What You Need to Know about the Third Trimester of Pregnancy



The third trimester of pregnancy is crucial as well as full of fun and excitement. This trimester covers between gestational week 27 and 40+ (Months 7-9) of pregnancy.

With rapid growth of your baby, the third trimester is also a peak period of protruding big belly that comes along with some weight of discomfort.

Irrespective of the physical and emotional discomfort, stress and inconvenience you might have suffered since the inception of your pregnancy, you will have to greet the third trimester with confidence and optimism; in high expectation of your new baby’s arrival.

Though the experience differs from woman to woman, there are some practical similarities of what to expect both of the maturing baby and would-be-mom in this last trimester.

At about 30 weeks into pregnancy, your baby is fast growing into maturity and referred to as ‘viable’. It means your baby is believed to have a good chance of survival even if born at this time.

In case any pregnant woman delivers a premature fetus between 30th and 38th week, the baby should be able to survive with some medical assistance. Only a baby born after 38 or 40 weeks is referred as a normal term baby.

The Growing Baby in the Third Trimester of Pregnancy

The baby grows rapidly in size and weight during this trimester while all the organs of maturing fetus are expected to be completely developed and fully functional.

The baby is growing plumper with eyes opening and closing to the extent that a light shining through the belly can be felt by the baby.

The wrinkled skin in previous trimesters now smoothens as the vernix and lanugo (fine body hair) begins to disappear, and amniotic fluid volume decreases. The brain develops while bones grow stronger, mature and remain soft for the purpose of delivery.

Yes, your baby in the third trimester of pregnancy is mostly undergoing rapid growth- putting on flesh while its various internal organs mature and begin to function.

In addition, the primary immune system begins to build likewise, to an extent that the baby is less susceptible to infections during the final period.

From 32 through to 40 weeks, the baby gets ready for independent life outside the womb with less dramatic growth and begins to position itself head-downward ready for birth. The baby’s head could sometimes move down into the pelvis “engaged” in readiness for birth.

By the end of third trimester of pregnancy, the baby will be about 20 inches long, weighing between 6-9 pounds. The baby is considered full term at this stage and normally takes position –head down in readiness for delivery.

About the Mom in the Third Trimester of Pregnancy

In this final trimester, the would-be mom is not left out of the changes. She will feel some level of discomfort because of the pressure of the fetus on her own internal organs, weight gain and natural body preparation for delivery.

Kicking, Breathing and Hiccups in the Third Trimester of Pregnancy

The third trimester is a kicking and lively period as the baby matures and bids farewell to the amniotic comfort of the womb. The kicks and stretches of the baby are felt more frequently in the early part of third trimester than in previous trimesters.

As your due date approaches the kicking of your baby changes into what feels like acrobatics and jabbing inside you every day, however baby kicks tend to diminish in the last weeks due to less space to move around.

As a would-be-mom, do keep an eye on your baby’s moves at this trimester and be watchful. The fetal movement may not be rampant but there should be some form of noticeable movements in third trimester. It’s believed that fetal movement is one of the indicators that your baby is faring well.

If you feel no baby movement, squirming or kicking, over a long period please inform your healthcare provider.

Another important movement to watch-out for in the third trimester of pregnancy is called breathing movements. This is not referring to the breathing of your baby but movements of some parts of the baby’s body, a sensational pattern that feels like breathing. This breathing can be observed clearly with ultrasound.

Hiccups, occasional quick and jerking movements of your baby are very rampant in the third trimester. This is quite normal if you experience it and if not, it’s as well normal. Some women feel hiccups often while some rarely feel it.

In the third trimester you can even begin to notice your baby hiccupping. These momentary jerking motions may tickle a little bit but are no cause for alarm. They probably won’t last more than 10 minutes and most expecting mom describe the feeling as amazing.

In about 37 weeks, you may notice that your pregnancy feels and looks lowered; usually the baby drops down into the pelvis. This is particularly rampant during first pregnancy and makes breathing easier for the would-be-mom.

At this time you may consider to take childbirth classes. It will practically help you reduce anxiety and fear and much more, provide insights on how to cope more confidently with the labor and delivery experience.

Common Symptoms in the Third Trimester of Pregnancy are:

Braxton Hicks Contractions

Before "true" labor begins, you may have "false" labor pains, also known as Braxton Hicks contractions. Braxton-Hicks Contractions is described as a momentary uterine hardness.

It’s like a tightening feeling that runs from the top of the uterus and downwards, it could last for a couple of minutes or more when it occurs. At the time of this contraction you can notice your belly suddenly look bunched up.

They are practice labor contractions and are normal, especially from 36 weeks upward. However, you may have to call your healthcare provider if Braxton Hicks contractions become increasingly persistent and painful.

Colostrum (yellowish fluid) Leakage from Breasts
As the due date for labor and delivery approaches, your body also gets ready. The breast begins to secrete colostrums ( yellowish fluid). Colostrum is a “proteinous” premilk that the baby sucks in the first few weeks of arrival before breast milk flows out.

The yellowish discharge in your breasts during the third trimester of pregnancy is normal and nothing to worry about. It is as well normal if you don’t notice this discharge in the third trimester, some women experience it after delivery.

Back pain or Pelvic discomfort
The protruding belly, growth and weight of the baby with the relative movements and activities of the baby around the pelvis creates pressure that comes along with pain and discomfort in the pelvis.

The relaxing of joints between the bones in your body’s pelvic zone, in build-up towards delivery, is as well believed to trigger back pain.

Abdominal pain and cramps
You may have abdominal pain or cramps that could be false or true contractions in last weeks to labor and delivery.

Shortness of breath
Shortness of breath is most common, as your baby grows and moves inside your womb.

Some of other common symptoms of third trimester include tiredness or fatigue, abdominal itching, sleeping difficulty, hemorrhoids, frequent urination, swollen hands, feet and legs, carpal tunnel syndrome, varicose veins, stretch marks, dreaming and nightmares about your baby and delivery.

Causes for Concern in the Third Trimester of Pregnancy

Some of the causes for concern in the final weeks of third trimester include but not limited to bleeding, breech presentation, excessive bleeding, decreased fetal movement, amniotic dryness and leakage, fetal growth problems, preeclampsia, false contractions, preterm labor and late delivery.

If you notice any severity of the symptoms or conditions, please contact your healthcare provider. PregnancyMama wishes you the best of success as you look forward to the end of your pregnancy journey and await the arrival of your beautiful baby.

To every would-be-mom in the third trimester of pregnancy, Congratulations in advance!

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