Third Trimester:
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Your third trimester of pregnancy lasts from 29 th to 40 th week. By this time, your belly has grown significantly. But lo and behold, it is going to grow bigger and bigger until your delivery. You would likely experience a whole range of emotions varying from worry and fatigue to excitement and joy during this period. As you get closer and closer to the day your baby is going to arrive in the world, the excitement as well as anxiety may significantly increase. However, with proper guidance and healthcare, there is nothing to worry about. Cherish every moment you get feeling your baby
moving inside your growing belly.


3rd trimester roughly lasts for 3 months, i-e through 7 th to 9 th month. However, it is possible for your labour to start a few weeks earlier or later. As a matter of fact, a significant number of pregnancies last beyond the 40-week mark [1]. Be careful with your appointments during this period as a close check on your baby’s growth and health is needed. It is a good thing staying active even during this period but naturally, it becomes harder to move with a well grown baby. Walking may be the best exercise for you.


29th Week: The crown to heel length of your baby is 33cm now and they are roughly the size of a butternut squash. Your baby is now able to open their eyes and focus. Naturally, they can turn towards the direction of light in the womb. The fat is still depositing under their skin which means
they are gradually becoming less wrinkly and their skin is appearing taut. By this time, your baby and womb has grown enough to push aside your internal organs and make more room for expansion. As your stomach is pushed upwards, you may get bad heartburn. The valve above the stomach is also relaxed due to increased progesterone which also contributes to the heartburn. [2] This happens because the acid that is normally present in your stomach to digest food is pushed up in your throat giving you a burning sensation. Avoiding spicy and fatty food and eating less but more frequently can help with this situation. If it fails, your doctor may prescribe a medicine suitable during pregnancy. Constipation and varicose veins may also be a problem during this time. Your belly button may stick out but it is nothing to worry about as it goes back to normal after
delivery. Stretch marks may also become noticeable.


Sleeping on your side is recommended during this period because studies have shown a link between sleeping on your back and an increased risk of stillbirth [3]. 29 th week of pregnancy is the earliest you can get a maternity leave but some women prefer to work longer and save their leave for after the delivery.


30th week: You have come a long way and ¾ of your pregnancy journey is already done! Your baby is now about the size of a large cabbage. The white, waxy substance, also called as vernix as well as fine hair or lanugo have started to disappear now. Their lungs continue to mature but their kidneys are fully functional and producing urine which mixes up with the amniotic fluid which is steadily increasing in volume. It is normal to be anxious and feel worried about labour and pregnancy.


Talking to your doctor and other moms can help reduce the anxiety. Towards the end of pregnancy, notice closely if there are any signs that your baby is ready to arrive in the world. Women who stay active during their pregnancy (exercise, walking, swimming etc.) tend to have shorter labour and a less risky delivery [4]. You should also start preparing for your delivery. Buy things that you may need for the hospital and your baby.


31 st week: Your baby is now the size of a big coconut. They are still very small but will continue to put on weight which each passing week gaining roughly 200gms each week. All pregnancies and babies are different. Your baby may have a distinct pattern of movements and it is important to be aware of their pattern. If you notice a significant change in the pattern or reduction in their movement, you should contact your doctor or midwife as soon as possible. Do not pay heed to old wives’ tales of your baby’s movements slowing down towards the ends of pregnancy. In fact, this can be a matter of great concern.


During this time, Braxton Hicks contractions may become noticeable. These are periodic contractions of your womb followed by a period of relaxation. These are normal during the 2 nd half of pregnancy. These are irregular and painless mostly resembling mild menstrual cramps. If they become painful and regular, consult your doctor. Cramps, indigestion, constipation and heartburn persist. You may also feel tired and clumsy.



32nd week: Your baby is now the size of a squash! Your baby is growing rapidly and showing lots of movements. Most babies turn around by this time so they are head down which is normal position for delivery. Your baby’s nails are also growing and may appear significantly long at birth. Their
hearing is further matured which is why you should continue to keep talking and singing to your bump.


Feeling itchy over your belly is normal as your skin is stretching. However, if you experience severe itching that extends to your palms and soles, consult your doctor as it can be a sign of obstetric cholestasis [5]. If you notice an abnormal increase in watery vaginal discharge, make an appointment to rule out the possibility of your waters breaking prematurely. Constipation, cramps, heartburn etc. may continue to persist. Continue planning your delivery and postpartum period.


33rd week: Your baby is now the size of a big pineapple and their nervous system has fully grown. Their bones are also becoming stronger which each passing day. You need not to be worried about how you are going to deliver a baby that big as their skull is especially designed to make the birth easy. Tiredness, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, back pain may be prominent symptoms during this period. Yoga can help you relax. Avoid food items containing caffeine such as coffee, tea, fizzy drinks, chocolates etc.


34th week: Your baby is now as big as a large watermelon! Their brain has fully developed and they might actually be able to dream at this stage. Your baby is now adjusting their position in your womb. If it is your first pregnancy, your baby might have turned upside down pushing their head
deep into their cervix which signifies that they are getting ready to be delivered. This is called engaging. When your baby engages, the breathlessness that you have been feeling lately may ease. This is called lightening.


Your breasts feel significantly heavier and you may feel more comfortable with a supportive and light bra. Your pregnancy hormones can relax your joint to prepare you for birth. Therefore, it is important to take care during your movements. Avoid heavy exercises.


35th week: Your baby is growing bigger and bigger and they now they appear as big as a honeydew melon. The fat is still depositing in their body which will provide insulation and help regulate their body temperature after they are born. If you are having a boy, their testicles will start to descend
into the scrotum from the abdomen.


Your breasts continue to grow and you may need to buy new, better fitting bras. It can be a good idea to buy a few nursing bras beforehand. However, your breasts may still grow once you actually start lactating, so do not buy a lot of them just yet.

You may have sore ribs if your baby is head down and kicking you. However, if the pain is severe and under your ribs and you feel your chest tightening, talk to your healthcare provider as it can be a sign of pre-eclampsia [6]. Having anxiety and bad dreams about delivery may occur. Talking to someone, especially your doctor, can help you ease up. Braxton Hicks contractions may exist.


36th week: Your baby now roughly weighs around 6 pounds! As your baby has grown so much, the space for them in your womb has decreased. However, this should not keep them from moving normally and kicking right up till birth. If you notice any decrease in the movements or change in the pattern, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible. If your baby is born now, they would be considered moderately premature. They would be able to suckle and handle breast milk. They are considered full term after 37 th week.


Braxton Hicks contractions become more frequent and stronger and can be mistaken for labour pains. If they become regular and painful, contact your healthcare provider. You may start to worry about labour pains. There is nothing to worry about and when they start, you end up successfully
dealing with them in your own way. If you want to opt for painkillers, it is better to educate yourself on this subject beforehand.


37 th week: Your baby is now considered full term. They push further down in the pelvis as they get ready for birth. Most babies become turned upside down by this stage facing their mother’s back. Some women get haemorrhoids or piles during pregnancy. These are small lumps of your own blood vessels that have become prominent due to all the pressure in your pelvis. They can be outside or inside the anus. Your doctor can help you manage any pain associated with them. They usually resolve spontaneously after you give birth. Bloating, heartburn, constipation, swollen feet and
headache may continue to persist. Please sleep on your side if you are not already doing so. If you are expecting twins or more, you will likely give birth very soon as twins and more are delivered earlier than single babies. The usual pregnancy length for multiple babies is:

  • Twins: 37 weeks
  • Triplets: 34 weeks
  • Quadruplets: 32 weeks

If your twins are not delivered by this time, you may be induced to avoid any health risks. You should pack your hospital bag if you have not done that already.


38th week: The fine hair on your baby, also called lanugo have disappeared and the fat is depositing to prepare them for surviving in the real world when the breastmilk is just starting to come through. There is not any reason that your baby’s movements should slow down. If you feel your baby is not moving like they used to, consult your doctor as soon as possible. Your breasts may be leaking by this time. This occurs due to the production of colostrum which is a special type of milk rich in nutrients made to fulfil the nutritional needs of your baby during the early days. Yellow marks or wetness in your bra is normal and you can use breast pads to avoid staining your clothes.


39th week: Your baby is now the size of a small watermelon and your belly has become very large. It is almost time you are going to meet your tiny baby. Meconium is the name given to your baby’s first poop. It is dark green in color and sticky in consistency. Meconium is present in your baby’s gut by this time. If your baby poops during labour, the meconium will go into the amniotic fluid. In this case, you and your baby need to be monitored very closely because if your baby swallows it, there can be serious complications. [7]


During pregnancy, a mucus plug is present in your cervix that seals your womb and protects it from outside infection. If you see some mucus like substance mixed with blood on your underpants, it could be your mucus plug. The phenomenon of it coming out is called a ‘show’ [8]. This can happen during early labour or even before the labour begins. It serves as a sign that your body is getting ready for the delivery of the baby. Braxton Hicks movements become very strong by this time and it is normal to mistake them for labour pains. Eat healthy, continue sleeping on your side and be prepared for an emergency rush towards the hospital.


40th week: Your baby is fully grown now and ready to come to the world. The average weight at this time is 3-4 kg. Imagine a pumpkin or a watermelon, that’s how big your baby is. If you still have not started getting labour pains, do not worry. Most babies are delivered between 38 th and 40th week and it is normal to go beyond your due date. But remember, no matter the day, you should always feel your baby move normally as they used to. Swollen feet and hands and fatigue are normal during this time.


References:
[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3777570/
[2] https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/heartburn-during-pregnancy/
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5309362/
[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4622376/
[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2678574/
[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5872351/
[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6290233/
[8] https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/bloody-show

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