The third trimester of pregnancy is the final stretch. It begins at week 28 and concludes with the baby’s delivery, at about week 40. These final stages of pregnancy can test your endurance as your body stretches and distorts with the baby’s growth. Most moms-to-be feel anxious as their due date approaches. It is normal to be tired of pregnancy and to want to welcome your baby into the world.
Weeks 28 through 30. With about 10 weeks left of pregnancy, Braxton Hicks contractions can become more frequent. These “practice contractions” occur as the uterus prepares for childbirth. According to the American Pregnancy Association, Braxton Hicks contractions can happen when you and/or the baby are active, if someone touches your belly, after sex, if you’re dehydrated or if have a full bladder. Expect continued aches, digestive issues and difficulty sleeping.
Weeks 31 and 32. During the third trimester, your breasts can begin leaking colostrum. Known as pre-milk, this will be your baby’s first food. Colostrum typically is yellowish in color but becomes paler as your delivery approaches. About week 32, your baby may move into the head-down position, creating even more pressure on your bladder and increasing your urges for frequent urination.
Weeks 33 and 34. With about a month left before delivery, it can be difficult to find comfortable positions for sitting and sleeping. Expect backaches, Braxton Hicks contractions and headaches triggered by hormone fluctuations. Your metabolic rate increases and you may feel hot, which is a nice benefit during a cold winter pregnancy. Fatigue and swollen feet and/or ankles are common.
Weeks 35 and 36. Expect elevated stress levels and feelings of being overwhelmed. It’s important at this time to try to relax and continue taking care of yourself. At week 36, your baby may shift lower into your pelvic area but not “drop.” This can cause discomfort, but may reduce the pressure your lungs have been under, allowing you to breathe easier.
Weeks 37 and 38. Some babies “drop” about this time. Dropping simply means the baby is moving into the birth canal. It is also called lightening. This doesn’t necessarily mean you will deliver early, but you may experience relief from some pregnancy symptoms, including heartburn and indigestion. Some women experience shooting pains from the vagina down through their legs, as the baby presses on nerves.
Weeks 39 and 40. Your due date is near! Expect false labor, which are pains that will relax when you move or switch positions. Real labor pains usually start in the back and work their way forward. As your cervix begins to open, the mucous plug discharges. Expect to see thick mucus with some blood in it. The mucous plug may discharge a couple of days before labor or a couple of weeks before labor. If you think your water has broken, call your doctor’s office and they will help you.
Your third trimester ends with the labor and delivery of your baby.