This is the start of the third trimester. Some women find they want or need to start taking things easier around now, if they can. Your weight may increase but remember, that you need not ‘eat for two’. The quality of food of the food is more important than the quantity. Because of the weight women at different rates and times, you should talk with your doctor or midwife about the optimal amount of weight gain during your pregnancy. Your health professional might check your weight at pregnancy visits.
Whooping cough immunisation
Whooping cough is a dangerous illness for babies, and very contagious. To assist protecting your baby from whooping cough, recommendations are that you have a whooping cough immunisation between 20 and 32 weeks of pregnancy. In Australia, the immunisation for it is free for all pregnant women during their third trimester. Your GP or midwife can set up the appointment for you.
Breastfeeding your baby is highly recommended by health authorities and experts. Having a knowledge about breastfeeding before your baby is born can be really helpful. Reputable, current articles on breastmilk and breastfeeding attachment techniques are a good place to start.
Or for more information and support, you can call the Australian Breastfeeding Association on 1800 686 268. Also contact with your doctor or midwife if you have concerns or questions about feeding. Additional knowledge about breastfeeding can be attained via your local child or family health nurse.
- Your baby is about 24 cm long from head to bottom, and weighs about 920 gm.
- Your baby can open its eyes.
- Your baby’s brain is starting to take more shape.
- Your baby should be putting on lots of weight over the next month or so.
Your antenatal appointments are likely to be every 2-3 weeks during weeks 28-36 of your pregnancy.
You might start considering when to stop working. Although some will need to stop earlier or work longer, many women find about 34-36 weeks is ideal.
Depending on your workload as an employee or employer, you might need a certificate from your midwife or doctor to work past a certain point in your pregnancy. There are common health issues that can occur in the third trimester of your pregnancy including :
- Swelling of the hands and feet. Tip - hydrate, put your feet up, and remove any tight jewellery from your wrists and fingers.
- Shortness of breath. Note - there is less room for your lungs as your uterus is pushed further up into your ribcage.
- reflux and heartburn.
- Pain in your lower back and legs. Tip – tilting your pelvis forward or standing up straight may provide some relief.
- As your breasts start producing colostrum, leakage may occur.
See your midwife or doctor as soon as possible if you experience any sudden symptoms associated with health issues during pregnancy, or if the severity of the symptoms persist.
Feeling stressed or sad
Utilise your pregnancy check-ups to talk about any concerns or problems at home. Your feelings about what is happening during pregnancy are just as important as physical health problems and symptoms.
If your stress levels are high or your mood is depressive, the health of your or your baby can be affected. Don't hesitate to contact your midwife or doctor to arrange a referral to a mental health professional – for example, a counsellor – or to connect you with the relevant support services deemed beneficial for your situation.
More than mood swings
For both women and men, pregnancy is a life-changing experience where strong and unexpected emotions and issues can surface.
Hormonal changes can affect your level of energy and mood. It is normal that occasionally you or your partner may feel flat or irritable.
If the affects of these emotional changes persist longer than two weeks or start adversely affecting your or your partner’s daily life, this could indicate antenatal depression or other issues.
It is advised that additional appointments with your midwife or doctor should be made to discuss and address these changes. You could also call Lifeline on 131 114, Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 or PANDA on 1300 726 306.
- Growing bigger. Your baby will measure about 25 cm from head to bottom, and weigh about 1 kg.
- Most babies move to the head-down position in time for their birth whereas some babies prefer the breech position at this time ie. head up, bottom down. Most babies move to the head-down position in time for their birth so this need not be cause for great concern right now.
- The immune system of your baby is further developing.
- A white, creamy substance called vernix now covers your baby to protect it's skin from amniotic fluid.
- Your baby’s eyelashes are growing.
- If you have a boy, his testicles are lowering into his scrotum.
With specialised care, babies born at this stage, though premature, have about a 75-80% rate of survival. The movements of your baby in the womb should now be regular and strong. Call your doctor, midwife or hospital immediately if there is a noticeable change in the number or strength of your baby’s movements at any stage.
Lying in bed may become uncomfortable. If so, slightly sit up, lay on your side, and place a pillow underneath your stomach. Alternatively, you can place a pillow between your legs and behind your back for the prevention or ease of back pain.
Now that you’re in your third trimester of pregnancy, the safest recommended sleeping position is on your side. This is because it is known that side sleeping (optimally on the left side) reduces the risk of stillbirth. If you wake during the night on your back it's ok, just roll back on to your side. Immunisation
In Australia, the immunisations required during pregnancy are free all women. Talk to your GP or midwife if you haven’t already had your immunisations against whooping cough or the flu administered.
Physical activity is still important, even though you might be feeling slower and less energetic. It will prepare you for, and assists in recovery, after birth. Check with your midwife or doctor before you start anything new, or if you have any personal concerns about exercise or staying active.
Swimming or aqua exercise is beneficial, because it temporarily takes the weight off legs and feet. Consult with your swimming instructor about swimming style and movements that suitable. There are also yoga and pilates classes available which are designed specifically for pregnant women .
- Measures about 26 cm from head to bottom, weighing about 1.15 kg.
- Increases in weight considerably between now and week 38.
- The functioning of developing organs increases.
- The bone marrow has started to produce red blood cells.
- Now practises breathing in and out in a regular rhythm more consistently.
As the volume of your blood doubles, at every antenatal visit you attend, your health professional will be checking your blood pressure.
As your baby takes up more and more space inside, heartburn and reflux may also increase, as will the size of your breasts. Your sleep patterns may become more disrupted eg. waking in the night then struggling to fall back asleep. This is tiring but expected so try to rest when you can during the daytime.
Car seats and restraints
Legal requirements for babies 6 months and under travelling in vehicles are that, the approved rear-facing child restraint must be used and also fastened and adjusted properly.
Your local council, ambulance service or a private company may provide the option to hire an approved restraint. Just ask your midwife about options in your local area for if you're not planning on purchasing one, now is a good time to book one for hire. A local fitting station can help you fasten the restraint correctly. It is recommended that your address this as soon as possible in the event your baby is born before the due date.
- Measures around 27 cm from head to bottom, weighing about 1.3 kg.
- The fat stores beneath your baby's skin are growing making its appear smoother.
- The lanugo – The fine hair covering of your baby's body is decreasing. If your baby was born now, quite a lot of lanugo would still be covering its body.
- May begin to suck their thumbs.
By this stage you may have gained some weight and may have noticed the appearance of stretch marks. They are quite common and there’s not a lot you can do about them, but they’ll fade in colour after your baby is born. Creams and other potions don’t work despite what others may claim.
As your centre of gravity shifts the way you walk might change. The body is getting ready for birth with the ligaments around your pelvis are softening and stretching. Switching to flat comfortable shoes may be better than heels for now, not to mention safer.
Now might be a good time to do a birth plan if you’ve been considering one. Birth plans can include things like:
- who you’d like to be at the birth
- how you want to manage pain
- who will cut the cord.
Keep in mind that things don't always go to plan as your baby might have other ideas. Stay flexible and think of the birth plan as a guide. On the day, you may decide what you wanted has changed, so be sure to keep the midwife or doctor updated so they can discuss with you how you’d like your birth environment to be and achieve the birth of your preference.
- Your baby is about 27.5 cm from head to bottom, and about 1.5 kg.
- Your baby’s eyes are open, and its pupils can respond to light.
- Your baby’s brain is developing rapidly, making lots of connections and sending lots of signals.
- Loud noises nearby might make your baby startle.
Due to the pressure of your growing baby and uterus on your lungs you’re almost certainly feeling breathless at times.
If you have belly button piercings, it’s sometimes a good idea to take them out as your belly button may have sticking out or be stretched flat.
Having some basics ready for when baby arrives is a good idea as you’ll feel less like walking around the shops as time goes on. These may include:
- Somewhere for baby to sleep safely – a cot or bassinet
- A properly fastened and adjusted, approved, rear-facing child restraint
- A safe pram or baby carrier
- Lots of nappies and a nappy bag
- Wraps – really big cotton or muslin ones are best
- Clothes for dressing your newborn – most full-term babies can wear size 000, and 100% cotton is best next to baby’s skin
- Daily care essentials – baby wash (non-soap is best), cream for baby’s bottom, sorbolene cream for dry skin and a thermometer.
Most hospitals and birth classes will help you go through the basics and provide you with lists of items you require. You’ll have your hands full feeding baby, so it’s great if you’ve got a freezer full of some nutritious food to feed yourself and other family members.
Packing your bag
Now is the time to start thinking about packing your bag if you’re planning to give birth in a hospital or birth center. Hospital admission forms, maternity pads, pyjamas and some basics for baby (singlets, socks, tops and bottoms or one-piece suits, large cotton or muslin wraps) are some of the essential items you will need. Old, oversized t-shirts, extra undies, warm socks and lip balm are some things you might want to put in for labour. Other good ideas are easy-open tops for breastfeeding, along with a maternity bra and breast pads.
Extra ultrasound scans
You’re not likely to need any more ultrasound scans after 18-20 weeks if everything’s going smoothly. Your doctor, obstetrician or midwife might suggest extra ultrasound scans if you’re having twins or more, you have a medical condition like gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia, there are concerns about the growth of the baby, or if you’ve had problems in previous pregnancies.
Sometimes baby is lying in the breech position towards the end of a pregnancy and your health professional might also recommend another scan to check why your baby is in this position and where your placenta is.
Your baby’s weight has almost doubled in the last four weeks. Your baby’s weight will grow faster than its length now:
- Your baby is about 28 cm long from head to bottom, and weighs about 1.7 kg.
- Your baby is still putting on fat beneath the skin, looking plumper all the time.
- Your baby might be head down now. If not, don’t worry. Many babies leave it until the last moment to turn around. Quite a few babies are in the breech position at birth.
- Your baby’s eyes are a dark grey or blue colour. They’ll change in the weeks after birth, but you won’t know the final colour until about a year after birth.
You might be feeling more tired and urinating more often along with more swelling, aches and pains, heartburn and reflux. Rest whenever you can, and accept help whenever people offer it. Enjoy the excitement as the birth date approaches. Signs of labour
Here are some signs of labour, which might start soon:
- a ‘show’ – this is when the mucus plug that has been sealing your cervix comes away
- your waters breaking – this could be a slow leak or a big gush. Phone the hospital or let your obstetrician or midwife know
- more pressure as your baby’s head shifts lower in your uterus and into the pelvis
- more Braxton Hicks contractions
- cramping in your lower pelvis, a bit like period pain.
Indications you're in labour are when you feel contractions that last for a minute each, coming at regular intervals (about five minutes apart). ‘Back-up’ for after your baby is born is a good idea. You don’t have to do everything if others are willing to lend a hand. In fact, some people appreciate you telling them exactly what you need. For example, could extended family, friends cook you a meal, drop in for a visit or give you a call? It’s OK to ask for help too.
- Your baby is about 29 cm from head to bottom, and weighs about 1.9 kg.
- Your baby is practising sucking and swallowing. These reflexes won’t be fully coordinated until about the end of 34 weeks pregnant.
- Your baby’s liver is storing iron. These iron stores will help your baby until 4-6 months after birth.
- Your baby’s lungs are maturing, producing lots of surfactant to help your baby breathe after birth.
- Your baby’s movements will change as your baby gets bigger. If you’re worried about an increase or decrease in your baby’s movements at any stage, speak with your doctor or midwife.
- Babies born now have a very good chance of survival, but are still premature. They’ll need to be looked after in an intensive care or special care nursery.
As baby’s weight continues to increase you’re probably feeling more and more uncomfortable . Healthy eating and some light exercise might help you feel better. Keep doing your pelvic floor exercises. Putting pillows under your stomach, between your legs and behind your back can help you to feel more comfortable and ease or prevent back pain. Sleeping on your your left side is best when you can. This reduces your risk of stillbirth. If you wake up during the night on your back, just roll over to your side again.
Braxton Hicks contractions may become more noticeable now.
To know your Rh type, a blood test is done earlier on in the pregnancy. This can cause serious health problems for your baby if you’re Rh-negative, and your baby turns out to be Rh-positive. Your baby’s blood type won't be known until after birth. You’ll be offered a special injection called Anti-D at your 26-28 week antenatal visit and your 34-36 week visit if you’re Rh-negative.
If you have a bleed during pregnancy you’ll also be offered Anti-D . This reduces the risk of health problems. You’ll be offered another Anti-D injection if your baby is Rh-positive. To do this, blood is collected from your baby’s umbilical cord after birth and the Rh type is checked. Ask your doctor or midwife for more information.
15% of pregnant women can develop a serious condition called Pre-eclampsia. It can occur after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
You might need to see your health professionals more often from now if you are diagnosed with pre-eclampsia or another reason for a high-risk pregnancy. Extra ultrasound scans might be required from now on.
Symptoms of pre-eclampsia include:
- severe headache
- pain in your tummy area
- changes in your vision – for example, blurred vision
- high blood pressure and protein in your urine.
If any of these symptoms come on suddenly, contact your midwife or doctor straight away.
You might notice now that your face is looking puffy in the morning, and your feet and ankles might be swollen by the afternoon or evening. Going for a small walk each day will help get the swelling down. Put your feet up as much as you can and maybe rethink your footwear.
Getting closer to the big day
Thinking about labour and how you might manage it is very normal as the big day gets nearer. Talking with your doctor or midwife about what to expect and what your options are can be a big help – especially if you’re worried. Maybe look into some birth classes if you haven’t already. The excitement about meeting your baby may mean you are now busy getting clothes and equipment ready along with cleaning the house and organising stuff. These are all signs that you’re getting ready to be a mum.
- Is about 32 cm long from head to bottom, and weighs about 2.3 kg
- Has got sucking and swallowing under control now
- Has fully formed toenails and fingernails.
By now you're excited, really tired, and even a bit impatient for baby to arrive.
You might be feeling more pressure lower down in your pelvis if your baby’s head has ‘engaged’ (entered the pelvic cavity). Baby's head is also putting pressure on your cervix, which can be quite uncomfortable. It does tend to get a bit easier for you to breath as your baby moves downwards,
Giving yourself some time before your baby is born can help you feel more rested and prepared, this can be a good time to stop working if you can.
Consider cutting down your hours if possible if you can’t stop work just yet, and doing lighter duties. Talk with your employer about what’s possible, and discuss any concerns with your midwife or doctor.
Call your midwife, doctor or hospital as soon as possible if you’re worried that you might be in labour but you’re not yet due to have your baby. It’s worth finding out about caesareans, even if you’re planning a vaginal birth. This way, you’ll know what to expect if you end up needing to have one in an emergency. Weekly visits with your midwife or doctor will be required from now on.
Thinking about being a parent
You might already be looking forward to things that you’ll do with your child, or thinking about special routines, activities or times with your parents that you want to keep going with your own child. ‘What does being a parent mean to me?’ ‘How can I be a good parent?’ Thinking about these questions can help set you up for a rewarding and realistic experience.
Becoming a parent can give you a huge sense of meaning and purpose.
- Your baby is about 34 cm from head to bottom, and weighs about 2.5 kg.
- Your baby’s head is more in proportion to its body.
- Most babies’ heads ‘engage’ at this stage. Some don’t for a few more weeks, and some don’t until labour starts.
Sleep and rest when you can during the day as it’s common to have trouble sleeping by now. Baby’s movements might be keeping you awake and you probably need to go to the toilet several times a night too. Remember to sleep on your left side when you can to reduce your risk of stillbirth. You may start to notice a bit more vaginal discharge around now.
You or your partner might have days when you feel flat or irritable and that’s OK, but get some help if you’re more than a bit teary or you feel sad, anxious or ‘flat’ for more than two weeks.
Women and men can develop Antenatal depression and it can get in the way of your daily life. If you feel like you’re not coping or you’re worrying how you’ll cope after your baby is born, this is another good reason to talk to someone you trust. You could talk to a friend, your partner, or your doctor or midwife. You could also call Lifeline on 131 114, Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 or PANDA on 1300 726 306. Your Baby
- Measures about 35 cm from head to bottom.
- Weighs around 3 kg, and is getting heavier steadily
- Usually has fully mature lungs
- Has a firm hand grip
- Does hiccups that you can really feel now – like little jumps in your belly.
Week 38 You
You may start to experience more Braxton Hicks contractions. Although they can feel uncomfortable, they’re actually helping to prepare your uterus and cervix for labour and birth. Your breasts may also be leaking colostrum. If you have a vaginal birth, the placenta will be delivered 5-30 minutes after your baby. The placenta is about 17-18 cm across, and can weigh up to 1 kg. It processes about 12 litres of blood an hour. It’s recommended that you have an oxytocin injection after the baby’s birth to prevent too much bleeding.
If everything’s going smoothly, you’re not likely to need any more scans after 20 weeks.
But your doctor, obstetrician or midwife might suggest extra scans if:
- you’re having twins or more
- you have a medical condition like gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia
- you’ve had problems in previous pregnancies.
Your health professional might also want another scan to check whether your baby is growing normally, whether baby is lying in a breech position or where the placenta is.
Child car seats
Your newborn will need to be seated in a properly fastened, adjusted and approved rear-facing child car seat. If you haven’t had a child car seat fitted yet, do this now.
It’s illegal for any baby or child under the age of seven years to travel in a car without an approved child car seat. You might feel like cleaning, washing, ironing, stocking the cupboard and the freezer … or you might not, this is known as "nesting". Rest and relax where possible and try not to overdo it.
- Your baby is about 35 cm from head to bottom and, on average, weighs about 3.2 kg.
- Most of the lanugo – the fine covering of hair on your baby’s body – has fallen out. But your baby still has a fair bit of vernix – a white, creamy substance that protects your baby’s skin from the amniotic fluid.
- Your baby’s bowel is full of meconium, which will come out in the first few excretions.
- Your baby’s poo will range from black to green to yellow as baby starts to drink milk.
After your baby is born and in your baby’s first week of life, your midwife or doctor will check your baby to make sure everything is all right.
You could have a show at any time. If your waters break, take note of how the fluid looks and smells and call your midwife, doctor or hospital. Your cervix is probably getting thinner now – this is called ‘effacement’. You’ll get the feeling of pressure low down in your pelvis as
your baby might have ‘engaged’. It might be difficult to tell the contractions apart from braxton hicks and the real contractions. If in doubt, call your doctor or midwife and be guided by them.
- Your baby is about 35-36 cm from head to bottom, and might weigh about 3.3 kg.
- Your baby has lots of fat under the skin.
- If you’re having a boy, his testicles are probably fully descended into his scrotum.
- The vernix (a white, creamy substance that protects baby’s skin from the amniotic fluid) is probably all gone, although there might be a little left under the arms, in the elbow creases and under the chin.
Some parents look at their newborns after birth and fall in love straight away. For other parents, bonding can take longer.
Congratulations, you’ve reached your due date! Very few babies arrive on their due dates, so don't worry if you haven’t gone into labour yet. Around half of all pregnancies go past 40 weeks. Even at 41-42 weeks of pregnancy, your baby is still likely to be going very well, although you might be feeling tired and uncomfortable.
Your baby’s movements If you notice a change in your baby’s movements or you’re at all worried, call your health professional or the hospital. Your baby’s movements should continue to be regular and strong.
Induction of labour
For most women labour starts naturally between 37 and 42 weeks. You might like to talk to your midwife or doctor about how to get labour going if you’re worried about your baby being overdue. If you haven’t had your baby by 41 weeks, your doctor, obstetrician or midwife will talk about your options at this stage, including induction of labour.
It’s important for you to feel that you have all the information you need to make decisions that concern you and your baby’s health.
It’s OK to ask:
- why the doctors and midwives think you need an induction
- how an induction will affect you and your baby – the risks and benefits
- what could happen if your baby isn’t induced and you wait for labour to start naturally.
Getting to the hospital or birth Center
Getting yourself to the hospital or birth center to have your baby is a good idea to plan:
- how you’re going to get there – for example, by car or taxi
- your route
- driving and parking arrangements – where you’ll park, cost of parking, and whether there’s enough petrol in the car
- which entrance to go to (especially at night, because it might be different from the daytime entrance)
- who’ll look after your other children, if you have any.
If your labour is happening fast or you’re concerned about your health or your baby’s, call an ambulance by dialling 000.
- Weighs about 3.5 kg, ranging from 2.9 kg to 4.2 kg
- Measures about 50 cm from head to toe, ranging from 46 cm to 56 cm
- Has a head circumference of about 35 cm, ranging from 33 cm to 37 cm.
When you’re a new parent, it can really help to feel part of a community. Many services can help you as you adjust to being a parent. Get in touch with other new parents by joining a new parents group or an online forum.
If your baby has arrived, you’re busy getting to know each other and learning how to be a family. You can find lots of information on how to care for yourself and your baby on this website. Check out our videos on newborns. We wish you the very best!
raisngchildren.net.au (2020). Pregnancy week by week. Retrieved from https://raisingchildren.net.au/pregnancy/week-by-week