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The Third Trimester - What's Happening?

The third trimester of pregnancy is the home stretch! It’s time to make sure you’ve got all of your ducks in a row before baby arrives. So…. What’s happening?

The Third Trimester: Weeks 28-40+


Mama’s Symptoms 

  • There is now significantly less space in your abdomen, and you will have some shortness of breath due to compression of the lungs.

  • You may feel lightheaded due to the increase in blood volume, and low blood sugar – be sure to get plenty of rest and eat healthy, protein-rich snacks at regular intervals throughout the day!

  • Some colostrum (liquid gold! early breastmilk) may begin to leak, due to enlarging lobules (milk-producing glands) in the breasts.

  • Backaches will continue throughout the rest of pregnancy.

  • MUCH more frequent urination due to pressure on the bladder!!

Baby’s Development

  • Week 28Size of an eggplant (14-15”, about 2-2.5 lb)   Your baby is starting to develop more fat, and their skin is smoothing out. The lungs are mature enough that baby could survive outside of the womb if they were born now.

  • Week 29Size of a butternut squash (15-16.5”, 2.5-3.5 lb)  Your baby is starting to run out of room!!  Their kicks are growing stronger by the day.  More fat is developing, and baby is getting more energy.

  • Week 30Size of a cucumber  (15.5-16.5”, about 2.5-4 lb)   Your baby’s skin is smoother, and their brain is developing wrinkles. The head is enlarging to accommodate baby’s growing brain.

  • Week 31Size of a coconut (15.5-16.5”, about 2.5-4 lb)  Your baby’s brain is going through some major development!!! Their eyes are also developing rapidly – baby now reacts to light.  Their hearing is also improving – now listening to sounds from outside of the womb


  • Start doing daily kick counts after 30 weeks!!!

  • Tour your birth place.

  • It’s a good idea to look into baby-proofing your home.

  • Plan a “baby moon” with your partner – one last time to truly enjoy some time to yourselves.

  • Now is the best time to schedule a 3-D sonogram, if desired.

  • If you haven’t already, consider seeing a Webster-certified chiropractor. Chiropractic care during pregnancy can reduce nausea, increase comfort, and can has even been shown to shorten labor!

  • During the third trimester, lots of mamas like to drink Red Raspberry Leaf tea (up to 3x daily). RRL tea is shown to strengthen and tone the uterus, making contractions more effective. If you don’t like brewing several cups of coffee every day, you can make a pitcher to keep in the refrigerator!  (RRL tea can be bitter, so you might want to add in a little honey or orange juice)


Mama’s Symptoms 

  • Baby should be dropping soon – which means even more pressure on pelvis, and bladder.

  • Your uterus has expanded to 15x its original volume, and is now poking into your ribs!

  • Your metabolism is going crazy, so your body will start to feel overheated constantly.  (Shortness of breath does not help the cause either!)

  • “Baby brain” gets even worse (forgetfulness, clumsiness).

  • Your vision might be getting blurry due to – surprise – hormones!

  • Swollen ankles and feet are very common – keep your feet up and be sure to drink plenty of water!!

Baby’s Development

  • Week 32 –  Size of a jicama  (16-17”, about 3-4 lb)  Your baby should be head down by now – if not, check out the Spinning Babies website!! It may still take a couple more weeks to get baby into position, and doing the proper exercises can help.

  • Week 33Size of a pineapple  (17-18.5”, about 4-5.5 lb)  Baby’s bones are hardening, and their brain is developing rapidly. Baby’s skull is pliable and will not fully fuse until after delivery – this will help them to move out of your narrow birth canal.

  • Week 34Size of a cantaloupe (17-18.5”, about 4-5.5 lb)  Your baby recognizes your voice, and might start reacting to certain songs (if you are singing regularly!).  They are urinating about a pint of amniotic fluid each day.

  • Week 35Size of a coconut (17.5-18.5”, 4.5-6 lb)  Your baby’s hearing is now fully developed.  If your baby is a boy – their testes have probably descended.  Layers of fat under the baby’s skin are preparing to help regulate body temperature outside of the womb.

  • Week 36Size of a honeydew melon  (17.5-19”, 5-6.5 lb)  Your baby is almost ready to breathe on their own.  Their skin is now smooth and their gums are rigid.  The liver and kidneys are fully functioning.  Your baby’s immune system is getting stronger every day!


  • You should now be gaining about 1/2 lb per week from now until the end of pregnancy!

  • This is a good time to practice prenatal yoga and relaxation exercises for labor.

  • Start preparing some freezer meals for your first few weeks postpartum! If you are having a baby shower or mother blessing, consider having your friends and family sign up for a Meal Train where they can visit at pre-scheduled times and bring your family a meal.

  • Schedule a session for some baby bump photos!!

  • Buy any baby items that you are still missing.


Mama’s Symptoms 

  • Common symptoms in the last month of pregnancy are swelling of the hands and feet, and carpal tunnel. Keep your feet up as much as possible, drink plenty of water, and be sure to get plenty of rest!!  Exhaustion and constipation may be returning, which was so fun in the first trimester.

  • You will probably notice an increase in Braxton Hicks contractions, as your uterus prepares itself for delivery. BH contractions tend to be around the belly and back, instead of at the top of your uterus – like real labor contractions.

  • NESTING URGES – your instincts might make you want to clean house in preparation for your new arrival.

  • Losing the mucus plug can happen anywhere from a few hours to two weeks before labor actually begins.  You might also notice some “Bloody show” – loss of some blood and mucus, as labor nears.

  • Trouble sleeping can be the result of anxiety and frequent urination.

  • STRETCH MARKS – if you get them, they will be at their worst now. (Some women are incredibly lucky and never get a single stretch mark!!)

  • You will likely experience the symptoms of “Lightning crotch” – the shooting pains in your vagina and legs as baby is bumping into your pelvis. Chiropractic care can help to lessen these pains.

  • If you experience flu-like symptoms (nausea, diarrhea, etc) – it is a sign that your body is preparing for labor!

Baby’s Development

  • Week 37Size of a winter melon  (18.5-21”, about 6-9 lb)  Your baby is practicing “breathing” movements, along with sucking, gripping, and blinking.

  • Week 38 –  Size of a small watermelon  (18.5-21”, about 6-9 lb)  Your baby may already have hair on their head!!  Vernix is beginning to shed from the skin, although some might still be present at birth.

  • Week 39Size of a small pumpkin (19-21”, about 6-9 lb)  Movements have slowed due to running out of room – but you should still be counting at least 10 movements in under 10 hours!!

  • Week 40Size of a jackfruit  (19-21”, about 6.5-9.5 lb)   The fetus is now fully formed. The lungs are the last organ to fully develop – so it is important not to induce labor early, in order for baby to have easier transition to the outside world!!

  • Week 41 – Don’t worry about being considered “overdue” – the average first time mom doesn’t even deliver until after 41 weeks!!  Your baby is finishing its preparation for their arrival into the big, scary new world.


  • Keep up a good regimen of nutrition and exercise!!  Taking daily walks will help prepare your body for labor and delivery.

  • Many women like to use affirmations for pregnancy and birth. These coloring book pages can be a great way to calm your mind, decorate your home and/or your birthplace, and are a great focal point during labor!

  • Make sure that your hospital/birthplace bags are packed and ready!!

  • Get together some good snacks to help keep up your energy during labor.

  • Prepare some freezer meals for after birth!!!

  • Don’t be afraid to pamper yourself – get a prenatal massage, and go to the movies!!  It will be a long time before you can do these things alone (without paying a babysitter) again.

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