Pregnancy: Third Trimester

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Tips for Your Third Trimester of Pregnancy

Your third trimester of pregnancy is your last. It’s considered weeks 28 through 40. Before we get into the third trimester of pregnancy, let’s take a look at the first and second trimesters:

First trimester: During the first trimester, many women experience morning sickness. Significant developments occur up until the 12th week, as the fertilized egg transforms into an embryo and then a fetus. 

Second trimester: Your 13th through 27th week is the second trimester of pregnancy. For many women, it’s a more comfortable period. 

Third trimester: As you get closer to labour and delivery, you’ll have more frequent prenatal visits. Some of the common questions women have during the third trimester of pregnancy include:

  • What is the availability of the doctor or midwife? 
  • Who will be covering for them if they are not there? 
  • How can I reach the doctor? 
  • When should I call the doctor? 

Your baby is quickly growing, developing their organs and gaining weight. Their lungs are maturing to prepare for breathing outside of the womb. Often, the baby settles into a head-down position to get ready for childbirth. Your physician, obstetrician or midwife will continue to monitor the growth of the baby, and to monitor your blood pressure. They’ll check the baby's movements and heart rate. 

You’ll notice that your abdomen continues to expand as your uterus rises. Some women feel shortness of breath as the baby puts pressure on their diaphragm. It’s also common for women to have lower back pain. Other common health conditions during the third trimester of pregnancy include:

  • Heartburn
  • Varicose veins
  • Edema (swelling in the ankles, feet and hands)

During your third trimester, many people are also preparing for labour and delivery. This includes childbirth classes to learn about childbirth and postpartum care; and creating a birth plan. Making a birth plan involves discussing your preferences with your healthcare providers. For example, some women may want an epidural, while others don’t. You may also prepare by packing your hospital bag. 

Nutrition During the Third Trimester of Pregnancy

Your healthcare provider will probably advise you to eat a diet rich in protein, iron, calcium, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins C and D and magnesium. You should limit processed foods, sodium and sugar. You will probably already be taking prenatal vitamins like folic acid. 

Exercise During the Third Trimester

Exercise during the third trimester of pregnancy can be very beneficial, but you must take precautions. It can help you prepare for labour, improve flexibility and boost your mental health. Talk to your healthcare provider before you get started and avoid high-impact exercises. Here are some common third trimester exercises:

  • Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor
  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Prenatal yoga and Pilates
  • Stretching

Sexual Activity During the Third Trimester

Generally, sexual activity during the third trimester of pregnancy is safe. However, it's important to communicate with your healthcare provider.  Some women experience an increase or decrease in libido throughout pregnancy.

If you'd like more information about your third trimester of pregnancy, talk to your family physician, obstetrician, midwife or doula.

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