Final countdown for your baby’s arrival has finally started and there’s still so much to look forward to. You probably thought you couldn’t get any bigger but your baby still has a lot of growing to do which means you’ll be getting even bigger as days go by. The last trimester can be a tough time both physically and emotionally. So, best thing you can do for you and the baby is getting enough sleep and rest before s/he arrives.

Baby’s development

Your last trimester starts from week 28 and lasts whenever you give birth typically from week 38 to 41. On average, babies are around 1kg at the start of this trimester and keep gaining weight until they are delivered. A baby that weighs less than 2.5kg at the time of delivery is known to have low birthweight. This trimester, your baby is busy transforming cartilage to bone. His skin is also not see-through anymore and will keep accumulating fat until he is born.

Brain: His brain is growing faster than ever. He is able to blink and even dream! He is also able to regulate his body temperature.

Senses: All five senses are fully formed and baby is receiving signals from all of them.

Digestive system: Meconium which is baby’s first poop (consisting mostly of blood cells) will start forming in last few weeks of trimester.

Symptoms

Symptoms like heartburn/acidity, edema, varicose veins, and leg cramps may carry over from second trimester to this trimester as well. Some new changes that might occur may include stretch marks, backache, fatigue, and some other ones’ like

Braxton Hicks contractions: you’ll start experiencing mild contractions in weeks leading up to delivery which is your body’s way of getting ready for actual labor.

Leaky breasts: your breasts will start leaking colostrum. Nature’s way to prepare your body to feed your baby. However, not everyone leaks while pregnant so don’t worry if you’re planning on breastfeeding, your milk will come when baby is delivered.

Diet

-Caloric intake: it is more important now than ever to keep eating nutritious meals. In your third trimester, you need to consume at least 500 more calories than you were before pregnancy (note that these may differ depending on whether you are under or overweight).

-Weight gain: your doctor will help keep your weight gain in check. If you’ve gained either less or more than what is needed, your doctor may take a look at your dietary plan to see what needs to be done. On average, you need to gain 3.5-4.5 kg in your last trimester (again it may differ depending on your personal weight gain chart)

-Best food: your body needs all the nutrients it can get and sometimes those needs aren’t fulfilled through food alone so keep taking your multivitamins. As your baby forms bones, he’ll take all his calcium requirements from you so it is essential that you keep a high calcium intake from milk and yogurt. This trimester is very important for your baby’s metabolic system, so it is important to eat foods that contain whole fats rather than trans fats. These foods may include nuts, eggs, cheese, olive oil, and dark chocolate.

Concerning symptoms

-Preterm labor signs: consult your doctor if you experience period like cramping, constant dull ache in lower back, or increased and excessive pelvic pressure as they could be signs of preterm labor.

-Water breaking: this will probably only happen when you’re already in labor and in the hospital. Rupturing of amniotic sac is known as your ‘water breaking’ and described by most women as a ‘tap being opened down there’. If the fluid you see is green, yellow, brown or if it smells, you should rush to labor ward right away.

-Bloody show: mucus plug is what separates your uterus to outside world. Once your labor starts, it will discharge on its own. However, it is better to have it checked out if mucus is stained pink, red, or brown with blood.

-Fetal movement: once you enter this trimester, you should start tracking your baby’s movements. Baby should move (kick or roll) approximately 10 times in an hour or two. If you feel baby hasn’t moved that much on a particular day, you can try drinking a glass of water or juice, lay on your side, and then count again. If decreased movement persists, you should contact your doctor immediately.

Things to avoid

-Sleeping on your back: Make sure to sleep on your side (specifically left) to ensure that blood keeps circulating to your baby.

-Traveling: Once in your last trimester, it is advisable to avoid any unnecessary travel as it will only put you and your baby under stress.

-Sleeping/eating less: Don’t forget to have proper nutritious meals. Lack of sleep has been associated with increased risk of postpartum depression and negative impact on mother’s relationship with her baby.

-Wearing heels: It’s better to wear comfortable shoes especially during last trimester. Due to extra weight you’re carrying around in your belly, heels can compromise your balance and can be uncomfortable if you’re suffering from edema.

Preparing for Big day

These last few months will go by in a blink. So, make sure to set up baby’s things ahead of time, book a lactation consult if you’re planning on breastfeeding (thankfully due to awareness, there are a few lactation consultants in major cities of Pakistan). Also, learn about different stages of labor so you know when actual labor starts.

Welcoming your baby Relax, your wait is almost over! Your precious bundle of joy will soon be in your arms and you’ll realize how quickly these nine months actually go by.