What prenatal care do I need in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

During this period of your pregnancy, you should be going to the doctor twice monthly—more if you have a high-risk pregnancy. There, your doctor is going to check the progress of your baby's growth, make sure you are healthy, and possibly do other tests to check for illnesses in you and the baby. You should be taking plenty of protein, iron, folic acid, vitamin C, and calcium so that your baby has enough nutrients to grow and be healthy. Keep following directions that your doctor gave you by not smoking, drinking, or doing drugs, by eating healthy, and by keeping as active as your doctor says is safe.

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Prenatal care is focused on monitoring the well-being of the mother and fetus. At the beginning of the third trimester, the growing fetus and enlarging uterus are resulting in soreness and difficulty finding a comfortable position, especially for sleep. The fetus is active and the woman may experience Braxton Hicks or “practice” contractions. If the woman’s blood type is Rh negative, an injection of RhoGam is given at the 28th week. Here are some other highlights:

  • 34 weeks - visits to the prenatal care provider have been every other week and will soon switch to weekly visits. Care is focused on assessing maternal and fetal wellbeing, as well as evaluating for signs of complications.
  • 35 weeks - the healthcare provider may order testing for Group B Strep or a non-stress test, depending on the individual situation. It is time to be practicing breathing and relaxation techniques for labor, enjoying time with one’s partner and to beginning preparing for the trip to the hospital.
  • 36 weeks - prenatal checkup items include: maternal vital signs and blood pressure, weight, measurement of fundal height, fetal heart rate, a discussion of any questions or concerns, a pelvic examination to assess the cervix's readiness for labor and birth.
  • 39 weeks - the pregnancy is considered full term. There will be a visit to the healthcare provider to check the cervix for signs of effacement and dilatation. The woman needs to know what signs warrant a call to the healthcare provider and plans for transportation to the birth facility need to be in place.
  • 40 weeks - care during this week focuses on monitoring for the onset of labor. In addition to the beginning of rhythmic contractions the woman also need to be watching for rupture of the amniotic sac (bag of waters) or vaginal discharge. The woman also needs to get adequate rest, nutrition and fluids to prepare for the work of labor.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.