As your due date (estimated date of delivery or “EDD”) nears, it’s important to continue prenatal appointments with your Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) provider. We also encourage you to maintain healthy habits that benefit you and your developing baby.

Third trimester prenatal care

You will begin to see your LVHN provider more frequently in the third trimester: About every two weeks until the final month when you will see your provider weekly. During these routine prenatal checkups, your obstetrics provider or certified nurse-midwife will:

  • Take your weight and blood pressure
  • Check the growth and size of your baby by measuring the distance from your pubic bone to the top of your uterus (fundal height)
  • Measure your baby’s heartbeat
  • Discuss the importance of nutrition in pregnancy
  • Make you aware of the signs and symptoms of baby blues and postpartum depression after delivery

Early in the third trimester, you will have a glucose-screening test to measure how your body processes sugar and to rule out diabetes brought on by pregnancy (gestational diabetes). If the test is positive, it indicates your body may not be processing sugar effectively. In that case, your LVHN provider will administer a second test – the glucose-tolerance test. This test determines if you have gestational diabetes. If you do, your pregnancy provider will help you effectively manage it.

Your provider may also use a urine test to detect problematic protein or sugar levels.

About two weeks before delivery, your provider may perform a pelvic exam to measure whether a widening of the cervix has begun. Called dilation, this signals your body is getting ready for childbirth.

What to expect in the third trimester

The end of pregnancy may bring feelings of excitement, nervousness – and discomfort. Your baby is growing and gaining weight, and so are you.

Your growing baby may crowd your midsection, making it hard to breathe deeply or get comfortable while sleeping. In the third trimester, many women experience:  

  • False labor: Known as Braxton-Hicks contractions, these are the body’s way of preparing for the demanding work of childbirth.
  • Hot flashes: Your baby is radiating body heat, which is making you feel hot, too.
  • Increased urination: As your baby places more pressure on your bladder, you may use the bathroom more frequently.
  • Swelling: Retaining fluid may cause your hands, face or ankles to swell.
  • Leaky breasts: In preparation for breastfeeding your baby, your nipples may start leaking a pre-breast-milk fluid called colostrum.

Third trimester growth and development

Late pregnancy development ensures your baby is ready for life outside the womb.

By the end of week 32

  • Your baby can open his or her eyelids.
  • Your baby starts forming red blood cells.
  • Your baby has completed most major development and rapid weight gain begins.

By the end of week 36

  • Your baby can detect light.
  • Your baby’s head may drop into the pelvic area (known as lightening).

By the end of week 40

  • Your baby’s lungs are completely mature.
  • A protective coating covers your baby’s skin in preparation for childbirth.
  • Your baby has extra fat to keep him or her warm outside the womb.

Pregnancy and Newborn Guide

Our Baby Bundle app gives you the information you need during pregnancy and baby’s first year.

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Preparing for baby classes

Our prenatal and baby-care classes are held in convenient locations and led by certified instructors.

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Choose a provider for your newborn

Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital offers specialty care for your baby starting at delivery and throughout childhood.

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