What to expect in your last trimester?
The third trimester can be the most stressful stage of pregnancy. As the fetus goes through the final stages of development, a new set of symptoms and side-effects will likely crop up. Mums-to-be often have to bear with1:
- feeling hot
- irritability or mood swings
- sleeping problems
- swollen hands and feet
- varicose veins
- stretch marks
- indigestion and heartburn
- pains on the sides of the tummy due to the expanding womb
On top of the symptoms from previous trimesters – the list can go on and on.
Despite these difficulties, it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Staying healthy is integral to your pregnancy, and it can manage or alleviate many of the symptoms above.
Keep These Things In Mind:
Stay on schedule with your doctor’s appointments. Consult your doctor for anything that seems amiss.
Keep active with maternity exercises fit for this trimester. Exercise will help prevent complications like gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM)2, and it can also strengthen the body and mind in preparation for the difficulties of labour.
Maintain a healthy, balanced diet, ideally with prenatal supplements that boost the baby’s development in the womb. Look for supplements enriched with DHA and folic acid, which are integral to prenatal health.
Family & Friends
Family & Friends A support system you can count on goes a long way in helping you get through the emotional and mental struggles of pregnancy. Spend quality time with your partner, family, and friends during this time.3
It helps to engage in productive activities. Plan and pack for your hospital essentials, buy the last few items on your baby shopping list and make final touches in the home to prepare to welcome a new baby.
Antenatal classes are your go-to resource for getting ready for a baby. These classes help you navigate the third trimester, teaching you how to prepare yourself physically and mentally for labour, how to care for your baby after birth, and how to be a new parent.4
What happens during birth?
With your due date drawing near, make sure you know what to expect during labour and delivery.5
1st Stage of Labour
- The first few contractions you’ll experience prepare the cervix for dilation. There’s no need to rush to the hospital at this stage. You can stay at home, rest, and keep to light activities as per usual, while you monitor your contractions.
- Call your healthcare provider once your contractions become regular (about 3 every 10 minutes), or if your water breaks.
- You can go to the hospital or your preferred birthing centre once contractions last at least 60 seconds and come every 5 minutes.6
- The first stage of labour usually lasts 8 to 12 hours for a first-time mum.
2nd Stage of Labour
- The second stage of labour begins once regular contractions have made the cervix fully dilated.
- You should be all set up at the hospital or your birthing location by now, ready to start pushing. Your childbirth providers can tell you when to push.
- With the cervix fully dilated, the baby will start to move down the birth canal and to the entrance of the vagina.
- The second stage of labour ends once the baby is born. This stage of labour should last no more than 3 hours for a first-time mum, though cases may vary.
3rd Stage of Labour
- The third stage of labour begins after the birth of your baby.
- During this stage, the womb contracts, pushing the placenta out through the vagina.
- Childbirth providers will be on hand to give you medical treatment and help you recover from the delivery.
It’s best to make a birth plan to be as prepared as you can be for the big day.
A birth plan is a summary of your preferences during labour and delivery, which your doctor or childbirth provider can use as a reference. This summary includes things like7:
- Where you want to give birth
- Your preferred type of delivery
- Your preferred options for pain relief
- Special instructions for your room
- How you want to feed your baby after birth
What Happens After Birth
As you recover, your newborn baby undergoes a physical exam and a handful of important health assessments.
Once your baby has been dried off and declared healthy, you can bond with your baby through skin-to-skin contact. Skin-to-skin contact helps the baby keep warm, and it familiarizes your child to your touch.8 Talk to them or sing to them too so they can get to know the sound of your voice.
Make sure you have loved ones by your side to help you with hospital paperwork and the process of going home.
Keep these essentials on hand for your recovery, to care for your baby, and for going home with your bundle of joy.
- Adult diapers or maternity pads for postpartum bleeding
- Breast pumps
- Nursing bras and nursing pads
- Nipple cream
- Diaper rash cream
- Baby wipes, shampoo, and body wash for keeping your baby clean
- Swaddling blankets
- An outfit for the baby for going home
- A child safety seat for the drive home
1Week by week guide to pregnancy – NHS. Accessed December 23, 2021.
2What is gestational diabetes mellitus? – Hopkins Medicine.Accessed December 23, 2021.
3What to expect in the third trimester – Our Health Service. Accessed December 23, 2021.
4Antenatal classes – Our Health Service. Accessed December 23, 2021.
5The stages of labour and birth – NHS. Accessed December 23, 2021.
6Timing your contractions – when to go to the hospital – Our Health Service. Accessed December 23, 2021.
7How to make a birth plan – NHS. Accessed December 23, 2021.
8Newborn Care in the Delivery Room – March of Dimes. Accessed December 23, 2021.