Recommended Tests during the Third Trimester
- Triple Marker test
The triple marker test analyzes how likely an unborn baby is to have certain genetic disorders. It is also known as a multiple Marker test. The exam measures the levels of three important substances in the placenta: alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), and Estriol.Triple marker screening is administered as a blood test for women who are between 15 and 20 weeks pregnant. An alternative to this test is the quadruple marker screen test, which also looks at Inhibin A.A Triple marker screen test takes a sample of blood and detects the levels of AFP, HCG, and Estriol in it. Abnormal levels of these substances may indicate the presence of:
- Down’s syndrome
- Edwards syndrome
- Neural tube defects (such as spina bifida and anencephaly).
- Multiple infants
- An improper timeline (the pregnancy is further along or not as far along as once thought)
- Biophysical Profile
A biophysical profile is a simple, painless test that is performed during pregnancy to assess the baby’s well-being specifically, whether he is getting enough oxygen in the womb. It is typically done if the expecting mother has gone past the due date. It can also be used sometime in the third trimester if the expecting mother is having a high-risk pregnancy. A biophysical profile is done for the following reasons:
- If the expecting mother has diabetes that is treated with medication, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, or some other medical condition that could affect the pregnancy.
- If the expecting mother has gestational hypertension.
- The baby appears to be small or not growing properly.
- The baby is less active than normal.
- If the expecting mother has too much or too little amniotic fluid. Your doctor will order a non-stress that to make sure that the baby’s doing well.
- If the expecting mother is past the due date and the doctor wants to see how the baby is holding up during this extended stay in the womb.
- If the expecting mother has previously lost a baby in the second half of the pregnancy for an unknown reason or because of a problem that might happen again in this pregnancy.
- If the expecting mother or the baby has a condition that needs to be monitored.
Activities for your Third Trimester
- Keep track of your baby’s movements
Pay attention to your baby’s kicks, twitches, and rolls and let your doctor know right away if you notice a decrease in movement. Less movement may signal a problem, and you’ll need testing to check on your baby’s condition. Your healthcare provider may recommend that you spend some time each day counting your baby’s kicks.
- Learn about third-trimester prenatal visits and tests
You’ll most likely have a checkup every two weeks from 28 to 36 weeks, then switch to once-a-week visits until you deliver. As you and your provider get to know each other better and as your due date draws near, you can expect a mix of regular physical exams, late-pregnancy tests, and discussions about the coming birth.
- Consider more classes
In addition to a childbirth class, you may want to consider classes on baby care, breastfeeding, and infant CPR. Many hospitals offer these, and you can also ask your provider or childbirth education teacher for a recommendation.
- Prepare for breastfeeding
If you’re planning to breastfeed your baby, learn as much as you can about it now. Talk to nursing moms, read articles to familiarize yourself, or take a breastfeeding class. The more you know about how to get started and the benefits of nursing, the better.
- Choose a doctor for your baby
Get names of pediatricians or family practitioners from friends, co-workers, neighbors, or your prenatal caregiver. Make sure the doctor accepts your health insurance, keeps hours that work with your schedule, and has an office that’s convenient for you.If you can, schedule face-to-face interviews with your top candidates. If it seems too early to be thinking about this, keep in mind that your baby will have his or her first doctor’s visit shortly after birth.
- Think about big decisions
Would you like to stay home with your baby, full- or part-time? If you’re having a boy, would you like him to be circumcised? Will you have a religious ceremony after your baby’s born? What about banking your baby’s cord blood? These are some of the big decisions to think and talk about now.
- Assemble your baby gear
This is the perfect job for your partner or a friend who wants to help. Cribs, bassinets, and strollers can be tricky to put together, especially when you’re sleep-deprived, so get started now. Swings, mobiles, and monitors usually require batteries, so make sure you have enough on hand. To save money – and help the planet – consider getting rechargeable batteries and a battery charger.
- Set up a safe place for your baby to sleep
Whether you plan to have your baby slumber in a crib or bassinet, it’s important to follow basic guidelines to reduce your baby’s risk of SIDS.
- Talk to your baby
Your baby can hear your voice now, and talking to him or her is a great way to start the bonding process. If having an actual conversation with your bump seems odd, try narrating your daily activities; reading a book, magazine, or newspaper aloud; or sharing your secret wishes for your child.
This is great practice for after your baby’s born, too. Talking to babies is one of the best ways to help them develop language skills.
- Learn about coping with labor pain
There’s no one right way to deliver a baby: Every woman’s experience with pain is different and every labor is different. But whether you know you want pain medication during childbirth or a natural birth, it’s good to learn about your options now.
- Know the stages of labor
For first-time moms, labor takes an average of 15 hours, though it’s not uncommon to last more than 20. (For women who’ve previously had a vaginal birth, it averages eight hours.) The process is divided into three main stages – learn about themso you’ll feel prepared for labor and birth.
- Create a birth plan
Childbirth is unpredictable, and chances are you won’t follow your birth plan to the letter. Still, it’s helpful to figure out your preferences beforehand for pain management techniques, who’ll be present during delivery, whether your baby will “room in” with you after birth, and more.
- Wash your baby’s clothing and bedding
You know all those adorable, pristine outfits and blankies you bought or received as gifts? It’s time to throw them in the laundry. You should wash anything that will go near your baby’s skin to remove any irritants in the fabrics. The gentlest detergents are those designed for babies and those that are labeled hypoallergenic or good for sensitive skin.
- Start lining up helpers
Your friends and family will want to pitch in after your baby’s born, but many new moms are too overwhelmed to direct household help. Here’s how to prepare now: Make a list of people who have offered to help. Then set up a schedule so each person has a specific task and date to do it.Tasks could include bringing your family a meal, picking up groceries (create a master list of foods your family likes), taking care of your older children, doing the dishes, cleaning up, taking out the garbage, walking your dog, or feeding your pets.
- Commemorate your belly
Celebrate your amazing pregnant belly by decorating it with beautiful designs (you can use regular face paint), getting a henna “tattoo” applied (go to an artist who uses the pure, natural kind), or making a belly cast. You may also want to splurge on professional pictures of your pregnant self.
- Consider top baby costs and how to save
Raising a baby isn’t cheap, but there are plenty of ways you can think about saving money now.
- Read up on baby care
If you haven’t already, the third trimester is the perfect time to switch reading gears from pregnancy to baby. You won’t have as much time to read after your baby’s born, so learn all you can about the first few weeks now.
- Pack your bag for the hospital or birth center
Key things to bring include your insurance card, toiletries, comfy clothing, a going-home outfit for your baby, phone (plus charger!), and snacks for after labor. You may also want to bring a box of chocolates or other treat for the nurses (not required, but appreciated!).
- Have your house cleaned
In a survey, a third of moms said they wished they had had their house cleaned before their baby’s arrival. Consider hiring a housecleaner or asking a friend or family member to tackle this task, maybe while you’re at the hospital or birth center. It feels great to come back to a tidy home, and you won’t have time or energy to clean while your baby’s a newborn.
- Stock up on household and personal supplies
To avoid having to make trips to the store with your newborn, stock up now on pantry staples, frozen food, medicine, toilet paper, sanitary pads for postpartum bleeding, shampoo, even extra pairs of underwear! And of course, make sure you have newborn necessities like diapers, wipes, baby clothing, and bottles and formula if you plan to use these.
- Make food for after your baby’s born
When you cook, start doubling recipes and freezing half. You and your partner will be too exhausted to cook in the first weeks after you bring your baby home and you’ll be thrilled to have healthy meals you can heat up fast.
- Install your baby’s car seat
You can’t drive your baby home without a car seat, and they can be more complicated to install than you’d think. So don’t wait until the last minute.
- Tour your hospital or birth center
The more familiar you are with your surroundings, the less intimidating labor and birth will be. On your tour of your hospital or birth center, you’ll probably visit labor and recovery rooms and the nursery, as well as get an overview of basic policies.Ask if you can preregister in the weeks before your delivery to get this red tape out of the way. You don’t want to have to sign a bunch of releases and permissions forms when you’re in labor, or have your partner whisked away to do so.
- Make a plan for when labor starts
Long before the first contractions hit, you’ll want a firm plan in place. Your doctor should give you a clear set of guidelines for when to call and – unless you’re having a home birth– when to head to the hospital or birth center.Decide who will take you there, and have a few back-up folks lined up to help if you need it. Practice the route you’ll take – this may sound silly, but it will be one less thing to think about. This includes learning where to park and which entrance to use when it’s time to check yourself in.
- Make a baby watch list
Figure out who you’ll want to tell right after your baby arrives (or when you go into labor) and how you’ll spread the word. Some new or soon-to-be moms post updates on their social media accounts, while others prefer to call, text, or email the big news. If you’d rather your partner or a friend handle this for you, make a list of phone numbers or email addresses of people you want told right away and pass it on.
- Look out for late-pregnancy complications
Unfortunately, pregnancy complications pop up in the third trimester, too – including premature labor and preeclampsia. Be on the lookout for symptoms that warrant a call to your doctor.
- Find baby name inspiration
When looking for a great baby name, give enough thought to the name popularity, origin, and meaning.
- Get creative about third-trimester sex
If you’re having a healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy, you can probably continue to have sex right up until your water breaks or you go into labor. You may have to get creative about positions as your belly expands, however!
- Cope with late-pregnancy jitters
By late pregnancy, there are a lot of unknowns that may be making you nervous – like when your labor will start, how it will go, whether your baby will be okay, and how you’ll adjust to being a mom. These fears are normal – but nerve-wracking. Here are a few ways to quiet them:
- Use the relaxation techniques you learned in childbirth classes. They may help calm your nerves now, plus it’s good practice for the big day.
- Visualize your baby and imagine yourself snuggling with him or her.
- Check in with other moms-to-be in your Birth Clubwho are also playing the waiting game.
- Don’t be shy about contacting your doctor if you have any new or lingering concerns.
- Slow down
Toward the end of your pregnancy, slow down and save up your energy for labor day (and beyond). If you’ve been sitting or lying down for a long time, don’t jump up too quickly. Blood can pool in your feet and legs, causing a temporary drop in your blood pressure when you get up that can make you feel dizzy.
- Learn what your body will be like after birth
Many first-time moms don’t realize that after giving birth, it’s normal to still look pregnant for a while. This may be hard to accept, but try to remember that it took nine months to get here, so you won’t bounce back overnight.
- Stock up on light entertainment
Pick up some magazines or funny novels, fill up your DVR with your favorite programs, and create a list of online shows that you’d like to watch. Once your baby arrives, you’ll be glad to have easy, quick ways to get an entertainment fix when you have the chance.
- Don’t panic if you go past your due date
After months of anticipation, your due date rolls around, and … you’re still pregnant. It’s a frustrating, but common, situation. (In a poll, 33 percent of moms said they delivered late.) If you go one or two weeks past your due date, your provider may use medication or other techniques to start your labor.
To-do’s for every trimester
- Drink water
During pregnancy you need about 10 8-ounce glasses of fluid per day (80 fluid ounces) plus an additional 8 ounces for each hour of light activity. Every woman is different, so don’t worry if you end up needing a little more or less. Keep an eye on the color of your urine – if it’s dark yellow or cloudy, you need to drink more. Clear or pale yellow urine means you’re well-hydrated.
- Do some stretching
Stretching enhances your flexibility, prevents your muscles from tightening, and makes you feel looser and more relaxed.
- Sneak in a pregnancy power nap
When fatigue makes it hard to get through the day, revive yourself with a 15-minute snooze. If you’re at work, find a place you can escape (close your office door, use a conference room, even sit in your car) and set the alarm on your cell phone.
- Pack healthy snacks
When hunger attacks, it helps to have snacks that pack a nutritional punch ready in your desk, purse, or car. And if you’re suffering from morning sickness, munching on a simple snack like crackers throughout the day or before you get out of bed can ease nausea.
- Try a relaxation technique
Deep breathing, guided imagery, prenatal yoga, and progressive muscle relaxation can help you stay on an even keel – and sleep better.
- Take a quick walk
A 15- to 20-minute walk can help boost your energy levels when you’re exhausted.
- Eat a pregnancy superfood
To give your pregnancy a nutritional boost, nosh on colorful fruits and veggies, eggs, salmon, sweet potatoes, yogurt, walnuts, beans, and more.
- Write down your pregnancy memories
Whether you keep a formal journal or just jot down a few notes when the spirit moves you, you’ll love sharing these pregnancy stories with your child someday.
- Track your weight gain
Your provider will monitor your pregnancy weight to make sure you’re in a healthy range and gaining at an appropriate pace. You can also use our pregnancy weight gain tool to stay on track.
- Do something nice for yourself
If you’re feeling up to it, go to a movie, have dinner out, get a pedicure, or do something else you enjoy. You deserve it – pregnancy is hard work!
- Check in with a friend
Pregnancy is an emotional rollercoaster. Ease your mind by sharing your fears, hopes, and excitement with a friend or a fellow mom-to-be.
- Know the signs of a pregnancy problem
If you have any complaints, call your doctor immediately.
- Take belly photos
It’s a great way to document your growing bump.
- Have sex if you feel like it
If you’re feeling amorous (and you don’t have any complications that may make sex dangerous), go ahead – you won’t hurt the baby.