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The Third Trimester
You're in the home stretch! Start thinking about breastfeeding, learn to spot the signs of labor and get the facts on cesarean sections.

Changes in Your Body

Some of the same discomforts you had in your second trimester will continue. Plus, many women find breathing even more difficult and notice they have to go to the bathroom even more often. This is because the baby is getting bigger and it is putting more pressure on your organs. Don't worry, your baby is fine and these problems will lessen once you give birth.

The following aches and pains often appear for the first time during the third trimester:

  • Heartburn
  • Swelling of the ankles, fingers, and face. If you notice any sudden or extreme swelling or if you gain a lot of weight really quickly, call your doctor right away. This could be a sign of preeclampsia or toxemia.
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Tender Breasts
  • Trouble Sleeping

As you near your due date, your cervix becomes thinner and softer (called effacing). This is a normal, natural process that helps the birth canal (vagina) to open during the birthing process. Your doctor can check your progress with a vaginal exam.

Weight Gain

Everyone gains weight at different rates. On average, it is normal to gain about one pound per week, or three to four pounds per month, during the third trimester. By the end of your pregnancy you should have gained, on average, about 25 to 30 pounds. About 7 1/2 pounds of that weight should be the baby.

Changes in Your Baby

Your baby is still growing and moving, but now it has less room in your uterus. Because of this, you might not feel the kicks and movements as much as you did in the second trimester. During this final stage of your pregnancy, your baby is continuing to grow. Even before your baby is born it will be able to open and close its eyes and might even suck its thumb.

As your body prepares for birth, the baby will start to move into its birth position. You might notice the baby "dropping," or moving down lower in your abdomen. This can reduce the pressure on your lungs and rib cage, making it easier to breathe.

At birth, the average baby is 20 to 22 inches long and weighs 7 1/2 pounds. But newborns who weigh between 5 pounds, 11 1/2 ounces and 8 pounds, 5 3/4 ounces are considered healthy.

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