The Third Trimester of pregnancy comprises of the seventh, eighth and ninth months. In terms of weeks, it is from week 29 to week 40. This trimester is marked with mixed feelings of anxiety and excitement as the time of baby’s birth approaches. Due to the extra weight being carried around a number of symptoms will be experienced. However there is no cause for undue concern.
Baby’s Growth and Development
During the Third Trimester fetal development continues and the baby gains more and more weight.
By week 28, that is 26 weeks after conception, the baby’s eyelids open and eyelashes have formed. As the baby puts on weight and acquires fat and the wrinkled skin smoothens, the baby weighs about 1 kg, and measures about 10” in length. At this stage, babies have more than 90% survival rate which keeps increasing as the delivery day draws near.
By week 29, baby’s bones are fully developed but are still soft.
By week 30, the baby’s eyes are wide open for good part of the day or night. Hairs on the scalp have already come. Red blood cells start forming in the bone marrow. The baby now weighs about 1300 grams.
By week 31, the Central Nervous System develops to the extent of being able to control the baby’s body temperature. The baby continues to gain weight of about 200 grams each week.
By week 32, the toenails become visible, baby’s lungs become functional, and the intestinal tract also becomes functional. The baby is 11” long now and may weigh up to 1.7 kg.
By week 33, baby becomes receptive to light, can constrict or dilate pupils. The uterus begins to tighten from time to time, which are known as ‘Braxton Hicks’ contractions.
By week 34, baby’s fingernails grow up to his fingertips.
By week 35, baby starts gaining weight rapidly, and is more than a foot long.
By week 36, the baby occupies most of the space in the amniotic sac. Baby’s movement and kicks become more noticeable.
By week 37, the baby is considered early term, and can survive if delivered. All its vital organs are ready to function independently. The baby’s head starts descending into the pelvis.
By week 38, the baby can use his fingers to grip strongly. The brain weighs about 400 grams and continues to grow even after birth. He has shed all of the furry skin covering. The bay weighs around 3 kg now.
By week 39, baby’s chest becomes more prominent and in case of boys, the testes descend into the scrotum. The placenta provides antibodies and the lactating milk will provide additional antibodies required to fight infections after birth. The baby is now about 18 to 20 inches long and weighs about 3 kg or more.
By week 40, the D-day has finally arrived!
Third Trimester Symptoms and Physical Changes in the Body
During this period, woman carry an additional weight of the baby which may go up to 3 kg, the weight of the amniotic fluid and placenta which may hold around one liter of fluid. All this causes discomfort and sluggishness. Some symptoms and changes in the body are given below.
Growing fatigue :
Due to the extra weight, the enlarged uterus displaces other organs in the body, adding to more strain.
Shortness of breath :
This is caused due to decreasing lung capacity, as the growing uterus puts pressure on several organs. Also, the hormone progesterone causes deeper breaths instead of shallow ones. So the oxygen intake doesn’t get reduced despite decreased lung capacity. This situation will change during the last few weeks when the baby descends to the pelvis region.
Sleeping problems :
It may become increasingly difficult to sleep. One should try lying down on the sides and use extra support and pillows.
Frequent urination :
Due to the uterus pressing on the bladder, its holding capacity is reduced, which results in frequent need to relieve oneself. Moreover, there can be slight leakage at times. All these symptoms get corrected by itself after the baby’s birth.
Changes in the skin :
Varicose veins may appear in the later stages due to the uterus exerting pressure on the veins in the lower limbs. This can be relieved to a large extent by :
– Avoiding long spells of standing
– Keeping the legs in elevated position whenever one can
– Not crossing the legs when sitting so as to improve circulation of blood in the legs
– Taking slow walks or strolls
Stretch marks and Itchy skin :
Many women during pregnancy acquire stretch marks which appear on breasts, abdomen and thighs. These marks may lighten up later. The skin should be kept well moisturized to avoid itchiness and tendency to scratch. Some suitable skin moisturizer or cream should be used for relief.
A Few Do’s and Don’ts
- Eat as often as you can, a good diet will keep the baby healthy and make him gain weight.
- Take plenty of rest and sleep.
- Light exercises can be done regularly, as long as it is comfortable to do so and not very tiring, like a small stroll or swimming.
- In case of excessive tiredness and fatigue, consult the doctor. If the doctor detects anemia he will suggest an iron supplement.
- During the day, one should not stand for long and should keep moving.
- Avoid lifting heavy weights, as they can put too much stress on tendons and ligaments, which become more relaxed late in pregnancy.
- Avoid any alcohol or smoking. Do not take any medicines without consulting the doctor.
In case the D-Day is delayed by a few days, there is no need to panic, as it happens in many cases. Hope the would-be parents have meanwhile made arrangements for baby’s nursery at home and got appropriate clothing for the new-born baby, who will shortly be a full-fledged new member in the family.
What To Expect During Third Trimester Of Pregnancy