What is the third trimester of the pregnancy?
Are you getting more and more used to feeling your baby move and grow inside you? This feeling will only intensify in the next 3 months to come.
The third trimester is the last three months of your pregnancy which starts at week 28 and lasts for 13 more weeks. The third trimester ends with the delivery of the baby around the 40 week mark. Typically a normal delivery takes place at around week 40 i.e. at the end of 9 months.
What are the Symptoms/Changes to your body?
As your baby takes more room in your body, you might feel some symptoms or discomfort during the final phase of your pregnancy. Watch out for the following:
- Heartburn or Acid Refluxes
- Shortness of Breath
- Tender Breast
- Restlessness and difficulty in falling asleep which might also cause headaches.
- Upset Stomach and Diarrhoea.
- Frequent Urination
- Swelling ankles, hands, face due to fluid retention.
- Increased hair growth.
- Stretch marks
- Leg Cramps
- Your breasts might leak.
- Increase in libido or sexual drive.
- Increased haemorrhoids
How much does your baby grow?
The baby fully grows in size and develops all the organs up until the delivery. On an average the babies grow to a healthy weight of 2.5 to 4 kgs (6 to 9 pounds) at the time of delivery.
Some of the approximate highlights to the baby growth in the last three months are:
7th Month (28 to 31 weeks)
- Baby can open eyes and see.
- Your baby can hold, kick and do stretches.
- Growth of hair on head.
- Baby gains weight and fat quickly.
8th Month (32 to 35 weeks)
- Babies can respond to light.
- Lanugo or soft hair starts to fall off.
- Suck thumbs and cry.
- Babies can smile.
9th Month (36 to 40 weeks)
- Matured lungs.
- Baby starts to descend towards the pelvis and turns its head downward.
- Your due date arrives.
Towards the end, a white creamy coating on the baby called vernix becomes visible. Vernix acts as a waterproof layer that protects the baby from the amniotic fluid.
Making a Birth Plan: Natural / C-section Delivery
As you reach towards the actual date of delivery, you need to think of how you want that process to be for you and your baby. The way you choose to deliver your baby will also depend on your medical history and the availability of service to you.
The two delivery options available to you are natural birth i.e. a vaginal birth and a caesarean or a c-section. Both of these methods have their own associated benefits, risks and complications. You should communicate with your doctor about your medical history to decide the one that is right for you.
Vaginal (Natural) Birth:
A vaginal birth, also known as the natural birth is when the mother goes through the stages of labour in order to give birth vaginally. Labour is the process where the cervix of the woman dilates letting the baby move out of her body through the birth canal.
Your labour might have started when you show the following symptoms:
- Your mucus plug comes out.
- Your contractions start.
- Your water breaks.
The stages of labour:
Your labour is supposed to be induced naturally after your water breaks. In situations where it doesn’t start naturally medication such as pitocin can be used.
First Stage -Dilation:
- This is the stage of early labour where your cervix starts to dilate and reaches full dilation (10cm).
- Your contractions begin to occur at an interval of 5 to 20 minutes apart in the beginning of the stage and by the end of the stage might occur at a 3 to 4 minutes interval.
Second Stage- Delivery of the baby:
- During this stage, you will need to start pushing the baby once the cervix is completely dilated.
- This stage might last anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours.
- You will push and deliver your baby once the crowning occurs.
Third Stage-Delivery of the placenta:
- After you deliver the baby, you will deliver the placenta which will take up to another 30 minutes.
Every labour experience is different and the time duration will vary from women to women. There are certain interventions or aids that might be used in certain conditions of vaginal delivery such as:
- Artificially breaking your water (amniotic fluid)
- Use of artificial labour induction
- Episiotomy, a surgical incision
- Vacuum extraction
Caesarean or C-section Birth:
When a vaginal delivery isn’t possible a c-section delivery can be planned prior to the start of labour. However, in some emergency cases there are unplanned c-sections if the health of the mother or the child is of concern.
Process of a c-section delivery
Very different from the hours-long vaginal delivery, c-section operations usually take about 45 minutes to an hour.
The doctor will take your baby out by making an incision through your abdomen and your uterus. Don’t worry you will receive an epidural injection or anaesthesia to block the pain. Unlike with anaesthesia, if you get an epidural, you will remain awake during the procedure.
There can be several reasons for a c-section birth such as:
- The baby is in the breech position. (use image for breech position)
- Delivery of more than one baby.
- Baby is big in size.
- Chance of infections and conditions such as high blood pressure or blood sugar.
- Irregular labour progression.
- Issues with placenta.
- Previous C-sections.
Which delivery method should you choose?
In normal cases without complications, it is advised that the mother opt for vaginal delivery as it is safer. However, if you wish to have a c-section baby for your reasons, you can always ask your obstetrician.
What are the things you should be prepared for in the third trimester?
Seeing your due date catch up to you might be nerve wrecking. Here’s a checklist you can refer to for your third trimester:
- Pack and place your hospital bag.
- Start stocking up on baby supplies.
- Keep active and moving.
- Educate yourself on breastfeeding and the birthing process.
- Discuss with your doctor about the choice of delivery.
- Set up a nursery.
- Your third trimester guide: https://www.unicef.org/parenting/pregnancy-milestones/third-trimester
- Third Trimester: https://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/third-trimester-of-pregnancy
- Week-by-week guide to pregnancy: https://www.nhs.uk/start4life/pregnancy/week-by-week/3rd-trimester/week-28/
- How to make a birth plan: https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/labour-and-birth/preparing-for-the-birth/how-to-make-a-birth-plan/
- Labor: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/labor
- The Third Trimester: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-third-trimester
- Your Guide to the Third Trimester of Pregnancy: https://www.whattoexpect.com/third-trimester-of-pregnancy.aspx