Taking shape: The anatomy of your 9 months (Part 3)

By Published On: February 1st, 2011

In the 40 weeks of pregnancy, your body undergoes some serious changes—both inside and out. Before you even see those two little lines, your body is busy building the perfect environment for your budding baby. What exactly is going on in there? Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect, trimester by trimester.
Third trimester (27 to 40 weeks)
As you waddle gracefully into your third trimester, your formerly energetic self may experience a temporary lull. Your growing uterus stretches your body’s muscles and hormones loosen ligaments, resulting in lower back stress, cramps and joint soreness. You’ll likely gain between 11 and 15 pounds this trimester, meaning extra weight for your already sore body to tote around.
The hormone progesterone takes center stage, slowing digestion and causing heartburn and constipation. This, coupled with the fact that by week 35 your uterus has moved up into your rib cage, means you’ll probably have to adjust your dining schedule. Consuming smaller, more frequent meals will help you feel less full and aid in digestion—solid digestion, that is. As your kidneys’ workload and the pressure on your bladder increase, you’ll find nature calling far more often, day and night. Many women discover another undesirable problem around this time: hemorrhoids.
The third trimester isn’t all terrible, though. Braxton Hicks contractions become noticeable, and while they’re not exactly comfortable, these practice contractions should be distinct from true labor. Braxton Hicks contractions won’t become longer, more frequent or more intense like real contractions will. (If you’re having a tough time distinguishing between the two, call your healthcare provider.) You may also notice a bit of colostrum or “premilk” excreting from your breasts. It’s OK to feel nervous and excited—these milestones may seem strange, but they’re your body’s way of getting ready for the big day.
Your baby is considered full-term after 37 weeks, so your body will likely maintain an as-is status for the last few weeks of pregnancy. In the days leading up to baby’s birth, your cervix will begin to soften, thin out and dilate in preparation for delivery.
What to expect: Hemorrhoids, swelling, Braxton Hicks contractions
Your baby: His toenails, fingernails and hair make their appearance, and your baby is able to sense light. He starts storing fat under his skin to ready himself for delivery and develops the sucking muscles he’ll need for eating once he’s born.
Ready on the inside, ready on the outside!
By the third trimester, it’s time to finish up preparations for your new addition. If you are having a shower, be sure to register so guests can buy the things you need (and want!) for your bundle of joy. Put the finishing touches on the nursery so your beautiful babe will have an equally beautiful room when he comes home. And don’t forget to pack your hospital bag so you’re ready to go when the time comes!