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What takes place during the third trimester?

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Third trimester runs from week 28 to week 42. It is the most exhausting period of pregnancy. There are frequent baby movements and increased weight gain which can make you restless. The baby may gain about 28 grams per day. The baby will turn head downwards into the pelvic cavity in preparation for delivery. The uterus will also change shape to accommodate this new position of the baby. This is termed as baby drop or lightening. It relieves pressure in upper abdomen and makes breathing easy. After this drop, in case the baby is born prematurely, it may survive. The navel may “pop” out as the uterus drops down from the upright position. You may be able to lift your abdomen up and down.

Progesterone and estrogen stimulates hair follicles. The hair in the armpit, pubic hair and body hair grow rapidly. Your skin may feel rough due to the excess hair but this wears off and fades after pregnancy.

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You will feel slight elevation of body temperature. The metabolic rate will increase to meet your body requirement and that of the baby. This will radiate a lot of heat and sweating especially at night. Drink plenty of fluids to replenish lost water during sweating. Take a cold bath and put light clothes to regulate your body temperature.

Braxton Hicks are common in the third trimester but they last for about 30 seconds unlike real labor which has prolonged regular contractions. The baby’s lungs mature when the baby is term. The baby produces breathing like movements as it tries to make the first breath. When the baby is delivered before term, the doctor will give the baby steroidal drugs to facilitate maturation of the lungs.


As the body expands to accommodate the growing baby, the skin becomes lighter and stretch marks develop around the abdomen, thighs and buttocks. You will feel abdominal pains and backaches due to the weight gain. This weight is attributed to placenta, the growing baby, amniotic fluid and enlargement of your breasts and the uterus. Your doctor may recommend support girdles to hold the weight of the abdomen and support your back. Use moisturizers to help relieve itching associated with stretch marks. Do not worry because stretch marks fade away after pregnancy.

Tingling and burning sensations on the legs are common at night. Fluids collect in your lower limbs during the day and exert pressure on the nerves which cause tingling sensations or numbness. Massage and stretching the affected leg can help relieve the pain. You can elevate the affected leg when sleeping.

Nasal congestions, difficulty in breathing, nose bleeding and snoring are common. The gums may become softer and bleed. You may feel shortness of breath as your lungs try to meet your oxygen requirement and that of the baby. You will experience hypotension episodes accompanied by dizziness and hyperventilation. The depth of breath will deepen and the rate of breathing will increase. Due to increased oxygen demand, estrogen and progesterone dilates blood vessels. The result is that your blood pressure falls. Take lots of fluids to correct the low blood pressure and to control dizziness. These symptoms are usually minor and cause no need for panic unless you have underlying medical conditions such as asthma and bleeding problems. Severe dizziness may be a sign of anemia in pregnancy.

Premature Labor Signs in Third Trimester

In the third trimester you can experience premature labor signs. These include strong prolonged cramps, brownish discharge from the vagina, when the baby stops moving as usual or water breaking. You should rush to the hospital immediately you experience these symptoms.
Disclaimer: Information contained on this Web site is intended solely to make available general summarized information to the public. It should not be substituted for medical advice. It is your responsibility to consult with your pediatrician and/or health care provider before acting on any advice on this web site. While OEM endeavors to provide up-to-date and accurate information, it is not liable for any advice whatsoever rendered nor is it liable for the completeness or timeliness of any information on this site.
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