On average, women gain about 11 pounds — and babies gain about 5 pounds and grow 5 inches — in the third trimester alone.
About your baby
Your baby’s brain and vision are developing very quickly now. The bones are fully developed, but still soft and flexible for delivery.
Your baby’s fingernails and toenails are growing, lungs are maturing, and the nervous system is almost complete. Your baby is also starting to develop taste buds and can taste sweet and sour.
By week 32, your baby is probably in the head-down position and is taking up more and more space in your uterus. Your baby weighs about 3 to 5 pounds and measures about 16 to 18 inches long.
As you enter the final months of your pregnancy, the fatigue that you felt during the first trimester may return as your body grows larger and sleep becomes more difficult.
You’ve probably noticed how easy it is to get off balance and feel clumsy. This is partly due to your center of gravity moving forward as your baby grows. You also release a pregnancy hormone called relaxin that softens the cartilage in your joints and pelvis. The pubic bone opens up to make more room for the baby, causing the “pregnancy waddle” that most women have when they walk.
Your good health continues to be important because your immunities are passed on to your baby, helping to fight off infection after birth.
- Your feet, ankles, hands, and fingers may become swollen, particularly at the end of the day. It’s normal to have extra fluid in your tissues during pregnancy, but much of the swelling should disappear after a good night’s sleep.
- As your growing uterus puts pressure on your bladder, you might notice that you leak urine when you laugh or cough. This is common and is called urinary incontinence. If you notice any consistent leaking, whether it is a large or small amount, call your doctor’s office to make sure that your water hasn’t broken.
- Your growing uterus is also crowding other surrounding organs, leading to many common discomforts and annoyances, including heartburn, constipation, and hemorrhoids.
Tips for staying healthy
- Keep exercising. Moderate, gentle exercise can help with common pregnancy discomforts and prepare you for labor.
- Your gums might be more sensitive and may swell and bleed. Check with your dentist if you experience pain or discomfort. Continue to practice good dental hygiene.
- Nap. It’s important to rest more often.
- Get enough omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish, flaxseed, and walnuts) each day. Omega-3 helps to develop your baby’s nervous system, eyes, and brain. For you, it minimizes the risk of developing pre-eclampsia, lessens the risk of pre-term labor, and reduces the chances of suffering from postpartum depression.
Your to-do list
- Start thinking about your birth plan. Discuss these preferences with your medical team before you’re in the delivery room.
- Take a tour of your hospital’s labor and delivery ward.
- Get a new pair of comfortable shoes. The bones in your feet spread when you’re pregnant, and some women find their shoe size goes up.
- Pamper yourself. Get a manicure and haircut (pregnancy hormones make your hair and nails grow faster).
- Start to look into health care benefits for your baby.