Third Trimester: 29-42 Weeks

Your Body, Your Baby

Your body continues to change and grow, along with your baby. As you progress through the third trimester of pregnancy, you may be experiencing many emotions. It is an exciting time for you and your family to prepare for your baby. If you have other children, you can help them to adjust by including them in the process. Bring them to appointments, let them hear the baby’s heartbeat, tour the birthing room, discuss what they can expect from you and from the baby, once he or she arrives.

More Frequent Appointments

In your third trimester of pregnancy, you will be seeing your health-care provider more frequently for appointments—likely every two weeks starting at 32 weeks of pregnancy, then once each week thereafter until delivery. If you are experiencing a high-risk pregnancy, some of the signs and symptoms of pregnancy may be different. You and your baby may need to be monitored even more frequently.

Tests

Group B Streptococcus (GBS): common bacterium that will not harm an adult but can harm baby if exposed during delivery. Your health-care provider will take a swab of your lower vaginal and rectal area. If results are positive for the bacterium, you will receive antibiotics during labor and delivery to protect your baby.

Non-Stress Test/Amniotic Fluid Index (NST/AFI)

  • NST: two monitors will be placed on abdomen for 20-40 minutes to check baby’s heart beat and contractions. You should eat and drink before this appointment.
  • AFI: checks amount of amniotic fluid around baby; certain conditions can cause fluid to be low. Drinking plenty of fluids will help avoid low AFI levels.

Changes in Your Body

Breast changes: hormones of pregnancy contribute to growth; veins more noticeable as blood supply increases; may have yellow or white discharge (colostrum) from nipples. Wear a comfortable, supportive bra.

Back and hip pain: posture may change due to weight of baby and hormones. Use a heating pad, take warm showers or use ice packs for the affected area. Contact your health-care provider if pain does not go or comes in waves or cycles.

Vaginal discharge: common to have increased amounts of vaginal discharge closer to delivery. Contact your health-care provider if discharge is accompanied by itching, foul odor or is blood-tinged.

Swelling: may appear in your feet and hands. If your legs, hands or face swell suddenly, accompanied by weight gain of 3 pounds or more in one day, contact your health-care provider immediately.

Signs of Labor

Deciding whether or not you are truly in labor may be difficult. Contractions are important signs that you are in labor.

Here are the facts about the contractions to help you determine if you are experiencing signs of false or true labor:

False Labor

Contractions:

  • are irregular
  • do not increase in amount or duration
  • are felt in front of abdomen
  • may feel like baby is moving
  • remain weak

True Labor

Contractions:

  • are closer together in regular pattern
  • intensify over time
  • start in the back and travel to the front
  • may result in mucous plug dislodging, “water may break,” or bloody fluid may be released