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Third trimester

You are now three quarters through your pregnancy. It is time to think about family life with a new baby.

couple expecting a child
Foto: Johnér Bildbyrå AB

Weeks 30-32

Your lung capacity increases because you need more oxygen for you and your baby. You can be short of breath because your baby takes so much space, and your lungs can not expand very much to take deep breaths. Your heart rate has become faster. Digestion can be affected and constipation is quite common, so it is important that you drink enough, get enough dietary fibre and exercise.

Weeks 33-35

​Your body has become heavier, and your baby's weight is 2.2 – 2.6 kilograms around week 35. The extra weight you carry means that you need to slow down and you should avoid straining your back to avoid backache.

Your body is preparing for the labour with practice contractions of the womb. They are known as "false labour" or Braxton Hicks contractions, and they are a normal part of pregnancy. Many women have had the first contractions already around week 20. After a less active period they have now become more frequent and noticeable. It is only when they become painful or frequent that you need to contact your midwife, GP or hospital.

During late pregnancy, you should be aware of some warning signs. Seek help immediately if you get heavy vaginal bleeding. High blood pressure and protein in the urine might be signs of pre-eclampsia. It can be very serious if untreated.

Only around five per cent of babies arrive on their due date. You can prepare yourself for labour by reading about the signs of labour and learn about process and stages of labour. Learn how you can relieve pain during labour, and think about what is best for you.

Involve your partner so that he/she knows how to help you during the birth. You should also prepare older siblings for the fact that you will be coming home with the baby after the birth.

Weeks 36-38

When you are around 37 weeks pregnant, and it is your first pregnancy, you may feel more comfortable as your baby moves down and settles into a good position to be born. There will be increased pressure on your bladder in the last weeks of your pregnancy.

Some women notice that their breasts start leaking a little milk before the baby is born. If the labour starts before week 37 it is considered premature, and the baby may need special care in hospital. You can call your hospital, midwife or GP if you have worries about your baby, labour or birth.

Weeks 39-41

Most women go into labour between week 38 and 42 of pregnancy. Your baby is fully developed and ready to be born. The baby fat will protect it against a cooler environment, and its liver and heart are storing nutrients to give it energy for birth.

You should find out when to contact the hospital, and make all the practical preparations for leaving for the hospital at short notice.

The neck of the womb (cervix) softens in the last weeks of pregnancy. The Braxton Hicks practice contractions, which have been uncoordinated and irregular, become more frequent and uncomfortable.

Losing the mucus plug is an early sign that indicates that the woman's body is ready to give birth. It does not indicate an immediate start of labour. If your waters break with no contractions, labour usually starts within 24 hours without intervention. Contact your hospital if your waters break or you start seeping fluid.

Week 40+

Pregnancy normally lasts about 40 weeks (about 280 days from the first day of your last period). After 294 days, your baby is considered overdue. You should get an appointment at the hospital in week 41 if the labour has not started naturally.

Most women go into labour spontaneously by the time they are 42 weeks pregnant. If there are any concerns about your baby, your doctor will suggest that labour is induced. An induction is always planned and you will get information about different methods in advance. Inducing labour after the due date does not increase the chance of needing a caesarean section.