The Third Trimester
The third trimester corresponds to the period between the 29th and the 40th Week of pregnancy. It is the last lap of the journey to delivery. So many changes have occurred and these changes make you uncomfortable. You become very anxious to see and hold your baby. There is often a feeling of excitement as you prepare for this final stage. Sometimes you could be overwhelmed with the whole situation as the fear of falling into labor and giving birth grips you.
Visiting Your Doctor
As soon as pregnancy is established, you would be advised to visit a doctor regularly. Initially, it is monthly until your pregnancy reaches 36 weeks, then it becomes weekly till the birth of your baby. The essence of these antenatal visits is to ensure that your baby is growing well and to make sure that you are alright too. Basically, when you visit your doctor, you would be asked about the baby movement or kicks which is more frequent at this stage. Any indication of reduction in the movement should be reported immediately as this could be a warning sign that something might but not necessarily be wrong. You can record your baby's movement in a tabular form noting the number of kicks over a certain period of time.
Record of Baby Movement
The movement or kick of your baby is recorded on a daily basis using a chart to indicate time and number of kicks observed. About 3 kicks and above in an hour is expected and anything lower than that should be reported to your doctor. An example is shown below
Time Number of kicks & Date
Below is an outline of what the antenatal visits basically covers
- Examination of the breasts and nipples: This is to check for inverted nipples and if present, you will need to do a bit of nipple exercise which involves pulling out your nipple by rubbing it outwards with the aid of your thumb. You could also get well fitting or plastic brassieres with a whole to hold the nipple firmly in preparation for breast feeding.
- Paleness or pallor to determine your blood adequacy, as the baby lays a high demand on your system.
- Swelling of your feet and face is also checked, including blood pressure and the presence of varicose veins which become more obvious with pregnancy.
- Your hemoglobin level and urine are tested too and you have to go through the process of urinating into sample bottles at every visit.
Examination of the Abdomen
The abdomen is examined by the doctors and via this process the progress of your baby’s growth is determined. This is to check for a correlation of size with the duration of the pregnancy. The quantity of fluid within the womb and baby’s movement or kicks is also checked along with the heart beat which you can also hear and this can be a wonderful experience. Finally, the doctor also examines the position of the baby as it lies within the womb. The baby keeps changing its position but at 32 weeks, it attains a stable position as the fluid within which it lies diminishes and become very stable at 36 weeks. The head is expected to lie downwards with the body facing the right or left hip bone of the expectant mother. An ultrasound reveals all these findings and if the baby is lying without the head down attempt will be made to correct this.
The Transformations you Encounter
At this last stage you pass through a lot of noticeable changes. These include
- A reduced energy level and you get tired or breathless easily.
- Feeling of your baby’s movement becomes frequent and you could actually see your baby move against the wall of your abdomen.
- The weight of the baby is felt more at the lower abdomen giving you an expanded waist line.
- Exertion of pressure on your bladder because of the head that lies downwards. This makes you urinate often and sometimes you could lose control and urine trickles out a bit especially if you sneeze or laugh too much.
- Your stomach and thighs are covered with large stretch marks but it should not bother you as they disappear in most cases after delivery.
- The Braxton Hick’s contraction, a painless lifting and stiffening of the abdomen occurs often at this stage.
- Your navel becomes flattened out or shoots out but this will reverse itself once you put to bed.
Sex Life in the Third Trimester
Sex at this stage is somewhat uncomfortable because of your enlarged abdomen and breast tenderness. Your sexual partner could try changing position having you back him while you lie on your side or kneel with your hands placed in front of you for balance.
In certain cases, however, sex is actually discouraged. Cases such as presence of bleeding in the course of the pregnancy, a history of miscarriage, experiencing pains prior to time of delivery, feeling of orgasm which sets off labor and if you are having twins with a womb that is excessively distended. You and your partner can get creative and still enjoy sex.
Travelling in the Last Weeks
It is advised that if you must travel long distance, then you should go by air or train. If avoidable however, travelling should be ruled out completely in the third trimester as onset of labor is unpredictable and it is in your interest to be close to your hospital and doctor at this time.
Exercise and Pregnancy
Depending on your normal routine, household chores might be just sufficient but remember not to engage in any form of vigorous work. If you wish to exercise in the third trimester and perhaps you never use to exercise before your pregnancy, then you should seek the consent of your doctor. But if you already engage in exercise you can continue especially the relaxation and breathing exercise to prepare you for labor, just be cautious avoid positions that require lying on your back and don’t stress yourself too much.
This about covers all that you should prepare for in the third trimester but do not forget to have a small bag packed just in case the baby arrives a bit early.