The third trimester of pregnancy – what to expect

Third trimester

At week 29, you have officially entered the third and last trimester of your pregnancy. Welcome! A wonderful time to delve into your baby’s development. Download our app about the 10 leaps in your baby’s mental development. While you probably had less discomfort during the second trimester, the third trimester can be uncomfortable in various ways. Your growing belly can cause not only back pain, but also rib pain because your baby needs more space. You may also start experiencing nausea again because your growing baby takes up a lot of space, leaving little room for your stomach. Your belly will also start to really get in the way and your nesting urges will kick in!

Hormones during the third trimester

Hormones during the third trimester

During the third trimester of pregnancy, other hormones peak than during the first and second trimesters. The hormone oestradiol causes you to enter the well-known nesting phase. Because your brain is very preoccupied with (the arrival of) your baby, you can suffer from brain fog and forgetfulness, which is also referred to as ‘pregnancy dementia’ or simply ‘baby brain’.

Ready for delivery

Ready for delivery

Your body starts to gradually prepare for delivery and a number of different hormones are involved in this. Together with the hormone estrogen, relaxin loosens and relaxes the ligaments that hold the bones of your pelvis together, creating more room. This ensures that the baby can drop and pass through the pelvis during delivery.

The hormones estrogen and prolactin facilitate milk production. This means that you may experience leaky breasts during pregnancy. At the end of pregnancy, estrogen and prostaglandin take over and prepare your uterus for contractions.

The fourth trimester

The fourth trimester

The postpartum period is also called the fourth trimester. This transitional stage is a time for recovery and adjusting to your new situation. The first three months after giving birth can be quite tough, especially if this is your first child and you still need to get completely used to parenthood.

You will encounter all sorts of challenges and need to figure out what works best for you, your partner and your child. And that is no small task! Take the time to find your balance and ask for help when you need it.

Your baby

Your baby during the third trimester of pregnancy

At the start of the third trimester, your baby will open its eyes and before long, it will start blinking. Your baby will start to act more and more like a ‘real’ baby: funny faces, hiccupping, arms and legs in all directions and finger sucking. Your baby is active and you can feel it! Just when you thought you were going to relax on the sofa, your baby starts moving around.

Your baby’s senses are now functioning properly and his or her brain is developing rapidly. A baby’s brain also continues to develop after birth. By the end of the third trimester, your baby’s liver and kidneys are fully developed and the lungs are prepared to breathe air.

At the end of pregnancy, there is little room left in the uterus, which is starting to become a little too small for your baby. Your baby will then find the position that is most comfortable. For most babies, this is with the head downwards, which is also an important position for delivery. But, of course, there are always babies who do things differently and keep their head upwards or even lie horizontally in the uterus.


Pregnancy discomforts during the third trimester

You may also experience different discomforts during the third trimester. The severity of these symptoms is different for every woman. The most common discomforts during the third trimester are:

  • Shortness of breath
    As your uterus grows, it starts to sit higher in your abdomen and presses against your diaphragm. This makes breathing more difficult. It helps to sit and stand upright to give your lungs more room to expand. The good news is that once your baby drops, you will probably have more room to breathe and less of a problem with shortness of breath.
  • Frequent urination
    You’ve just been to the bathroom and already feel like you have to go again. Having to urinate ten times during the night makes it difficult to get a good night’s rest. When your baby drops, it may put pressure on your bladder, causing you to have to urinate more often.
  • Nausea
    After feeling relief during the second trimester that the nausea has finally eased, it may return to some extent during the third trimester. This time, it’s not due to the hormone hCG, but because your growing uterus leaves less room for your organs. And that includes your stomach. You may be eating less and feeling nauseous more often. You may also experience heartburn during the last trimester.
  • Braxton Hicks contractions
    During the final trimester, your body starts preparing for labour and delivery and one of the ways it does this is with Braxton Hicks contractions. These are ‘practice’ contractions. They are not regular in frequency and often disappear on their own. A hot bath or shower often helps to alleviate the pain.


To-do’s during the third trimester of pregnancy

  • Write a birth plan if you have not already done so.
  • Download The Wonder Weeks app to learn about the mental development of your baby.
  • By around week 35 or 36, make sure you have a bag ready with things for both you and your baby to take with you to the hospital when you go into labour.
  • Finish preparing the nursery and get everything ready for your baby’s arrival.
  • Pay attention to your baby’s movements. Now that your baby is growing more and more, there is not much room for movement. As a result, you will feel fewer movements because your baby is literally unable to move very much. But make sure that your baby continues to move. If you have any concerns, contact your doctor or OB-GYN immediately.
  • Prepare for labour and delivery. Make sure you have your most important phone numbers stored in your phone and arrange for a babysitter if you have older children.