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Third Trimester

About Third Trimester Development | Symptoms of Pregnancy | Visits and Testing | Preparing for Delivery

About Third Trimester Development

While in the third trimester, which spans week 28 to the end of pregnancy, the baby will continue to grow and become more active. Mothers should feel good fetal movement regularly during three consistent periods a day. This is one of the best ways to know that everything is normal. If there is a sudden decrease in activity, call your physician, as this could be a sign that the baby is in distress.

By 35 to 36 weeks, your baby should settle into a head down position for birth. If the baby does not move into this position and is at risk for being born breach, your physician may try to fix the baby’s position or recommend a cesarean section.

Symptoms of Pregnancy

During the third trimester, a woman’s uterus will be more active than in the previous months. There are likely to be occasional and random episodes of tightening, known as Braxton Hicks contractions. These contractions are usually not painful, are completely normal and are not a sign of preterm labor.

If you do begin experiencing painful contractions at increasing intensity, bleeding or leaking at any time, however, it is important to call your physician. Before 34 weeks, your physician can intervene and stop labor to prevent preterm labor.

Visits and Testing

Women in their third trimester will start seeing their physician more frequently as the due date approaches, moving from an appointment every four weeks to every two to every week. Women should continue to follow any restrictions and stay active during this time unless there is high blood pressure, swelling or pain.

Around 36 weeks, your physician will perform a Group B strep test. Adults with the bacterium are often unaffected and rarely show symptoms, although it can be very harmful to babies. When delivered vaginally from a mother with Group B strep, babies are at risk of catching the disease, which can cause respiratory infection or meningitis. Fortunately, if a mother tests positive, antibiotics prescribed by your physician can prevent Group B strep from spreading to the baby.

Preparing for Delivery

After 34 weeks, if you experience a sudden increase in discharge, constant leaking or a surge of water, this is likely a sign that the amniotic sac has broken. In most cases, the water doesn’t break until after labor has already started.

Baring a medical complication, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, it is better to have spontaneous labor than induced. However, if you miss your due date and move into 41 weeks, your physician will recommend that you be induced before reaching 42 weeks.

Once your water breaks or you start feeling contractions, call your physician to let him or her know you are in labor. Labor often lasts between 12 and 24 hours, although that time will be less for those who have already had a child.

To prevent additional stress before going to the hospital, have a plan in place ahead of time:

  • Appoint a family member or friend who can care for children or pets
  • Ask someone to call family members or friends to tell them you are in labor
  • Keep a packed overnight bag standing by
  • Plan a driving route

If at any point you have questions, call your physician so that he or she can help you and your baby stay healthy and feel at ease.

For More Information

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 847.733.5707.