Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital

Third Trimester

The Third Trimester

Prenatal visits during the third trimester:

During the second and third trimester prenatal visits, your physician/midwife may check the following, depending on your current medical condition and the health of the fetus:

As you begin the third trimester, your physician/midwife may change the schedule of your prenatal visits from monthly to every two weeks. Your prenatal visits may be scheduled once every week in the last month. This schedule will depend upon your medical condition, the growth and development of the fetus, and your physician/midwife's preference.

Toward the later weeks of the pregnancy (started at approximately the 38th week), a pelvic examination may be performed to determine the dilation and effacement of the cervix. Your physician/midwife will also ask about any contractions and discuss labor and delivery procedures.

What to expect during the third trimester:

The third trimester marks the home stretch, as the mother-to-be prepares for the delivery of her baby. The fetus is continuing to grow in weight and size and the body systems finish maturing. The mother may feel more uncomfortable now as she continues to gain weight and begins to have false labor contractions (called Braxton-Hicks contractions).

During the third trimester, it is a good idea to start taking childbirth classes in preparation for the big day - especially in the case of first pregnancies. If you plan to breastfeed, taking a breastfeeding class may be helpful.

During the third trimester, both the mother's body and fetus continue to grow and change.

Illustration demonstrating  fetal growth from 8 to 40 weeks
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Fetal development during the third trimester:

During the third trimester, the fetus continues to grow in size and weight. The lungs are still maturing and the fetus begins to position itself head-down. By the end of the third trimester, the fetus is about 19 to 21 inches long and weighs, on average, six to nine pounds. Fetal development during the third trimester includes:

Changes in the mother's body:

In the third trimester, some women become increasingly uncomfortable as their due date nears. As the fetus grows in size and crowds the abdominal cavity, some mothers-to-be have difficulty taking deep breaths or getting comfortable at night for sleep, while others are free from any discomfort as they anxiously await the arrival of their new son or daughter.

The following is a list of changes and symptoms that a woman may experience during the third trimester and includes:

Illustration demonstrating  the variations of carrying an unborn baby
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As demonstrated above, each woman carries her baby differently, depending upon her body structure and amount of weight gain.

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Online Resources of Pregnancy & Childbirth


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