Summary of the third Trimester

Your baby

The final and important touches are underway; your baby is getting ready for life outside in the real world. Growth continues rapidly, motor control is more active, they are even practising breathing movements for their big day. Continue reading out loud and playing music for the baby as it can hear you and will begin to familiarise itself with your voice. Brain development excels in the last trimester as more and more neurons are created at a phenomenal rate. A rich maternal supply of essential omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids is crucial to support brain and cognitive development at this stage. A nutrient that further supports brain and overall development is iodine. Consume fortified salt and bread with iodine and confirm with your doctor if you need an iodine supplement. The best part of this trimester is, by the end of it, you will finally get to see and hold your baby!

Your body

As your uterus gets larger your back sways inwards and your feet space further apart to counter balance the weight of the baby, commonly resulting in back pain. To relieve this pain you could use heat packs or hot water bottles and avoid any unnecessary strain by maintaining good posture, bending down with your knees and not wearing heels. Due to pregnancy hormones you may also develop varicose veins that usually disappear after birth. In the meantime you can use compression tights to help blood circulation. Your tummy will continue to stretch your skin to its limit developing a purplish-pinkish pigment so keep rubbing a cocoa butter or vitamin E cream to help reduce these marks. Due to the pressure your large uterus is now exerting on your bladder, you’ll find that your urge to pee all the time is back. You may experience infrequent, painless Braxton Hicks contractions that decrease in intensity when you change positions or move about, unlike real labour contractions that are frequent, painful and don’t subside when changing positions. Before the baby descends into the pelvis, the uterus will ascend further to accommodate more room for fetal growth compromising your lung expansion capacity, making it harder to breathe. To help with your breathing, maintain good posture, don’t participate in vigorous activity and sleep on your sides instead of lying flat on your back. Towards the end of this trimester your breasts may begin lactating with small secretions of colostrum. To help keep clothes clean from colostrum secretion use nursing pads. As you enter labour you will experience regular contractions, water breakage, losing your mucous plug and pinkish or brownish coloured mucous in the urine.

Your life

You’re nearing the end of this journey and soon you’ll meet, hold, snuggle, kiss and mother your newborn. Establishing a birth plan is a great way to express your preferences on the delivery. Together with your doctor you can discuss options and preferences; however you may need to be flexible to ensure the best interests of your baby’s health. During this trimester, many pregnant women find themselves cleaning the house and spending much of their time getting the essentials ready including a hospital bag, car seat and baby clothes. This is called “nesting” and is quite common. At the start of this trimester, you may be considering when you want to take maternity leave. Depending on your job, you may have to take it earlier than expected or perhaps you can talk to your employer about working part-time or doing something less physically demanding. As the final date approaches, a baby shower is a nice way to get close friends and family together to celebrate your achievements and the new journey that your about to take. Your antenatal classes will prepare and equip you for labour, motherhood and the early years. Hormonal changes will continue to wreak havoc leading to mood swings. But hang in there, you’re on the final stretch now.

Your tests

In this third ultrasound, your baby’s growth, movements and heartbeats will be monitored. The doctor may ask you about your baby’s movements of which you should count in the morning and evening in hourly intervals. Your practitioner will also take vagina and rectum swabs to test for the presence of certain bacteria. If you test positive to a group B strep test don’t be concerned for you’ll receive IV antibiotics during labour to ensure a baby free from this infection.

First Chapter: Summary of the first Trimester.

Previous Chapter: Summary of the second Trimester.

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