Pregnancy Blog

What to Expect: Third Trimester of Pregnancy

Rachael Kirkwood

What to Expect: Third Trimester of Pregnancy

Written by
Rachael Kirkwood

What to Expect During the Third Trimester

As you enter the third trimester of your pregnancy, you're in the home stretch, eagerly awaiting the arrival of your little one. This trimester is characterised by continued growth and development for both you and your baby, as well as preparations for the impending arrival. Let's explore what to expect during the third trimester, key milestones in fetal development, and essential tasks to prioritise as you prepare for the big day.

When does the third trimester of pregnancy start?

The third trimester of pregnancy begins at the start of week 28 and lasts until the birth of baby, which typically occurs around week 40. This trimester marks the final stage of pregnancy, during which the baby undergoes significant growth and development.

  • Increased Discomfort: As your baby continues to grow, you may experience increased discomfort, including backaches, pelvic pressure, and difficulty sleeping. Embrace self-care practices such as prenatal massage, warm baths, and relaxation techniques to alleviate discomfort and promote relaxation.

  • Braxton Hicks Contractions: You may notice an increase in Braxton Hicks contractions, which are sporadic and irregular contractions that help prepare your body for labor. While these contractions are usually mild and short-lived, they may become more frequent as you near your due date.

  • Baby Movements: Your baby's movements may become more pronounced as they have less room to maneuver in the womb. Pay attention to fetal movement patterns and report any significant changes to your healthcare provider.

  • Nesting Instinct: Many expectant parents experience a nesting instinct during the third trimester, characterised by a strong desire to prepare the home for the baby's arrival. Embrace this instinct by organising the nursery, washing baby clothes, and completing any remaining tasks on your to-do list.

  • Final Prenatal Checkups: You'll continue attending regular prenatal appointments to monitor your health and the baby's progress. Your healthcare provider will monitor fetal growth, assess your cervix for signs of dilation or effacement, and discuss your birth plan and any concerns you may have.

Fetal Development In the Third Trimester

During the third trimester of pregnancy, fetal development reaches its peak as the baby prepares for birth. By this stage, the fetus has already developed most of its organs, and the focus shifts to rapid growth and maturation.

Your baby's brain continues to develop, with neurons forming connections and preparing for the outside world. The lungs mature further, producing surfactant, a substance necessary for breathing after birth. Baby gains significant weight, storing fat to regulate body temperature after birth. As your due date approaches, baby's movements may feel more pronounced, as they have less room to move within the womb. By the end of the third trimester, around week 40, the baby is fully developed and ready for birth.

Fetal development month by month

Pregnancy Weeks 25-28

  • Lung Development: The baby's lungs continue to mature, producing surfactant, a substance that helps the lungs expand and function properly.

  • Rapid Brain Growth: The baby's brain undergoes rapid growth and development, laying the groundwork for cognitive and sensory functions.

  • Weight Gain: The baby continues to gain weight rapidly, accumulating fat deposits under the skin to regulate body temperature and provide energy reserves.

Pregnancy Weeks 29-32

  • Fetal Positioning: The baby may begin to settle into a head-down position in preparation for birth, although some babies may remain in a breech position until later in pregnancy.

  • Increased Fetal Activity: You may notice an increase in fetal activity as the baby's movements become more pronounced and coordinated.

  • Regulated Sleep Patterns: The baby starts to develop more regular sleep patterns, alternating between periods of activity and rest.

Pregnancy Weeks 33-36

  • Final Growth Spurt: The baby undergoes a final growth spurt, gaining weight and adding layers of fat to prepare for life outside the womb.

  • Increased Vernix Production: The baby's skin is coated with a thick layer of vernix, which helps protect their delicate skin from the amniotic fluid.

  • Maternal-Fetal Bonding: As your due date approaches, you may feel a stronger sense of connection and bonding with your baby as you anticipate their arrival.

To-Do List for the Third Trimester

Plan and Set Up the Nursery

Decorating your baby's nursery is an exciting journey that allows you to infuse the space with love, warmth, and personality. When it comes to choosing colour schemes and gathering inspiration, consider the following tips to create a cozy and inviting environment for your little one:

nursery colour schemes
Nursery Decor Ideas

Start with a Theme or Inspiration: Begin by brainstorming themes or sources of inspiration that resonate with you and your family. Whether it's a favourite children's book, a beloved hobby, or a nature-inspired theme, having a central concept can help guide your decorating decisions and tie the room together cohesively.

Consider the Mood: Think about the mood you want to evoke in the nursery. Soft pastel hues like pale pink, light blue, or mint green can create a serene and calming atmosphere, while bold primary colors or vibrant patterns can add a playful and energetic vibe to the space.

Gather Inspiration: Look for inspiration in a variety of places, including home decor magazines, social media platforms like Pinterest or Instagram, and even nature itself. Create a mood board or collage of images that resonate with you, noting colours, patterns, textures, and design elements that catch your eye. You can also check out our blog for nursery decor ideas

Baby Registry

Create an Amazon Baby Registry and ensure it's up to date with essential items for your baby's arrival. Share the registry with friends and family to make gift-giving easy and convenient.

You will get discounts on the usual products you would purchase if joining the Amazon Baby Registry

amazon baby registry
Amazon Baby Registry

Birth Plan

Discuss your birth preferences with your healthcare provider and partner, including pain management options, delivery preferences, and any special considerations. Be flexible and open to adjustments as needed during labor and delivery.

Self-Care

Prioritise self-care activities such as gentle exercise, healthy nutrition, adequate rest, and relaxation techniques to promote physical and emotional well-being during the final weeks of pregnancy.

Pack Your Hospital Bag

Prepare a hospital bag with essential items for labor, delivery, and postpartum recovery, including comfortable clothing, toiletries, snacks, and items for baby. We have scoured Amazon for the most highly rated hospital bag essentials

hospital bag essentials amazon
Hospital bag essentials Amazon

Early Labour Symptoms

  • Lightening: As your baby drops lower into your pelvis, you may notice that your belly appears lower and there is less pressure on your diaphragm, making breathing easier. This is often referred to as "lightening."

  • Bloody Show: You may notice a pink or blood-tinged mucus discharge from your vagina. This is called the "bloody show" and can occur as the cervix begins to dilate and thin out in preparation for labor.

  • Cervical Changes: Your cervix may start to dilate (open) and efface (thin out) in the days or weeks leading up to labor. Your healthcare provider can check for these changes during a pelvic exam.

  • Contractions: Early labor contractions are usually mild and irregular. They may feel like mild menstrual cramps or lower back pain and may come and go unpredictably. As labor progresses, contractions become stronger, longer, and more regular.

  • Rupture of Membranes: Your water may break, which can manifest as a gush or trickle of fluid from your vagina. This indicates that the amniotic sac has ruptured, and labor is likely imminent. Not all labors start with the water breaking, so don't be alarmed if this doesn't happen.

  • Nesting Instinct: Some women experience a burst of energy and an overwhelming urge to clean, organise, or prepare for the baby's arrival. This nesting instinct is a common sign that labor may be approaching.

  • Diarrhoea or Upset Stomach: Hormonal changes and the body's natural preparation for labor can sometimes cause loose stools or an upset stomach in the days leading up to labor.

  • Back Pain: You may experience lower back pain or discomfort as the baby's head engages in the pelvis. This can be a sign that labor is approaching, especially if it's accompanied by other symptoms.

  • Flu-like Symptoms: Some women report feeling achy, tired, or flu-like in the days leading up to labor. This can be due to hormonal changes and the body's natural preparation for childbirth.

It's essential to remember that every woman's experience of early labor is unique, and not all women will experience all of these symptoms. If you have any concerns or are unsure if you're in early labor, don't hesitate to contact your healthcare provider for guidance and reassurance.

For more pregnancy articles, freebies and information see our Pregnancy Hub

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