Third Trimester of Pregnancy- Symptoms, What to do, What to avoid
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Third Trimester of Pregnancy

Pregnancy: Third Trimester

How many weeks is the third trimester?

The third trimester is the time period from 28 to 40 weeks of pregnancy, so lasting about 13 weeks. By the time a woman reaches 39 weeks, her pregnancy is considered full term. Keep in mind that some pregnant women can go into labor earlier, and some give birth as late as 42 weeks. So the exact duration of this trimester will depend on when the baby is born.

Baby’s development in the third trimester

In this trimester, the little one continues to grow at a fast pace. In fact, the baby will gain about half of the birth weight during the final months of pregnancy. Fat grows under the skin of the baby, the fetus starts to look like the baby as every mother expects to see at birth. Here are a few more developments milestones to observe during this trimester:

28 Weeks: Eyes wide open
When a woman is 28 weeks pregnant, her little one can open and close the eyes and even sense changes in light.

30 Weeks: Shedding hairs
During the second trimester, the baby grew a coat of fine hair all over the body. The baby may start to shed this hair sometime soon. It is completely fine if the baby is born with little leftover hair on the body. Some babies are born with patches on their shoulders, back, and ear. Around this week of pregnancy, the baby may also start to grow normal hair on the head.

31 Weeks: Controlling the temperature of the body
The baby’s brain is maturing and growing rapidly this week. It can now control the body temperature, so the baby no longer has to rely on the temperature of amniotic fluid for temperature control.

34 Weeks: Turning head down
Around the time of 34 weeks of pregnancy, or soon after, the little one will most likely turn the head down in preparation for birth.

39 Weeks: Full-term baby
By the time the mother-to-be reaches 39 weeks of pregnancy, the baby is considered full term. Although, she /he will continue to grow, and major organs like the lungs and brain will also continue to develop in the years to come, but the baby is ready for the outside world now.

What is going on in the third trimester

Please keep in mind that moms-to-be could go into labor anytime, but most likely, it occurs between 38 and 42 weeks. It is important to look out for any signs of labor, such as water breaking or the contractions getting stronger and closer together. The doctor will be able to tell when it is time to go to the hospital. In the third trimester, it is a good idea to pack a hospital bag, just in case the little one makes an unexpected early appearance.

Third trimester symptoms

A woman might experience a variety of pregnancy symptoms in the third trimester, such as heartburn, leg cramps, varicose veins, fatigue, backache, hemorrhoids, numbness in the legs and feet, and itchy skin. During the third trimester, some of the most common pregnancy symptoms include breathlessness, frequent urination, swollen feet, and Braxton Hicks contractions. Let’s take a look at these in a little more detail:

Shortness of breath: As the uterus gets larger and presses on the diaphragm, breathing can be difficult. A woman might find that she can’t make it up a flight of stairs without getting winded. The best thing one can do is to take it easy, move more slowly, and stand up or sit up straight, so the lungs have more area to expand. Contact the healthcare provider if the breathing changes dramatically or having a cough or chest pain.

Frequent urination: While entering the final weeks of the pregnancy, women may find themselves needing to urinate more often. This happens because the baby moves further down into the pelvis, there may be pressure on the bladder too. A lady may find that she leaks a little, especially when she laugh, sneeze, bend, or lift.

Note: If a woman feels a gush or trickle of watery fluid, it could be her water breaking. In this case, contact the healthcare provider as this is a sign that labor is beginning.

Swollen feet and ankles: Many moms notice a type of swelling, called edema, in their ankles and feet. This happens because of extra fluid retention, hormonal changes, and weight gain.

Braxton Hicks contractions: In the third trimester of pregnancy, and sometimes even earlier, mother-to-be may experience false contractions. These “false contractions” are useful for the body because they help the muscles prepare for labor. Braxton Hicks contractions may start quite mild and feel like a tightening of the abdomen, but as the due date is close, they can become more painful.

How to distinguish between Braxton Hicks and true labor contractions?

Braxton Hicks contractions come irregularly and often go away if the woman moves or changes positions while true labor contractions get more regular over time and don’t go away.

Pregnancy is very delicate at the same time, it very crucial also. Therefore it is important to be aware of what to do and what to avoid in order to take care of self and the developing baby.

What to do

  • Continue to take prenatal vitamins
  • Stay active unless experiencing swelling or pain
  • Exercise regularly
  • Work out on the pelvic floor
  • Consume enough calories
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Drink lots of water
  • Keep teeth and gums healthy as some studies show a link between poor dental hygiene with premature labor
  • Get plenty of rest and good sleep
  • If the weather allows, take a small walk outdoors a few times a week

What to avoid

  • Strenuous exercise or activity
  • Unpasteurized milk or other dairy products
  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Caffeine
  • Raw fish or smoked seafood
  • Raw sprouts
  • Long car trips and airplane flights. In the case of traveling, keep stretching your legs and walk around at least every hour or two.

These are just suggestions, Consult your healthcare provider for more precise information.

Medical Tests and Health Checkups Available At House of Diagnostics (HOD).


Data Sources:


Third Trimester of Pregnancy - Symptoms, What to do, What to avoid
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Third Trimester of Pregnancy - Symptoms, What to do, What to avoid
The third trimester is the time period from 28 to 40 weeks of pregnancy, so lasting about 13 weeks. By the time a woman reaches 39 weeks, her pregnancy is considered full term.
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