Prenatal Visits: Third Trimester

By the time you reach your third trimester, you'll be getting a checkup every two weeks until 36 weeks and once a week until you have your baby. This is done regardless of whether you've decided to have you baby with the aid of a doctor or a midwife.

Discussion of Your Health-How You Feel in the Third Trimester

You'll be asked how you're feeling. Your health practitioner will want to know about any changes in the way you feel since your last appointment. He or she will want to know if you're experiencing any additional or excessive swelling, contractions or headaches. Swelling (edema) especially around the feet and ankles is common especially in late pregnancy as the baby gets bigger and restricts blood movement to your lower body. But swelling in the face or puffiness around the eyes or sudden swelling of your legs, feet and ankles could be a sign of a preeclampsia. Severe headaches can also indicate a dangerous rise in blood pressure or could mean a sinus infection. Contractions are monitored to watch for pre-term labor.

You'll be provided the opportunity to ask questions about labor and delivery. Your healthcare practitioner will also discuss postpartum considerations including birth control options, whether you choose to breastfeed or if you wish to have a male child circumcised. If you don't have a doctor for your baby, your physician or midwife can recommend some names.

Fetal Movements

You will be asked how often you're feeling your baby move. You may have been told a specific way to count your babies kicks and to keep track of how often your fetus moves. Your health practitioner will also remind you to contact him or her immediately (or go to emergency) if you notice your baby isn't moving around as much as early in the day or other days.

The Physical Exam--Ready For Labor

The practitioner will feel your belly to check on the baby's size. The baby's heartbeat will be checked as well as if the baby is in the head up or head down position. If you're past your due date, your practitioner may complete a pelvic exam to see if your cervix is softening, dilating and effacing. This can help decide whether or not to induce labor. A softened cervix may encourage a doctor to induce sooner if you're already overdue.

Between 35 and 37 weeks you'll be tested for a common infection called group B strep. A swab of your vagina and rectum will be completed. If your test shows up positive, you'll be given antibiotics during labor.

If you require it, you'll get a shot of Rh immune globulin to prevent your body from producing certain antibodies during the last part of your pregnancy. This is done when you and the baby's father have conflicting antibodies as in your Rh-negative and the father is Rh-positive. Your baby will have the possibility of being Rh-positive which means your bodies antibodies will consider the baby a harmful intruder and try to destroy it. The Rh immune globulin is given at 28 weeks and prevents your body from producing these antibodies during the last part of your pregnancy.


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