The Third Trimester

The last of the three stages of pregnancy, the third trimester, signals the upcoming birth of your child. It is an important point as the most visible effects of pregnancy become glaringly obvious, and these changes mean that you have to adjust your lifestyle accordingly.

What happens to me and my body during the third trimester?

The most visually significant (and for many women unwanted!) effect of the third trimester is weight gain. This is the point during which your baby grows most quickly, putting on as much as a stunning 28g every day. Not only will you experience weight gain, but you will also find yourself undergoing a significant change in the shape of your belly as the foetus drops down in preparation for the birthing process. Everything about the third trimester, and particularly its latter half, is about preparing you and your baby for birth, and you will find that your expanding midriff can cause you some discomfort and lower back pain. A need to urinate frequently is also a consequence of these changes as there is increased pressure on your bladder.

What happens to my baby/foetus during the third trimester?

As your body changes to prepare itself for childbirth, so does your baby. The foetus undergoes a number of different changes including increasingly strong and frequent movement, often to Mum’s discomfort! Something called ‘head engagement’ also occurs, and this is basically a rearrangement of the foetal head that brings it down towards the pelvis in preparation for childbirth. This can be a relief as this new position can make it easier to breathe as pressure shifts downwards, but can also be a source of discomfort as there is more pressure on your bladder and the odd feeling that your baby may drop out. This of course is an unfounded fear, but one that is commonplace nonetheless.

A baby born prematurely during this stage of pregnancy has, thanks to the amazing advances in medicine, a good chance of healthy survival. There are still risks involved in premature birth, and while chances are relatively small, there is always a chance of premature birth, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and looking after yourself during your pregnancy reduces the risk considerably.

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