Third Trimester - What to Expect During the Final Months of Pregnancy

The third trimester of your pregnancy can be an exciting yet overwhelming time. On the one hand, you are getting closer to meeting your baby, and the anticipation is growing by giving each day. Still, on the other hand, it's hard not to feel a little bit overwhelmed with all the changes happening in your body during this period and preparing for labor. During these last few months of pregnancy, both physically and emotionally, there will be a rollercoaster ride as you experience significant shifts such as swollen feet, restricted movements due to weight gain, or even feeling like you forget how to sleep! Nevertheless, amongst all these physical and emotional transformations, many amazing things happen inside your womb too. You get to see how much they have grown while hearing their heart beating more vital than ever or maybe being lucky enough to witness those early kicks being developed, forming part of what we call fetal movements. 

The third trimester of pregnancy can come with some unexpected symptoms. Some of the old symptoms will return, but new ones, like Braxton-Hicks contractions or hemorrhoids, will make their debut. You might even feel anxious as you approach your due date. However, this is also the time when your baby is incredibly busy. Every day, they are putting the finishing touches on their development and increasing in weight. Brain development and neuron growth go into overdrive during these crucial weeks. Take care of yourself by napping, meditating, or anything else that helps you relax. So if you want to learn more about physical and emotional changes during this special phase in life, join us here!

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Your Symptoms in The Third Trimester

Breast Changes

It's common for women to experience breast growth during pregnancy, with some even seeing an increase of up to two cup sizes by the end of their term. In addition to the physical growth, you may also notice changes in your nipples and areolas. They may darken and become more pronounced, with tiny bumps called Montgomery's tubercles surrounding them. These little bumps are essential, as they produce oil that helps keep the nipple area moisturized during breastfeeding. 

Braxton Hicks Contractions

One of the most common yet confusing symptoms is Braxton Hicks contractions, also known as "false" labor. These contractions can occur anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes and may cause discomfort in your abdomen. However, they are not indicative of actual labor. So how do you differentiate between the two? The key is to observe the timing and intensity. Braxton Hicks contractions typically won't increase in frequency or strength over time and will subside with changes in position. Use this time as an opportunity to practice the breathing techniques that you will learn in your childbirth classes.

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Spotting and Discharge

During the third trimester of pregnancy, it's common to experience an increase in white-colored vaginal discharge due to increased estrogen levels. However, if you notice the discharge is particularly gelatinous with streaks of blood, it may be a sign of your mucus plug coming out, indicating that labor is coming. In this case, it's essential to contact your midwife or OB. It's also normal to experience a minor spotting during the third trimester, especially after sex, as your cervix becomes easily irritated. However, if you see a significant amount of blood, it's best to contact your doctor as it could indicate an issue with your placenta. Remember to keep an eye on any unusual discharge or bleeding during the third trimester and consult with your healthcare provider if you have any concerns.

Pregnant lady outside

Mild Swelling

Swollen ankles and feet are a common occurrence during the last weeks of pregnancy. There are several reasons why this happens; during pregnancy, the blood volume increases by 50%, leading to swelling due to excess blood. Additionally, the growing uterus can block blood flow, leading to fluid build-up in the legs, and hormonal changes can cause the body to retain more water. While swollen ankles and feet can be uncomfortable, it is a normal part of pregnancy. It can usually be managed by resting and elevating the feet, staying hydrated, and wearing comfortable shoes.


It's not something that most pregnant women want to discuss, but hemorrhoids during pregnancy are more common than you might think. So, what exactly is going on down there? In the third trimester, constipation (thanks to those lovely pregnancy hormones) and increased pressure on your pelvic area can cause hemorrhoids. You may experience itching, pain, fullness around the anus, pain with bowel movements, or feel like you constantly need to go. While it's not the most pleasant topic, rest assured that you're not alone, and there are ways to manage those pesky hemorrhoids.

The Development of Your Baby in the Third Trimester

28 Weeks

At 28 weeks, your baby has reached a significant milestone by entering the third trimester of your pregnancy. They are approximately 14.8 inches long at this stage, roughly the size of a bowling pin. As you eagerly anticipate meeting your little one, it's worth noting that they will continue to grow and develop throughout the remaining weeks of your pregnancy. By the end of your pregnancy, your baby may reach a length of somewhere between 19-21 inches and weigh between six to nine pounds. However, if they are born before 37 weeks, they will likely be smaller than full-term babies. It's a thrilling time as you prepare to welcome your little bundle of joy into the world.

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Pregnant woman holding stomach

30 Weeks and On

During pregnancy, there are countless milestones to look forward to. One of the most exciting is when your baby starts to pack on weight around 30 weeks. From here on out, your little one will gain about half a pound every week until they are born. As your baby grows, the amniotic sac will become more crowded, prompting them to curl up into the fetal position. Though this might be uncomfortable for Mom, it's reassuring to know that your baby is ready to enter the world. Congratulations, you're almost there!

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32 Weeks

As expectant parents, it's natural to worry about the health of your developing baby. By 32 weeks, you can breathe a small sigh of relief, knowing that most of your major internal organs are fully developed. While their brain and lungs will continue to mature over time, almost all other systems are ready to go. This is reassuring news, especially for parents of premature babies born at 32 weeks or later, as these little fighters have a 95% chance of survival thanks to the well-developed internal organs. As you eagerly await your baby's arrival, take comfort in knowing that your tiny body is working hard to prepare for life outside the womb.

36 Weeks

As the due date approaches, many expectant mothers eagerly anticipate the telltale sign that labor is coming: the baby's descent towards the pelvis. Known as dropping or lightening, this process usually occurs around 36 weeks, though the timing can vary for each pregnancy. While it's an exciting milestone, it's important to remember that labor may still be several weeks away. However, the benefits of the baby's descent are immediate, as many women report feeling relief from breathlessness and heartburn. Unfortunately, there are also some less pleasant symptoms, such as urinary urgency, hemorrhoids, and the delightful-sounding "lightning crotch." Despite the discomfort, this stage marks an exciting step towards meeting your little one.

39 Weeks

As a parent-to-be, it's essential to understand the stages of a baby's development and when they are considered full-term. At 39 weeks, your little one has reached the milestone of being full term, meaning they are fully developed and ready for life outside the womb. While it may be tempting to try to induce labor earlier on, studies have shown a significant difference in the health outcomes of babies born at 37 weeks versus those born at 39 weeks. So take comfort in knowing that your baby has had the time they need to fully develop and get ready for their grand arrival.

What to Expect in Your Third Trimester

Throughout this journey to welcome your new baby, know you are not alone. You are in good company and have many resources available to help you through the third trimester in both body and mind. Nurture yourself with plenty of rest, eat a nutritious diet, cut out stress as much as possible, stay active if possible, and maintain a supportive network to feel empowered and prepared to give birth to a healthy baby. 

Related Link: Formula vs. Breast Milk: What Choice is Right for Your Baby?

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