Pregnancy week by week: your third trimester

Welcome to your third and final stage of pregnancy. You’re on the home stretch, baby! This is a cute time. Your walk will turn into a waddle, your belly will pop, and yeah… there’ll be some not-so-cute third trimester symptoms too (like heartburn, diarrhea and third trimester fatigue).

When does the third trimester start? It’ll kick off at Week 28 and will last until your baby is born, around Week 40. So let’s get into what it looks like. This week-by-week guide will help you understand what to expect in these exciting third trimester weeks, and what you should be doing as the countdown to meeting your little one begins.

Week 28

This week your baby’s eyes can partially open and they’ve even got eyelashes! On the flip side, you may be struggling to keep your eyes shut. 

Third trimester insomnia can be linked to pain. It’s normal to feel pelvic pain during pregnancy (third trimester especially!), and back, hip and vaginal pain are common too. Some women also complain of nasty right side pain during pregnancy. Third trimester round ligament pain, muscle strain or digestive issues are most likely the cause of this. But if you’re worried and it’s keeping you up at night, get it checked out.

Things to do

  • Exercise (as crazy as it sounds) – Exercise is actually wonderful for you during your third trimester weeks. It can help promote good sleep, a healthy pregnancy, and reduce pregnancy-related pain and swelling.

Week 29

Now the size of a cabbage, your baby will be starting to get cramped in their little home. Those light flutters of movement you felt in the second trimester will have escalated into full-blown kicks. No, your unborn child doesn’t hate you – they’re just trying to get comfy in there.

Things to do

  • Start to count kicks – They may be uncomfortable, but kicks are a good sign! 10 movements in two hours is about standard. It’s important to contact your maternity care team ASAP if you’re ever worried about a decrease or change in your baby’s activity.

Week 30

More than 10½ inches (27cm) long and weighing nearly 3 pounds (1.3kg), your baby is getting bigger. One telltale sign that they’re almost here is Braxton’s Hicks contractions in your third trimester. These generally aren’t too painful, but can still be f*cking weird! They’re like an odd tightening sensation in your uterus.

Things to do

  • Learn about labor signs – Talk to your doctor and attend a birth class to learn about the true signs of contractions, so you know what to look out for.

Week 31

From Week 31, your baby will start to put on weight fast. And as a result, so will you. 

Third trimester weight gain is the most intense of the pregnancy, and you’ll notice significant changes to your body week to week. It’s normal to put on a pound (½ kg) per week at this point. 

Things to do

  • Sneak in some sexy time? – Ah, go on. It may feel like a game of Twister, but third trimester sex is safe and good for you! 

Week 32

If you’re starting to feel puffed out as you go about your daily activities, this is normal. It’s happening because your growing baby and uterus are putting pressure on your poor lungs. 

If you’re worried about it, visit your doctor. While breathlessness and third trimester fatigue are common, they could be related to another condition (case in point: COVID and pregnancy third trimester symptoms can be similar).

Things to do

  • Have a baby shower – Now’s as good a time as any! Of course you totally don’t have to if it’s not your thing – but this is an excuse to get baby gifts, eat cake, and tee up some babysitting arrangements for the future. C’mon mama, milk it.

Week 33

Your baby can now hear sounds, feel sensations (see what happens when you jump into a cold shower!), and even detect light with their eyes. So amazing!

You may feel tired, overheated, headachey and cranky in general by this point. But antenatal depression is NOT one of those third trimester symptoms to ignore. If you’re teary, anxious, not sleeping well and think something could be off, talk to your doctor or therapist. 

Things to do

  • Nap – Third trimester insomnia sucks. Try to catch some z’s during the day if you can, and create a peaceful sleeping environment by avoiding screens and bright lights before bed.

Week 34

By 34 weeks, your baby’s nifty little liver is starting to store iron. This will last them until 4–6 months after birth, when they’ll need to start eating solids to meet their iron needs.

Make sure you’re eating iron-rich, nutrient-dense foods yourself to promote a healthy pregnancy and birth. This can be tough if you’re experiencing third trimester nausea, or extreme morning sickness that lasts throughout pregnancy. For many women it clears up by the end of the first trimester, but if you’re still struggling this far in, speak to your doctor about treatment options.

Things to do

Week 35

Your baby’s movements may change from distinct kicks to turn and somersaults now, as though there’s a little circus performer in there. 

Keep an eye on your pregnancy symptoms. Things like acid reflux in pregnancy (third trimester classic!) aren’t generally cause for concern. But persistent headaches, vomiting, changes to your vision or pains in your tummy could be a sign of preeclampsia. This is a condition caused by high blood pressure. Pregnancy (third trimester in particular) can wreak havoc with your blood pressure and may require closer monitoring.

Things to do

Week 36

Around Week 36, your baby should be in a head-down position, ready for birth. If this hasn’t happened your doctor may try and move their position, and give you some tips for how to naturally adjust them. 

Things to do

Week 37

Now weighing about 6½ pounds (3kg), your babe is building strength and has a firm hand grasp. You may find your breasts leaking in anticipation! This liquid is called colostrum and is your body’s way of preparing for breastfeeding.

Things to do

  • Collect and freeze colostrum – This stuff is ‘liquid gold’, packed with nutrients for your bub. You could collect it and store it in the freezer to feed your newborn when they arrive.

Week 38

You’re now considered ‘full term’ so if it hasn’t happened yet, labor is just around the corner. 

Things to do

  • Ask all the questions – You’ll be visiting your care team more regularly in the last few weeks of pregnancy. They might conduct a third trimester ultrasound to check on your baby’s growth. Now’s the time to ask any last minute questions and get clarity on what to expect in the birthing suite. 

Week 39

Your baby is fully grown – around 21 inches (35cm) – and ready to meet you! Their growth will slow down now, and you might experience some intense pelvic pressure as they engage into birth position. 

Things to do

  • Watch out for signs of labor – Nausea, water breaking or diarrhea are all signs your body is going into labor.

Week 40… and beyond

If you’ve made it this far, you’ve done so great! And you’re probably feeling over it. Remember lying on your tummy? You’ll be able to do that again very soon. 

Many pregnancies go past their due date, but it’s good to check in with your doctor or midwife to ensure everything is progressing as it should be. 

Things to do

  • Discuss induction – If your pregnancy lasts beyond 42 weeks your doctor might suggest induction. Talk about the risks and benefits of this should you need it. 
  • Try all the things – Common methods for bringing on labor include drinking raspberry leaf tea, having sex and eating dates. These aren’t guaranteed, but if you’re desperate enough you might give anything a shot!

All in all, the third trimester of pregnancy is an exciting time filled with anticipation. There’ll be times of pain, exhaustion and “JUST GET THIS THING OUT OF ME!” for sure. But if ever there’s a time to slow down and take care of yourself, this is it.

By following your medical team’s advice you’ll provide a beautiful environment for this little baby, who you’ll soon be very chuffed to be holding in your arms.

Remember, this article shouldn’t replace good medical advice from your care team.

Read next: Ways to induce labor naturally: what actually works

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