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Prenatal care in your third trimester

What Is the Third Trimester?

Trimester means 3 months. A normal pregnancy is around 9 months and has 3 trimesters. 

Your health care provider may talk about your pregnancy in weeks, rather than months or trimesters. The third trimester is from week 28 through week 40.

Routine Prenatal Visits

In your third trimester, you will have a prenatal visit every 2 weeks until you are 36 weeks. After that, you will see your doctor or midwife every week.

The visits may be quick, but they are still important. It is okay to bring your partner or labor coach with you.

During your visits, your doctor or midwife will:

  • Weigh you
  • Measure your abdomen to see if your baby is growing as expected
  • Check your blood pressure
  • Take a urine sample to test for protein in your urine if you have high blood pressure.
  • Your doctor or midwife may also give you a pelvic exam to see if your cervix is weak or dilating, most often when you are having contractions or use you are near your due date.

At the end of each visit, your doctor or midwife will tell you what changes to expect before your next visit. Tell your doctor if you have any problems or concerns. Speak up, even if you do not feel they are important or do not relate to your pregnancy.

Lab Tests and Ultrasounds

There are no other routine lab tests or ultrasounds that will be ordered for every pregnant woman in the third trimester. Certain lab tests and [tests to monitor the baby-60-485] may be done for women who:

  • Have a high-risk pregnancy, such as when the baby is not growing
  • Have a health problem, such as diabetes or high blood pressure
  • Have had complications (problems) in a prior pregnancy
  • Are overdue (pregnant for more than 40 weeks)

Checking Your Baby’s Movement

In between your appointments, you will need to keep an eye on your baby’s movement. As you get closer to your due date, and your baby grows bigger, you should notice a different pattern of movement than earlier in your pregnancy. 

  • You will notice periods of activity and periods of more quiet.
  • The activity periods will be more rolling and squirming movements and less very hard and strong kicks. 
  • You should still feel the baby move frequently during the day. 

Watch for patterns in your baby’s movement. If you notice that, all of a sudden, the baby is moving less, eat a snack, then lie down for a few minutes. If you still don’t feel much movement, call your doctor or midwife.

As a rule of thumb, call any time you have any concerns or questions. Even if you think you are worrying over nothing, it is better to be on the safe side and call your doctor if you think something is wrong.

Call Your Doctor or Midwife

  • If there are any signs or symptoms that are not normal
  • Before you start taking any new medications, vitamins, or herbs
  • Any time you have bleeding
  • If you notice more vaginal discharge than normal, or a discharge with odor
  • If you have a fever, chills, or pain when passing urine
  • If you have headaches
  • If you have changes or blind spots in your eyesight
  • If your bag of water breaks
  • If you start having regular, painful contractions

Review Date: 6/28/2012
Reviewed By: Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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