The Third Trimester
Usually the parents-to-be are busy preparing for the impending birth of their baby. They might be setting up a baby room, finalising a birth plan, cooking for the post partum period. Mum might be “nesting” in preparation of welcoming her child, cleaning and washing everything. If there is another child, the parents might be spending lots of cherished time with them, talking to them about how their world will change. If the mum has been made aware about optimal foetal positioning she may be doing exercises to ensure her baby is in a great birthing position. Napping is a beautiful way to pass the time, as is visualising the birth and meditation. Many couples might feel anxiety about the birth, they may choose to ignore these or seek help. If a wife is being particularly emotional it is best that her husband or partner brings her cups of raspberry leaf tea and rubs her feet while being very quiet ;)
A woman might take supplementation and relaxation more seriously at this time to prepare for labour and the post partum period.
Your baby's bones are fully developed, but still soft and pliable. Her adrenal glands are producing a chemical which will be made into a form of estrogen by the placenta. This might stimulate prolactin production in your body, which causes milk production. So that if she comes early, you'll be able to breastfeed.
Some mummas in fact experience leaking colostrum at this stage of pregnancy! The placenta is pressing on your bladder, causing frequent urination, and you may feel a heaviness in the pelvic floor area. It is important to keep moving now as energy creates energy and movement is important to keep you and baby healthy.
Red blood cells are now forming in your baby's bone marrow.
You may find yourself breathless, as your belly expands and organs shift in a way that restricts the diaphragm. It is really important to practice breathing deeply, yoga can help you with this. Leg cramps are common at night and can be treated by taking magnesium.
Your baby's central nervous system has matured so it can control body temperature.
Sleep may feel like a memory as mumma might be uncomfortable. Stretching can actually help so much with this. By now mumma should be doing three sets of 20 cat and cows daily to help her baby find its optimal position, there is still plenty of time for baby to move.
Be aware of baby's movements and if there is a notable decrease contact your care provider, baby will be a little restricted as she grows but keeping track of kicks may help decrease the chance of still birth.
Your baby practices breathing motions in preparation for birth. His five senses are developed, and REM sleep begins. Lanugo (downy hair) starts to disappear. His body begins absorbing vital minerals, like iron and calcium from his intestinal tract.
Weight gain is steadily increasing now, and fluid retention is likely. Please avoid processed and salty foods. If you suddenly feel quite puffy, you may want to look into preeclampsia, which can prevent the placenta from receiving enough blood, which can cause a small baby. It is a leading cause of premature birth, and complications that can follow include learning disabilities, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, hearing and vision problems. You can prevent this with a healthful diet.
Your baby has probably moved head downward and may descend into your pelvis at any time, beginning to press onto your cervix. This position prepares her for birth and allows blood to flow to her developing brain. She is building her antibody supply.
Your baby's brain development is rapid and he is taking deep breaths. His eyes can blink and open when awake while closed when he is asleep, the pupils even dilate and constrict in reaction to light. The white coating that protects his skin (vernix caseosa) is about to get thicker.
It is a good idea to install your baby's car seat and walk your pram with your pooch if you have one.
While your baby's nervous and immune system are still under development, everythig else is fully formed.
GBS infection is diagnosed from specimens collected from blood, urine or spinal fluid. Vaginal swabs may be collected from pregnant women to determine if the bacteria are present. Many Australian hospitals screen ‘at-risk’ pregnant women for GBS infection. Other hospitals screen all pregnant women at 35 to 37 weeks. Risk factors include; Preterm labour (before 37 weeks of pregnancy), women whose waters have been broken for more than 18 hours, fever in labour (greater than 38C), a previous GBS affected baby, GBS urinary tract infection in pregnancy.
Be aware that a woman that is GBS positive has no risk factors and no treatment the chance that her baby is being affected by GBS is 1 in 500, which is a low risk.
The antibiotics given to a woman in labour will have an impact on her own flora that she passes on to her baby at the time of birth. If antibiotics are given in labour there is a delay in newborn gut colonisation. The antibiotics received in labour will partially pass to the baby during gut colonisation, interfere with the baby’s development of a healthy gut flora and potentially allow penicillin-resistant bacteria to become established.
Even if a swab result returns positive at 36 weeks, that does not mean that the vagina is still colonised with GBS at the time of labour and vice versa. And research has shown that whilst antibiotics might be effective in most cases, they do not 100% prevent early onset GBS disease in newborns.
Get testing if you present with any risk factors; labour before 37 weeks, waters have been broken for more than 18 hours, fever <38degrees during labour, a previous GBS affected baby, or if you have had a GBS urinary tract infection in pregnancy.
You might start to see your care provider each fortnight now. It is a good idea to have a birth plan, and supportive team.
Relaxin causes your joints to feel loose due to the smooth muscle in your body relaxing. This helps you to vaginally deliver a baby, as the pelvic bones need to soften and the vagina needs to stretch. You may start taking Evening Primrose Oil vaginally as of next week, as it contains prostaglandins which help ripen the cervix. Use this while you practice perineal massage, to reduce the risk of tearing during labour.
Your baby will begin to move into a head-down position. When she is facing your abdomen, she's said to be in the occiput posterior (OP) position ie the back of your baby's skull (the occipital bone) is in the back/posterior of your pelvis. The ideal position for birth is LeftOP. Your baby is practicing her breathing, though has increasingly less space to stretch and kick. Her intestines are also building up meconium, a greenish-black substance that will become her first bowel movement.
You may notice Braxton Hicks contractions, which are irregular and random in occurance. These may briefly take your breath away but are all part of becoming ready to birth your baby.
Your baby's neurons are still developing, and this will continue throughout his first years of life. His organs are ready to function on their own. Sing to him and spend time in meditation, sending your love and desire to meet him.
Continue to eat small, nutrient dense foods and stay well hydrated, even though your size can cause you to feel less agile than before.
Your baby's chest is becoming more prominent and boy's testes continue to descend into the scrotum.
Your baby knows her birth date. Possibly, when babies are ready, they send a chemical signal of androgens to the placenta, increasing the estrogen and leading to birth. Most first babies are a little "over due" and rarely is a baby born on its EDD. Please be patient and spend these last few weeks making final preparations for your baby.
If you can, swimming is amazing relief from the heaviness you may feel! Continue to practice your optimal foetal positioning techniques, keep walking and make plans to do something you love each day.
Your baby is gaining weight, and it is very inaccurate to guage their size from manual manipulation or ultrasound.
You may experience labour at any time now, meditation and patience will hold you in good stead.
Check on in with the next blog to read about the stages of labour and some great preparation advice.