Yay! You finally made it to your last trimester! I’m sure it feels like time is flying by now and in 3 short months you will meet your baby! The third trimester is from 28 weeks until delivery. Your due date is calculated at 40 weeks but if your baby is late you could be pregnant until 41+3 weeks (10 days overdue) or even as long as 42 weeks. So what should you expect as you head into the home stretch? Let’s talk about it.
For your Baby:
Your baby is doing tons of growing in this trimester. Typically around 28 weeks the baby is about 2.5 lbs and 16 inches long, and quickly growing until they are 6 to 9 lbs and 19-22 inches long at the time of delivery.
Around 32 weeks their skin goes from very thin and see through, to opaque. And then around 36 weeks they start to put on weight.
Their digestive system is starting to work, and their intestines are getting ready for that first meconium poop.
Baby’s five senses are also developing, and by week 31 they will be able to taste what you are eating, can listen to the sound of your voice, and can even perceive light and dark!
The baby’s brain is also quickly developing and is practicing blinking, breathing, swallowing, regulating temperature and even dreaming.
Now onto you:
You may notice some abdominal aches and pains as your belly starts to grow bigger, putting some strain on your round ligaments.
Fatigue comes back with a vengeance towards the end of this trimester as your body is focusing all its energy to help grow your baby.
Braxton Hicks contractions (contractions that are typically not painful, and do not cause cervical change) may start as your body is preparing for delivery.
Heartburn can be more common as your stomach is being pushed up higher to make room for your growing babe.
Back aches are also more common as your centre of gravity changes because of your growing belly, and the hormone relaxin loosens your joints.
Leaky breasts happen as your body is starting to make colostrum getting ready for your baby to start feeding.
Stretch marks may start to form as your skin is starting to be stretched to its limit. Stretch marks are usually hereditary, but moisturizing can help them.
Typically around 28 weeks your care provider will ask you to complete a test for gestational diabetes. I’m sure you have probably heard about it, you drink a sugary drink and the lab draws some blood at the beginning of the test and then at the end (usually 1 or 2 hours later depending on which test they order) and they see how your body metabolizes the glucose. They may also order 3rd trimester bloodwork to check your hemoglobin as you get ready to deliver.
You should also start to keep track of your baby’s movements (Fetal Kick Counts) to make sure the baby is healthy. Pick a time you know the baby is usually active and lay on your left side and you should feel at least 6 movements in 2 hours. If you have any concerns contact your primary care provider or your nearest maternity unit.
Around 35 weeks your care provider will test you for GBS (Group B Streptococcus). This is a simple q-tip type swab that goes into your vagina and then anus, and if you are positive you will be offered antibiotics in labor to protect your baby from getting a GBS infection while in the vaginal canal.
It’s also important to keep moving and eating healthy. This is typically the point in pregnancy where you start gaining the most weight, so by continuing to exercise and eat healthy you can stay on track with your weight gain.
This is also a great time to take a prenatal class to learn about what to expect in labor and delivery. Most prenatal classes talk about the stages of labor, positions to labor in, positions to push in, pain medications in labor, breastfeeding and basic newborn care.
While this trimester can be very tiring, it is very exciting because you are so close to the finish line and to meeting your little baby! You got this mama!