You're finally in your third trimester of pregnancy! At this stage, you may feel like your pregnancy has lasted forever, but now is the time to embark on your final preparations for your little one’s arrival and get ready to meet him/her for the first time. If you’re eager to get started on these preparations but are unsure where to begin, this guide will take you through all the important things to do in your third trimester.
1. Arrange your antenatal appointments
You will notice that your antenatal appointments in your third trimester will increase. If it’s your first pregnancy, you will likely have an antenatal appointment at 31 weeks. From there, appointments will likely take place every two weeks, so at 34, 36, and 38 weeks. If you make it to week 40, you’ll also have an appointment then.
At these antenatal appointments, your midwife or doctor will measure your bump, take your blood pressure, listen to your little one’s heartbeat, and test your urine for protein. You should also discuss any health concerns that you may have with your doctor.
2. Keep track of your baby’s movements
Every baby has a unique pattern of moving about and sleeping, but after some time, you'll soon learn what's normal for yours. You should continue to feel your little one's movements right up to and during labor. It's crucial to monitor your baby's movements in your third trimester and to seek medical attention right away if you notice any change in his usual pattern.
3. Buy essential baby gear
During this time, the prospect of your little one’s arrival will start to feel very real. Preparing all the essentials for your baby’s space, putting together the crib and/or stroller, and sorting through all those adorable clothes will help you adjust to the exciting new addition that is coming soon.
Keep in mind that you’ll likely receive lots of clothing from family and friends as gifts. Make sure you wash everything with a hypoallergenic, fragrance-free detergent that won’t irritate your newborn’s delicate skin.
4. Create a birth plan
Creating a birth plan is an essential part of getting ready to have your baby. It allows you to communicate your wishes to your doctors as you go through the delivery process. A birth plan will give them a clear idea of what you want from your birth experience, including the type of labor and/or birth you’d want to have, what you’re keen to avoid, and what you want to happen. Things may not go exactly as you envisioned them in your plan, but writing one can help you to make sound decisions during labor.
5. Pack your hospital bag
Packing your hospital bag is something that you should do sooner rather than later so that in case you have to urgently get to the hospital, you have all the items you need with you in the bag.
Consider packing two bags – one for labor and the first couple of hours after you have your little one and another for your stay in the postnatal ward. It’s also a good idea for your birth partner to pack a hospital bag as well.
6. Eat well
It’s important to eat well at this stage of pregnancy for your health and your baby’s health. Keep your iron levels at a healthy level by eating iron-rich foods as recommended by your doctor. These may include leafy greens, lean meat, and fortified cereal.
7. Remember to stretch
It's normal to feel tired as you get closer to your delivery date but try as much as possible to do some light exercises. Stretches are great for loosening your body up and preparing it for your baby's birth.
8. Learn about the different stages of labor
Every labor and birth is unique, but labor is generally broken down into three different stages:
- The first stage is also referred to as established labor. The cervix dilates to at least 4cm and your contractions are stronger and more regular.
- In the second stage, the cervix is fully dilated and the muscles of your womb tighten and loosen to push your baby down and out.
- You’re in the third stage of labor when you’ve had your little one but need to push out the placenta.
9. Be aware of contractions
Just after 20 weeks of pregnancy, you may begin to notice that the muscles of your womb tighten from time to time. These contractions are known as Braxton Hicks, and they're a result of your uterine muscles flexing in preparation for your baby's birth. Keep in mind that not everybody gets them, but in case you get them, make a note of how often they occur and how they feel as this may help you tell them apart from the real thing.
10. Stock up on household supplies
The early days of your third trimester are a great time to start stocking up on basic items such as cleaning products and tinned food, before going out to shop becomes too much of a burden. You can also cook larger portions of meals to freeze ahead for those first few weeks of having a newborn.
11. Get plenty of rest
Try to get as much rest as possible during your final lap. If you’re having trouble drifting off at night, consider investing in high-quality pillows that will help you get comfortable. Remember, sleeping on your side – preferably the left, if possible – during the second and third trimester is ideal for you and your little one.
12. Do a home safety check
You want to make your home as safe as possible before your baby arrives. Take all the necessary steps to baby-proof your home during this trimester.
As your due date draws closer and closer, you may notice that you feel overwhelmed because of all the things you feel you need to do before your bundle of joy arrives. It might help to write out a to-do list, or referring to this post for some ideas so that you start preparing for having your baby.