Third Trimester of Pregnancy: 28-40 Weeks of Pregnancy

Congratulations, you've reached the final stretch of this beautiful journey! In this last trimester of pregnancy, you are bound to be impatient and eagerly waiting to hold your baby in your arms. Hang in there – the apple of your eye will soon be here and within no time you'll be spending a lot of time with each other.

Read on to understand the growth of your little one, your third trimester pregnancy symptoms, what to expect in the last third trimester weeks, and more.

Check out a comprehensive to-do list of three months to prepare yourself before your tiny tot's arrival.

How Many Weeks Is the Third Trimester?

The third trimester lasts about 13 weeks, starting from the 28ᵗʰ week of pregnancy and goes up to the 40ᵗʰ week of pregnancy. However, the actual length of the third trimester runs from the 28th week until the baby is born.

Once you reach the 39ᵗʰ week, your pregnancy will be considered full-term pregnancy. Most moms-to-be go into labour a little earlier (37 weeks) or as late as 42 weeks of pregnancy. It is quite rare for babies to be born exactly on their due dates. It is normal for a baby to be born either two weeks before or after the estimated due date.

Babies born before 37 weeks are considered to be preterm. Now that you have stepped into the 3ʳᵈ trimester, you must know the signs of preterm labour to be prepared in case your baby decides to arrive early. Read the full-term pregnancy article to know more about preterm, early term, full term, late term, and post-term births.

Your Baby’s Development in the Third Trimester

In the third trimester of pregnancy, your baby continues to grow at a fast pace — in fact, your baby will gain about half of her birth weight during the final months of your pregnancy.

By the time she's born, your baby may weigh about 2.7 to 4 kgs and will be around 18 to 20 inches long. For more on this, read about a baby’s average birth weight.

As your little one grows fat under her skin, she starts to look like the baby you expect to see at birth. By 36 weeks she will have done such a good job of growing that she won’t have much room to move throughout the rest of the pregnancy.

Here are a few more foetal development milestones for the third trimester:

  • 28 Weeks: Eyes Wide Open

When you are 28 weeks pregnant, your little one can open and close her eyes, and can even sense changes in light.

  • 30 Weeks: Shedding Hair

During the second trimester, your baby grows a coat of fine hair, called lanugo, all over her body.

Your baby may start to shed this hair sometime soon. But don’t be surprised if you notice a little leftover lanugo when your baby is born; some babies are born with patches on their shoulders, ears, and back.

Unlike lanugo, which only some babies are born with, most babies are born with some of that protective waxy coating called vernix still covering their skin.

Around this week of pregnancy, your baby may also start to grow normal hair on her head.

  • 31 Weeks: Controlling Body Temperature

Your baby’s brain is maturing and growing rapidly this week. She can now control her body temperature, so she no longer has to rely on the temperature of your amniotic fluid for temperature control.

Practising skin-to-skin contact after your baby is born will also help your little one regulates her body temperature.

  • 34 Weeks: Turning Head-Down

Around the time you’re 34 weeks pregnant, or soon after, your little one will most likely turn head down in preparation for birth. This indicates she’s getting ready for her big journey!

If your baby is not in a head-down position as you near the end of the third trimester — for example, if she is in a breech position — your doctor may recommend trying to turn your baby or may recommend a caesarean section.

  • 39 Weeks: Full-Term Baby

By the time you reach the start of 39 weeks, your baby is considered full term. Of course, she’ll continue to grow, and major organs like the lungs and brain will continue to develop in the years to come, but she’s ready for the outside world now.

What’s in Store for You This Trimester

Here are some of the highlights to look forward to and other things to keep in mind as you make your way through the third trimester:

  • Having check-ups and tests:

Your doctor will suggest some specific tests and check-ups for you during the third trimester. Based on the results, he may proceed with further diagnosis or treatment.

  • Attending your Godh Bharai (Indian baby shower):

Enjoy this wonderful event as you bask in the love of your family and close friends. Make sure you get a good night's sleep a day prior and dress up in a comfortable saree or any outfit you choose to wear for the event.

  • Nesting:

As your due date approaches, you may feel a strong urge to get your home ready for your baby. Utilise this sudden burst of energy for adding finishing touches to your baby’s nursery, washing your baby’s clothes, installing the baby car seat, and doing some early baby proofing.

  • Tracking foetal movement:

Your doctor will ask you to track your baby’s movements. Make sure you follow the instructions on how to count your baby’s kicks. Also, speak to your doctor to understand whether you can contact him in case of any unusual baby movement.

  • Watching for signs of labour:

You're most likely to go into labour between 38 and 42 weeks. So, look out for any labour signs like feeling if your baby has dropped lower, loss of the mucus plug, water breaking, or contractions getting stronger and closer together. If you’re unsure whether your labour has begun, call your doctor.

  • Reading about labour and childbirth:

To help prepare yourself for labour, try reading up on some of the topics mentioned below: o Losing the mucus plug o Water breaking o What contractions feel like o What does “effacement” mean o When might labour be induced o What is an episiotomy

  • Choosing a baby name:

Once your little one arrives, you won't get time to finalise your baby's name. Soon after the birth, you will get busy with the Naamkaran preparations. So, use this time to shortlist some of the best baby names and finalise the one that resonates with your heart. You can choose from a wide range of mythological or regional names. Check out our articles on baby names here. You can also try our Baby Name Generator tool to explore more names.

  • Practising Garbh Sanskar:

Continue to practise Garbh Sanskar as it not only helps you bond with the baby but also helps in your well-being. Garbh Sanskar practises like meditation help you stay calm and focussed. You can check out an exclusive collection of Garbh Sanskar music on Pampers App.

  • Resting:

Slow down and conserve your energy for labour, childbirth, and taking care of your newborn. Consider going on short walks few times a week. Get some fresh air to improve your blood circulation and also to de-stress.

Third Trimester Symptoms

These are some of the most common pregnancy symptoms during the third trimester:

  • Shortness of breath

As your uterus gets larger, grows higher in your abdomen and presses on your diaphragm, breathing can be difficult. You might find that you can't make it up a flight of stairs without getting winded. The best thing to do is just to take it easy, move more slowly, and stand up or sit up straight so your lungs have more room to expand. If your breathing changes dramatically, or if you have a cough or chest pain, contact your doctor right away. The good news? Once your baby “drops” down into your pelvis in preparation for delivery, breathing will become a little easier as the pressure is taken off your lungs.

  • Frequent urination

When you enter the final weeks of your pregnancy, you may find yourself needing to pee more often. This is because as your baby moves further down into your pelvis, she may press on your bladder too. You may also find that you leak a little, especially when you laugh, sneeze, bend, or lift. If this bothers you, wear a panty liner. However, if you feel a gush or trickle of watery fluid, it could be your water breaking, a sign that labour is beginning.

  • Swollen feet and ankles

Many moms-to-be notice a type of swelling, called oedema, in their ankles and feet because of extra fluid retention, hormonal changes, and weight gain. If you notice this, it could help to elevate your legs whenever you can and to soak your feet in cool water. To help you feel more comfortable, you may need to buy bigger shoes.

  • Itchy skin

As your belly grows, you may start to experience itchiness as your skin stretches and dries out. Gently applying a moisturising lotion and staying well-hydrated can also help.

  • Sore gums and teeth feeling looser

Your gums may feel sensitive and they may swell or bleed when you brush or floss. It might help to rinse with salt water and to use a softer brush. Hormonal changes can cause your ligaments to relax, and these same hormones may also affect the tiny ligaments that hold your teeth in place. As a result, your teeth may feel looser. Experts say that it’s unlikely you’ll actually lose a tooth for this reason, and this feeling usually goes away after you’ve given birth. Keep flossing daily, brushing twice a day, and going for your regular dental check-ups.

  • Braxton Hicks contractions

In the third trimester, and sometimes even earlier, you may experience false contractions, known as Braxton Hicks contractions. These “practice contractions” are useful for your body because they help your muscles prepare for labour. Braxton Hicks contractions may be mild to start with and feel like a tightening of your abdomen, but as your due date nears, they can become more painful. You may be wondering how to tell the difference between Braxton Hicks and true labour contractions. Essentially, Braxton Hicks come irregularly and often go away if you move or change positions; true labour contractions get more regular over time and don’t go away.

Checklist for the Third Trimester

In the third trimester, take advantage of your excitement and focus your energy on getting your pre-birth tasks done. Just remember to rest often and don’t overdo it!

Three Months Out

  • Take a deep dive into what’s coming in the third trimester by reading our week-by-week pregnancy articles.

  • Ask your doctor about any vaccinations you need to get this trimester.

  • Ask your doctor about different pregnancy conditions like high blood pressure disorder and what signs to look out for.

  • Take a childbirth class with your partner. You’ll probably learn things like comfort measures, relaxation techniques, and stretching exercises. These classes will also help your partner learn about his important role. Your doctor will be able to recommend a good class near you.

  • Read as much as you can about labour, delivery, and baby care. This will help ease your anxieties and prepare you for the events ahead.

  • Pre-register at the hospital. If you’re unsure how to do this, ask your doctor.

  • Install the baby car seat, so it’s ready for the drive home from the hospital and beyond.

  • Start preparing for your Godh Bharai a few before the event to avoid any exhaustion.

  • Talk to your friends who are already parents for good paediatrician suggestions.

  • Stock up on household staples and supplies to avoid any last-minute major shopping right before labour or the first few weeks after your baby's birth.

  • If you have older children, start preparing them for the arrival of their baby brother or sister.

Two Months Out

  • Keep going to all your prenatal appointments so that your doctor can follow you and your baby’s progress as you approach your due date.

  • Find out what your options are for pain management during labour and childbirth. Discuss your preferences with your doctor. If you are planning a natural delivery —in other words labour and childbirth with little or no medical intervention — find out what comfort measures and labour positions you could try as well as what facilities the hospital may have for you.

  • If it’s possible, take a tour to your hospital a few weeks before your due date.

  • Plan, practice, and time the route you’ll take to the hospital.

  • Think about who you want to be present during the birth and discuss your birth preferences with your birth partner.

  • Have your hospital bag packed and ready to go just in case your little one makes an unexpected early appearance. Make a list of anything you can only add at the last minute (like your phone and charger) and have that on top of the bag as a reminder.

  • Enrol for short courses like baby care, infant CPR, or breastfeeding.

  • If you need consultation for breastfeeding, start looking for lactation consultants.

  • Don’t stress about having absolutely all the baby gear in place now. You can still shop for anything you need once your baby arrives. Just make sure you have all the essential baby gear like a crib, car seat, clothes, and diapers ready. You can also check out our range of Pampers diapers and wipes for infants.

  • If you're a working professional, you might like to start getting organised to ensure that your co-workers know what things may need to be done while you are on maternity leave. Speak to your employer about any maternity leave paperwork that still needs to be done.

One Month Out

  • Ask your ob-gyn whether you will have additional check-ups as you near your due date, and when these will be scheduled.

  • Ask your doctor, if it’s OK to have a photographer or videographer there for the birth of your baby, if this is your preference. Also, check with the hospital, as some facilities may not permit recording or filming. Organise a newborn photoshoot if you’d like to have one in the days after your baby’s birth.

  • Consider putting a waterproof cover on your mattress just in case your water breaks during the night.

  • Wash everything your baby will wear and organise clothes by size so you can find what you need more easily.

  • Stock up on diapers and wipes like Pampers® Diapers for Newborn and Aloe Wipes™. It’s a good idea to have a variety of diaper sizes, so you’re equipped for when your baby arrives, no matter what size she is. You can later use our Diaper Size Calculator to check out the perfect fit for your baby based on her weight.

  • Wipe down and sanitise anything else your baby may come in contact with like the car seat, crib, and baby bottles.

  • Prepare some meals and stock your freezer when you near the due date.

  • If friends or family have offered to lend a helping hand now or after you give birth, go ahead and take advantage of their help. Whether they’ve offered to help with minding your older children or doing grocery shopping, it can all help make this busy period a bit easier.

  • Think about and organise who will care for your older children (and pets if you have them) during your labour and hospital stay.

  • Read up on the postpartum recovery period so that you know what kinds of things to expect in the weeks and months after you baby’s birth.

  • Start planning for the Naamkaran ceremony of your baby, as you will hardly get time to focus on the planning once your baby arrives.

  • Download the Pampers App to get rewards for all the diapers and wipes you'll be purchasing.

The Bottom Line

Last, but not least, slow down, and make fewer demands from yourself. Go for a walk and enjoy the fresh air. Take help from family members or friends whenever possible. Don't forget to treat yourself to a little me-time — you deserve it!

How we wrote this article The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.