The home stretch, the last few innings, the calm before the storm – or perhaps the storm before the hurricane. Yes, we’re talking about the third trimester of pregnancy. This is the time you and your partner are making final preparations and when you’ll begin counting down the launch sequence.
The third trimester is the time to get your house in order, literally and figuratively. It’s also the time to make sure your partner has everything she needs in the way of support, comfort, convenience, and preparation for labor and delivery.
Here are some things you need to know about what’s going on with your partner and your baby, and what you can do to make the third trimester as smooth as possible:
Your partner is about to go through some very visible changes. Your baby is going to grow and grow fast. The relatively easy days of the second trimester, when your partner is first beginning to show, are gone. She’s likely to have breast soreness, cramping, foot aches, and backache. It’s your duty, in part, to help her be as comfortable as possible. Know that, sometimes, it’s going to be a losing battle.
Your partner's fatigue
Your growing baby is going to zap a lot of your partner’s energy. She’ll likely sleep more frequently, but probably not sleep as well. In fact, she might not be able to sleep well at night at all. Sleeping on her side with a pillow between her knees is often the best way for her to get comfortable enough to sleep at this stage of pregnancy.
As long as your baby waits until the third trimester to try to arrive, she has a good chance of survival. While babies born after the 38th week of pregnancy don’t face the kinds of challenges a baby born in the 32nd week might face, premature birth is no longer an automatic tragedy. Modern medicine has been able to help babies who born early live longer and healthier than ever before.
If this is your partner’s first pregnancy, you might find yourself at the birthing center on more than one occasion. False contractions, known as Braxton-Hicks contractions, are relatively common, and they are your partner’s body’s way of preparing for labor.
Get sleep while you can
Once your baby is born, sleep will come at a premium. Even if your partner plans on breastfeeding, there’s a good chance you’re going to have some seriously sleepless nights. Both of you should take advantage of it while you’re able to.
Make final preparations early
Try to have everything in place for postpartum by about week 36. That means diapers, formula, bottles, a bassinette, onesies, and any other materials you might need.
The final trimester of pregnancy can be a challenge, but in the end, you get your major award: a cooing baby, an entirely new person for whom you’re responsible. This is when the real work will begin.