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Third Trimester Pregnancy Developments
March 16, 2017 8:00 am | by

You are almost there! It may feel like your baby’s arrival is so far away, but you are in the home stretch now. During the third trimester you’ll probably finish preparing for baby’s arrival, decorating the nursery room, and gathering all your postpartum supplies.

Emotional Feelings During the Third Trimester

Forgetful – The joke about women having “pregnancy brain” is no joke! Between all the shifting hormones and so much focus on the upcoming baby, it is no wonder pregnant women can forget what they went to the store for. While this lack of concentration and mental focus may be annoying, it is just a sign of us turning our thoughts inward as we prepare to deliver the baby soon.

Panicky – I call this the “third trimester freak-out” and it seems that most of the pregnant women I’ve talked to have a moment where they panic. Perhaps you might feel not ready yet, or the realization suddenly hits you that you will soon be a parent. I had a good friend call me right at month 8 of her pregnancy and say “I change my mind! I don’t want to have a baby!”. Once she calmed down, of course, she knew she didn’t mean it, but feeling overwhelmed can be a passing mood in this trimester of pregnancy. You might find that these labor affirmations help keep you calm and focused in these final few weeks.

Energetic and Ambitious – There often comes a point during the third trimester when no task is too big for a mother-to-be! This nesting behavior is normal and can manifest as a desire to organize, simplify, clean, catch up, spruce up or plan ahead. Before the birth of my first born I enlisted the help of a friend to spend a day cooking with me and we put 30 meals in the freezer! Partners should keep an eye on their pregnant charges to make sure they don’t wear themselves out by letting a sense of urgency drive them to exhaustion.

Anticipation or Impatience – Many pregnant women realize they are down to the wire and either feel worried, anxious to hold their baby, or just plain ready to “get it over with”.

Physical Changes and Challenges During the Third Trimester of Pregnancy

Heart Palpitations/Pounding – Beginning in the seventh month your blood volume doubles from what it was pre-pregnancy. This dramatic increase means your heart works harder during the third trimester to circulate the blood. A pregnant woman may also experience a bit of light-headedness when rising so be sure to get up slowly from a sitting or lying position.

Short or Shallow Breathing – As the baby grows, the mother’s lung space begins to be encroached upon. You will find that your rib cage actually expands to make room so a larger bra size (not cup size) may be needed to keep you comfortable. Even with the ribs moving to make room, breathlessness is more common during the third trimester until the baby engages or “drops” lower into the pelvis. Changing position and keeping a straight back, good posture can help.

Minor Swelling – The slight fluid retention many women experience during the third trimester is actually a normal defense mechanism of the body preparing for labor and delivery. By storing up fluids in the body you will be able to quickly replace any blood loss and still produce plenty of breastmilk for the newborn infant. Major or rapid swelling, however, is not normal and should be discussed with your health care provider.

Your body is rapidly changing during this last trimester and I know all-too-well how eager you can be for the baby to finally arrive. Remember your baby is adding more brain mass every day, as well as developing more mature lungs, so the closer you can get to full-term, the better. Hang in there, Momma! Your baby will be here soon enough. And don’t forget if you have a pregnancy, birth, or postpartum question you can submit your question for our expert doulas and midwives by leaving a comment below or emailing!

Additional Pregnancy Development Resources:

  • The Pregnancy Book by Dr. Sears Paperback, 488 pages; ISBN 0316779148; Little, Brown and Company
  • Your Pregnancy Week by Week by Lesley Regan Hardcover, 448 pages, ISBN 0751336823; Dorling Kindersley Publishers, Ltd
  • The Complete Book of Pregnancy and Childbirth by Sheila Kitzinger Paperback, 448 pages, ISBN 0375710477; Knopf

About the Author

Mother of five living in rural Oklahoma with her husband and children, Angela is the Founder of Untrained Housewife, co-founder of Homestead Bloggers Network and full-time Director of Content and Social Strategy with Element Associates Digital Marketing Agency. She is a CAPPA-trained childbirth educator and labor support doula who loves empowering women through knowledge and understanding to take the next step in their motherhood journey, whatever that step may be.


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