You’re in the third trimester and so close to meeting your new baby! What a ride it’s been! This last leg of pregnancy can bring a whirlwind of emotions with it, and there’s only so much you and your partner can prepare for, but why not be as ready as possible with our pregnancy guide to the third trimester? If you’re still in the earlier stages of pregnancy, you can check out our posts on the first trimester and the second trimesterof pregnancy for tips on week 1 to 28.
The third trimester takes you from week 29 to 40+ and it may be hectic, but you get the most wonderful prize at the end! Here are some of the third trimester symptoms and experiences you and your partner might go through, things to prepare and some dad-to-be FAQs.
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Things you might notice in the third trimester
Some of the changes you saw in the first and second trimester will probably continue into the third trimester (and may, unfortunately, get a bit more intense).
- Her bump will continue to grow in the third trimester. She may find it more difficult to do things because of her size, balance or shortness of breath (baby can push up against her diaphragm).
- She’ll also probably be more tired – help her out as best you can. Be prepared for migraines, cramps, haemorrhoids, back pain, forgetfulness, constipation and gas – doesn’t sound great but will all be worth it once you meet your bundle of joy!
- You might notice her moving in the night, or she might feel the need to get up and stretch. Don’t panic – this is restless leg syndrome and is generally normal in the third trimester of pregnancy.
- She could get Braxton Hicks contractions which can send you into a little panic over baby coming as they’re similar to normal contractions. It’s where the muscles tighten for a minute or two (to prepare the body for birth). They’re not as intense or consistent as real contractions.
- She might wee a little bit when she laughs (probably not time to get started on the dad jokes).
- She might get her bloody show, which is a mixture of blood and mucus which will appear in her knickers or down the loo. Now, this probably doesn’t sound too thrilling but it’s actually super exciting as it means she’s only a few days away from labour!
- Put your hand on her tummy to feel your baby kick and move!
- Your baby will grow from the size of a butternut squash to a pumpkin! And then you’re ready to meet the wonderful human you’ve created.
- Just before labour, her waters will break. This is go time!
- Labour starts slowly. Her contractions will be spaced far apart, but when they become more frequent (every five minutes, lasting for 30+ seconds), it’s time to get in the car (or call the midwife to come to you).
As the third trimester comes to a close and the big day approaches, you might feel pretty anxious. That’s totally normal and something every dad-to-be goes through. Remember, there’s no exact right way to parent. Everyone who’s ever had a baby has been in the same boat as you and you’re going to make a fantastic parent!
As well as looking after mum-to-be and prepping for baby, make sure you’re looking after yourself! Get some exercise in, eat a balanced diet, and make sure to take some time for yourself if you need it.
If you’re feeling extremely overwhelmed or low, you may be one of the one in ten new dads who suffer from mental health issues. One in ten shows that a lot of dads go through this and you’re not alone, so don’t be afraid to talk to your partner about it, or reach out to your doctor or other helpful services.
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How can you support your partner in the third trimester?
- Just like previous trimesters, being there for her, comforting her, helping her with things and talking things through can be such simple yet such effective things during the third trimester.
- If she’s suffering with restless leg syndrome, try giving her a leg massage before bed.
- Finalise your birth-day plan. How are you getting to the hospital? Do you know the route? Or if you’re having a home birth, do you know who to call? This will probably all be set out in her birth plan, but just make sure you’re clued up on it.
- Help her pack her hospital bag, and include some toiletries, a change of clothes and phone charger for yourself, just in case you have to stay overnight.
- As your baby’s due date approaches, there will be a lot more appointments to go to. Mum-to-be might have one at week 28, 31, 34, 36, 38, 40, 41 and 42. You might not be able to make all of these. Check out this list to see what happens at each one, and remember that you’re allowed paid time off work for two antenatal appointments (6.5 hours each)!
How can you prepare for baby during the third trimester?
- Practice fitting the car seat. With over half of car seats being fitted incorrectly, it’s clear how easy it is do.Practice getting it in and out, or make sure it’s in properly and leave it ready for the day you bring baby home from the hospital. To be extra sure, you could use a seat checking service.
- Get down to your antenatal classes – it’s now or never! You can really get hands on and learn all about the birth and looking after your baby. You might also make some friends!
- Get that crib up. You’ll need this as soon as baby comes home, so you’ll want to have it up before they arrive. Check out our post on preparing baby’s cot for some great tips on making it safe and comfy.
- This might be the perfect time to get the nursery done (if you’re having one) as you might be too busy once baby arrives! See our post on gender neutral nurseries for some inspo.
- Keep learning – all that baby knowledge is sure to come in handy once your little one’s here. Check out books, podcasts, blog posts, etc
- Get shopping! Although you don’t need to get everything before they arrive, it always helps to be prepared before dad life starts! Get the essentials locked down. Think cot, pram, car seat, baby monitor, breast pump, clothes, blanket, changing table, bottles, bath, etc.
- Paternity or shared parental leave should be sorted by now, but if it’s not, you better act quick!
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Some third trimester questions answered
Should I be there for the birth?
Yes, if that’s what you and your partner both want. Many dads attend the birth and it can be an absolutely magical moment for your family.
Will my baby be born on its due date?
Probably not. Only 1% of babies are actually born on their due date! That’s why it always helps to be prepared early as around 1 in every 13 babies in the UK are born prematurely. It could also go the other way – if your partner doesn’t go into labour naturally by week 42, she’ll probably be induced.
Is there anywhere I can go if I have money worries?
It’s understandable that finances can be a concern when you’ve got a little one on the way. There is support out there though. Try gov.uk to see if you’re entitled to any benefits, the Money Advice Service for tips, Maternity Action for more advice or Turn2us for details on the Sure Start Maternity Grant.
How do I change a nappy?
Something many people worry about before their baby arrives, but you’ll soon be doing it with your eyes closed (not literally!). This should be covered in your parenting classes, but if you’re not able to make them, grab a nappy and a doll and get practicing.
And there we go - it's time to meet your little one and be the best dad you can be. You've got this!