Week-by-week guide to pregnancy

pregnant woman sitting down
When you're pregnant, you have lots of questions. Our week-by-week pregnancy guide is packed with lots of useful information. From what's happening inside your body, to how your baby is developing, and tips and advice on having a healthy pregnancy – this is your one-stop pregnancy guide!

Third trimester

Our week-by-week pregnancy guide is full of essential information. From advice on writing a birth plan to what to expect at antenatal classes, you'll find it all here. Happy reading!

Week 28 – your third trimester

Welcome to the third trimester! Pregnancy is divided into three stages, known as trimesters…. and you're now in the third stage. Over the next few weeks, you will probably start to feel a bit more uncomfortable and tired.

What's happening in my body?

You may be getting a bit of heartburn and indigestion. That's down to your growing baby and hormones affecting your digestive system.

Your back will also be under strain, due to the extra weight you're carrying around. Your joints and ligaments will also be looser than usual.

Your ankles, feet and face could be puffing out a bit, particularly when it's hot. This is probably due to water retention, but get it checked out, just in case it's pre-eclampsia. This is a condition where you may feel perfectly well, but then your blood pressure can get dangerously high, very quickly.

A quick-fix for many niggling conditions in the third trimester is to put your feet up. But if you are worried about anything at all, talk to your midwife or doctor, or call NHS 111.

Three ways to be a germ buster!

Make sure you know about some of the harmful infections in pregnancy, so that you can do your best to avoid them.

Here are 3 ways you can protect your unborn baby…

  1. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, particularly if you're in contact with children or nappies, as they could carry a virus called CMV (cytomegalovirus).

  2. If you have a cat - wear gloves when emptying the cat litter tray. That's because cat poo can contain a bug that causes the dangerous toxoplasmosis infection. You should also wear gloves when gardening.

  3. If you have not had chickenpox let your doctor or midwife know if you come into contact with anyone who could be infectious. The disease can be spread up to two days before spots appear, until five days afterwards. It's safest for you when there are no new blisters or moist crusts on the spots.

If you're worried about coronavirus and pregnancy, have a look at the advice from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Nosebleeds

Nosebleeds are common in pregnancy, due to hormonal changes, and can even strike when you're asleep. Here's what you can do:

  • sit or stand up - don't lie down
  • pinch your nose just above your nostrils for 10 to 15 minutes
  • lean forward and breathe through your mouth
  • put an icepack (or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a teatowel) at the top of your nose Read more tips for stopping nosebleeds.

Third trimester pregnancy symptoms (at 28 weeks)

You may start getting new symptoms now, such as nosebleeds and indigestion.

Your signs of pregnancy could also include:

Tommy's the baby charity has produced a pregnancy guide with a further list of symptoms.

What does my baby look like?

Your baby, or foetus, is around 37.6cm long from head to heel, and weighs about 1kg. That's approximately the size of a pineapple, and the weight of a big bag of brown sugar.

Your baby's heart rate is changing all the time. Around week 5 or 6, when it was first detectable, it was around 110 beats per minute (bpm). Then it soared to around 170 bpm in week 9-10. Now, it's slowed down to around 140 bpm and it will be around 130 bpm at birth. That's still a lot faster than your heart rate, which will be around 80-85 beats per minute. This is partly because babies' hearts are so small that they can't pump much blood, but they can make up for this by going faster. It also helps to keep them warm.

Your baby's heart can be heard through a stethoscope. Your partner might be able to hear it by putting an ear to your pregnant belly – give it a go, but it's tricky finding the right spot.

Action stations

It's time to work out where your baby will sleep, and it's best to do this sooner, rather than later, before you start running out of energy. Your baby will spend a lot of time in a cot, so make sure it's safe. If you're buying a new cot, look for the British Standard mark BS EN 716-1. Read more about what you need for your baby.

This week you could also...

You have maternity rights and if you're worried about your safety at work, then talk to your employer. You shouldn't be lugging anything around, and you may need extra breaks and somewhere to sit. You can also attend antenatal appointments during paid work time.

It's a good time to tone up those muscles 'down under'. Gentle exercises can help to prevent leakage when you laugh, sneeze, cough or jump around on your future baby's trampoline. Get the muscles going by pretending that you're having a wee and then stop the 'urine' in midflow. Visit Tommy’s.org for more ideas.

Ask your midwife or doctor about online antenatal classes – they start around now. The charity Tommy's has lots of useful information on antenatal classes and preparing you for birth.

Ask your partner if they would like to take part in the antenatal classes. Even if you've had children before, they're still worth going to as you can meet other parents-to-be. The NCT offers online antenatal classes with small groups of people that live locally to you.

Do your best to stop smoking, give up alcohol and go easy on the cappuccinos. We know that's easy to say, but hard to do. Ask your midwife or GP for support.

We can usually get enough vitamin D from sunlight, but between October and March it's best to take a vitamin D supplement every day. Just 10 micrograms is all you need (it's the same for grown-ups and kids). It's worth checking if you're entitled to free vitamins.

Get moving! It's recommended that pregnant women do 150 minutes of exercise throughout the week. You could start off with just 10 minutes of daily exercise - perhaps take a brisk walk outside. Check out Sport England's #StayInWorkOut online exercises (scroll to the pregnancy section). Listen to your body and do what feels right for you.

Don't eat for two! Eat for you. Now you're in the third trimester, you may need an extra 200 calories a day, but that's not much. It's about the same as two slices of wholemeal toast and margarine.

Try and eat healthily with plenty of fresh fruit and veg, and avoid processed, fatty and salty foods. You may be able to get free milk, fruit and veg through the Healthy Start scheme.

How are you today? If you're feeling anxious or low, then talk to your midwife or doctor who can point you in the right direction to get all the support that you need. You could also discuss your worries with your partner, friends and family. You may be worried about your relationship, or money, or having somewhere permanent to live. Don't bottle it up – you're important, so ask for help if you need it!

Getting pregnant again is probably the last thing on your mind! However now is a good time to start planning what type of contraception you would like to use after your baby is born. Making this decision when you're pregnant will give you one less thing to think about when you're looking after a newborn baby. Getting pregnant again could happen sooner than you realise and too short a gap between babies is known to cause problems. Talk to your GP or midwife to help you decide and get everything in place.

You will be offered newborn screening tests for your baby soon after they are born. These screening tests are recommended by the NHS. This is because results from these tests can help make sure that your baby is given appropriate treatment as quickly as possible if needed. It is important to think carefully whether you want to have these screening tests. Your decisions will be respected, and health care professionals will support you. Ask your midwife or doctor for more information about newborn screening.

This week's treat

Have a boogie! Dancing is great for fitness and fun, and there are loads of styles to choose from, ranging from ballroom to Bollywood. Why not get your hips shaking and try an online class in belly dancing? Some practitioners believe that it prepares the body for labour, although there's no strong evidence to back that up.

Go back to week 27

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