The Third Trimester

Third Trimester

Weeks 28 to birth

Third trimester
  • Time to vaccinate. The pertussis vaccine is done at 28 – 30 weeks.

The Birth

  • You are now thinking of the birth and also beyond that to your life with your new baby.

You will be thinking of doing birth classes and talking to your family and friends about their birth experiences.

Remember: this is your body and your baby and your birth choices are to be respected. Many women aim for an active birth with minimal use of painkillers and intervention. Some women plan to have an epidural( if there is time). When a baby or mother shows signs of labour not going well or the baby being in distress, medical assistance in some form may be required. The safety of a mother and baby is always paramount.

Some women choose a Caesarean birth and this is discussed and respected, once you are fully informed.

Birth by any means carries some innate risks to both the mother and baby. The important thing here is to individualise rather than apply any risk globally. Some pregnancies are considered low risk, whilst others may be “ high risk” due to maternal medical conditions.

Giving birth to a baby 3.3kg at term is different in risk to giving birth to a baby >4.5 kg in weight.

When talking to your friends and family, you may get good advice and sometimes some rather obtrusive comments. It’s usually best to let the latter pass. People generally mean well but are not always going to be appropriate.

Planning an active birth:

  • Keep healthy and active, engage in walking, and perhaps also pregnancy yoga or Pilates.
  • Ask about using an Epi No.
  • Aim for a modest total weight gain: 10 – 13 kg, or less if you started a bit overweight.
  • Will I breastfeed or formula feed my baby?
  • Think about breastfeeding. Talk to people about life with newborn babies, and do a class on breastfeeding if your hospital offers one.
  • Breastfeeding is often harder than expected and it takes a few days to learn and have some confidence. It is generally very rewarding and is good for your baby. Some women on occasion choose not to breastfeed, or find that despite trying, it doesn’t always work for them or their bay. This is ok. There is a lot of help available with these issues. Sometimes a combination of both breast milk and formula can work really well.

Mood and Stress levels

Pregnancy is a time of excitement and anticipation. However often not all is smooth sailing on an emotional level.

Our lives are often full and busy, there is pressure at work, family issues and now a new baby is coming!

Often arranging a home for a baby may involve preparing a room, painting, renovations or even moving house.

Added to this can be anxiety about the birth, your relationship with your partner or other family members, and financial pressure and career worries.

The stress levels can get very high indeed. Help is available and asking for help is truly what you need to do. It is normal to get overwhelmed at times.

Help comes from talking to people that can support you: including your partner, your GP, your mum, Dr O’Shea and other friends or family. Professional counselling and support can be useful and it’s important that while you may feel alone, women from all backgrounds need help at times.

Premature babies:

About 10% of babies are born prematurely, or before 37 weeks. Often there are preceding signs, but not always.

If a baby is born before 37 weeks, a steroid injection may be given to the mother to help prepare the baby’s lungs for an early birth. Ideally the steroids are given around 24 + hours before the birth, but of course anticipating the exact time of birth is difficult and not always possible.

If you have regular painful contractions (or period pain) and each wave of pain is lasting over 30 seconds, especially if there has been a show or vaginal bleeding, you should contact your maternity hospital.

Full term – 37 + weeks

Once you arrive at term – 37 weeks you are looking forward to the birth, feeling prepared, resting more, and now having visits to see Dr O’Shea around every week.

Your blood pressure is closely monitored as one in 10 women have elevated blood pressure in their first pregnancy, usually occurring close to term. . This needs to be monitored as pre-eclampsia may follow.

For the birth – talk to Dr O’Shea about your wishes and birth preferences.


You should contact the hospital once you experience regular contractions about every 5 minutes, or if you experience a watery fluid leakage- “the waters break”. This will vary according to the advice given by Dr O’Shea to you personally. You may have had a show a day or two before labour starts.
Once you are in labour we recommend creating a calm environment. Have a music playlist, move around as desired, and use the bath or shower and the yoga ball. Aromas –(for electric oil burners) , are welcome. Watching TV helps some.

As labour progresses, try focussed breathing as you may have learnt in a meditation.

The second stage of labour is a time to engage with your body and the feeling of pressure. The breathing will change in this stage.

And now for the birth…

Every birth is unique. When you give birth your baby this will be an incredible moment for you and your partner and the beginning of your new life with your baby.

Below are some useful links.