Now that you have successfully navigated
two-thirds of your pregnancy, what can you expect in the last three
months? The third trimester of pregnancy, from weeks 28 to 40, is a
remarkable period of growth and development for your baby. This is
when your baby begins to develop fat under her skin, so that she
starts to look like the baby you expect to see at birth.
Portrait in Miniature
- By the end of week 32, your little one is
likely to weigh about 4 pounds and be about 11 inches long. He will
continue to gain weight rapidly so that by the time he's born he'll
weigh about 7 to 8 pounds. He'll begin to develop a sleep-wake
cycle, and you may start to be aware of when he's awake and moving
and when he's asleep and quiet. You may also notice periods of
rhythmic movement that probably mean he has the hiccups.
Your baby now begins to suck his thumb or
make sucking movements with his mouth, so that he'll already have
learned how to nurse by the time he's born. His eyelids are no longer
fused, which means he can open and close them regularly. He develops
his ability to see and hear, and you'll notice that he becomes
responsive to stimuli in your environment, such as noises, music, or
light. Even though he's still inside you, he begins to respond like a
The Comfort Zone
- But what about you? You'll probably discover
both positives and negatives about the final months of pregnancy.
The negatives are the physical discomforts you'll notice, most of
them due to the increasing size and weight of your baby. You may
find yourself feeling short of breath as your baby begins to press
up against your diaphragm and lungs, so that climbing a flight of
stairs or taking a brisk walk around the block is no longer an easy
task. Backache and fatigue may slow you down because of the
increased weight you're carrying around.
Easy Does It
- Take this chance to slow down and make fewer
demands on yourself. Ask friends or family members to help you
whenever possible. It may be hard to find a comfortable sleeping
position at night, and you may find yourself making frequent
bathroom runs as the baby presses on your bladder. Cutting down on
fluids before you go to bed will help. And many women notice
swelling (also called edema) in their ankles and feet because of
extra fluids in their body. Elevating your legs whenever you can
will help relieve this swelling. Emotionally, you may find that
you're getting downright impatient with this pregnancy. You want
your baby in your arms, not in your uterus any longer!
Here are some more tips for making your third
trimester comfortable and fulfilling:
- If weather permits, take a leisurely walk
outdoors a few times a week. The fresh air will invigorate you, get
your blood circulating, and decrease some of the aches and stiffness
you may be feeling.
- Attend a childbirth class to learn comfort
measures and stretching exercises. Use the relaxation exercises
taught there, along with some visual imagery and music, to help you
relax and focus on the excitement ahead.
- Sleep on your side at night for comfort. Use
pillows to support your upper leg and your back. Get at least seven
hours of sleep each night and nap during the day so you approach
childbirth as rested as possible.
- Read . . . read . . . read. Information about
labor, birth, and baby care will help to decrease your anxieties and
prepare you for the events ahead.
- Keep your weekly prenatal appointment so that
your health care provider can follow your progress and your baby's
as you approach birth. Knowing that all is well will enable you to
relax and enjoy the last few weeks of being pregnant.
- So what can possibly be the positive side of
your third trimester? Mainly, it's the increasing anticipation and
excitement. Knowing that your baby is growing and healthy, feeling
her move and kick ever more vigorously, preparing for her birth,
choosing a name, buying baby clothes and getting all the things
ready to care for her in your home, and realizing that in just a
number of weeks she'll be here all make this time special. And, of
course, it helps to know that all the physical discomfort you're
feeling now is only temporary and will disappear as soon as your
baby arrives! It is an incredible time, so try to relax and enjoy
it. You're almost there!