A Guide to the Exciting Third Trimester of Pregnancy

Pregnant woman making tea in home kitchen.

As a newborn photographer based in Dublin, Ireland, and a mom, I understand that the third trimester of pregnancy is an incredibly special time filled with excitement and anticipation as your due date approaches. However, it can also be a time of significant physical and emotional changes as your body adapts to the pregnancy and readies itself for childbirth. Here’s what you should expect during the third trimester and how you can best prepare for the final weeks of your pregnancy.

Physical Changes

It’s important to understand the physical changes that pregnant women undergo during their third trimester. During this time, the body undergoes significant changes as the baby continues to grow.

The uterus will expand, putting pressure on the diaphragm and other organs, resulting in an increase in shortness of breath, heartburn, and abdominal discomfort. Additionally, the joints and ligaments will become looser in preparation for delivery, leading to more backache and pelvic pain.

Personally, walking and targeted exercises were recommended by my physio and really helped me with the pain.

Braxton Hicks contractions may also become more frequent as the due date approaches and hydration and rest are crucial to managing discomfort.

Skin elasticity may increase due to pregnancy hormones, leading to stretch marks on the abdomen, breasts, buttocks, and thighs. Keeping the skin moisturized and using a special lotion designed to prevent stretch marks can be helpful, if not magical.

Finally, the baby will continue to grow and develop, with their lungs and brain maturing. As the baby becomes cramped in the womb, movements may become more forceful and even painful (my poor ribs!). 

Pregnant woman with child laughing on bed.

This is me in my 3rd trimester with my daughter: hard to move around, sore from pelvic girdle pain, but also A LOT of excitement and gratitude.

Emotional Changes

The third trimester is a unique and special time as the due date approaches and the anticipation of welcoming a new life into the world can be both exciting and overwhelming.

Pregnant women may experience a range of emotions during this time, such as anxiety, fear, or feeling overwhelmed. These emotions are typically a result of hormonal changes happening in the body. It’s crucial to find healthy ways to cope with these feelings, such as by engaging in calming activities like yoga or meditation or talking to friends and family.

Many women also experience the instinctual urge to “nest” during the third trimester, organizing and preparing for the baby’s arrival. This can be a satisfying experience that gives a sense of control at a time when so much is unknown.

I know I was nesting for both of my children, but getting rid of “stuff” nearly became an obsession for my son.

Some women may experience a decrease in energy and motivation during the third trimester due to fatigue and discomfort as the baby grows. Resting when needed is essential for the health and wellbeing of the expectant mother.

No matter what emotions are felt during this time, it’s important to remember that they are normal. You are about to start an exciting new chapter in your life, and it is normal to feel a wide range of emotions in the days leading up to the big day.

This being said, if the thoughts are becoming intrusive, or you are feeling extreme anxiety, make sure to talk to your GP about it. Some pregnant women suffer from antenatal anxiety or depression and there is no shame.

Expectant couple with ultrasound photo in cozy room.

Preparing for Labor and Delivery

The third trimester is also a time to start preparing for labor and delivery. It’s essential to talk to your doctor about any questions or concerns and to take a childbirth class if you have not already done so. It’s also important to discuss the birth plan with the doctor or midwife and become familiar with the hospital’s policies and procedures.

I found hypnobirthing to be really amazing for preparing us for birth. My maternity hospital offered a 4-weeks course, but you can also find private workshops or one-one-one consultations in your area (or even online).

Thinking ahead about the postpartum period is equally important. It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about any questions or concerns and establish a support system to help with childcare, meals, and errands.

The third trimester is a time of many physical and emotional changes. It is important to take care of yourself and to talk openly and honestly with your partner, family, and friends. In addition, you should start making plans for the delivery itself and arranging for the necessary postpartum care. The third trimester can be an exciting and rewarding time with the right amount of planning and support.

I’m Johanna and I am a Dublin-based documentary newborn & family photographer. I also travel nationwide. You will often find me in Donabate, Portmarnock, Clontarf, Wicklow & Dublin Mountains, Ashbourne, Skerries and in the middle of County Meath, County Kildare, and County Wicklow.
While you are preparing for baby’s arrival, don’t forget to schedule your maternity photoshoot or newborn photoshoot! I’d love to chat with you about documenting this special time for you!! 🙂

Family enjoying time together, with child reading book.

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