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The third trimester culminates in the birth of that long awaited baby. What else do women usually go through in the last three months of their pregnancy? What is the baby going through? And perhaps most importantly, how can you tell when labor has started

The third trimester and your fetus

Most of the important developments a baby happens during the first and second trimesters. Babies born at 24 weeks are extremely premature, but they already have a chance of survival when they receive the right medical attention in a NICU. This may well make you wonder what actually happens during the third and final trimester of pregnancy.

The baby, who started swallowing small amounts of amniotic fluid during the second trimester, will now practice "breathing" and his or her lungs will continue to develop and mature in preparation for real breathing upon birth. The baby's bones are all there and are already completely developed, but they are still weak and flexible something that allows for an easier birth, after which they will continue to become stronger. The baby starts storing is own minerals during the third trimester. Besides that, the baby's main "task" during the final stages during pregnancy is to gain as much weight as possible. The baby will also (hopefully, unless she's breech!) move into the vertex or head-down position and move into the pelvis, waiting to be born.

The third trimester what mom is feeling

As you enter the third trimester of pregnancy, you will be full of anticipation! You may also notice that some of those "dreaded" pregnancy symptoms from the first trimester are making a comeback, such as nausea, extreme fatigue, mood swings and and more frequent urination. More frequent Braxton Hicks contractions are probably accompanied by the nesting instinct outbursts of compulsive shopping, DIY, and cleaning and you may find that your body is so big now that you have trouble reaching your toes. Welcome to the third trimester. Enjoy it, because your pregnancy is going to be over soon! In preparation for your baby, you have probably also turned into an insoniac. Sleep trouble and weird dreams are extremely common during the final weeks of pregnancy. Hopefully, you will have your labor and delivery venue planned out by this stage and have made all the relevant preparations like packing your hospital bag or gathering homebirth supplies, and you have all your baby clothes and gear and your insurance sorted out. You better be ready, because your baby is already descending into the pelvis something you will feel as a lightening of your belly when it happens. Your cervix is already softening (effacing) as well, and may be dilating slightly.

How do you know if you are in labor?

Labor contractions differ from the Braxton Hicks contractions you have been having from ten weeks (though you may not have felt them that early) in some significant ways. Braxton Hicks contractions don't follow any pattern, and often subside when the pregnant woman moves positions or changes her activities. Labor contractions may seem to start off like Braxton Hicks contractions, but they soon start being stronger and to last longer. As your contractions are getting more painful, a clear pattern will emerge as well. Most labors will start with contractions (and mostly not on the woman's estimated due date!), but some will start with the breaking of her bag of waters. If that happens, you may wonder if you peed yourself! Amniotic fluid is clear in color and doesn't have a smell. If your bag of waters happens, get to your birth venue and healthcare provider right away. If your labor starts with contractions, it is generally a good idea to go in when your contractions come four minutes apart and last longer than one minute.

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