The third trimester is from 28 weeks of pregnancy until birth. Now you’re in the home stretch! Some of the same discomforts you had in your second trimester will continue. Plus, many women find breathing difficult and notice they have to go to the bathroom more often. This is because the baby is getting bigger and it is putting more pressure on your organs. Don’t worry, your baby is fine and these problems will lessen once you give birth. Some new body changes you might notice in the third trimester include:
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling of the ankles, fingers, and face. (If you notice any sudden or extreme swelling or if you gain a lot of weight really quickly, call your doctor right away. This could be a sign of preeclampsia.)
- Tender breasts, which may leak a watery pre-milk called colostrum
- Your belly button may stick out
- Trouble sleeping
- The baby “dropping”, or moving lower in your abdomen
- Contractions can be a sign of real or false labor
In weeks twenty nine to thirty-two, near your due date, your cervix becomes thinner and softer (called effacing). This is a normal, natural process that helps the birth canal (vagina) to open during the birthing process. Your doctor will check your progress with a vaginal exam as you near your due date. Get excited — the final countdown has begun!
- Your baby’s bones are fully formed, but still soft. Your baby’s kicks and jabs are forceful. The eyes can open and close and sense changes in light. Lungs are not fully formed, but practice “breathing” movements occur. Your baby’s body begins to store vital minerals, such as iron and calcium. Lanugo begins to fall off. Your baby is gaining weight quickly, about ½ pound a week. Now, your baby is about 15 to 17 inches long and weighs about 4 to 4½ pounds.
From weeks thirty-two to thirty-six, the protective waxy coating called vernix gets thicker. Body fat increases. Your baby is getting bigger and bigger and has less space to move around. Movements are less forceful, but you will feel stretches and wiggles. Your baby is about 16 to 19 inches long and weighs about 6 to 6½ pounds.
By the end of 37 weeks, your baby is considered full term. Your baby’s organs are ready to function on their own. As you near your due date, your baby may turn into a head-down position for birth. Most babies “present” head down. At birth, your baby may weigh somewhere between 6 pounds, 2 ounces and 9 pounds, 2 ounces and be 19 to 21 inches long. Most full-term babies fall within these ranges. Healthy babies come in many different sizes.