Welcome to your third and final trimester! With just 12 weeks remaining until your due date, you're now on the home stretch. Entering the third trimester is an exciting time as you know it's not long now until you get to set eyes on your bundle of joy for the very first time. In fact, if Baby's a little impatient and decides to make an appearance now, there's a 75% chance of survival with a bit of breathing assistance.
You'll probably be having yet another Midwife appointment this week, and while all the usual checks will be made, your appointments may become a bit more involved from now on. Your Midwife will be checking the baby's position in the womb, keeping an eye out for telltale signs of imminent labor, and in a few weeks you may even be having regular cervix checks.
Baby: What's Happening?
Your baby now weighs about 2.5 lbs and will be putting on approximately half a pound per week between now and your due date (and you'll be putting on even more!). Baby's getting much longer, he or she will be about 14.5 inches from head to toe, so there'll be much less room to move about in there.
Now that your baby is used to having their previously fused eyes wide open, they may start to learn to control them and could start to consciously blink those long lashes. Spontaneous blinking is less likely, even after the birth! It may seem a bit creepy, but newborns blink much less than adults; less than twice every minute. It's not known exactly why, but it's thought a baby's eyes need less lubrication than adults'.
This week, your baby should have enough layers of fat that their wrinkly skin starts to smooth out, giving them an appearance more like a baby rather than an old person! The fine layer of hair, the lanugo, that's been covering your baby's body may start to disappear this week, as the fat is taking over the job of keeping Baby warm.
You: What's Happening?
Your uterus will now be measuring roughly 28 centimeters, or just over 11 inches, although it's perfectly normal to measure a little bigger or smaller, all babies and all Moms grow at different rates. If you think you're big now, you're about to become much bigger! During your third trimester, you should be putting on about 11 lbs in weight.
At your Midwife appointment, your Midwife should be giving your tummy a good feel. It may be a bit uncomfortable for you, but shouldn't be painful. The reason they need to have a good feel is to keep an eye on Baby's position, because your baby should ideally be turning into a head down position sometime between now and your due date, if they're not already. A head down position is the optimal birthing position, but don't worry if your baby isn't there just yet, they still have plenty of time to flip.
Your Midwife will also be checking to see if Baby's head has descended into the pelvis. This process is known as "engaging" and can be a sign Baby is ready to make an appearance. It's not always the case, though, as many first babies engage quite early but continue to term, whereas subsequent babies may not engage until labor begins.
Your Midwife will be checking your urine and asking about your other pregnancy symptoms in more detail now, as a condition called preeclampsia becomes more common during the third trimester. It affects about 10% of Moms to be and is usually mild, but in some cases can be severe and can lead to babies needing to be delivered early. Signs are high blood pressure, swelling and protein in the urine.
Preeclampsia needs to be monitored so make sure you mention any swelling to your Midwife, although keep in mind that most women experience a bit of harmless swelling during pregnancy. If you're diagnosed with mild preeclampsia, it's important to arrange Midwife appointments often, perhaps each week, but follow instructions from your Doctor.
Unfortunately, the only way to cure preeclampsia is to deliver your baby, but it's best to let Baby hang on in there for as long as possible, so their lungs are more developed by the time they take their first breath. Research has shown that taking calcium supplements and aspirin during pregnancy can reduce the risk, but always check with your healthcare professional before taking any antenatal medications. If you have severe preeclampsia, blood pressure medication may be recommended, but again do not take any medications without checking with your Doctor first.