Expecting mother in white dress sitting on the floor with a teddy bear.

Tips for Pregnancy: The Third Trimester

You’ve officially reached the third trimester of pregnancy, which means your tiny bundle of joy will arrive very soon! From preparing your home for the baby to watching for labor signs, the third trimester of pregnancy can be an exciting yet nerve-wracking time for moms-to-be.

If you’re wondering what to expect or looking for advice to guide you through this intensive trimester, you’ve come to the right place. Continue reading for tips on navigating your third and final trimester.

How Many Weeks Until Delivery?

Each trimester of pregnancy lasts between 12 and 14 weeks, the third trimester starting around week 28. This gives you ample time to prepare for labor and childbirth so you’ll know what to expect going into the delivery room.

What to Expect in the Third Trimester

Just like in the first and second trimesters, certain signs and feelings are common during the third trimester. Below are some things to expect when nearing the home stretch of your pregnancy.

1. Nesting

With your due date approaching, you may feel a strong urge to prepare your home for the baby — whether it’s putting those finishing touches on the nursery, installing the car seat, washing baby clothes, or babyproofing your space.

This “nesting instinct” is quite common during the final trimester. However, you should refrain from lifting heavy objects or using harmful chemicals like bleach. Enlist help for tasks that involve getting on ladders, like painting or hanging objects on the nursery wall. Your growing belly can alter your balance.

2. Tracking Fetal Movement

Your doctor may ask you to track your baby’s movements. Follow their instructions on counting your little one’s kicks. If something seems unusual about their movements, never hesitate to ask your health care provider for advice.

3. Reading About Childbirth

Whether you plan to give birth naturally or via a cesarean section (C-section), it’s a good idea to inform yourself about all eventualities. Reading books about labor and childbirth is a great way to prepare and know what to expect.

4. Watching for Signs of Labor

While labor can occur at any time, it’ll most likely happen between 38 and 42 weeks. It’s important to watch for signs of labor during this time, such as:

  • Lightening (the feeling that the baby has dropped lower into the pelvis).
  • Loss of the mucus plug.
  • Water breaking.
  • Contractions getting stronger and closer together.

As your due date gets closer, you may want to pack a bag for the hospital in advance. That way, you won’t be scrambling to grab everything you need when you go into labor. If you aren’t completely sure whether labor has begun, call your health care provider.

Expecting mother in white dress sitting on the floor with a teddy bear.

Types of Discomfort During Your Third Trimester

Discomfort during pregnancy is completely normal, especially during the final trimester. Below are some common symptoms to expect.

1. Shortness of Breath

Your uterus is expanding, growing higher in your abdomen, and pressing on your diaphragm, which can make breathing difficult. You may find it challenging to walk upstairs without getting winded. Remember to move slowly, take it easy, and sit or stand up straight to give your lungs more room to expand.

The good news is that once the baby drops further into your pelvis shortly before birth, breathing becomes easier as the pressure is taken off the lungs. If you experience coughing, chest pain, or dramatic changes in breathing, contact your health care provider right away.

2. Swollen Ankles and Feet

You may notice swelling in your feet and ankles, or edema, caused by excess fluid retention in the body’s tissues. You may need to wear bigger shoes to feel more comfortable. It may also help to elevate your legs and soak your feet in cool water.

3. Itchy Skin

As your belly expands, your skin may feel itchy as it stretches and dries out. Regularly hydrating and applying a moisturizing lotion on the stomach can help.

4. Sore Gums

Sensitive gums are very common during the third trimester. You may experience swelling or bleeding when you brush or floss. It may help to use a softer brush and rinse with salt water.

5. Frequent Urination

You may experience the need to urinate more often during the final weeks of your pregnancy. This is because the baby presses on the bladder when moving further down into the pelvis. Small leaks are common, especially when sneezing, laughing, or bending. However, a trickle or gush of watery fluid may be your water breaking, which signifies the beginning of labor.

6. Braxton Hicks Contractions

During the third trimester — or sometimes even the second trimester — you may experience false labor pains known as Braxton Hicks contractions. These are essentially “practice contractions” the body uses to prepare for labor. They typically start mild and feel like a tightening sensation in the abdomen. However, they can grow more painful as your due date gets closer.

Braxton Hicks contractions occur sporadically and usually subside when you move or change positions. On the contrary, real labor contractions grow more regular over time and don’t go away.

A pregnant woman resting on a bed while holding her baby bump.

How to Handle Pain and Discomfort During Third Trimester

Aches and pains are to be expected during pregnancy. Fortunately, there are various methods that may help relieve your discomfort:

  • Sleep in a comfortable position: Try sleeping on your side instead of your back to reduce discomfort. Keep one or both knees bent. You can also sleep with pregnancy or support pillows behind your back, between your knees, or under your abdomen.
  • Practice gentle exercise: Stretching might help relieve some of the pains and aches you may be experiencing. With your health care provider’s approval, you can also try low-impact activities like water exercise or walking to help ease discomfort.
  • Try a hot or cold compress: If you’re dealing with muscle cramps, headaches, or pelvis or back pain, a heating pad or ice pack may provide some relief. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t use a heating pad for more than 20 minutes. It’s also best to avoid placing it directly on your abdomen or uterus.
  • Talk to your doctor about painkillers: Consult your health care provider if you experience regular discomfort or pain in the whole body during pregnancy. They might recommend medications like acetaminophen or other treatments.
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Learn About Stem Cell Storage With Americord

Knowing what to do in the third trimester of pregnancy is important for anticipating labor and reducing discomfort. Another consideration is cord blood banking for medical or therapeutic use.

Banking stem cells from umbilical blood, cord tissue, and placental tissue is completely safe and painless. It may be highly valuable for your family’s future needs, as it can help with various medical conditions like leukemias and lymphomas.

If you are pregnant and are looking for more information about newborn stem cell banking, give one of our Stem Cell Specialists a call (866-503-6005) today! You can also learn more here on our website.

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