What to Expect in the Third Trimester of Pregnancy
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What to Expect in the Third Trimester of Pregnancy

When you enter your third trimester at week 28, you are in the home stretch. It won’t be much longer when you finally get to meet and hold your baby. A full-term pregnancy is 37 to 42 weeks. Your fetus will continue to grow during this time, and you will probably be more uncomfortable than you were in the second trimester. You and your partner may want to take a childbirth class now to prepare you for the big event.

Your Changing Emotions

If this is your first baby, you can start becoming quite scared and anxious right about now. You may wonder just how much childbirth will hurt and how you will deal with it. Childbirth classes will help to alleviate some of your fears, because you will learn all about the birthing process and techniques that will put you in some control over the pain. If you intend to have your baby naturally, you can discuss options for pain relief just in case. Do not beat yourself up if you need pain relief during the delivery. There is no right or wrong way to do this, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Your Changing Body

As your baby grows, you may have a more difficult time moving around, getting comfortable and even breathing, because your uterus has now expanded just below your lungs. Sleeping with your upper body propped up relieves pressure on your lungs. You may also have backaches and hip pain. Apply heating pads, or get a massage to help. Heartburn can be a problem at this time. Avoid fried foods, sodas, citrus fruits, spicy foods and eat smaller meals, recommends the Mayo Clinic.

You may also get spider veins on your face, neck and arms and varicose veins on your legs. You may develop hemorrhoids. You will have to urinate all the time, feeling increasing pressure on your bladder. Your feet and legs may swell. Elevate your legs when you sleep, or swim or stand in a pool to help get rid of the swelling. Your breasts will grow and may even start leaking colostrum, the fluid that comes in before your milk. Some women get pre-labor contractions, called Braxton Hicks. These are a kind of warm-up contractions. They will come and go.

Prenatal Care

You will probably start going in for checkups every other week at around 32 weeks and then every week, beginning at week 36. Your doctor may screen you for gestational diabetes, anemia and group B strep. Your health care provider will also check your baby’s growth and development. If you have certain conditions or wishes for your delivery, discuss this now with your doctor so that you will have the kind of delivery you want. Ask any questions you have, too, such as how you will know when you are in labor and when you need to go to the hospital.

Baby’s Development

Your baby’s job during the third trimester is to grow. Just before delivery, your baby is about 19 to 21 inches long and weighs 6 to 9 lbs. Your baby can see and hear. The brain will continue to develop. Her organs are maturing. Your baby can suck his thumb and cry.

Signs of Labor

You will know it is almost time for delivery when you feel your baby drop. Even if you don’t feel this, your doctor will let you know when it happens. Your cervix will thin and open; this is effacement and dilation. Again, your doctor will tell you when this happens. Your back may hurt even more, and you will start to feel some contractions. If your water breaks, go to the hospital immediately.

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