It’s time to unwrap some presents
If you don’t like being the center of attention or worry that you’ll feel awkward, aim to keep it low key. Everyone loves a baby and gets excited when one is coming. Remember, this is your chance to have a little pampering for all your hard work growing your baby.
Where’s the suitcase?
If you plan to bottle feed, you’ll need to take formula, bottles, caps, and newborn nipples as well. Just be mindful that many hospitals have strict regulations around formula milk and bottles. Check with your maternity care provider if you're unsure.
At some stage, sit down with your partner and make a list of the people you will want to contact when the baby is born. Straight after birth is not the time to be searching for telephone numbers or giving your partner instructions on where at home you've written them down.
You’re having a little vacation, too
Apart from just being a time when the baby is finally maturing, the third trimester really is the time for organizing practicalities. Make lists, cross them off as you do things, write important dates on your calendar, and generally try to keep on track of things to stay organized.
Physical changes in the third trimester
Some women carry their pregnancy neatly, as if they have popped a basketball under their sweater. Others seem to spread from their front to their back and around again. It really depends on individual shape and size and your baby's growth. There is no one way to appear.
The third trimester is when the risk of complications can peak. Pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, hypertension, bleeding, or problems with the amniotic fluid can all occur. This is one of the reasons why your prenatal checks will increase in frequency.
You could feel unsteady on your feet and become more prone to falling. Avoid wearing high heels and take your time getting to where you want to go.
There are emotional changes, too
You could become increasingly concerned about the labor and birth. The concept of the unknown and waiting to see how things turn out may not sit well with you, especially if you normally like to feel you are in control and have everything figured out.
You may be placing a significant emotional investment into your birth plan. Keep an open mind and try to remember that although most births proceed without complications, there is always the possibility that intervention or going off plan may become necessary.
Invest some time and energy into writing up your birth plan. Include your partner's wishes and how you feel they could best support you. If you are considering having a doula or other support people present, talk with them about how you both see their role. Remember that labor can be unpredictable and despite planning, there are often unforeseen events which can occur.
You may start to wonder how you are going to cope looking after a new baby. If you have other young children whose demands on you are high, the thought of caring for another child may seem overwhelming. Talk with your partner and organize some early support among your family and friends.
Your baby’s changes in the third trimester
When you have your prenatal checks, don’t be alarmed at your ultrasound if your baby is lying in any other position than head down. It is not uncommon for babies to prefer to lie in the breech position early in the third trimester. This may cause you some discomfort underneath your ribs. Instead of a nice round bottom nestling under your ribcage, a hard bony skull is making its presence felt.
Things to think about
Get the nursery ready. Wash and fold those tiny clothes and take pleasure in nesting for you little one. Take a moment, each day to just sit in your baby's room and think about how your new life will be when you have your baby. This is a lovely thing to do.
Eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full. You probably won’t feel like big, heavy meals, there's just not enough room for your stomach to hold much anymore. Remember to drink at least 64 ounces of water every day to keep you well hydrated and your mind alert. Don’t venture too far from a bathroom; it will become your new best friend in the third trimester.
Read to your baby every day if you can. Your baby will also hear music, your partner’s voice, other children's voices, and everyday domestic noises.
Third trimester weekly development
Your baby is over 2 pounds this week. Your baby's head is in proportion to its body and it's looking more like it should. There's been lots of brain development in its sleep processes and baby is starting to have REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep phases from this week forward.
Your baby has gained 10 to 14 ounces this week. This is one of the reasons why so much of its time is spent sleeping; to conserve energy and lay down its fat stores.
Your baby's brain is maturing at a fast rate this week, so eat lots of brain food, like fish. Remember to avoid eating fish which can contain high levels of mercury.
If you give birth now, your baby would probably be able to manage pretty well without too much intensive or special care. However, your baby’s temperature regulating ability wouldn’t be perfect, so it might need to be in an incubator which would help it to maintain an even temperature level.
Your baby is spending a lot of time sleeping. When they are awake, you may see your belly rolling as they change its position. You may see the odd elbow or knee poke you, and you might feel it hiccupping away. There's a lot going on!
Your baby is gaining lots of weight this week, up to almost one pound. That's a lot, considering an average weight gain for a newborn in the first few months is less than one quarter of a pound per week.
Your baby's skin is very red and still a little loose. Your baby is blinking, moving, grabbing, and grasping. It doesn’t know it is doing these things of course; conscious thought and intent is still months away. It's also having regular cycles of rest and activity.
Your baby is around 19 inches long this week. Your baby's brain is developing at an enormous rate. To help, eat foods high in DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid), such as cold-water fish. Speak with your maternity care provider about taking a daily supplement of this important fatty acid.
From this week on, your baby could engage in your pelvis, and you may feel a sense of them dropping lower. This means more breathing room for you, but more pressure on your bladder. If this is your first baby, it is not unusual for pelvic engagement not to happen until labor has already started.
If you gave birth now, your baby’s lungs would be able to work effectively. It would be able to breathe on its own and not require support.
From this week on, your baby is considered full-term. Their skin looks less wrinkly and has more of a visible layer of fat underneath it. The vernix, a layer which has been covering it, will start to be reabsorbed if your baby is still in the womb.
It's all systems go from now on! Your baby is virtually ready for independent life and is preparing for birth. They are still gaining a little weight and their brain is still maturing. If you are going to have a scheduled cesarean section, this will often be the week it is planned for.
You're there! Be ready at any moment to have your baby. It's not entirely clear what causes the onset of labor. One theory is that the baby emits a particular protein which causes the mother to start contracting.
Every baby is on their own timeline, but you could feel short-tempered this week as you wait.
Your baby is officially overdue. Some pregnant women will be quite relaxed about it, confident that the baby will come in its own sweet time. Others are anxious, waiting nervously for something, anything to happen.
For more information see your pregnancy week by week on Huggies.com.
The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.