The third trimester of pregnancy starts at week 27 of gestation, or about seven months. At the beginning of the third trimester, you are likely to be anxious to meet your baby and looking forward to the last-minute rush to get everything ready for the baby to come home. By the end of the third trimester, with constant doctor’s visits and your growing belly making everything more difficult, you will probably progress from anxious to increasingly impatient as you wait for the baby’s birth.
During the last three months of pregnancy, babies add fat and length to their bodies, adding about 2-to-6 lbs. of weight and 4-to-6 inches to their length. All the baby’s organs, other than the lungs, are well developed at the beginning of the third trimester. The lungs continue to develop right up until the baby is born. According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), your baby is now storing calcium, iron and phosphorus. His eyes are opening.
Late Pregnancy Symptoms
For some moms, symptoms of shortness of breath, constipation and heartburn start to show up in the third trimester as the baby grows and puts pressure on your lungs and digestive tract. If you have already been experiencing these symptoms, unfortunately it may only get worse before it gets better. The one symptom that tends to occur only in the first and third trimester is headaches, reports the APA.
As you get the nursery ready, your baby also gets ready for the big day by positioning himself for birth. Most will turn to a head-down position before the end of the trimester. Some will even “drop” in the eighth or ninth month, weeks before the birth. This is when the baby actually lowers further into the pelvic cavity. It may only be a few centimeters of movement but, for some moms, it happens quickly and is significant enough to relieve pressure on the lungs, although walking becomes more difficult.
Signs of Complications
Several signs of complications should be reported immediately to your doctor. These include bleeding and severe abdominal pain, which could indicate a placental abruption, according to the APA. Also, talk to your doctor if you have signs of labor before week 37, such as losing your mucus plug, strong painful contractions and cramping.
Doctor’s Appointments and Tests
Every doctor has a preset schedule he follows for pregnant patients. Some require monthly visits up until the last month, when weekly visits start. Some doctors schedule their pregnant moms for twice-a-month visits starting in the seventh month. Whatever your appointment schedule has been up until now, you can expect it to increase progressively until you deliver. Some prenatal tests also occur in late pregnancy. At the beginning of the third trimester, you doctor is likely to recommend a glucose tolerance test to test for diabetes. Around week 36, your doctor will test you for group B strep, a bacterial infection that can be harmful to the baby at birth. In high-risk pregnancies, the baby’s heart rate, growth and movement may be monitored with another ultrasound and regular non-stress tests.
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