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3rd Trimester

Congratulations you are going to have a baby! This site will help to answer your questions about pregnancy, your relationship with your partner and planning for the birth of your baby. It will also prepare you for the most important role you will have – being a parent!

 

All About Baby

Your baby has finally reached the third trimester that runs from 25 weeks until the birth of your baby. At the beginning of this stage your baby is about 30-35 cm (12-14 inches) and weighs about 700-900 grams (1 ½ -2 pounds). By the end of this trimester baby may be about 45-55 cm (18-22 inches) and be about 3000-4000 grams or about 6 1/2-9 pounds. Find out more about fetal development.

All of your baby’s body systems were developed by the second trimester and now baby continues to mature, including your baby’s brain. Your baby continues to need iron to support both brain development and to store for use once he is born.

Late in the second trimester your baby begins to make breathing movements, which become more regular. These movements are important for when he is born. If he is born prematurely after the 26th-29th week of pregnancy he would be able to breathe air.

All about you, Mom

Wow, you have reached the final 3 months of your pregnancy! By the end of this stage your baby will be born!

As your baby continues to grow and gain weight, it becomes more and more crowded in the uterus. You will feel your baby’s movement even more and be able to determine when your baby is quiet or awake and active. You may even sense when your baby has hiccups, which is normal.

It is during this stage that you will find that some of your clothes are no longer comfortable to wear. For many moms, they no longer feel the nausea and vomiting of the first trimester and their appetite improves. Many moms may become anxious about their weight gain.

Baby’s continued growth impacts mom’s body and how she will feel. For some moms this is the period when they have more physical discomforts. Mom may continue to feel the same discomforts that she felt in the second trimesters, such as inflamed gums; breast changes, lower or upper back pain, groin or pubic pain, mild swelling of hands, ankles, and feet, heartburn, hemorrhoids, constipation, shortness of breath and skin changes.

New or previous discomforts may appear, such as fatigue, Braxton Hicks contractions (often referred to as pre-labour contractions), and leg cramps. As you get close to the end of your pregnancy you may have the following discomforts reappear – frequent urination, increased vaginal discharge and pressure in the pelvis. Don’t forget, there are measures you can take for relief. These discomforts may contribute to mom having difficulty sleeping – there are strategies that you can use to help you sleep. Remember to contact your health care provider if you encounter any of the Pregnancy Red Flags.

During this period, Mom may focus on birth and her ability to cope with this experience. She may feel overwhelmed and become anxious by the stories that others share with her about labor and birth. There are ways to cope with this unwanted advice. By late pregnancy, Mom’s hormones begin to change prior to giving birth and emotional swings can re-occur. If you are concerned in any way about the emotions you are having, review emotional red flags and be sure to talk with your health care provider about them.

Continue to keep healthy by eating nutritiously, being physically active, managing your stress, avoiding or limiting harmful substances, maintaining proper dental care and getting enough rest and sleep and limiting lifestyle practices that could be harmful.

Once you are about 30 weeks pregnant, your health care provider will likely increase your regular prenatal visits to every two weeks. From 36 weeks on expect to be visiting your health care provider’s office every 1-2 weeks until you go into labor. If complications arise with either your baby or you during this trimester your health care provider may see you even more frequently.

Further tests during this stage of your pregnancy may be done to monitor your baby’s health and development and include; ultrasound, Group B Streptococcus screen, Fetal Fibrinectin Test or a special type of ultrasound called biophysical profile. Some health care providers also suggest that you be aware of any changes in your baby’s movement. Baby should have both periods of activity and quiet.

If there is a marked change such as more activity than what has been normal or no activity contact your health care provider or go to hospital. This change could indicate a change in your baby’s health. Remember and discuss with your partner the questions you should ask if complications or further tests or treatment arise.

  • Why is this test, screen, procedure or treatment being done?
  • How will this test, screen, procedure or treatment be done?
  • When will this test, screen, procedure or treatment be done?
  • What are the risks to baby if we have this test, screen, procedure or treatment?
  • What are the risks to baby if we have this test, screen, procedure or treatment?
  • Are there any alternatives?
  • What might happen is we don’t do this test, screen, procedure or treatment now?

It is a good idea if you have not already done this to talk with your health care provider about any questions you may have about labour and delivery, what pain relief methods your health care provider suggests and your health care provider’s use of medical interventions during labor.

Premature or preterm labour is still a concern until your baby has reached 38 weeks. Babies who are born premature may have problems with their lungs, digestive system, eyes, ears, skin and immune system. Some of these can affect them the rest of their life. Review the signs and symptoms of preterm labour and what you should do if you should have any of these signs and symptoms.

Learning what happens during labour, ways to cope in labour, pain options that are available and the medical procedures that may be done will help you to be prepared when labor does start. If you are attending prenatal classes, this provides the opportunity to learn what practices are common in the birth settings in your community. Packing the items you will need to take with you if you are delivering in a birth center or hospital will help you feel prepared and be one less stressor to worry about when labor does start. Although your focus is likely on getting through labour it is important to know what to expect immediately after you give birth both for you and your baby.

All about you, Dad/Partner

There is no doubt now that you are going to become a parent! Mom’s increasing shape and your baby’s increased movement, as well as the preparation of a space for baby in your home make it hard to deny that a baby is about to arrive.

Just as Mom experiences a variety of discomforts during this period of time, some partners also experience increased weight, backache etc. Some partners may experience more anxiety and concern about finances, how they will cope with childbirth and the health of both mom and baby particularly as labor approaches. They may feel overwhelmed and scared by the stories they hear about birth from friends, family, colleagues and even total strangers. If you are concerned about your emotions review the emotional red flags and talk to your health care provider.

Talking about emotions may not be a “guy kind of thing,” but staying healthy so you can be there for your soon-to-be born baby is important. If you find you are more stressed during this time, eating nutritious food, getting some physical activity, limiting substances (such as tobacco, alcohol, drugs) and getting enough rest will help you cope with the stress. These measures will also help you to be more helpful when labor does start.

All about you, the Couple: Couple Relationship

Excitement, anticipation, fear, anxiety and happiness are just a few of the emotions that couples may experience during this period. Friction between the two of you can still arise as you decide on baby equipment and gear, names, finances and life’s daily challenges. Try and use effective communication skills and communication strategies. For some couples abuse may actually get worse as the pregnancy continues. If this applies to you there are resources that can help.

To help you prepare for baby’s arrival and the first few weeks at home. It is helpful if the two of you decide what household tasks are critical, who can do them and which ones could be assigned to others such as family and friends who volunteer to help.  See our article on Roles and expectations for more information. Freezing food that can be reheated and stocking the cupboards with foods that can be easily prepared will help both of you eat nutritiously in those first few weeks after baby is born.

Mom’s changing size and physical discomforts can put a downer on her sexual appetite. Experimenting with different positions for intercourse and using other ways of showing affection may help during this time. If complications arise during this period of your pregnancy, be sure to ask your health care provider about whether sexual intercourse could cause any harm.

All about you, the Couple: Parenting

Have you decided on a name yet? There is still time. Officially, you do not need a name for your baby until you complete the paper work for your baby’s health insurance and birth certificate, usually within the first month after they are born.

By the end of this trimester you will be bringing your baby home. If you have not done so, now is the time to check that your home is a safe and healthy place for your baby to grow. You and your partner should be aware of the exposures that you may encounter in the work place that you may inadvertently carry home each day with you. Mom, if your job requires travel be sure to check with your health care provider and any airlines as this is the period when restrictions on Mom’s travel might happen. You nor the airline staff would want Mom going into labor while flying.

By the last month of your pregnancy you likely have purchased most of the equipment and baby gear that you will need to get you through the first few months. Review the list that you made of the baby gear you needed and check that you have the essentials. Remember when purchasing baby furniture or equipment that you consider the safety features and check that they meet current Canadian Safety Standards.

Do you know if you are expecting a girl or a boy? If the baby is a boy, some parents will need to make a decision about whether the baby will be circumcised. For some this might be an easier decision if it is normally done for religious or cultural reasons. Routine circumcision for non-religious or cultural reasons is not usually done. Find out more about circumcision how it is done, who does it and how to care for the circumcised penis.

Once your baby arrives the daily tasks of taking care of your baby begins – feeding, diapering, bathing, dressing, putting baby to sleep, soothing and comforting, playing, teaching everyday. For most parents the decision around how to feed baby is made during the pregnancy. This is just one of the many decisions that you will make as a parent. Learn as much as you can about the feeding options before you make an informed decision. Another major decision you will make regards the type of diapers you will use – cloth or disposable – each have benefits and limitations. Routine care includes caring for the umbilical cord (belly button) bathing, dressing, holding, burping changing diapers-before you know it you will become very skilled in all of these areas.

Since your baby is not able to talk crying is one of the ways they have of indicating they need you. Your baby may cry for many reasons. As you get to know your baby, you will understand why they maybe crying. There are a number of ways to soothe a crying baby, some of which are dependent on the reason why your baby is crying. For example, baby can cry when they are hungry, feeding them makes them stop crying. Parents often worry that their baby is crying too much and that baby has developed colic. What is colic? What can you do if your baby has colic? Parents often worry that the way their baby is crying is not normal or is different than they have cried before.

The sound of a baby crying can be very stressful particularly if all attempts to soothe your baby seem to fail; you haven’t got a good nights’ sleep and you are feeling stressed. These are the times when a parent could respond inappropriately and harm their baby. It is times like this when all parents need support from others. As a couple think about who you could turn to for support and make a list now before your baby is born. Remaining calm and using some stress relievers may help get you through these challenging times.

A baby must adapt from the life they had during pregnancy to living in the world around us. The first month after their birth is a time of adjustment and your care provider will want to monitor that your baby is adjusting and growing. Most health care providers will want to see your newborn within the first 3-4 days of you coming home. One of the decisions that parents need to make during the late stage of pregnancy is who they will have to provide medical care for their baby. Depending on where you live this could be a family doctor, pediatrician or nurse practitioner.

In most cases your baby will have regular check-ups, usually monthly for at least the first 6 months. One of the realities of being a parent is knowing that your child will get sick, usually when you least expect it. What signs may indicate my baby is sick? When would my baby need to see a doctor? What do I need in my medicine chest to care for my baby?

As baby’s birth gets closer you are likely thinking about how you will manage when you bring baby home. There are some strategies that you can do now that will help ease your transition into parenthood and the first few weeks you are home.

The first few weeks at home are full of adjustment! You are getting to know another person – your baby. It is similar to the time it took for you as a couple to get to know each other – your likes, dislikes, and personality traits. What is a new baby’s temperament like? What kind of parent will you be? Being a “positive parent” can help you develop a positive and warm relationship with your baby. What does it mean to be a positive parent? What is the Comfort, Play and Teach approach and how will this help you to become a positive parent? Once your baby is born you can start being a positive parent and using Comfort, Play and Teach!

Enjoy these last days of your pregnancy as you prepare to finally meet your baby!


Be sure to visit the Prenatal section for more on thinking about pregnancy, all three trimesters and for postnatal information.  

Now that you're baby has arrived visit A Parent's World for parenting information, strategies, videos and more. 

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