The Third Trimester

The Third Trimester begins at week 28. You are in the home stretch now! Before you could feel your baby move, now others can feel and sometimes see movement too. This can be lots of fun as your baby becomes responsive to your touch.

You may start feeling Braxton hick contractions. Your uterus is the biggest muscle in your body and these contractions are one of the ways your body gets ready for birth. They feel like a tightening of the uterus and are not usually painful, however, occasionally women will have some mild discomfort with them. You may want to review, “How do I know if I am in labor” at the bottom of this page.

Try is pay attention to your posture and use good body mechanics to avoid back aches and to give baby lots of room to grow. Eating smaller more frequent meals can be helpful too. You want to keep exercising, but if you get out of breath it is ok to take more frequent breaks or go slower. Walking is a great form of exercise during pregnancy and helps the baby drop into the pelvis.

Toward the end of pregnancy it is normal for babies to slow down too. You may notice that your baby’s movements are not as large. A way to know if your baby is doing ok is by counting fetal kicks. The way this is done is:

  • Pick a time each day when your baby is usually active, like in the evening after a meal and get in a comfortable position.
  • Write down the time and then keep track of kicks, flutters, swishes, or rolls.
  • When you have felt 10 movements write down the time again.
  • You should feel 10 movements in less than 2 hours. If it is taking longer than 2 hours then let your care provider know. They may want to do more tests to monitor your baby, such as a non-stress test or a biophysical profile.

When to call your care provider:

  • Blurred vision, severe or constant headache
  • Just not feeling good, feeling “yucky”
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sudden or extreme swelling of face, hands or feet
  • Pain or burning while urinating
  • Fever
  • Anything that you are concerned about
  • When you think labor has started

Group B Strep – This is usually tested for between 35 and 37 weeks.

Baby Drops – For first time moms this is common from about 36 weeks on. If you have had a baby before, then your baby may not get down into the pelvis until you are fairly dilated.

Colostrum – You may notice that you are having some leaking of colostrum from your breast around 37 weeks. This is normal. Don’t try pumping though or you might go into premature labor!

Baby Moon – If you have a partner in your life, you may want to go on a date or spend some special time together in the last weeks of pregnancy. Your life is about to change in a very good way, but you may not have a lot of time to focus on your relationship after this new little person arrives. Enjoy this time while you can and in doing so you may help the birth go more smoothly!

How do I know if I am in Labor? Sometimes it is very obvious that labor has started and sometimes it is not. Or maybe you have some episodes of starting and stopping. Don’t worry, this is normal even for women who have had babies before! If it is the middle of the night and you don’t think your water bag has released and what you are feeling is not so strong that you think you should call your midwife, then you can try doing some things to see if you can get it to stop.

Sleep is important when you are getting close to your labor day, so you don’t want to be up all night if you are not really in labor. Try getting in a warm bath and drinking a tall glass of water or an herbal tea that is calming. Light some candles and play soft music. Maybe add some lavender to the bath. Then go back to bed and try to go back to sleep. As you rest the discomfort you were feeling may slowly go away or get less frequent so you are able to fall asleep between them. If it was an episode of practice labor, then you didn’t stay up all night for nothing. If it turns out to be very early labor, then you got some valuable rest. Don’t worry, you will not sleep through your birth. The real thing will wake you up!

Signs of labor:

  1. Bloody show – some labors start with bloody show and sometimes women have a little for days before labor really kicks in.
  2. Release of your water – this is something your midwife will want to know about and is another thing that sometimes is easy to tell but not always. If you water is leaking then it is good if labor starts soon. You will want to observe good hygiene until the birth of your baby since the amniotic sac protects the baby from infection when it is intact.
  3. Labor may start with a dull ache in your lower back, then you may notice that it starts in your back and moves to your lower abdomen. Some women say that it reminds them of menstrual cramps that come and go.
  4. Regular contractions – there is no rule in childbirth that happens 100% of the time, but usually contractions get more regular, closer together, and stronger as labor progresses.
  5. Dilation of the cervix – this is another sign that labor is progressing. Sometimes the midwife may not do any or not very many dilation checks during your labor because she can tell that you are progressing by how you are acting. Other times it can be very helpful to have the information that a dilation check gives. Try and be open minded, you can’t plan birth, you and your care provider need to pay attention to what is happening and make decisions along the way as to what is appropriate for each situation.

What if I go past my due date? Patience is the first thing to remember. A due date is just an average. Some pregnancies go a week or two past and some babies come early. If you have gone past and people are getting nervous, ask if you can get a non-stress test or biophysical profile to check for fetal well-being. You might also want to try some natural ways of getting things going. Ask your care provider for some suggestions. Remember, what got the baby in there often helps get them out!!

Next: Which tests are necessary?       Prenatal Complications

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