Welcome to the third trimester! Pregnancy is divided into three chunks, known as trimesters…. and we've made it to round three. Over the next few weeks, you will probably start to feel a bit more uncomfortable and tired, but keep your eyes on the prize. In around 12 weeks, you will have a beautiful baby.
You may be getting a bit of heartburn and indigestion. That's your growing baby and hormones creating havoc with your digestive system.
Your back will also be under strain, thanks to all the extra weight you're now carrying around. It won't help that your joints and ligaments are also 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, then talk to your midwife or doctor, or call NHS 111.
Make sure you're clued up about some of the harmful infections in pregnancy, so that you can do your best to avoid them.
Here are three ways you can protect your unborn baby…
Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, particularly if you're in contact with children or nappies, as they could carry a virus called CMV (cytomegalovirus).
Don't empty your cat litter tray and wear gloves when you're gardening. That's because cat poo can contain a bug that causes the dangerous toxoplasmosis infection.
If you haven't 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.
Nosebleed? No way!
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.
You may start getting new symptoms now, such as nosebleeds and indigestion.
Tommy's the baby charity has produced a pregnancy guide with a further list of symptoms.
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.
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.
Attend antenatal classes to prepare you for the birth and beyond. They start around now. If possible, ask your partner to come with you. Even if you’ve had children before, and been there, done that, they’re still worth revisiting as you can meet other parents. Also don’t expect this pregnancy to be just like your others - your baby could have other plans.
Get moving! It’s recommended that pregnant women do 150 minutes of exercise throughout the week. Perhaps take a brisk walk in the park, or go for a swim. If you start any classes, make sure the instructor knows that you’re pregnant. Don’t overdo it though - listen to your body.
Have a fit pregnancy and sign up for a free personal activity plan.
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.
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.
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.
Alternatively, you can find local dance classes.