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Mothers & Babies | Pregnancy Landmarks


How does my baby develop during the third trimester?


(weeks 27-birth) The third trimester, which runs from week 27 to birth, will see your baby become very active. Be aware of your baby’s pattern of movements so that if there are any changes you can notify your midwife. By week 37, your


pregnancy is considered full term. The baby’s brain and nervous system are fully developed, although the bones (apart from the skull) are still soft in order to make baby’s journey down the birth canal easier. By week 32, the baby is usually in cephalic position with their head pointing downwards, ready for birth.


Only fi ve percent of babies born in the UK arrive on their due date. However, you should be well organised and prepared for birth from week 36 just in case your baby decides to make an early appearance. Consider preferences for labour and birth, including what form of pain relief might suit you. The last few weeks of pregnancy are also a good time to discuss with your birthing partner the best way for them to support you through labour and birth.


HOW CAN I PREPARE FOR MY BABY’S BIRTH?


What will happen to my body aſt er the birth?


What symptoms can I expect during the run-up to birth?


Nighttime leg cramps are common from weeks 29 to 32. To get more comfortable, try sleeping curled up on your side with a pillow between your legs and another pillow to support your bump. Carrying around the extra weight all day can also be tiring, and you may experience some backache. From week 34 onwards, some women also experience practice contractions known as Braxton Hicks, during which the womb tightens. This is a perfectly normal symptom to experience, however, if it becomes frequent or painful you should get in touch with your doctor. 


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The womb gradually returns to normal size over the course of approximately one month, however, the stomach muscles may remain lax for some time afterwards. Extra fat you have deposited over pregnancy usually diminishes with breastfeeding over several months. The cardiovascular changes to your body may not fully revert to normal; however, the changes make the mother fi tter and more able to cope with the active


demands of motherhood.  DEAR DOCTOR WITH DR CHRIS STEELE 95


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