in the future.

Lastly, as you get closer to going into labor you will be able to notice a yellowish, clear discharge from your nipples. Do not worry about this as it is just colostrum, the first signs of baby food that your body is generating.

Hemorrhoids, varicose veins and swelling of the legs: These three symptoms may go hand in hand and they are fairly normal in the third trimester. The main reason for these three symptoms is primarily credited to the retention of water in the lower part of the body and the increased blood circulation that occurs. As a result of this process, the veins spread to receive the increased blood flow, which causes hemorrhoids, varicose veins, and even swelling on your legs.For many women, these symptoms may be triggered and even be more severe within hot temperature during those summer months, so be sure to take the following precautions:

  • Avoid standing for a long time
  • Raise legs whenever you sit down
  • Drink plenty of water. Avoid drinking sugary liquids that will make the swelling even more prevalent.

Problems with the veins will most often disappear a few months after delivery, although they may become a permanent problem for some women that are not careful with their water intake and avoidance of the summer heat.

Vivid dreams: Do not be alarmed by this, it’s perfectly normal! You are actually having the same dreams as you usually do, but they just seem more vivid than ever because you of frequent awakening at night. Remember though, dreams are a reflection of your emotional state. It is quite normal then that due to concerns about childbirth and fear of the unknown, you may dream that you will lose your baby or that you will even give birth to animal instead. This is perfectly normal and not a cause for concern.

Fatigue and shortness of breath: Shortness of breath occurs in the third trimester of pregnancy because the baby that grows, among other things, puts pressure on the lungs. This prevents the lungs to expand and leads to shortness of breath. Fatigue is a logical consequence of all the pains and stress that burden your body as well as sleepless nights. It is therefore natural that in third trimester you feel exhausted, without energy and breathless. That your body gives you the signal that it’s time to slow down.

Red Flag Symptoms In The Final Trimester

There are some symptoms that you have to watch out for of course, and they become even more critical to keep an eye on in the third trimester. These are the three most common:

  • Heavy Vaginal Bleeding: It is normal that you will release a mucus-like substance that is pink in color with a bit of blood in your third trimester. However, if you experience heavy vaginal bleeding, this means that something is seriously wrong and that you should go to the hospital immediately.
  • Severe Abdominal Pain: If there is too much pain on your lower abdomen, this is not normal and you should rush to the emergency room as fast as possible as well.
  • Fast Weight Gain: If on the onset of your third trimester you suddenly gain a lot of weight without knowing the reason why, there may be an underlying reason for this and your doctor should be contacted immediately.

Remember that at this point in time, you should still not forget to have regular check-ups to make sure that you and your baby will be ready for the day when you would be bringing a new person to the world. As long as your doctor approves of it, you may want to do simple exercises while you are pregnant. At the same time, watch your weight and do not eat things that are unnecessary. Which brings us to the final part of this guide and a very important one; preparing for your birth.

Things To Do To Prepare For The Baby

third trimester of pregnancy

The third trimester of pregnancy is the time that everything should slow down for the mother and preparation for child birth should be made. A stress-free and happy environment is something that the mother-to-be should have so that everything goes smoothly and according to plan. Here are some specific things that should be done during the third trimester, and most of that require asking questions and learning:

  • Go to regular prenatal check-ups with your doctor:

    By 36 weeks, it will probably be once every two weeks. After 36 weeks , that number will be closer to once per week.

  • Track your child’s movements:

    The sudden cessation of movement can be an indication of problems. Make sure that you talk with your baby, sing her songs, or play soft and calm music. The key here is to connect with your baby emotionally.

  • Learn more about child labor:

    Check with your doctor on how to recognize contractions and how to facilitate pains. Inform yourself about delivery methods and make a decision with your doctor. You may choose to join a class for expectant mothers to get a more in depth look at what to expect, especially if this is your first pregnancy.

  • Learn as much as possible about the baby and breastfeeding:

    Once again here, you can either ask your doctor or go to classes and learn all about breastfeeding and baby care in the first few days of infancy. Also, if you plan on pumping, this is the time do your research on different pumps and how to use them.

  • Learn about your body after childbirth:

    Be aware that it is unlikely that you will look like you’re from a cover of a fashion magazine for at least the first year post birth. Your stomach will still be enlarged until the muscles return to their place. If you have had a natural birth, you can expect bleeding after childbirth, which can last up to 6 weeks. Menstruation may be absent for months and may be irregular during breastfeeding.

  • Go shopping for the baby:
    shopping for the baby

    Get those baby clothes ready.

    Get a stroller, a crib, a car seat, some baby clothes and make sure you prepare a nursery your baby if your house allows for it.

  • Pack a bag for the hospital:

    When you start experiencing real contractions and your water breaks, the last thing you want to be doing is packing a hospital bag.

It is impossible to go to the delivery 100% ready. Each delivery is special and a different, unique experience. As much unpleasantness that the past two trimesters have caused, the third trimester is still the last moment to grab some time for yourself. After the arrival of your baby, your priorities in life will certainly change.

The pace of your day should slow down, you should relax and be sure to dedicate some time to yourself and do the things you love for one last time. You can also start to ponder some upcoming important decisions in your life – How you will educate your baby? In which direction will your career go after giving birth? And if you haven’t done so already, think of a name for the baby.

Get ready for a new chapter in your life and to face the many challenges of parenthood! They are pleasant challenges, I promise.