Your Third Trimester: Weeks 29 Through Delivery

Your lifestyle

Your baby could come anytime between 37 and 42 weeks of pregnancy. Most women do not have their babies on the actual due date, so be patient. With the delivery so near, you are likely to feel excited and happy, anxious and afraid. All of these feelings are normal. 

Smoking and drinking alcohol

If you haven’t quit smoking yet, it’s better late than never. Medical experts agree that smoking and drinking can pose serious threats to your baby’s health and can be a significant factor in low birth weight. 

  • If you need help quitting tobacco, call the Tobacco Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). It’s confidential, and it’s free. 
  • If you drink during pregnancy, you place your baby at risk for fetal alcohol syndrome, a condition that includes serious physical, mental and behavioral problems, though they vary from one child to another.


If your baby is a boy, you should consider whether he should be circumcised prior to discharge from the hospital. Circumcision is the surgical removal of most or the entire foreskin of the penis. This decision is made for social or religious reasons. Many people think circumcision is necessary for good health. Talk to your doctor or go to, the American Academy of Pediatrics’ website, for more information on the pros and cons of circumcision.

Woman eating a saladEating well

In the last few months of pregnancy, your baby will grow rapidly, and this will put more pressure on your stomach. For this reason you may not feel like eating much, but you must continue eating well so your baby will get all he needs to grow. 

  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals to help avoid heartburn. 
  • Eat calcium-rich foods such as greens and sardines, and low-fat dairy foods such as cheese, yogurt and milk to help your baby build strong bones and teeth.
  • Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole-grain breads and cereals each day to help you with any constipation problems you might be having now and after your baby is born. 
  • Drink lots of water and other fluids.

Your body 

The good news is that you’ve entered your third and final trimester. The bad news is that the changes in your body through the final months of your pregnancy may be unpleasant. Where possible, we’ve given you some ways to make yourself feel better.

Weight gain. You will probably gain around a pound a week each week throughout the remainder of your pregnancy. By the time you deliver, you will have gained 25–35 pounds. Remember that most of the weight you’ve been gaining is not fat; it’s the baby, the placenta, the amniotic sac and water weight in your own body tissues. You will, quite literally, shed most of this weight when you deliver. If you have been eating right, it won’t be long before you’re back to your prepregnancy weight.

Breasts. As delivery nears, colostrum, the thin, sticky, yellow fluid secreted by the breasts before the production of true breast milk, may begin leaking from your nipples.

Shortness of breath. Because your baby is growing and crowding your lungs, it might be harder for you to breathe comfortably. If so, slow down, stretch your arms overhead and breathe deeply to relax. 

Back pain. As your baby continues to grow, you might have trouble sitting or lying for long periods of time. 

To relieve back pain:

  • Soak in a warm (but not hot!) bath. Take time to really relax your muscles.
  • Lighten your purse and try using a backpack or fanny pack instead.
  • If you sit for long periods during the day, get up and move around or stretch every 30 minutes.
  • Use good, straight posture with shoulders back and your head up.
  • Avoid any heavy work or lifting to protect your back and your baby. 

Sciatica. You may feel a tingling or numbness down the backs of your legs from pressure on your sciatic nerve, the largest nerve in your body. Rest, massage or a heating pad may ease the pain. 

Carpal tunnel syndrome. Numbness, tingling, and pain in the hand caused by the compression of a nerve in the wrist. Carpal tunnel syndrome caused by pregnancy swelling usually goes away after delivery.

Swelling. Swelling may occur in your ankles and feet and is caused by fluids in your tissues. Slight swelling is natural during pregnancy, but if you experience sudden swelling, headaches, blurred vision, disorientation, dizziness or severe abdominal pain, contact your doctor immediately.

To avoid swelling of your feet and ankles:

  • Wear low-heeled shoes. 
  • Put your feet up as often as you can. 
  • Avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time without a break. 
  • Wear shoes that are shaped like your feet: Wide in front and narrow at the heel. Don’t expect shoes to stretch. You’ve gained weight and fluid in your feet too. You may need a couple of new, inexpensive pairs of shoes to see you through the remainder of your pregnancy.
  • Be sure your shoes (even temporary ones) provide proper arch support to help your legs and back.

Couples hands holding pregnant bellySleep and fatigue. Sleeping will likely continue to be difficult as your body grows. Your anxieties about labor and delivery might also be adding to your inability to sleep well. 

  • Talk to your partner about how you are feeling. 
  • Ask your doctor to discuss the stages of labor and delivery with you to help you feel surer of what will happen.

For better rest:

  • Try relaxing in a warm (not hot!) bath for a few minutes before lying down. 
  • Limit your intake of caffeine, which may rob you of good sleep. 
  • Sleep on your left side to improve the flow of blood, place pillows between your knees, under your abdomen and behind your back, and avoid lying on your back for extended periods of time.

For more information, visit the National Sleep Foundation at

Frequent urination. As your baby grows and moves, you’ll feel more pressure on your bladder. You may begin leaking urine, especially when you laugh, cough or sneeze. During your third trimester, you remain at risk of urinary tract infections, which can trigger preterm labor and do serious damage to your kidneys. If you think something is wrong, call your doctor right away.

Vaginal discharge. As you near your delivery date, you will likely have increased vaginal discharge.

Varicose veins. These are swollen veins that may bulge near the surface of the skin. As your uterus grows, it puts pressure on the large vein on the right side of your body, which in turn increases pressure in the leg veins. 

Woman on bed laying downTo avoid varicose veins: 

  • Exercise to increase your circulation.
  • Elevate your feet and legs whenever possible.
  • Don’t cross your legs or ankles, and don’t sit or stand for long periods.

Hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are varicose veins in the rectum. To lessen hemorrhoids, avoid constipation by eating high-fiber foods and drinking several glasses of water each day.

Braxton-Hicks contractions. Unlike true labor, Braxton-Hicks contractions aren’t painful and don’t get stronger and closer over time. Contact your doctor if the contractions become painful or regular. This may be a sign of labor.

Signs of labor

The way labor begins and progresses is different for each pregnancy. 

There are three main signs that labor has started:

  • Blood-tinged discharge or mucus from your vagina, called a “bloody show.”
  • Contractions as your uterus starts squeezing to move the baby down the birth canal. Begin timing your contractions from the beginning of one until the beginning of the next one.
  • Digestive upset such as diarrhea or nausea.
  • A gush or trickle of fluid from your vagina (the amniotic sac breaking) that feels like a painless flow of warm water. Call your doctor if you think your water has broken!
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