Here you are, at the end of your pregnancy. It may have been an overwhelming few months of learning all about pregnancy, childbirth and raising a child — and now you’re only a few months out from welcoming your little bundle of joy into the world.
But, just because you’ve reached your third trimester doesn’t mean it’s time to relax. On the contrary: A lot happens during the last few months of pregnancy, and it’s important to be as prepared as possible to give your baby and yourself the best start to your lives together.
As always, only a doctor can give you the best medical advice for your situation, and nothing in this article is intended as medical advice. That said, there are a few important things you should know about the third trimester of pregnancy as you enter this stage. We’ve helped you out by answering a few of the most common questions below.
When Does the Third Trimester Start?
You know the third trimester of pregnancy is roughly the last three months of pregnancy — but do you know exactly when the third trimester begins?
If you don’t, know that you’re not alone. In fact, expectant mothers commonly ask questions about this topic, such as:
- What week does the third trimester start?
- When is your third trimester?
- How many weeks is the third trimester?
The vast majority of medical professionals agree: Third trimester weeks start at 28 weeks. Ideally, the third trimester continues until the 40th week of pregnancy but, as we all know, babies come on their own schedule. Your third trimester may only last until you deliver at 37 weeks, or you may find yourself being induced at 42 weeks!
Your doctor can give you the best estimate of your due date (which is when your pregnancy reaches 40 weeks of age), as well as whether they expect you to deliver early, on time or late. However, this estimate isn’t an exact science; your body and pregnancy is unique, which means you will go into labor when the time is right for you.
What Can I Expect from My Third Trimester of Pregnancy?
If you’ve made it to your third trimester of pregnancy, you’ve likely gone through a lot: accepting your pregnancy, coping with side effects such as morning sickness and cramps, budgeting for your medical costs and more. Rest assured: You’ve only got a little more to go!
For many women, the third trimester of pregnancy can be incredibly uncomfortable, and for good reason — they are carrying an ever-increasing weight as their child grows. They’ve been doing it for 28 weeks at this point, and that’s enough to make any future momma frustrated. Just when you think your belly couldn’t get any larger, you’ll find that your baby will gain about four to seven pounds during this last trimester of pregnancy!
While your baby continues to grow, he or she will also develop his or her five senses. By your 31st week, your baby will be able to perceive light and dark, taste what you eat and even listen to the sound of your voice. Around the 34-week mark, your baby will start his or her turn downward in preparation for a head-first delivery.
You’ll certainly feel the effects of your baby’s last growth spurt. During your third trimester, you may experience abdominal aches, fatigue, heartburn, backache and more. As always, if you are worried about the side effects you’re experiencing during your third trimester weeks, make sure to always speak with your doctor for the best medical advice.
What Steps Do I Need to Take During My Third Trimester?
While your pregnancy may be winding down to an end during your third trimester, your preparations won’t stop. You’ll now need to prepare for your upcoming delivery and bringing your child home (should you choose to parent). You may be a pregnancy expert now, but you have a lot of unknowns awaiting you after you give birth.
Your doctor will be a great source of information during your third trimester and will explain exactly what steps you should take for your personal situation. In the meantime, there are a few general recommendations that all expectant mothers in their third trimester should follow:
Step 1: Continue your prenatal care and keep your doctor informed.
Because you will be so close to delivery during your third trimester, your prenatal care will be more frequent. From week 28 to week 36, you will typically have a check-up every two weeks. After that, you will usually complete weekly visits until you deliver. Of course, this will all be dependent upon your personal medical situation and your doctor’s recommendations.
If you have not yet received prenatal care and are entering your third trimester, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible. Only a doctor can evaluate your current situation and determine what kind of care you and your baby will need in the remaining weeks of your pregnancy and during your labor process. Your doctor will not shame you for waiting so long to receive prenatal care; instead, they will give you the support and information you need to make the remainder of your pregnancy as healthy as possible.
Step 2: Finalize your delivery plan.
It’s important that you have a plan for your labor and delivery process long before your due date. Hospital policies can be confusing and, if this is your first pregnancy, you may not know what to expect from your childbirth experience. If you haven’t already, start taking childbirth classes during your third trimester of pregnancy and talk with your doctor about any specific conditions that may affect your delivery process.
In addition to finding somewhere to deliver, you will want to decide on other details, such as:
- Whether you want a traditional or nontraditional birth
- Whether you wish to incorporate delayed cord clamping
- Who you want in the delivery room with you
- What kind of medication you wish to take
- If you are choosing adoption, what kind of contact you wish to have with your baby after birth
- And more
Step 3: Prepare to bring home your baby!
In addition to planning your hospital stay during your third trimester of pregnancy, it’s important to think about the time after you give birth, too. You’ll want to make sure that you have the necessities for bringing your newborn home if you choose to parent. Take the time now to gather them; you probably won’t have the time once you have a newborn demanding your attention 24/7.
If you are planning to place your child for adoption, your adoption specialist will help you create a delivery and post-delivery plan so you know what to expect during this process. This will involve determining what kind of post-adoption contact you wish to share with your child and their adoptive family.
We know that the last few months of your pregnancy can be overwhelming, and that it can sometimes seem like your third trimester is going faster than you could have imagined. Take a deep breath and try to enjoy this time; your little one will be in your arms before you know it!
Remember: The information in this article should not be taken as medical advice. Please speak with your doctor for more information on what you can expect from your third trimester of pregnancy.