If you’re anything like me this is a bittersweet feeling, bitter because it’s the last trimester you have carrying your sweet baby inside of you and felling them move and kick, and hiccup. Sweet because it’s the last trimester that you’ll have to deal with body and hormone changes, swelling, weight gain, and all the other “fun” symptoms that come with pregnancy, and not to mention you’re that much closer to meeting your little one!
The third trimester is a roller coaster, and many women will agree on this. As you continue to read, we will cover everything you need to know about the third trimester. From body changes and mood swings to packing your hospital bag to the growth and development of your baby inside you.
Keep reading to find out what to expect in your third trimester.
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The Home Stretch Trimester
This trimester is what I like to call the home stretch trimester for obvious reasons. You’re so close to meeting your little baby but sometimes it can feel so far!
Every momma reaches a point in their pregnancy where they just want that baby out already – and typically that point comes sometime during this trimester.
Most women will agree with me when I say your first trimester symptoms typically begin to creep back during the third trimester. You will feel your body change immensely as your energy levels begin to decrease, and your weight continues to increase. Your baby will grow and develop so much over the course of the next three months it will amaze you.
Now it is time to buckle down and start getting serious about preparing for the arrival of your new baby after all your due date is only getting closer!
What To Expect In Your Third Trimester
More Frequent Doctor’s Visits – Towards the end of this trimester your doctor will want to check in with your more frequently. At about 30-31 weeks your doctor will see you ever two weeks, and starting at week 36 they will see you every week. During these weekly appointments, your doctor will begin to do cervix check.
Cervix Checks – A cervix check can determine how close you are to labor. It’s when your doctor places their finger inside your cervix and takes a quick measurement to know how dilated and effaced you are.
Before my first cervix check, I had a few of my veteran mommas scare the crap out of me. They all told me this was the most painful experience and they all dreaded it. First of all, I don’t know why they would say that to a pregnant lady who already struggles with anxiety, second, it wasn’t nearly as bad as they described it!
Yes, it’s uncomfortable but it’s not gut-wrenching pain. Not even close and the discomfort only lasts for 5 seconds. It’s so quick! So, if you’re like me, and you worry about the cervix checks, please don’t. Save yourself the worry and just breathe. They’re not that bad and they’re over in the blink of an eye, I promise.
Frequent Urination – Yep, this one is obvious! As your baby starts to grow, your belly runs out of room and you may find that your baby has adapted your bladder to be their pillow meaning you may be running to the bathroom several times an hour!
Nesting – The incessant need to clean and de-clutter. This comes around the last half of the third trimester for most women, when they feel the urge to suddenly clean and clutter their home in preparation for the new baby. This isn’t just your every day cleaning though. This is like spit-shined floors and toothbrush scrubbing your tile grout, cleaning. It’s serious business, and it happens to almost every expecting momma.
Braxton Hicks – These are “practice” contractions which help prepare your body for the upcoming event of labor. They are not painful, but they are uncomfortable and the feeling is very foreign to anything I had ever experience previously. You will start to feel a lot more Braxton hicks this trimester because you are drawing closer to labor and your body is starting to prepare.
Lightning Crotch – This is something that no one ever told me about and let me just say it’s about as terrible as it sounds. My daughter sat very low in my belly throughout most of my pregnancy but once she began to drop, I felt a ton of pressure in my cervix and hips.
Imagine carrying a bowling ball between your legs and that’s basically how I felt. Now imagine that bowling ball is on a nerve so every time you walk, that nerve is clamped off for a second. When the baby’s head is positioned just right, it can hit nerve endings that surround the pelvis resulting in a “lightning bolt” feeling down through the pelvis, vagina, and/or rectum.
Hence, the term lightning crotch.
Trouble Sleeping – This one is pretty obvious, as your belly grows, it can become more difficult to get comfortable. I found myself waking about every hour once I hit week 30, just trying to readjust and find a comfy sleeping position. One thing I wish I had bought, that I will definitely be buying for my next pregnancy, is a pregnancy pillow to help combat this third-trimester symptom.
Swelling – To say I was swollen in my third trimester is a severe understatement. There were times in my third trimester when I could literally feel the fluid moving under the skin of my swollen feet as I walked. To give you an idea, my baby was due in August, meaning my third trimester fell in the peak of summer. Lucky for me it was a very hot summer averaging around 100 degrees every day.
You can imagine my discomfort.
Needless to say, by the time I had reached third trimester I was up a shoe size and my wedding ring was no longer wearable. In order to combat the swelling, I would wear compression socks that are often worn by diabetic patients, and I found these worked wonders for swelling.
Excessive Thirst – Ladies, the thirst is real in the third trimester. At least for me it was. One of my favorite memories of pregnancy was actually the night before I went into labor, my husband and I decided to go to a rodeo. In order to make sure I was fully prepared, I packed a gallon of water and carried it with me throughout the fairgrounds.
Looking back now it makes me laugh because I was huge and pregnant waddling around in pajama pants (comfort was key at that point) swinging a gallon-sized jug of water around. It was comical to say the least.
Anyways, the reason you may experience excessive thirst is due to the fact that your body is running at a higher temperature now, meaning you may sweat more which causes you to feel thirsty. Another reason you may feel thirsty is because you aren’t drinking enough water. So in order to combat this feeling, drink up! Aim to drink ten 8 oz. glasses each day.
Sunburn – During pregnancy, the increase and change of hormone levels can really affect your skin. I wasn’t aware of this and I really wish someone had told me before I went and laid out at the pool for an hour. When I came back I looked like a pregnant lobster.
Apparently, when you’re pregnant those hormones cause your skin to be extra sensitive to sunlight, which can lead to serious sunburn. Luckily in my case, I wasn’t exposed for longer. So to avoid this, make sure to wear heavy sunscreen if you are ever outdoors while pregnant especially in your third trimester when your hormones are running rampant.
Skin Changes – Along with sunburn, you may notice other skin changes, thanks to hormones. Around 31 weeks into my pregnancy, I noticed the back of my arms were getting dry and bumpy. Over the course of about a week, I had a full-blown rash up the back of my arms that resembled rosacea (broken blood vessels that cause reddening of the skin).
I asked my doctor and he simply prescribed a cream that helped the flare-ups that came and went throughout the rest of my pregnancy. Don’t worry these skin changes aren’t permanent. I am happy to report my skin is perfectly smooth and clear now!
Weird Cravings – Ah yes, the infamous cravings we all hear about when referring to pregnancy. For my mom it was tomatoes on chocolate cake, for me, it was macaroni and cheese mixed with peas and tuna (seriously I would eat a whole pot by myself while my husband stared in disgust lol).
I even found myself craving smells. I loved the smell of my laundry detergent and the smell of Febreeze could make me drool. Hormones do weird things to us, and the third trimester is no exception. Be prepared for intense cravings for odd things, and be sure to write them down so you can look back later and laugh!
Carpal Tunnel – This can happen during the third trimester due to the extra blood volume and swelling you experience. This symptom shocked me because I never thought my wrists could correlate with pregnancy.
I remember I was at work one day ( I worked at a computer desk, but did not type much) and I went to use my mouse when my index finger started tingling and twitching. Later that day I started to experience some wrist pain. My doctor informed me it was pregnancy induced carpal tunnel.
In order to help with the discomfort, I would wear a brace to sleep or any time I was experiencing symptoms. Just know it’s not permanent, just be careful and keep a brace on it for support.
Extravert Belly Button – Ugh! This was my worst nightmare. During the third trimester, as your belly grows, it may push your belly button out. I was born with an “innie” belly button, and I’m one of those people that absolutely hate their belly button touched, so to have it practically folded inside out, drove me crazy! Although it doesn’t happen to everyone, I would advise you to brace yourself. In order to cope with the weird sensation of my belly button rubbing against my shirts, I placed a cotton ball and a band-aid over it. This helped a little, but I will say, this is one thing I definitely don’t miss about pregnancy.
Third Trimester Checklist
Wash Baby’s Clothes – Once you’ve hit the 34-week mark, now would be a great time to start washing all of your baby’s new clothes. Having them washed and ready means having one less thing to think or stress about upon arriving home with your new baby. I would recommend using a gentle detergent such as Dreft to wash your baby’s clothes in. It’s hypoallergenic, safe and gentle on baby skin, not to mention is smell absolutely heavenly!
Pack Your Bags – Mommas, please do not put this one off! I have stressed this in so many of my posts because I was unprepared when my daughter decided to make her debut. The annoying part of this is that I could have totally been prepared if I had followed the advice I was given to pack my bag at 35 weeks. If I had done that, I wouldn’t have had to send my husband home to scramble and pack (throw random things into a bag) while I was alone in labor in the hospital.
Install The Car Seat – Don’t forget this one, or you won’t be able to leave the hospital. Yes, they actually check that your car seat is installed properly before you can leave, and thank goodness they do! That first car ride home with your new infant can be more than nerve-racking, so it was a relief to know that the car seat was installed and ready to go weeks before my sweet baby arrived.
Finish Up The Nursery – If you followed my advice to start clearing out the nursery in your second trimester, now is a great time to decorate and add the finishing touches. However, if you put off clearing out space for the nursery, now is the time to do it. You will want to have a clean organized space for you and baby once you arrive home.
Prepare for Breastfeeding (if you choose to) – Make sure you have everything you will possibly need to breastfeed. Learning to breastfeed is an endeavor of its own and you want to be prepared. Set up a caddy or a station, next to your designated breastfeeding chair, where you will keep everything you need, such as:
- Nipple Cream
- Nursing Pads
- Breast Pump
- Pumping Bra
- Boppy Pillow
- Burp Cloths
- Snacks & Water Bottles
Find A Baby Book – While you’re in your third trimester you should start looking for a baby book to document your little one’s first year. I recommend having one of these before your baby gets here so you can come home from the hospital, prepared with a spot to keep all of your memoirs such as hospital wrist bracelets, footprints & handprints, birth announcements, etc.
Arrange Maternity Leave/Quit Your Job – Once you hit the third-trimester mark, you should start preparing for what comes next, the birth of your baby! Make arrangements for after your baby gets here. Are you going back to work? If so, you must figure out maternity leave and plan when you would like it to start. If you aren’t going back to work, now is a good time to consider letting your boss know so they can make arrangements for a replacement.
Maternity Photos – This one is a must! I am so glad I got maternity photos, they are so fun to look back on and reminisce. I would recommend scheduling your photo shoot around 34-36 weeks. This is a great time to do them because you have a perfectly round bump that will show in photos and you’ll be more comfortable as opposed to doing them later, around 37-38 weeks. I got mine done around 37 weeks and good thing I did, because my sweet Hayvn came just one week later. Funny story, we actually ended up getting our photos back after she was born! We may have cut it too close, so next time I’ll plan on doing my maternity photos around 34 weeks just to be safe.
Baby’s Growth & Development Week By Week
During the third trimester, you may not be able to see physical changes as much as internal changes in regard to your baby. This is the time when your baby really starts to develop on the inside. Things like the heart, eyes, and brain are becoming more fully developed.
Your baby will also start to put on the pounds this trimester, as you both prepare to finally meet each other!
Weeks 28-30: At 28 weeks, your baby’s eyes are continuing to develop and can even filter light coming in through the womb. By 29 weeks, your baby’s heart and lungs are growing stronger and continuing to develop to be strong enough to breathe in the outside world. Your baby’s head is also expanding to make room for the growing brain. By 30 weeks, your baby’s skin cells have developed enough pigment in them to have a skin color, rather than the translucent skin before. By the end of 30 weeks, your baby is the size of a large cabbage – 15.75 inches, weighing about 3 pounds.
Weeks 31-33: At week 31 your baby is continuing to put on weight and is moving around a lot more. You will begin to notice a lot more movement and kicking this week. Week 32 is typically the most active week for baby. You will definitely notice your baby’s jabs and kicks starting to ramp up as they experience reflexes and continue to strengthen and use their muscles. At week 33 your baby’s hair and nails are in full bloom. If your baby is born with a full head of hair, this is the time your baby’s hair has come in. As your baby continues to put on weight, the wrinkly appearance of the skin is now starting to fill out. By the end of 33 weeks, your baby is the size of a pineapple – 17.25 inches, weighing about 4.5 pounds.
Weeks 34-36: By week 34 you will notice the baby’s movement start to slow down. If you’re still counting 10 movements in an hour, then this is no need to panic. It’s simply because your baby is running out of room for all the acrobatics they were doing before. Around week 35 is typically when your baby will move into the head down position and should stay that way until birth. Weeks 35 and 36 are considered late preterm. Meaning if you were to deliver your baby at this point in pregnancy your baby would be considered early, but risks of complication are much lower than preterm. By week 36, the layer of hair called lanugo, that covered your baby’s skin has now fallen off, although some babies are still born with a thin layer. By the end of week 36, your baby is the size of romaine lettuce – 18.75 inches, weighing about 5.75 pounds.
Weeks 37-39: At week 37, your baby is now considered early term, meaning your baby is not yet full term but could be delivered and the risk of complication is very low. This is a recent declaration. 37 weeks was considered full term until recent studies found that the brain and lungs develop significantly over the following 2 weeks. During weeks 37-38 your baby continues to develop internally and prepare to live in the outside world. Your baby also continues to put on weight. At 39 weeks your baby is now considered full term, meaning you can now schedule and undergo induction or C-Section and deliver a fully formed, healthy baby. By the end of 39 weeks, your baby is the size of a watermelon – 20 inches, weighing about 7.25 pounds.
Week 40: You’ve officially reached your due date! Your baby could come at any moment now. Or if you’re like me, you may not even reach this week because your baby decided to surprise you and come early! At this point of pregnancy, the baby is fully developed but continues to grow, gaining about a pound a week. If this is your first pregnancy, you have a higher chance of your baby coming later than your expected due date. Depending on the doctor, some mothers even make it two weeks past their due date. By the end of week 40, your baby is the size of a pumpkin – 20.25 inches, weighing around 7.75 pounds.
Weeks 41-42: Yes, there can be more than 40 weeks in a pregnancy! It’s a misconception because the full term cut off is 39-40 weeks. However, you can and most likely will go late especially if this is your first baby. Week 41 is considered late term. And the baby continues to put almost half a pound of weigh on each week. Week 42 is considered post-term and doctors typically schedule an induction because gestation beyond this point can pose potentially harmful risks to momma and baby.
Any Day Now, Momma!
You’ve made it through the nauseating, fatigue ridden first trimester, plowed through the energized second trimester and now you’ve almost reached the end of your third and final trimester of pregnancy.
Way to go momma! You are almost there. Your due date is just around the corner, and you never know, baby could come sooner than you think!
After your long journey through pregnancy, it can sometimes feel daunting and overwhelming, but with this post, you can feel ready and know what to expect in your third trimester.
If this is your first pregnancy, your next step is motherhood. Congratulations and good luck momma you’ve got this!
Did you find this post helpful? I would love to hear from you! If you have any questions, concerns, or comments regarding this post, pregnancy or motherhood in general, I would love to hear them. Please leave them in the comments below.