baby's development in the third trimester

Baby’s development in the third trimester (weeks 28 – birth)

Pregnancy usually lasts 40 weeks, counting from the first day of your last period, and is grouped into three trimesters. Find out everything about your baby’s development in the third trimester.

Week 28

By this time, your baby weighs around 1kg and is now perfectly formed. The heartbeat can be heard through a stethoscope and your partner might even be able to hear it by putting an ear to your belly.

Your baby will continue to put on weight, gaining more and more fat that appears under the skin. Your baby is now ‘filling out’.

baby's development in the third trimester

Week 29 – 32

You’ll notice that your baby is very active at this stage. You should be aware of your baby’s own pattern of movements. If this pattern changes, contact your midwife or hospital to tell them.

By now, your baby can suck its thumb or fingers, as the sucking reflex is developing. The white, greasy vernix and the soft, furry lanugo that have covered your baby’s skin for some time, will now begin to disappear. Your baby’s eyes can focus now, and the lungs are developing rapidly.

baby's development in the third trimester

Around week 32, the baby will turn and lie with their head pointing downwards, ready for birth. This is known as ‘cephalic presentation’. Don’t worry if your baby isn’t lying head down at this stage, there’s still time for them to turn.

Week 33 – 36

By week 33, the baby’s brain and nervous system are fully developed. The bones continue to harden, apart from the skull bones, for they need to stay soft and separated until after birth, to make the journey through the birth canal easier.

Since there’s less room to move about at this point, your baby will be curled up in the uterus, with legs bent up towards the chest. Your baby will still change position, and you’ll be able to feel and see the movements on the surface of your bump.

baby's development in the third trimester

By week 36, your baby’s lungs are fully formed and will be able to take their first breath after the birth. The digestive system is fully formed as well, and will be able to deal with breast milk.

If your baby is a boy, his testicles will begin to descend from his abdomen into his scrotum.

Week 37 – 40

At week 37, your pregnancy is considered full-term. The average baby weighs around 3-4kg by now. Your baby’s digestive system will contain meconium – a sticky green substance that will form your baby’s first poo after birth. It may include bits of the lanugo that covered your baby earlier in pregnancy. At this point, the lanugo  that covered your baby is now almost gone, however some babies may have small patches of it on their body when they’re born.

In the last weeks, some time before birth, the baby’s head should move down into your pelvis. You may notice, that your bump seems to move down a little. However, sometimes the head doesn’t engage until labour starts.

baby's development in the third trimester

Your baby is ready to be born, and you’ll be meeting her or him some time in the next few weeks.

Over 40

Pregnancy normally lasts about 40 weeks, therefore after week 40, your baby is considered overdue. At week 40 and 41, your midwife will offer you a membrane sweep, which involves having a vaginal examination that stimulates the cervix to produce hormones that may trigger natural labour. If you’re not comfortable with this, you can discuss it with your midwife. If your labour still doesn’t start naturally after this, your midwife or doctor will suggest a date to have your labour induced.

If you don’t want your labour to be induced and your pregnancy continues to 42 weeks or beyond, you and your baby will be monitored. If there are any concerns about your baby, your doctor will suggest that labour is induced. It’s your choice whether to have your labour induced or not.

Credit: NHS

ASK LUCY

Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….

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ASK LUCY

Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….