Late pregnancy is often one of the most enjoyable parts of pregnancy. During late pregnancy, women tend to become more comfortable in their changing bodies and you may find that you can take the time to enjoy your pregnancy more. Plus, you also have the added joy of being able to meet your new little baby very soon! However, there is still a range of pregnancy discomforts that you may have to face in those final five months and a number of different things that you will have to consider before baby is born! Here is an outline of some of the things that you can expect throughout late pregnancy.
Fetal Development in Late Pregnancy
During the latter half of the second trimester and throughout the third trimester your baby is growing rapidly. Not only is she putting on weight, but she is also laying down fat stores to help her survive after birth. She is growing dramatically in length: by five months baby is almost ten inches long, and by the beginning of the ninth month, baby is over 18 inches long!
You will also begin to notice that your baby becomes very active in the womb. He will begin to twist and turn, and will even kick you in the belly and in the ribs. Though these kicks can be painful sometimes, they are a sign that all is well with baby. During the latter stages of pregnancy, your baby’s eyes and ears will finish developing, and he will begin to recognize the sound of your voice and the light that is present outside your abdomen. When it is time for labour and delivery, your baby will be more than 20 inches long and over six pounds in weight!
Late Pregnancy Symptoms
Like early pregnancy, late pregnancy has a wide range of symptoms that go along with it. Often referred to as pregnancy discomforts, these symptoms can be quite trying at times, especially now that your belly is growing and you are awaiting the birth of your baby. Common pregnancy discomforts that occur after the 20th week of pregnancy include:
- Back Pain: Back pain is a common complaint during the latter half of the second trimester and into the third trimester. This is because your uterus and abdomen are expanding, causing your lower back to compensate for the extra weight. Additionally, abdominal muscles that were once able to help hold your spine in position have now become weakened and are unable to provide your back with proper support. To help keep back pain at bay, try to lie down on your side frequently or invest in an abdominal girdle.
- Hair Growth: Many pregnant women notice that their hair becomes increasingly thick during the latter half of the second trimester. You may begin to grow thicker, coarser hair on your arms, legs, and face as a result of your pregnancy hormones. This hair typically disappears within six months of delivery.
- Swelling: Swelling commonly occurs during the end of the third trimester, when baby is well on her way. Swelling, particularly in the ankles, happens as a result of your body’s retention of fluid. Try to stay off of your feet as much as possible, or elevate them frequently if you need to stand for long periods.
- Braxton Hicks Contractions: Braxton Hicks contractions, often known as \"false labour,\" will begin to occur irregularly after the 20th week of pregnancy. These contractions generally last for about 30 seconds and help your body to practice and prepare for real labour. As you near the end of your pregnancy, you will notice that your Braxton Hicks contractions last longer and occur more regularly.