Pregnancy – The Third Trimester

You will likely feel anxious about labor and wish you could go ahead and have the baby now. This doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with your baby. The sense you have of urgency is due to metabolic changes in the brain. Subtle shifts have gone on in each trimester bringing about the fatigue of the first, the elation and vigor of the second, and now the nervousness of the third.

Physical changes:

Your size is now growing rapidly and you are likely to feel tired. You may find that you are not sleeping as well as usual and this will increase your need for rest. As your ligaments stretch and give way, you may find walking about rather uncomfortable. Once your baby has settled into your pelvis, you will find that your breathlessness will diminish because the pressure on your diaphragm has been relieved.


Because of the reduced movement of the diaphragm as the baby grows larger in the abdomen, pregnant women breathe more deeply, taking more air in with each breath allowing for a better mixing of gases and more efficient consumption of oxygen. This lifts the ventilation rate from the normal seven liters of air per minute to ten liters (three pints to five pints per minute), an increase of over 40 percent. However, the oxygen requirements are increased by only 20 percent. This leads to over-breathing, which means that more carbon dioxide is exhaled per breath than normal. The low CO2 in the blood gives rise to a shortness of breath and this may be bothersome during this trimester. Relief should come when your baby engages in your pelvis. Meanwhile, sit in a semi-propped up position and avoid overdoing things.

Possible problems:

Hypertension might be a problem in the later stages of pregnancy.

The major warning signs are swollen and puffy hands, wrists, ankles, feet, and face. Pre-eclampsia may interfere with the functioning of the placenta and prevent it from transporting nutrients to your baby efficiently. You may have to be hospitalized.

Taking care of yourself:

As the third trimester continues, the extra weight you are carrying can result in further backache and cause you to feel continually tired. Sleep can become a problem as you get bigger, as very few positions in bed seem to be comfortable. Don’t be tempted to take sleeping pills because they will make the baby sleepy too.

Take your time with everything during the last month, and make certain you get adequate rest; catnap whenever you can and set aside periods when you can relax – even if you don’t sleep. As your desire for making love may diminish or be frustrated by your increasing size, you may find that massage can enable you to relax and unwind, particularly if your partner can make it sensual. Continue to eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and drink at least eight glasses of fluid per day as you’ll probably pass urine more often. You may find that you are constipated at times.

Your Antenatal care:

You will be checked more frequently during this time. There are many tests that your doctor may use to judge the baby’s health or well-being such as ultrasound, fetal heart rate monitoring and hormones measurements, and your doctor will discuss at each stage what is being done and why. Urine and blood pressure testing will be done frequently as will checks for possible swelling of your feet and hands. From the 36th week up until the onset of labor, you will be seen and checked at weekly intervals.

Preparing for baby:

Towards the end of this trimester you should have completed your baby’s nursery, and purchased the essential equipment.

It’s likely you have stopped working by the seventh month, and will be able to take life at your own pace. Labor may be increasingly on your mind, and some women do find themselves worrying obsessively about it. Although no-one can predict exactly what will happen during labor, as your experience will be unique, be reassured that the vast majority of births go without a hitch.

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