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As you progress in your third trimester of pregnancy, you are closing in on the finish line!

The third trimester of pregnancy starts around 28 weeks. Your pregnancy is considered term (no longer premature) once you are 37 or more weeks along. Full term is at 39 or more weeks. In general, the third trimester is a period of significant growth and development for your baby. During this time, your child's body will be maturing quickly in preparation for his or her exit from the familiarity and comfort of the womb.

You will be experiencing some of the greatest physical changes to your appearance and well-being during this trimester. While it is important to monitor the progress of your developing baby, it is equally as important to monitor your health and comfort as well.

You and your loved ones can follow this guide to learn what to expect during the third trimester of pregnancy. Keep in mind that these estimates are approximate and may not align with the progress of your individual pregnancy.

Month 7 of Pregnancy

You will notice that your child's senses are more fully developed. For example, your baby will actively respond to sounds and music, even showing an increase in pulse and movement in response. Additionally, your baby will assume a regular pattern of rest and wakefulness that is more similar to that of a newborn baby.

Your baby will also start using his or her hands more frequently during this time. Thumb sucking is an activity that not only helps to calm your baby, but encourages further development of cheek and jaw muscles.

This period of growth and increased movements may cause mothers more discomfort than before. Some mothers notice a feeling of pain in their ribs or abdomen as the baby grows and stretches the uterus. Discomfort on the sides of the abdomen may radiate down toward your pubic bone. You may also notice low back and hip pain and/or discomfort near your pubic and pelvic bones. These are all examples of musculoskeletal changes and discomforts of pregnancy which may intensify during periods of activity such as walking, exercise, being on your feet etc. Always discuss any pain complaints with your provider. They may recommend some at-home supportive care treatments to alleviate discomfort.

By the end of the seventh month of pregnancy, your baby will reach a weight of more than 2 pounds. During this time, babies born prematurely are typically able to survive outside of the womb, although they may have various medical problems due to prematurity.

Month 8 of Pregnancy

Throughout the eighth month of your pregnancy your baby will continue to grow in both length and weight. A significant portion of this increased weight comes from your baby's growing fat reserves which help with the nutritional demands of labor.

This will also translate into additional weight gain for the mother. This additional weight gain can sometimes cause other complications in the form of worsening backaches or leg cramps. Be sure to talk with your practitioner about ways to lessen these effects. Your practitioner will recommend staying hydrated and choosing a supportive position when sitting or sleeping.

Most importantly, the baby's brain and nervous system will be undergoing serious development during this month. While the lungs are still immature at this time, many internal systems that regulate some of the body's most important organs are fully developed. All of these changes make it possible for the child to be ready to leave the environment inside the womb when the time comes.

By the end of the eighth month of pregnancy, your baby will reach a weight of more than 5 pounds!

Month 9 of Pregnancy

The ninth and final month marks the end of your third trimester and also your entire pregnancy. This will be an exciting time for you and your loved ones as you get ready to meet the new addition to your family!

You will notice that your child's actions appear more coordinated and controlled. Blinking, turning of the head and opening and closing of the hands are all common movements that your baby will perform. These are all healthy signs that your developing baby is getting the nutrients he or she needs.

Mothers should make final preparations for the coming birth by assembling an overnight bag for the inevitable hospital stay. Bring comfort items and other personal things from home that will make the extended time away from home easier on you and your family.

The last few months of pregnancy are good times to plan for your delivery. You may want to tour the hospital you will deliver at. If you will be breastfeeding your baby, you should consider attending a breastfeeding course. It is beneficial to bring your partner or other support member to the class. The hospital may also offer labor and pain management classes among others. Check with your hospital for scheduling.

There are some general precautions you should always take. If any of following below occur or if you have any other concerns, contact your provider:

  • Contractions (your uterus becomes firm and painful for a short time, then lets up, then repeats)
  • You have a gush of watery fluid or have constant vaginal fluid leaking (this may mean you broke your water)
  • You have vaginal bleeding
  • Your baby starts moving less (or not at all) and/or you are no longer achieving your kick counts

Your baby will also make some preparations of their own before the day of the birth. Ideally, your baby will shift position before labor and delivery. The best position for your baby to be in for delivery is head down toward the birth canal. If your baby has his or her head up and the bottom is down toward the birth canal, this is called breech. This is not too common once your baby is term but should it occur, your provider will discuss labor and delivery options with you.

By the end of the ninth month of pregnancy, your baby will reach a weight of 7 or more pounds. Your baby is now fully developed and ready to you meet you!

If you have any questions or concerns about your third trimester of pregnancy, be sure to consult your doctor. Congratulations on the birth of your child!

Darrick Peters, DO

Methodist Physicians Clinic Women's Center

Dr. Peters is an obstetrician / gynecologist with Methodist Physicians Clinic Women's Center. “While I was on my rotations during medical school I had a natural draw to OB/GYN,” Dr. Peters said. “I really enjoy developing and building relationships that are more long term with patients. The ability to help a woman through her pregnancy and then help bring life into the world is just incredible.” He believes that the role of the physician is to provide guidance. &q ...

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