Welcome to your third trimester! There’s no doubt you’re pregnant now — you’re definitely carrying a baby, not a big burrito. Your prenatal visits will be more frequent, typically every two weeks instead of every month. Your health and the development of the baby will determine when your visits are.
You’re probably getting increasingly uncomfortable through your third trimester. It’s getting harder to exercise with your growing belly and it can be hard to relax as it’s awkward to find a comfortable position.
Your baby is continuing to grow and at this point, you’ll probably be gaining around a pound a week. Overall weight gain is related to your pre-pregnancy weight — your doctor will let you know what is normal and expected for someone of your size.
Read on to learn what to expect throughout your third trimester as you prepare to meet your baby.
HOW YOUR BODY IS CHANGING
Your Growing Belly
Your body has already experienced many drastic and amazing changes. During your third trimester, the main change you’ll experience is the continued growth in your belly. As baby continues to grow, he or she will start to crowd your abdominal cavity. This can cause difficulty taking deep breaths.
The size of the baby will increase the pressure on your bladder, meaning that your increased urinary frequency will return. Many women also struggle to find comfort when trying to sleep. We recommend using pillows to support your belly and back — special pillows for pregnancy can be helpful, although sometimes pricey. It is not recommended to sleep on your back as it increases pressure on a major vein that returns blood from your lower body to your heart. Sleeping on your side is best and if possible, the left side. This is because it allows for maximum blood flow to the baby.
In addition to your growing belly, you may also feel warm to the touch and feel like you’re hot all the time. This is because the fetus is radiating body heat. You may notice swelling in your legs, feet and hands — this is normal. It’s because you’re retaining fluids and it will subside after birth.
Your skin is still changing too — stretch marks may appear on your belly, along with your breasts, thighs and buttocks. Where your skin is stretching on your belly, you may experience dry itchy skin. You may notice increased hair growth or coarser hair on your arms, legs and face due to your hormones. Dark patches of skin may appear on your face, or become more pronounced if they’re already present.
You may experience pain in your back, along with heartburn and indigestion. Some women experience hemorrhoids and constipation, which can vary in severity.
It can be hard to watch your body go through such drastic changes. You don’t feel like yourself and your confidence may decrease — that’s normal. These changes aren’t minor — they’re a big deal. Some women feel sad when they start to see stretch marks or dark spots on their face. And while there’s nothing we can say to help you accept these changes, we can reassure you that they happen to almost all pregnant women. You’re not alone — and these changes do subside after birth.
If you’re struggling to come to terms with the changes you’re experiencing, consider reaching out to a friend or family member who has recently gone through a pregnancy themselves. Simply talking about your struggles and having your emotions validated by someone who understands can be incredibly helpful.
HOW YOUR BABY IS GROWING
Your baby is continuing to grow, both in weight and height. By the end of the third trimester, baby will be around 19-21 inches long and weigh an average of 6-9 pounds.
At this point, your baby can see and hear as their brain continues to develop. The baby’s lungs are fully matured by 39 weeks. The baby has the ability to cry and can suck its thumb.
Around your 36th week of pregnancy, the baby’s head will “engage”, meaning it drops into the pelvic area, preparing for delivery. The bones of the baby’s skull remain soft, making it easier for the baby to be delivered through the birth canal.
WORKING IN LATE PREGNANCY
Most women are able to continue working into their third trimester, but it truly depends on the nature of your job.
Due to fluid buildup, some women develop carpal tunnel syndrome while they are pregnant. This can make desk jobs uncomfortable, especially when typing. Using correct supports for your wrists when typing or using a mouse can help, in addition to taking frequent breaks.
You’ll need to speak with your healthcare provider and your boss if you job involves heavy labor, like lifting or pulling. As your pregnancy progresses, these activities should be reduced based on how you’re feeling and what your doctor suggests. Work environments that involve chemicals or biological agents should be approached with caution. You can talk to your doctor about your specific concerns as you may need to take extra precautions. Particularly loud, cold or hot work environments should also be reconsidered.
NUTRITION IN LATE PREGNANCY
During your third trimester, you’ll need an additional 300 calories each day. We often see that women overestimate 300 calories — it’s simply a serving of almonds and a large piece of fruit or two slices of whole grain bread. Be smart about where your extra calories are coming from — you’ll want to get them from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and calcium-rich foods.
Some women struggle to eat normal sized portions during late pregnancy. As the baby is taking up so much room in your abdomen, you may feel full after just a few bites. This is completely okay — we recommend breaking your meals up into smaller portions throughout the day to ensure you meet your overall intake.
You’ll continue avoiding unpasteurized dairy, hot dogs, lunch meats, refrigerated pâté and meat spreads and refrigerated smoked seafood. If you plan to breastfeed, talk to your caregiver about what you can eat while breastfeeding.
How Women’s Healthcare of Morgantown Can Help
As your pregnancy progresses, you’ll have more questions. It’s time to start developing a flexible birth plan and preparing for your visit to the hospital. We recommend taking birthing classes and newborn care (including breastfeeding) classes during your third trimester. High-quality informative classes are offered at Mon Health, where you can meet other expecting parents and get answers to all your questions.