The Third Trimester
Hooray! You've made it to the third and final leg of your pregnancy journey!
The third trimester starts when you are 28 weeks pregnant. A lot of growing happens in these final 12 weeks as well as twinges and preparation and then finally giving birth to your beautiful baby!
What to prepare for:
At 28 weeks you will see your midwife. If you have a rhesus negative blood group, then you will be given an anti-d jab now to make sure that your body doesn't produce antibodies against any future pregnancies (you will usually have a second injection after you have given birth). I fall into this category and the injection was given in my arm and with no side affects (I also had one in my bum cheek when I was 25 weeks pregnant as I had taken a knock to the bump. They give you a small amount in these circumstances in case your blood leaks through to your baby) - the bum injections are definitely more painful and apparently it just comes down to midwife preference!
At your 28 week appointment you may start discussing birth plans - this is the time to think about your preferences for your labour. Would you like pain relief? Would you like to use the pool for a water birth? Who would you like with you? As much as things don't always go according to plan, it's nice to discuss with your midwife and have an idea of what you would like.
You should also be told about the antenatal classes available at your hospital on the NHS. These are free and worth going to. I particularly found the pain relief class held at my hospital (The Royal Free in Hampstead) very helpful as it not only informed me of my options during labour but also the preferences and timings for that hospital. Depending on what area you live in will depend on how many people attend these courses. Living in London I knew that these sessions wouldn't be intimate and despite the choice on offer there were at least 50 people in the room for the two classes that we attended! Not ideal if you are looking to find new mummy and daddy friends to hang out with (n.b I have had friends attend NHS birth classes with a small amount of couples outside of London).
For those wishing to have something a little more intimate and who don't mind paying for the antenatal classes, there are private options available. NCT (The National Childbirth Trust) has classes all over the country. We chose to attend one called The Bump and Baby Club. There were 10 couples for our classes all due November & December 2016.
Your other midwife appointments happen at 31, 34, 36, 38 and 40 weeks. Throughout these your urine and blood pressure will be checked (specifically looking out for preeclampsia). They will measure the size of your bump and feel where the baby is lying. This gives the midwife an idea of how the pregnancy is progressing and will help them decide on the best options for your labour preparation. Some babies need help turning, or they may suggest an induction to start labour if they feel that is the best option.
During the third trimester your baby grows from the size of an aubergine to a pumpkin! That's a lot of growing and so a lot of pressure on your body. You will notice the weight increase with symptoms such as swollen ankles and legs, finding it difficult to walk for too long, climbing stairs becomes difficult, shortness of breath, restless legs, frequent need for the loo, restless nights as it can be difficult to get comfortable and also there is an increased chance of haemorrhoids. All sounds peachy right?! Add to that 'braxton hicks' and you can understand why there is a need to slow down and quit work! This is definitely the time to rest!
If you are not sure what braxton hicks are, they are a tightening of the uterus. These may just be short spells of tightening where your bump feels hard and stretched. Sometimes they are painful too. These can also be confused with early labour signs. If you are concerned, then you should time them and give the hospital a call! I had braxton hicks from about week 22 without realising but when they became a little painful (cramps) at 33 weeks and only 5 minutes apart, I was told to go in. I was strapped up to a monitor and it showed that I was having contractions. I was given something to stop the contractions, along with steroid injections to mature my baby's lungs in case baby came early (again given in the bum 12 hours apart - ouch! - this is given if labour is before 34 weeks). Luckily for us and after a 48 hour stay, the contractions stopped.
Another thing to look out for is reduced movement. It is harder to feel the kicks the further along and bigger you get, but from the moment you start feeling kicks, you should get to know the patterns of your baby's movements. I knew that mine would get the hiccups at least twice a day and there were two areas I would feel regular kicks and punches! (My baby stayed in the same position the whole way through my pregnancy). At 36 weeks however, along with painful contractions again, I had reduced foetal movement. There were no hiccups and no kicks. Cue another trip to the hospital! I was monitored and everything looked ok! I was even offered an induction but declined when baby decided to have a major kick time and numerous bouts of hiccups in the early hours! If you have any concerns then head straight to the hospital. There is no point worrying! And the midwives would rather reassure you and check baby is ok.
The last thing to think about during these last 12 weeks is all the equipment and stuff baby needs! It's hard to know exactly what you will need but do make sure you have the essentials! I found going to a Mamas and Papas Parents to be event really helpful. They even had mini classes on sleep safety and first aid and are held every month for free! Extremely helpful if you have no clue where to start!
Enjoy this last trimester as best you can. Life will soon change!