- By week 32, baby's brain development is rapid
- Baby responds to light that filters through the uterus
- Baby moves less towards the end of pregnancy
- Baby gains weight rapidly at around 37 weeks
Now that baby's arrival is getting closer, the final trimester is a time of conflicting emotions and feelings. You may have to put up with unsolicited advice on labour and childbirth, not to forget the sensationalized birth stories that send a chill down your spine.
It's tough keeping yourself cool around this time, and so treating your body - and mind - to the right kind of care is essential. Here's how your body changes, and how best to take care of yourself:
An expanding belly can throw off your posture, and the hormone relaxin, which loosens your joints in anticipation of delivery, exacerbates the stress on your body. There are several things you can do to fool gravity and ease your aches - like pelvic tilts, sleeping with a pillow between your legs and supporting your back and abdomen with extra padding.
As your uterus puts pressure on your bladder most heavily in the third trimester, you may have to go to the bathroom more than you ever did before. You may even have a sudden, uncontrollable urges to urinate, called urge incontinence (over 40 percent of first-time moms experience it).
Try to urinate on a schedule (every hour or two), so that you go before you feel an overwhelming need. After a week or so, gradually extend the time between bathroom visits until you're urinating every three hours (or you reach the goal set by you and your doctor).
It's also important to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day to stay properly hydrated and to eat plenty of high-fibre foods to prevent constipation. And avoid caffeine, a diuretic that can make urge incontinence worse.
The third trimester is also when nearly half of all moms-to-be will be plagued by heartburn. Thanks to all the hormones circulating through your body during pregnancy, the muscle at the top of your stomach - the one that usually prevents digestive acids from splashing into the oesophagus - relaxes, allowing those harsh juices to go back up. What's more, by now your uterus has taken up most of your abdominal cavity, pushing your stomach up toward your throat, which makes the burn more noticeable. It is best to avoid spicy or acidic food, fizzy drinks and other foods that could trigger heartburn. Have frequent mini-meals instead of the usual three-times-a-day intake and avoid lying down soon after eating.
Learn all about premature labour and how to detect and prevent it. Once you get to know the basic facts, it would save you a lot of anxiety when you have false contractions. False contractions tend to be felt in the front of the abdomen; real ones start in the back and come around to the front, sometimes moving from top to bottom. Real contractions may also intensify if you shift your position, so try moving around to determine if it's time to go the hospital.
As your baby's arrival nears, your body is going through some of the most intense changes of your whole pregnancy. This is also an emotional time, as you prepare for an addition to your family. Bizarre night dreams and disturbed sleep are also common during this period. Try not to become too stressed by these strange new emotions - these are normal at this stage of life - you can discuss them with your spouse or a close friend.
Try not to do too much, and focus on taking care of yourself by getting plenty of rest and talking about any worries you have with your partner, friends, or doctor.