Pregnancy Calendar: Third Trimester

You will reach your peak weight, which can cause a considerable amount of strain and discomfort on your back, ribs, and joints. Your delivery plans should be finalized, and your home should be ready to welcome a newborn.

28-29 Weeks

Symptoms

Fatigue, uterus shifts up and outward

Back and Joint Pain

  • Common in most women during pregnancy
  • Women most at risk
    • Are overweight
    • Experienced pain before pregnancy
  • Caused by changes in:
    • Hormones
      • Soften ligaments and joints in preparation of birth
    • Balance
      • Compensating for shift in center of gravity as uterus and baby grow
    • Weight
      • Baby adds to the weight your spine normally carries
    • Posture
      • Compensation for balance changes how you hold yourself
    • Stress
  • Joints are also affected by the extra hormones in your system at this time, softening as the ligaments in your back and pelvis do.
  • Excessive pain and discomfort in back and joints could be a sign of a deeper problem. Talk to your doctor if pain persists.

Fetal Development

Lung formation advances, increased limb stretching, eyelids are able to open

Prenatal Care

Monitoring blood pressure for any early signs of preeclampsia

  • Condition usually arises after week 20
  • Exact cause is unknown
  • Some women do not know they have it
  • Those at risk:
    • First-time mothers
    • Carrying twins or more
    • Are overweight
    • Women 35 and older
  • Symptoms include:
    • Swollen hands and face or eyes
    • Gaining more than two pounds per week
    • Persistent headache
    • Pain in right shoulder or right side of the belly
    • Less frequent urination
    • Vomiting
  • Physical exams, blood and urine tests required
    • Determine what symptoms mother-to-be displays
    • Monitor the baby
  • A lot of stress is put on mother and baby with preeclampsia, and the only way to reverse the symptoms is to deliver if you are at 37 weeks or more. If this is caught before 37 weeks, you may be placed on bed rest with instructions to remain on your left side, drink lots of water, and see your doctor often.

Causes for Concern

This period might be characterized by higher than normal blood pressure. Be sure to alert your physician immediately if you experience strong headaches or unusual amounts of swelling in your extremities at all during your last trimester. Keep an eye on contractions and discharge, and alert your physician immediately to prevent premature labor.

30-31 Weeks

Symptoms

Increased pressure on your abdomen as the baby grows and you continue to gain weight, between 22-28 extra pounds since your pregnancy began.

Fetal Development

The ability to hear sounds and increased hair growth; your baby’s proportions are beginning to stabilize.

Prenatal Care

Schedule appointments with physician every other week so they can monitor you and your baby as the due date approaches.

32-33 Weeks

Symptoms

Continued backaches, weight gain, and breast leakage

Fetal Development

Your baby will begin yet another major growth spurt, starting in week 33, as it begins to form fat.

Prenatal Care

Ensure that you have proper breast and body support while resting and sleeping, since your back will be aching under the strain of the continued weight gain and distribution in your belly.

34-35 Weeks

Symptoms

Braxton Hicks contractions

  • Sometimes felt as early as week 20
  • More common near or around this time
  • Also known as “Practice Contractions”
    • Your body is preparing for delivery
  • Signs of Braxton Hicks contractions:
    • Infrequent
    • Irregular intensity
    • No rhythm
    • Uncomfortable not painful
    • Taper off then disappear without getting stronger
  • Contractions can be a result of:
    • High activity of the mother or baby
    • A full bladder
    • Sex
    • Dehydration
  • Relieve Braxton Hicks contractions by:
    • Changing positions
    • Walking around
    • Drinking water

Fetal Development

The baby has curled up in the uterus with very little room to move. Nails and hair continue to grow.

Prenatal Care

Continued lab tests and screening

Group B Strep Infection test

Causes for Concern

Contact your doctor immediately if contractions don’t stop, become stronger, and speed up. This could be a sign of premature delivery.

36-37 Weeks

Symptoms

Aching ribs, peak weight gain (between 25-35 extra pounds), mood swings, and energy fluctuations

Fetal Development

Your baby will shift in the womb so that the head is pointed downward for birth. You will also experience continual fat gains and smoothing of skin.

38 Weeks – Birth

Symptoms

Body aches, fatigue, and lack of balance. You are unlikely to gain any more weight.

Fetal Development

The immune system improves as your baby’s growth slows.

Prenatal Care

Your delivery plans should be finalized, since your baby will be born at any moment; be sure to have emergency bags packed, since labor can start at any time during this period. Make sure your car is equipped with a safety seat and that your home has everything you need for the newborn.

Causes for Concern

Your doctors and midwife will be working constantly to manage potential complications during childbirth. If a child does not have the ideal position for birthing (i.e. is breached and will not turn), or if other factors are working against a natural birth, your medical professionals may opt for a Caesarean section. Removing the baby surgically, while more invasive, ensures it does not get tangled or asphyxiated by the umbilical cord or harm the mother’s body. The operation is performed because the placenta lies too low in the uterus, or a natural labor is deemed too stressful for mother or child.

If the baby is in the right position during the final ultrasound, the technician may be able to tell if the umbilical is around the baby’s neck, but it is hard to be certain. Mothers should monitor their baby’s movements leading up to birth. If they notice a drastic change or absence of movement, they should immediately call their doctor. As with everything, there are risks to Caesareans that must first be weighed.