What to expect in the third trimester of pregnancy

There is useful information in this piece from the HSE.ie website about what to expect during the last three months of your pregnancy. There may be changes to some aspects of care due to the restrictions surrounding the Coronavirus but check with your GP or antenatal clinic.

Your antenatal care

Week 28 until the birth of your baby is known as the third trimester. Your GP and hospital appointments will become more frequent in this trimester.

Tell your GP if you’ve not already had your vaccination against whooping cough – it’s best to have this vaccine within the first 36 weeks of your pregnancy. If you’re more than 36 weeks pregnant there may still be benefits to you and your baby from you receiving the vaccine, although it’s better to receive it before 36 weeks.

You’ll also begin antenatal classes in preparation for birth and your baby. It’s important to be aware of any changes to your baby’s pattern of movements.

During the third trimester you’ll decide on birth options and preferences. However, it’s important to know that your birth plans may have to change depending on how the pregnancy progresses.

Review your birth preferences or birth plan with your midwife before your due date to clarify what options are available to you.

Related topics

25 to 28 weeks pregnant

29 to 32 weeks pregnant

33 to 36 weeks pregnant

37 to 40 weeks pregnant

Warning signs during pregnancy

Braxton Hicks or uterine contractions

During late pregnancy your uterus may contract and relax. These are known as Braxton Hicks.

Braxton Hicks contractions are different to labour contractions as they:

  • are infrequent
  • are usually irregular
  • don’t last long – usually less than a minute
  • don’t increase in intensity

What to do:

  • walk around
  • relax and take deep breaths
  • call your GP or midwife if they don’t stop or if they become more intense

Related topic

Contractions and signs of labour

Stretch marks

You may notice pale pink or red narrow lines or streaks on your tummy, breasts and thighs. They may be itchy and feel tight. Almost 8 out 10 women will get stretch marks.

If you find creams and oils soothing and pleasant to use, make sure the ones you use are safe for pregnant women. There is no scientific evidence that creams or oils to prevent of stretchmarks actually work.

Keeping your skin well-moisturised may reduce any itch or discomfort of the skin that some pregnant women experience.

Stretch marks will become white or silvery white over time. Most of the time they are hard to notice once the baby has been born. If you remain conscious about your stretchmarks after the pregnancy, there are some treatments that dermatologists can discuss with you that might improve their appearance.

Stretch marks on the tummy during pregnancy
Stretch marks on the tummy during pregnancy

Heartburn and indigestion

Heartburn and indigestion can create a burning feeling in your chest and throat. It’s caused by the pressure the growing baby is putting on your stomach as well as hormonal changes.

What to do:

  • eat smaller meals more often – larger meals may make the heartburn or indigestion worse
  • try to eat healthier foods – fried foods may aggravate your symptoms
  • avoid spicy or fried food
  • avoid eating for 2 to 3 hours before you go to bed
  • sleep propped up with lots of pillows
  • talk to your GP, obstetrician, pharmacist or midwife about medication

Piles during pregnancy

Piles (sometimes called haemorrhoids) can be painful and irritating when pregnant.

You may not have any symptoms from your piles. If you do have symptoms, they may include the following:

  • a lump, itching or pain around your back passage (anus)
  • bleeding from the back passage – this is usually when you wipe your bottom after doing a poo
  • pain when doing a poo

What to do:

  • eat foods high in fibre like oats, wholegrain bread and pasta, fruit and vegetables, potatoes with their skin on, peas, beans and legumes.
  • drink plenty of water
  • avoid standing for long periods
  • exercise

Your GP or midwife may be able to recommend a lotion.

Related topic

Healthy eating during pregnancy

Varicose veins during pregnancy

Varicose veins are veins in the legs or vulva (the external part of your genitals) which have become swollen. They can be uncomfortable but they are not harmful and they usually disappear after birth.
Varicose veins can cause your legs to become:

  • heavy or tired
  • itchy
  • swollen
  • painful or get cramp or burning sensations

To reduce the swelling of your veins you can:

  • try not to sit with legs crossed
  • avoid standing or sitting for long periods
  • sit with your feet up
  • sleep with your legs higher than your body
  • try compression tights – they can ease the symptoms of varicose veins, especially if you have to stand a lot at work – you can buy them in most pharmacies

You can also reduce symptoms if you:

  • eat a healthy diet and avoid gaining too much weight if possible
  • take regular exercise – things like walking and swimming may help your circulation and improve or prevent varicose veins
Varicose veins on legs
Varicose veins on legs

Mental and emotional changes

It’s very common to experience anxiety about giving birth and becoming a parent.

As your baby grows you may be feeling uncomfortable, combined with the usual tiredness of pregnancy can mean you feel more tired or irritable than usual. As your due date approaches it’s normal to feel more anxious about the birth.

To reduce anxiety, remember to:

  • trust your body – the processes in your body are doing exactly what they need to do
  • talk to your partner, friends, family, and healthcare team
  • tell your healthcare team if your anxiety is severe or prolonged
  • keep your mind occupied by preparing for the birth, for example packing your hospital bag

You might find that you tidy and clean your home more than normal, this is common and is known as ‘nesting’. And as you prepare your baby’s clothes and sleep arrangements you’re likely to start to feel excited.

You can find out more about all aspects of pregnancy and child birth on the HSE.ie website https://www2.hse.ie/pregnancy/ and about life with your newborn at https://www2.hse.ie/babies-and-toddlers/

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