You are well into the third trimester of your pregnancy now. If your baby was to be born at 32 weeks gestation, and 7% of babies in the UK are born prematurely (defined as before 37 weeks), they would have about a 95% chance of survival. At this point in your pregnancy, you may be looking forward to your maternity leave, or for some of you it may have already started. The start of maternity leave is often the time when most people finalise preparations for their baby’s arrival.
At 32 weeks of pregnancy your baby is 43cms long and about 3lbs7oz- 4lbs in weight, about the size of a small honeydew melon. Their skin is developing well, becoming stronger and less translucent. Although you may feel like resting more, exercise should still be an important part of your weekly schedule. Try swimming, if you haven’t already, once you are in the water, it can often feel quite supportive for your growing bump.
At 33 weeks of pregnancy your baby is approximately 4lbs7oz and although moving around plenty, their space is becoming more limited. You might feel their movements becoming much stronger, but the pattern of movements shouldn’t change. If you do feel any changes or you think that your baby isn’t moving as much as usual, ring your local maternity unit for advice.
At 34 weeks of pregnancy your baby is about 45cms long and weighs around 5lbs. If your baby is not in a head down (cephalic) position by now, there is still time for turning to happen (this can happen right up until labour).
At 35 weeks of pregnancy your baby is about 37cms long and weighs around 5lb 7oz. You may find that you are having more regular Braxton Hicks, which are practice tightenings or contractions that prepare your uterus for your labour and birth. You may also start to feel uncomfortable as your baby’s head starts to engage in your pelvis. This is known as pelvic girdle pain (PGP) and often described as “fitting pains”, as your baby tries to engage deeper into your pelvis. Rest as much as possible and try putting a pillow between your legs to align your pelvis when you are in bed.
At 36 weeks of pregnancy your baby is about 48cms long and around 5lb7oz and 6lbs and should now have settled into a head down position. Your midwife or doctor will check for which part of your baby is presenting at the entrance to your pelvis at your 36 weeks appointment, by feeling your bump, and you will be offered an ultrasound scan if there is any uncertainty.
If your baby is breech you may find this blog helpful: https://myexpertmidwife.com/blogs/my-expert-midwife/what-does-breech-baby-mean-and-will-a-breech-baby-turn
Preparing for birth checklist:
- Make sure you have a bag packed for after the birth, with essentials for both you and your baby. You can call this your hospital bag or birth bag if you are planning to have your baby at home.
- If you are planning a vaginal birth, you can start perineal massage from 34 weeks. For more information refer to this blog: https://myexpertmidwife.com/blogs/my-expert-midwife/how-to-do-perineal-massage
- You can start drinking red raspberry leaf tea from 32 weeks, which helps to strengthen uterine tone ready for labour. Research also suggests that eating six dates a day from 36 weeks can mean labour starts sooner and lasts for a shorter length of time.
- Make sure your birth plan is completed and ready, either in your antenatal notes or your hospital/birth bag. It’s always a good thing to have a few copies in case you lose one, or you need to give it out to more than one person involved in your care during your labour and birth.
- If you are planning to give birth in hospital it can be an unfamiliar and medicalised environment. Pack some of your home comforts, such as your own pillow, battery powered candles or fairy lights or anything else which helps you to relax and feel comfortable.
- Have you collected all the essential items you need for after your baby is born? Keep a list handy of what you will need before your baby is born and what can wait until after the birth.
In summary, you are well into the third trimester and almost ready to meet your baby. Putting the final finishing touches to welcome your new arrival should help you feel well prepared, as well as making things feel a bit more real now!