What to expect in your third trimester
The countdown is on: Week 28 through week 40
When is third trimester pregnancy?Your third trimester is the designated time period that occurs during the last 13 weeks of your pregnancy (or months seven to nine). Third trimester weeks officially ‘kick off’ at week 28 and go until you deliver your bundle of joy, typically at week 40. However, many babies – 30 percent, in fact – don’t like calendars and prefer to arrive past their due date. Once you start approaching week 42 of pregnancy, your practitioner will talk to you about inducing labor if it doesn’t naturally happen on its own.
What happens during your third trimester prenatal visits?
Now that you’ve made it through your second trimester, you’ve had several visits with your healthcare team, along with plenty of tests. In your third trimester, the amount of appointments you have will begin to increase as you get closer to the big day.
While many moms won’t need a third trimester ultrasound, your OBGYN or midwife may request to perform one to monitor your baby’s growth or if you’re over age 35. The same goes for pelvic exams during pregnancy at this point – you most likely won’t need one unless your practitioner has a specific concern.
Around week 32, you’ll begin to have appointments every other week. Just like your previous appointments, you’ll be weighed and have your blood pressure checked. You’ll also submit a urine sample to be sure you aren’t losing protein or glucose, which can be early indicators of an issue with your health or pregnancy.
You’ll also get your group B strep test (GBS test), if you haven’t received one already. During the test, your vagina and rectum will be swabbed to check for a bacteria that’s commonly found in both women and men. The test is not painful, and if you test positive for GBC, we’ll simply ask you to come to the hospital as soon as labor begins to get you started on antibiotics that protect your baby.
Postpartum depression screenings
Your care team will also talk to you and screen you for signs of postpartum depression. Both before and after childbirth at Geisinger, your doctor or healthcare practitioner will screen you regularly for signs and symptoms of postpartum depression to make sure you get the treatment you need. If you have a history of depression or anxiety, your doctor may even suggest starting medication or counseling after you give birth.
Around week 36, you’ll begin to have your appointments every week.
Changes in your body
Even though your belly may be two-thirds of the way there, there’s still plenty of changes happening with you and your baby.
It’s a busy time for both you and your little one! Mom, some of those pesky symptoms you experienced early on or in previous pregnancies may return. You’ll likely develop new third trimester symptoms as well. It’s important to remember that every woman’s body is different, therefore yours will experience its own set of unique symptoms too.
Here are some common changes you may notice:
- Mild swelling – Your feet, legs and ankles may begin to swell a bit more. This is a totally normal part of pregnancy – and just another reason for your partner to give you a foot massage! To alleviate swelling, elevate your feet several times a day and be sure to drink more fluids. However, if you experience sudden or severe swelling in your feet, ankles, hands or face, call your practitioner as this can be a sign of preeclampsia.
- Fatigue – Pregnancy puts a lot of demands on your body, especially when you’re this far along. If you’re feeling extra tired these days, listen to your body. Now is the time to get plenty of rest, eat well, stay hydrated and continue taking your prenatal vitamins.
- Heartburn or acid reflux– As baby’s plumping up and taking up more space in your belly, your growing uterus is putting added pressure on your stomach. This can cause the backup that creates heartburn or indigestion.
- Hemorrhoids – No one wants them. Unfortunately, many women experience them during pregnancy due to constipation and the added pressure baby puts on your pelvic area. You can do your best to avoid being constipated by adding more fiber into your diet by eating more fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains, as well as doing Kegal exercises to increase circulation. Witch hazel remedies can help relieve the pain and itching.
- Lower back pain – As baby drops lower into your abdomen preparing for his or her grand entrance, you may feel your back and hips begin to ache more. It’s also common to feel a ‘heaviness’ in your lower body. Gentle stretching and mild exercise, like walking or swimming, can bring relief, as well as maintaining good posture and doing pelvic tilt exercises.
- Trouble sleeping – As space in your belly gets tighter for baby during the last four to six weeks, it can get more uncomfortable for mama too – which can mean difficulties sleeping. You may need to try several different positions to find what’s most comfortable. To get your body ready for sleep, try light exercise at least three hours before bedtime, along with a warm shower. Sleeping with support between your knees and ankles may also help.
- Shortness of breath – As baby continues to grow, your uterus may begin to press against your diaphragm. Sleep propped up on pillows and slow your pace when needed.
- Varicose veins – Although they can be unsightly, varicose veins are a completely normal part of pregnancy. The good news is, if you didn’t have them before, that they’ll likely disappear after you deliver.
- Braxton Hicks contractions - Braxton Hicks contractions – commonly called practice contractions – are your body’s way of getting you ready for labor. Braxton Hicks contractions can last between 30 seconds and two minutes. If your contractions become closer together or more painful, or if you being to leak fluid, call your practitioner or head to the nearest hospital to make sure you’re not going into labor early.
- Leaky breasts – If you begin to notice mysterious stains on your shirt or that your breasts are leaking a creamy, yellowish substance, relax, mama. This is colostrum and is the first stage of your breast milk developing!