Tommee Tipps

In this blog post, we'll explore what you can expect in the third trimester and how you can prepare for the arrival of your little one. So, let's dive in and get ready for the final countdown!

What Happens in the Third Trimester?

As a soon-to-be parent, you're probably wondering what to expect in the third trimester of your pregnancy. This final stretch can be both exciting and challenging, as your body undergoes significant changes in preparation for childbirth. From physical symptoms to emotional changes, there are a lot of things that can happen during this time.

In this blog post, we'll explore what you can expect in the third trimester and how you can prepare for the arrival of your little one. So, let's dive in and get ready for the final countdown!

When does the third trimester start?

The third trimester starts when the second trimester ends. It begins at the start of the 28th week of pregnancy.

How many weeks does the third trimester last for?

The third trimester lasts for 12 weeks.

Third trimester changes to your body to watch out for

Welcome to the third trimester, it’s almost time to meet your baby!

Let's cover some of the common third-trimester symptoms that pregnant people experience to help guide you through the final months.

  • Acid reflux (heartburn): Heartburn during pregnancy is common in the third trimester.
  • Braxton Hicks contractions: Also known as 'false labor' contractions, these irregular contractions are felt at the front of your bump and are caused by your uterus muscles getting ready to deliver your baby. They last for under 30 seconds up to two minutes, while real contractions initially last between 30 and 90 seconds.
  • Breast tenderness: Your boobs may continue to change and become tender during the third trimester as your hormones adapt and prepare them for breastfeeding. Many pregnant people notice that their breasts change the most during the third trimester.
  • Hemorrhoids: Also known as piles, these don’t just happen during pregnancy, but they are common in the third trimester and are caused by hormones that make your veins relax.
  • Lightning crotch: This is a term commonly used by pregnant people to describe a sudden, sharp pain in the pelvic area. This pain is often felt in the lower abdomen and genital region and can be caused by the baby's head pressing against nerves or blood vessels in the pelvic area. While it can be uncomfortable, it is usually a normal part of the third trimester and not a cause for concern. Changing positions, stretching, or taking a warm bath can help.
  • Protruding belly button: During the third trimester of pregnancy, it's not uncommon for some women to experience a protruding belly button. This can be due to the growing uterus putting pressure on the abdominal wall, causing the belly button to push outward. While it may look unusual, it's usually nothing to worry about and is a normal part of the pregnancy process.
  • Shortness of breath: Your growing uterus puts extra pressure on your diaphragm in the third trimester and can make you feel short of breath. If you're worried about feeling breathless, don’t hesitate to speak to your healthcare team.
  • Sleep troubles: You may find it harder to get comfortable in bed during the last few weeks of pregnancy due to your growing bump.

How your baby changes week by week in the third trimester

During the third trimester of pregnancy, a lot of changes happen week by week. Over the last few months of pregnancy, a baby puts on weight quickly and their body gradually gets more in proportion.

At 28 weeks, your baby is about the size of an eggplant and is starting to open and close their eyes. They can distinguish between light and dark and may startle at loud sounds and sense changes in light.

By 32 weeks, they are about the size of a squash and can blink, hiccup, and even dream. And at 36 weeks, they'll continue to make lots of movements. By this point, a baby is the size of a honeydew melon, and they usually start preparing for birth by moving into the head-down position.

It's important to continue to attend regular prenatal appointments during the third trimester to monitor your baby's growth and ensure that everything is progressing as it should.

Signs your pregnancy is going well in the third trimester

Feeling your baby move during the third trimester is one of the best signs that your pregnancy is going well at this late stage.

If you do notice your little one's movements changing and you're at all concerned, it’s best to reach out to your doctor and they will be able to carry out any checks – such as a kick count – to confirm that everything is ok.

Danger signs of pregnancy in your third trimester

It’s normal to have worries as you reach the end of your pregnancy, but the major things to look out for during the third trimester are:

  • A fever above 99.5°F
  • Dizziness or blurred vision
  • Increase in vaginal discharge
  • Leaking of amniotic fluid
  • Noticing a decrease in baby’s movements
  • Pain or burning when you pee
  • Regular contractions or tightening of the uterus before 36 weeks
  • Severe back pain or cramping in your lower abdomen
  • Severe headache or one that doesn’t go away
  • Swelling in your face, hands, or fingers
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Vomiting or nausea that doesn’t subside  

You should seek advice from your medical care team as soon as possible if you have any of the above during your third trimester.

Top tips for staying comfortable and happy in the 3rd trimester

Many pregnant people understandably find it harder to stay active as their bump grows bigger. During the final stages of pregnancyit's great to carry on gentle exercises like walking and it’s also a great time to practice pelvic floor exercises or Kegels to help maintain muscle tone and prevent urinary incontinence.

Swimming can also help soothe aches caused by your growing bump and gives you a few minutes of feeling weightless – what a relief!

Although it’s great to stay active, as with any other stage of pregnancy, it's important to listen to your body during the third trimester and rest whenever you need to. Whenever you can, seize the opportunity to chill and do whatever helps you relax, maybe that's a warm bath, a pregnancy massage, or watching some TV while cradling your bump.

Third trimester FAQs

  • What not to do in your third trimester?

    • Caffeine: Limit caffeine intake to 200 milligrams per day.
    • Certain foods: Raw or undercooked meats, fish high in mercury, and unpasteurized dairy products shouldn’t be eaten during pregnancy.
    • Cleaning out cat litter:Cat litter can carry a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis which can be dangerous for your unborn child, so it's best to avoid handling it.
    • Drinking alcohol and taking illicit drugs: Using illegal or street drugs and drinking alcohol during pregnancy can lead to long-term harm to the baby.
    • Flying after 36 weeks: If you're traveling during the third trimester you should speak to your GP or midwife and check with your airline first because different airlines have different rules and guidelines for pregnant people.
    • Heavy exercise:Although you should try and stay active, you should avoid anything that could cause you to become overly exhausted or harm your baby.
    • Heavy lifting:You shouldn’t lift anything heavy during the third trimester and if you do need to move anything heavy, make sure that you ask for help from others.
    • Ignoring car safety: Even though it may not be the most comfortable, you must always wear a seatbelt when traveling in the car, even when heavily pregnant. When worn correctly, they're safe and won't cause harm to your baby.
    • Sitting down for a long time: Sitting for too long when heavily pregnant can lead to poor blood circulation. If you do need to sit for an extended period, try to get up every couple of hours to stretch.
    • Smoking: Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for the health of your baby.
  • How many months is the 3rd trimester?

    The third trimester lasts for three months.

  • How does the third trimester feel?

    We asked our Instagram followers what the third trimester felt like for them, and here's what they told us:

    • "A mix of feeling big, slow, excited, uncomfortable, nervous."
    • "Peeing 1000 times a day and tired."
    • "Tired and out of breath a lot."
    • "Nesting, waiting, and waddling."
    • "Tired, but some days I had a lot of energy."
    • "Long and uncomfortable."
    • "A marathon, never ever ending."
    • "The end feels so long, especially in the heatwave."
    • "Aching, tired, nervous, excited to meet baby."
    • "So quick, blink and you miss it."
    • "Walking feels like wading through a swimming pool."
    • "Long wait game full of excitement and anticipation."
    • "Different between both pregnancies, this one has been fine."
    • "Scared, energy low, puffy, exciting to meet the wee bundle."
    • "Heartburn was awful."
    • "Lots of aches, like your body doesn't belong to you."