Third Trimester: What to Expect

Third Trimester: What to Expect

Hello, third trimester!

You’re almost there mama!

The most exciting finishing line of your life is coming up quickly.

Soon, you’ll be meeting your baby.

The third trimester is a time for packing on the pounds (for baby, anyway), resting — and nesting (for you).

So let’s get ready for that baby!

Here’s our guide to what to expect during the third trimester of pregnancy.

In this article: 📝

  • When is the 3rd trimester?
  • How do you feel in the third trimester?
  • What to expect when you’re in your third trimester?
  • What to look out for in the third trimester
  • What should I avoid during third trimester?
  • What happens in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy?
  • How can I make my third trimester easier?

When is the 3rd trimester?

The third trimester weeks span from 7-9 months or 28-39 weeks (sometimes even more!).

The third trimester starts at week 28 of your pregnancy and lasts, well, as long as it takes to get that baby outta there!

You’ll be classed as “full term”, meaning your baby is ready to be earthside, at 39 weeks.

If your babe isn’t showing signs of arrival, and there are no health issues for either of you, you might reach 42 weeks pregnant before medical intervention (like induction or C-section).

It’s actually pretty rare for babies to be born on their due date so although you may have that magical date set in your mind, your baby might have other plans. [1]

So try to keep cool, be prepared, and enjoy these last months of the third trimester of your pregnancy.

Is the 3rd trimester 27 or 28 weeks?

The second trimester ends at the end of week 27 of your pregnancy, and the third trimester starts at the beginning of week 28.

How do you feel in the third trimester?

The third trimester can play host to a range of emotions, from fear of your impending birth experience and motherhood to excitement for the amazing journey you’re on.

Whatever you’re feeling, remembering these three things can help you to deal with common third-trimester symptoms:

  • Listening to your body. As your baby grows, the physical demands on your body get bigger too, so know your limits.
  • Trusting your instinct. If something doesn’t feel or look right during the third trimester, always get checked out by a healthcare professional.
  • Resting as much as possible. Use the last few weeks to get ready for the baby as you start maternity leave. Take any offers of help you may receive, to reduce physical and mental stress in this last trimester.

✍️ Be prepared: Your Free Birth Plan Template & What to Include

What to expect when you’re in your third trimester?

Physically, the third trimester can be a culmination of all the symptoms of trimesters passed, and then some!

You may have fatigue and heartburn to deal with again, like in the first trimester, and some second-trimester symptoms like leg cramps, round ligament pain, and Braxton Hicks contractions too.

Some of the more common third-trimester symptoms to be aware of for these last months of pregnancy are:

  • Vivid dreams
  • Clumsiness and brain fog
  • Breasts leaking milk
  • Lightning crotch
  • Nausea
  • More discharge than usual
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain (there’s a baby in there, after all!)

Let’s dig deeper into each third trimester symptom.

Crazy dreams in the third trimester

Dreamt you gave birth to a pony?

Yep, all that real-life anxiety and excitement you’re feeling is working its way into your dreams, and they’re super vivid, too.

Not great if you’re struggling to sleep anyway, but take them with a grain of salt as it makes for fun conversations over breakfast.

Clumsiness in the third trimester

Say hello to your new friend, baby brain!

Are you feeling foggy, forgetting everything, losing things, dropping stuff, not able to make a plan?

Research has proven that “baby brain” is a very real thing, not just an old wives’ tale, and can kick in during the third trimester, so try not to get too frustrated with yourself. [2]

You’ll be back to your old self again soon!

Breast leaking during pregnancy third trimester

As your due date gets closer, you may find that your nipples start producing a thick, yellowish substance.

This is called colostrum and it’s a super-concentrated form of breastmilk that’s full of nutrition for your newborn’s tiny tummy.

Lightning crotch during third trimester

Lightning crotch can feel like a sharp pelvic pain during pregnancy third trimester, or a quick pain even lower.

Kinda like your nether regions are being struck by lightning.

Sounds fun, right?!

It’s more likely to happen later on in the third trimester when your baby is positioned very low down and is a bit tight on space.

It’s also common to experience some labial swelling during third trimester, and even some vulval discoloration, due to the pressure on your pelvis.

Third-trimester nausea

Yup, just when you thought you’d passed that dreaded pregnancy nausea, the third trimester can make morning sickness rear its ugly head… Again.

Experiencing sudden nausea during third trimester is more common than you might think, and it’s not talked about enough.

Basically, some of your organs are a little smushed, and you may have some extra bloating, gas, indigestion, and heartburn, all of which can trigger third-trimester nausea.

Increased discharge in third trimester

Similar to the start of your pregnancy, it can be normal around the third trimester to see a bit more of that milky white discharge (leukorrhea).

If it’s mucousy or streaked with blood, it could be your mucus plug, which sounds gross but it plays an important role in keeping your baby safe in utero.

Losing your mucus plug can be an early sign of labor (ahh, it’s happening!), so keep an eye on it and speak to your midwife.

Diarrhea in third trimester

What about pooping a lot during pregnancy third trimester?

Well, a lot of our mamas on Peanut report having some diarrhea in the third trimester as a precursor to labor ‒ sometimes even as much as 48 hours before labor starts!

Your body’s basically gearing up for birth, loosening some of the muscles in the body (which includes rectum) and clearing out as much as it can.


How tired should I be in the third trimester?

Well, there are no “shoulds” in pregnancy ‒ each pregnancy journey is unique.

But, saying that, third-trimester insomnia is actually a pretty common experience.

So if you find yourself mumbling “can’t sleep… pregnant… third trimester…”, you’re definitely not alone.

Some of our mamas on Peanut say that one of the reasons they struggle to sleep in the third trimester is night sweats.

The weight gain and increased blood flow in the third trimester can certainly cause night sweats, which can be uncomfortable when you’re trying to catch some z’s.

Our tips for third trimester night sweats?

  • Drink enough water (to avoid dehydration).
  • Stay out of direct sunlight.
  • Wear light, loose clothes.
  • Opt for a light blanket instead of a thick duvet.
  • Try to stay in air-conditioned places.

Should I rest more in third trimester?

If you can, yes — resting in the third trimester is fundamental.

Not just for you, but also baby.

Your body’s working overtime, so any rest you can get is essential.

Can I sleep sitting up while pregnant third trimester?

If it’s comfortable, yes, you can sleep sitting up in the third trimester.

Sleeping sitting up can reduce the chances of heartburn and indigestion, which are common during the third trimester.

It can also help to prop a pillow under your baby bump to give some extra support, too.

Just be sure not to recline too much while sleeping sitting up ‒ laying on your back can reduce your blood flow, which can be uncomfortable and harmful.

Can I lay on my right side during third trimester?

It’s recommended to sleep on your left side instead of your right side during the third trimester.

This is because there are certain important blood vessels that run on your right side, which can be put under unnecessary pressure if you sleep on your right side.

How much bigger do you get in third trimester?

Well, baby does a lot of growing in the third trimester, so your pregnancy belly will expand to accommodate them!

Let’s put it this way: at the end of the second trimester, baby’s weighing in at about 2lbs.

By the end of the third trimester, the average weight of a baby at birth is about 7lbs 4oz.

So they’re growing by about 5 whole pounds during the third trimester.

Because of this fast growth, you may feel some tightness in stomach during pregnancy third trimester, or some kicks and pokes in your gut too.

Does weight gain slow down in 3rd trimester?

Your weight gain may slow down during the third trimester, but baby’s certainly won’t be!

This is because your body is burning more calories than usual, partly due to your increased weight, but also because baby needs energy to grow!

Why is the third trimester so uncomfortable?

Feeling cramps during pregnancy third trimester?

Or the twinges of cervical pain during pregnancy third trimester?

Well, feeling random fleeting pains, like pain near belly button during pregnancy third trimester, are pretty common as you near the end of your pregnancy.

Why? Because baby’s growing fast, and they’re running out of room!

But if you’re ever concerned about pain or discomfort in the third trimester, speak with your doctor.

What to look out for in the third trimester

It’s understandable to be on high alert at this final stage of pregnancy, looking out for signs of labor.

While discomfort is quite normal (sorry about that!), if you have any severe lower abdominal pain, vaginal bleeding, vomiting, sudden weight gain, pain when you pee, or fever in the third trimester, don’t wait for your next antenatal appointment — speak to your doctor or midwife as soon as you can.

👶 Baby on the way? 5 Promising Signs That Labor is 24 to 48 Hours Away

What should I avoid during third trimester?

So what can’t you do in third trimester?

Well, all of the things you couldn’t do at the beginning of your pregnancy, along with a few more — although, with your growing bump, you probably won’t want to do some of these:

  • Drinking alcohol
  • Smoking or vaping, including secondhand smoke
  • Any illegal drugs
  • Eating raw fish or shellfish
  • Eating deli meats
  • High-intensity exercise
  • Lifting heavy objects, including weightlifting
  • Drinking more than one cup of coffee or black tea per day
  • Changing kitty litter
  • Drinking unpasteurized milk
  • Long-haul flights

What happens in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy?

For your baby, the third trimester is about those finishing touches and a whole heap of growing.

Throughout months 7, 8, and 9 (and maybe 10!) of your pregnancy, your baby may grow up to 15cm in length and more than triple their weight.

Yikes! No wonder you’ve got that pregnancy waddle going on these days!

Here’s what your baby’s getting up to in there.

Weeks 28-32

Your baby grows to the size of a squash (about 41cm)

Your baby will be transforming their cartilage skeleton into bone, so make sure you’re still taking a pregnancy vitamin and eating plenty of calcium-rich foods.

Their skull will remain softer, to make vaginal delivery easier — phew!

And they’ll have distinct periods of sleep and activity, so it’ll probably be easier to track their movements, too.

Weeks 33-37

Your baby grows to the size of a romaine lettuce (about 49cm)

Baby’s skin will turn opaque as it thickens and their fat reserves will increase, getting ready for those cute chubby-cheeked newborn photos!

Most babies will turn themselves into a head-down position] in these weeks (sometimes earlier) to get ready for birth.

If your baby stays head up, this is called “breech”, and your doctor may talk to you about trying to turn the baby before labor begins.

Weeks 38-42

Your baby grows to the size of a watermelon (about 53cm)

Around now, the furry coating of hair and waxy vernix that has been keeping your baby warm from the amniotic fluid will start shedding, but don’t be surprised if a little remains when they’re born, especially if you give birth before your due date.

Your baby’s lungs have matured, they’re able to suck their thumb, and cry, so that’s it.

It’s just a waiting game now, mama.

Your baby is ready to meet you!

Do baby movements slow down in third trimester?

A lot of mamas-to-be find their baby moves less often in the third trimester.

Why? Because they’re doing lots of sleeping, getting ready to meet you!

Generally speaking, babies in the third trimester tend to move (like kicks or mini punches) about 10 times each hour.

If you’re worried that baby’s not moving that much, do some walking around yourself, have a bite to eat to increase your blood sugar levels and give baby some more energy, and see if that gets them moving again.

If you’re concerned about a lack of movement, or even rapid fetal movement in the third trimester, speak with your doctor.

You might also notice teeny-tiny fetal hiccups in the third trimester, like mini ‘jumps’.

These are totally normal and usually nothing to worry about — but saying that, if you are worried, you can always talk to your doctor.

You’re in control here, mama.

How do I know my baby is OK in the third trimester?

Your third-trimester ultrasound will check up on baby’s growth and development.

Beyond that, keeping track of baby’s movements and whether you’re feeling any pain is also a good idea — both for yours and baby’s sakes.

How can I make my third trimester easier?

You’ve probably still got plenty of time before your baby makes an appearance, but there’s no harm in being prepared.

So here’s your third-trimester checklist to get you as prepared as possible:

  • Pack your hospital bag: Your hospital bag should include your warm blankets and outfits for the baby, as well as anything to help make your hospital stay more comfortable. Think pajamas, plenty of stretchy underwear, and maternity pads for post-birth.
  • Do your kick counts from about 28 weeks onwards: At the same time every day when your baby is most active (usually in the evening), put your feet up and time how long it takes to feel 10 distinct kicks. Make a note, and if anything feels different, speak to your midwife or doctor.
  • Attend antenatal classes and a hospital tour to find out more about your birth options, and learn some basic parenting skills. A hospital tour can help you to visualize your birth experience and might make you feel more prepared when it all kicks off! You don’t want to be getting lost mid-contraction!
  • Think about a birth plan: Pain relief, or au naturel? Music, or silence? Put some thought into how you would ideally like your birth to be, but try not to put too much pressure on it either. Remember, things might have to change during your labor to ensure a safe delivery.
  • Prepare to breastfeed, if you plan on it. You might want to attend a breastfeeding class or meet a lactation consultant now or later.
  • Final blood tests and screenings like an iron level check and Group B Strep test might be offered in the third trimester.
  • Continue to avoid strenuous exercise, alcohol, smoking, and excessive caffeine intake: However, feel free to continue those pregnancy safe exercises as long as your practitioner says it’s OK. Just waiting a few more months until after your baby is born to have a glass of wine and snack on those forbidden pregnancy foods will help keep your baby healthy.
  • Prepare your baby essentials like installing your car seat for safe transport, and setting up a cot for them to sleep in when you get home.
  • Stock up the freezer with healthy and nutritious snacks and meals to keep you going through the crazy first days of parenthood. Your postpartum self will seriously thank you for it!

👜 Get ready: What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag: Our Checklist

Is it OK to take folic acid in third trimester?

While the general advice is that you don’t need to take folic acid beyond week 12 of pregnancy, there may be some benefits to continuing to take folic acid supplements into the third trimester.

According to a small study, taking folic acid supplements in the third trimester may prevent an increase in homocysteine concentration, which can happen in the third trimester and lead to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. [3]

And in another study (which was also on a small group of mamas), taking folic acid into the third trimester may lead to an increase in baby’s cognitive performance. [4]

Not sure which folic acid pregnancy supplement to take? Our Peanut mamas love the Pregnacare Max formula by Vitabiotics — it includes all the folic acid, in an advanced form, L-Methylfolate.

Folic acid contributes to maternal tissue growth during pregnancy.

How many steps should a pregnant woman walk a day third trimester?

Walking may be more of a waddle in the third trimester, but it’s generally recommended to walk about 3,000 to 4,000 steps per day in the third trimester.

So don’t panic about not hitting 10,000 steps!

When is the third-trimester ultrasound done?

The third-trimester ultrasound is usually carried out between 28 weeks and 36 weeks, checking to see how baby’s development is progressing.

When should I go to the hospital in third trimester?

The third trimester is when you’ll go into labor — generally between 38 and 42 weeks.

So if contractions have started, when do you go to the hospital?

It’s recommended to follow the 411 rule — if your contractions are 4 minutes apart, lasting at least 1 minute each. [5]

Then it’s go time!

Is third trimester difficult?

We won’t sugarcoat it for you, mama.

Sometimes, yes, the third trimester can be difficult.

And sometimes, it can be beautiful.

Sometimes, it can be both.

Pregnancy is a complex journey that’s unique to you, your body, your circumstances, and your baby.

Whether you feel like it right now, or not, you are doing an amazing job, mama!

Just keep going — and resting — for a few more weeks, then it’ll be time to meet your baby.

👉 Get clued up: Preparing for Childbirth: Helpful Things to Know


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