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A Guide To The Third Trimester Of Pregnancy

A Guide To The Third Trimester Of Pregnancy

The third trimester of pregnancy is the last 12 weeks of gestation. At this point of pregnancy, doctors prefer that pregnant mothers go for a checkup every 2 weeks to monitor baby development in the third trimester. This is because in the third trimester of pregnancy, there are precautions that expecting parents must take. Knowing about what to expect in the third trimester is the first step in preparing for childbirth.

What happens during a checkup?

During a clinical visit, the physician assesses the expecting mother for any pregnancy symptoms or discomforts. Similarly, they may also check if the patient is at a healthy weight and test for complications such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes.

The clinical visits also provides the opportunity for the physician to examine the vitals and health of the fetus. This means checking fetal heartbeat, fetal lie (the position of the fetus), and the size of the uterus in relation to the length of pregnancy.

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What changes occur during the third trimester?

Baby development in the third trimester of pregnancy marks the fetus’ most dramatic increase in size. As a result, the uterus must stretch or expand to make space for the baby. This may cause discomfort to the mother. There are also several other symptoms that the mother may experience:

What kind of baby development happens in the third trimester of pregnancy?

By the third trimester, the fetus has almost completely developed. However, some parts of their body do not develop fully as to make it easier for the mother to give birth. These include fetal skull bones, which do not firmly attach to each other at this stage.

A particularly important part of this stage is lung development. This is because fetal lungs tend to finish developing during weeks 32 to 36 of pregnancy. Babies that are born before this specific timeframe may develop respiratory distress syndrome.

During the third trimester, the part of the fetus that will exit the uterus first descends to the mother’s pelvis. Doctors refer to this phenomenon as “engagement.”

What are the possible complications during the third trimester?

Since delivery is right around the corner, expecting parents need to watch out for certain health complications. This is why doctors may suggest lifestyle changes and medical treatments as precautions during the third trimester of pregnancy. The possible complications of pregnancy include:

  • Preeclampsia, which may lead to premature delivery
  • Gestational diabetes, which can cause macrosomia (large for gestational age) in the child
  • Preterm labor, which may increase the baby’s risk of developing health conditions

What precautions can expecting parents take during the third trimester of pregnancy?

Expecting parents may have to make certain lifestyle changes to avoid pregnancy complications. These include:

third trimester of pregnancy precautions

How can parents prepare for childbirth?

In preparation for childbirth, expecting parents may do the following:

  • Attend prenatal classes
  • Arrange maternity leave with employer
  • Prepare a labor and delivery go-bag with to take to the hospital
  • Establish a transportation plan to the hospital when labor begins
  • Avoid long trips out of town
  • Conduct safety checks (for carbon monoxide, lead paint, etc.) in the household and vehicles

Key Takeaway

The third trimester of pregnancy is the time when the fetus grows the largest. To promote baby development in the third trimester of pregnancy, expecting parents can take certain precautions and make the necessary lifestyle and diet changes. Regular visits to the doctor and treatment for pregnancy complications (like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia) are also necessary.

Learn more about Being Pregnant here.


Pregnancy Weight Gain

This calculator is for women who want to know what their healthy weight gain range during pregnancy is, based upon what their weight was before they became pregnant.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


The Third Trimester https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-third-trimester Accessed January 25, 2021

Skin and hair changes during pregnancy https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000611.htm Accessed January 25, 2021

Newborn respiratory distress syndrome https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/neonatal-respiratory-distress-syndrome Accessed January 25, 2021

Engagement https://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/engagement Accessed January 25, 2021

What are some common complications of pregnancy? https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/pregnancy/conditioninfo/complications Accessed January 25, 2021

Risk factors and long-term health consequences of macrosomia: a prospective study in Jiangsu Province, China https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3596738/ Accessed January 25, 2021

Newborns: improving survival and well-being https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/newborns-reducing-mortality Accessed January 25, 2021

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Written by Den Alibudbud Updated 4 weeks ago
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel