One of the best moments but also the most nerve-wracking one is when a pregnant woman reaches her third trimester. It basically is a mixture of everything – different kinds of emotions creep in the birth comes near. But, when do 3rd trimester start? How does a woman know she’s already at the last phase of pregnancy?
I guess it is safe to say that getting pregnant, and knowing there’s a little woman inside your womb is one of the best feelings ever! It’s really unexplainable. You out of the blue feel almost every kind of emotion there is. Needless to say, there are so many changes happening that sometimes it can get really very overwhelming.
Pregnancy starts, according to the American Pregnancy Association, from “the first day of the woman’s last normal menstrual period (LMP), even though the development of the fetus does not begin until conception, which is about two weeks later”.
From then, a woman slowly experiences changes not just in her body, but even in her mood and the way she sees things. Personally, I remember my life changed 180 degrees the moment we got a confirmation of our pregnancy. Slowly, changes happen. From being carefree, I become extra careful – by the way, my husband changed too!
I cannot explain, but it’s as if there is the magic that happens that you just suddenly become mature and more responsible. Although I thought maybe it has something to do with the fact that there is a human being, a tiny heart that is beating inside your tummy.
The months go by so fast – the first trimester, second, and then suddenly, it’s as if in just a click you realize you are already on the last phase of your pregnancy. But when do 3rd trimester start? How do you know? What happens during this period? What should you be doing by this time?
When do 3rd trimester start?
As you already know by now, pregnancy is divided into three phases. The first trimester, which basically is your week 1 to 12; second trimester, which refers to the 13th to 27th week of pregnancy, and lastly, the third trimester, which starts at 28th week, and ends at 40th week or once you give birth earlier or later.
On a monthly basis, the third trimester starts from the 7th month of pregnancy until the 9th month. However, like what has been said earlier, in some cases, delivery happens earlier than supposed 9th or 40th week. Based on facts, 30% of all babies being delivered linger past the 40-week mark. If this happens, you can try some tricks to help you naturally induce labor. However, once you reach 42 weeks and the baby wouldn’t still come out, you’ll be officially considered as overdue. It is during this point of your pregnancy that your doctor will decide to induce labor if it does not start on its own – or depending on the case of the baby inside your womb, your doctor may decide to do a caesarian section.
How many weeks are there in the 3rd trimester?
It actually depends on when your baby comes out. But for a full-termer, which is 40 weeks, the third trimester is usually composed of thirteen weeks.
How do you know if you are in the 3rd trimester?
Just like the first and second trimesters, changes continue to happen in your body as you reach the third trimester. In fact, you will have an idea when do 3rd trimester start by simply checking on your body.
During this period of time, you will most likely feel a lot more fetal activity compared to the previous months. You may also be experiencing changes particularly as your bump gets bigger – well, the biggest it will be in the whole pregnancy period.
If I may share, I am petite and really slim. The whole time I was in my first and second trimester, people can’t really tell that I was pregnant. My baby bump was so small it can pass as fats. In fact, it took me until I was on the third trimester of my pregnancy when my baby bump became really noticeable. It was only then when people started to notice I was pregnant.
For some reason, which can be explained by science, it is during the third trimester when your tummy really gets big.
Anyway, along with the changes in your body, rather the bigger tummy, you would know when do 3rd trimester start when you start to experience the following:
– Abdominal Pain – It is common among pregnant women who are in their third trimester to feel cramps or sharp pain during these times as your round ligaments, which basically support your lower abdomen, stretch to ensure there is enough space for your growing baby bump. During this time, there really is not much you can do apart from taking it easy. It is part of the whole process and there is nothing else you can do to change that.
– Backache – Another common thing that a woman experiences when she hits the third trimester of pregnancy is backache. Do not worry, it’s pretty normal. This happens because the pregnancy hormone called relaxin loosens your joints and your growing belly pulls your center of gravity forward. To help ease the pain, you may put your feet up. However, if you experience sharp, shooting pain from your back to your legs – that could be a sign of sciatica. Consult your healthcare provider immediately if you go through such.
– Braxton Hicks Contractions – It is important that you know the difference between Braxton hicks contractions and real contraction during this time. Just so you know, Braxton hicks are your body’s way of preparing you for labor. Basically, you will feel irregular practice contractions at this stage until real labor begins.
– Crazy Dreams — It’s quite weird rather amazing how pregnancy hormones can affect even our dreams! One sign when do 3rd trimester start is when your dreams become as vivid as ever! If you happen to start experiencing this, do not worry, it’s totally normal.
– Clumsiness – Interestingly even clumsiness has something to do with your pregnancy hormones! At this stage of pregnancy, your hormones are on overdrive. Your growing belly is throwing you off balance. In addition, you become more forgetful than ever! Do not worry though because it’s part of the process. It is totally and undeniably normal among pregnant women.
– Fatigue – When you are on your third trimester, you will most likely feel more exhausted because of the growing demands of pregnancy. To help counter the feeling, experts recommend eating well, at the same time, stay active, and of course, make sure to get as much sleep as you can. You know what they say, during this stage, you must be able to stock up on sleep because once the baby is out you will be deprived of it.
– Heartburn – During the last few weeks of pregnancy, the uterus pushes the stomach as well as its contents upward, thus, causing persistent heartburn. While it is very normal to occur during this stage, if you find it brothering, you better talk and seek help from your healthcare provider. You may discuss with your doctor about proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) r H2 blockers, which are considered safe for pregnant women.
– Stretch Marks – Stretch marks are very common among pregnant women. It looks like tiny tears that appear in the skin during pregnancy are usually caused by genetics. To help minimize the appearance of stretch marks, you may use moisturizers. Just make sure though that the product is safe for pregnant women.
– Lack of Bladder Control – When you hit your third trimester, the bigger your belly becomes, which affect your bladder control. It is normal to pee all the time or in some cases, pee without you even knowing it.
– Leaky Breasts – Some women are fortunate enough to start leaking milk even before giving birth. I for one did not experience that. However, for some, they do, which is totally normal as well because your body by this time starts to warm up to feed your little one.
– Varicose Veins – When you are on your third trimester already, most likely the baby in your tummy becomes heavier, which is sometimes linked to the occurrence of varicose veins. However, the real reason why bulging veins, which include hemorrhoids, a type of varicose vein appears in your lower body is because of the extra blood you are pumping. If you are worried about it, well, if you haven’t had any before you were pregnant, chances are they will most likely disappear once you give birth.
– White Discharge – If you are in your 8th or 9th months and you happen to pee and you notice some white discharge, do not panic. Most likely that is part of your mucus plug. According to Medical News Today, the mucus plug is “a thick clump of cervical mucus that forms during pregnancy, helping block the cervix”. Furthermore, you have to be aware that once you lose your mucus plug, it may mean that labor will begin soon.
While all these symptoms can be very uncomfortable, instead of complaining, just focus on the prize. You know, as they say, at the end of the day, all of these become meaningful and worth it once you gaze on your baby at birth.
What should your activities be when you hit 3rd trimester?
Once you hit the third-trimester stage, it is important that you know what to do to ensure you deliver safely and successfully. At this stage, make sure you:
– Track Fetal Movement – Once you hit your 28th week, which basically is the beginning of the third trimester of pregnancy, your healthcare provider will most likely ask you to keep track of your little one’s kicks. Make sure to count and take note of the kicks on a regular basis especially when you hit your 9th month. This helps track your baby’s movements to ensure that he or she is okay.
– Watch Your Weight – Weight gain is typical at this stage, but make sure to stay within normal or within the acceptable pregnancy weight. Whether you are gaining or not gaining enough, make sure to discuss this with your doctor so he or she can adjust your diet to ensure you get back on track.
– Move – Depending on your pregnancy situation, you may be asked by your healthcare provider to continue pregnancy-safe exercises up until you reach your due date. Keep moving as much as you can as this helps a lot in preparing your body for labor and delivery.
– Schedule Check-ups – By around 7th and 8th month, your healthcare provider will most likely ask you to do several tests like glucose levels test, anemia, and group B strep. Meanwhile, once you hit your 9th month, your healthcare practitioner will most likely perform an internal examination of your cervix to know if there are effacement and dilation or the thinning and opening of your cervix have already begun. However, if you are classified as “high-risk,” your doctor will most likely schedule a biophysical profile or non-stress test in the last few weeks of your pregnancy to ensure that everything is happening as expected.
– Do Hospital Tour – Part of the preparation for the “D day” or delivery day is to do a hospital tour. This way you and your husband or partner get to familiarize yourself with the facility and all the other stuff. It will also help prepare you mentally for the environment you will be in during your labor and delivery.
– Pick a Pediatrician – A lot of couples (I and my husband included) often forget about this. Please know that choosing or picking a pediatrician is as essential as choosing your OB gynecologist. Get a list of pediatricians from the hospital where you plan to give birth, and then shortlist names. Do interview them if necessary. But for me, I suggest you get recommendations from mommy’s friends.
– Buy Baby Stuff – It is also during the third trimester when you can start buying baby stuff. It’s the perfect time to shop for baby clothes, mittens, and all the other things for your little one because by now you already know your baby’s gender. Apart from clothing, make sure not to forget other essential gears like especially a crib, stroller, car seat (which, by the way, is very important so you can bring your baby home from the hospital), changing table and baby monitor.
– Attend Birth Classes – If you have time, attend childbirth classes especially if you are a first-time mom. It really helps a lot. In addition, you may also attend lectures on the different birthing methods – so you can choose whether you want medicated or non-medicated normal delivery, natural birth, caesarian section, etc. You may also consider infant CPR classes as well as baby care.
– Prepare for Breastfeeding – While there are many available resources out there about breastfeeding, I suggest you find a certified lactation consultant to help you prepare for this journey – that is of course if you want to pursue breastfeeding.
– Prepare Your Birth Plan — A birth plan is a piece of document that helps you communicate your wishes to the doctors and midwives who will care for you during labor and delivery. It basically states the type of labor and birth you would like to have, what you want to happen during these periods, and of course, what you want to avoid. You also include what to do in case of emergencies during labor and childbirth.
– Learn the Stages of Labor – There really is no way to prepare fully for delivery. Nonetheless, learning about what to expect during early, active, and transitional labor including pushing the baby out, and delivering the placenta is still essential. At least you have an idea, and will help calm you down instead of panicking once you’re at that moment already.
What happens to your baby during the 3rd trimester?
Apart from knowing when do 3rd trimester start, you must also be aware of how your baby is growing by this time.
Once you and your baby reach the third-trimester mark or 28th week, your little one should be growing from about 2.5 pounds and 16 inches long by then to about 6 to 9 pounds and 19 to 22 inches long by 40th week. Yes, that’s how fast your little one grows inside your belly. So, do not be surprised as that is totally normal.
Pregnancy is both an exciting and nerve-wracking experience. But you know, it’s totally worth it once you get a glimpse of your little one at birth.
Especially among first-time moms, it is very important to be aware of the different stages of pregnancy. This helps you cope, at the same time prepare for your baby’s coming.
In particular, it is vital that you know when do 3rd trimester start so you won’t get rattled once you already start experiencing the last few changes that may occur. Needless to say, the third trimester is the most crucial yet very thrilling part of all as delivery nears.
If you are already entering or are already in your third trimester, congratulations! I hope you have a safe delivery, and may you and your baby remain healthy. Do not forget to enjoy the last few weeks before you finally hold your little one.