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 "real" baby!
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:
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!