Third Trimester Prenatal Appointments
During the last few months of pregnancy, you will continue to have regular prenatal visits to monitor the baby’s development and make sure the pregnancy is on track for a healthy delivery. As the due date approaches, prenatal appointments may increase to weekly visits. You’ll be asked if you have any signs or symptoms, including contractions and leakage of fluid or bleeding. Your health care provider will check your blood pressure and weight gain, as well as your baby’s heartbeat and movements. Your health care provider might ask you to track of how often you feel the baby move on a daily basis — and to alert your health care team if the baby stops moving as much as usual. Also, talk to your health care provider about any vaccinations you might need, including the flu shot and the tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine. Ideally, the Tdap vaccine should be given between 27 and 36 weeks of pregnancy.
You will likely have plenty of questions as your due date approaches. Is it OK to have sex? How will I know when I’m in labor? What’s the best way to manage the pain? Should I create a birth plan? Ask away! Feeling prepared can help calm your nerves before delivery.
Pelvic exams will resume during third-trimester prenatal visits so the doctor can monitor the baby’s position and any changes to the cervix. As the due date approaches, the baby’s head should be pointed down toward the lower abdomen.
If the baby’s head is positioned up toward the top of the uterus, the doctor may apply pressure to the abdomen to cause the baby to rotate. If this doesn’t work, a C-section during delivery may be necessary.
The cervix should begin dilating – or opening – near the time for delivery, and the tissue will soften and thin (efface). The doctor will measure the opening (in centimeters), as well as how effaced the cervix is.
When the baby is born, the cervix should be about 10 centimeters dilated and 100 percent effaced – which can occur over a period of weeks, or quickly as the woman enters labor.