Home / Family Articles / The third trimester

The third trimester

third trimester

Written by:

The Third Trimester- The final 14 weeks of your pregnancy take you to full term and hopefully a happy, healthy bouncing baby at the end.  After the relative ease of the second trimester, these final weeks can come as a bit of a shock, as once again your body undergoes rapid and significant changes in the approach to your baby’s birthday.  The third trimester can be a period that is uncomfortable and tiring, but is also the time when you may feel closest to your baby, as she is now more like a real person than ever,  just living in your tummy instead of the nursery.

Young pregnant woman

Your Baby’s Development

The last weeks of your pregnancy are a busy time for your baby.  She will be opening her eyes at around 30 weeks, practising breathing from 32 weeks, and growing fingernails at about week 34.  From week 37 onwards your baby is considered to be full term.  That means even if she arrives before her due date, she will not be considered premature.

By staying inside for longer than 37 weeks your baby builds up body weight, gets antibodies delivered from the placenta, and develops a firm grasp.  She will still be moving regularly, but there is increasingly less room inside.  The days of back flips and somersaults may be over, but those little kicks and jabs remain a comforting signal that all is well with your baby.


How Your Body is Changing – What’s Normal

As your baby approaches birth both she and your body are getting ready for the big day.  Here are some of the things you can expect to experience:

Continuing Breast Enlargement -you may find that your breasts also leak colostrum, the yellowish fluid that will nourish a breastfed baby in the first few days of life.

Backaches – hormones cause the joints between bones in your pelvis to soften in readiness for the movement required to allow the baby to pass through the birth canal.

Weight Gain – this is attributable to your baby, but also amongst other things to amniotic fluid, the placenta, and extra blood volume.

Shortness of Breath – your uterus may expand up into your diaphragm just below your lungs, limiting how deeply you can breath.

Heartburn – a common complaint in this trimester as the stomach gets squashed by your uterus.

Swelling – the growing uterus puts pressure on veins that can result in swelling all over your body, but especially in the feet and legs.

Braxton Hicks Contractions – these practice contractions are usually gentle and irregular.

Spider and Varicose Veins, Haemorrhoids – some of the less pleasant side effects of pregnancy these symptoms are nevertheless completely normal.

Frequent urination –  as the third trimester progresses your bladder gets increasingly squashed and you may need to pee very often.

Vaginal Discharge – heavy discharge is common towards the end of pregnancy
As your due date approaches visits to your midwife will increase in frequency, with weekly appointments normal in the last 4-6 weeks provided your pregnancy has progressed normally.  You may still need blood or urine tests for various things, and your blood pressure will now be monitored closely too.

Ultrasound scans are not normally required in the third trimester unless your midwife is concerned about the position of your baby, or if heart-rate fluctuations are detected.

third trimester

When to be Concerned

Until your baby is safely in your arms you need to remain vigilant to any possible problems.  In the third trimester keep a watchful eye out for any of the following:

Changes in Baby movements – any change from your baby’s norm should be examined.

Bleeding – any bleeding at the stage will be a cause for concern, so get it checked out as soon as possible.

Pain or Burning during urination – bladder and kidney infections can be bad news for your baby, so tell your midwife if you experience any pain of this kind.

Extreme dizziness – can be the result of dangerous blood pressure levels.

Rapid weight gain, or too little weight gain – can suggest thyroid problems and issues with metabolism – what affects you affects your baby, so keep an eye on your weight and flag it to your midwife if you notice any big change.

Severe nausea or vomiting – can be a sign of infection, or an indication something else is not going right in your body.  It can also result in dehydration, which is harmful to you both.

Severe abdominal pains or cramps – at any time, these may indicate the onset of labour, or a problem with the baby – call your midwife straight away if you are unsure of what to do.



About Cally Worden

About Cally Worden

Seasoned freelance writer Cally Worden lives with her family and dog in a quiet corner of rural France. A love of the outdoors, and a fascination with her children's ability to view life with fresh eyes provide the inspiration for much of her work. Cally writes regularly for various websites and UK print publications on subjects as diverse as parenting, travel, lifestyle, and business, and anything that makes her smile.

Website: Cally Worden

View all posts by