Third Trimester Doctor Visits
By Julianne Deveraux
Frequent office visits
In your third trimester, your visits
to the doctor or midwife will increase from once a month to once every
other week, until your 36th week. The doctor will:
- Monitor your weight gain. During your third trimester, you should be gaining three-quarters to one pound a week.
- Monitor your blood pressure.
- Screen for diabetes at 28 weeks.
- Check your urine sample for sugar and protein.
- Listen to the baby's heartbeat.
- Check the size and position of the baby by feeling your abdomen.
- Examine your feet, ankles and hands for signs of swelling.
Writing your birth plan
Of course, you want
everything to go smoothly once you start labor and begin delivering
your baby. A birth plan can help make this special time even more
meaningful. A birth plan is an informal agreement that represents an
understanding between you and your doctor, and nurse, about your choice
of anesthesia, whom you want present during delivery and whether or not
you'll breastfeed. Ask your prospective doctor if he or she will abide
by such a plan, provided your birth is a normal, uncomplicated vaginal
When will labor start?
It can be
difficult to tell when labor begins, particularly if this is your first
child. Here are some warning signs labor will begin within days:
- You see an increased and thickened vaginal discharge.
- The mucus plug that has sealed off the opening of the uterus is expelled.
- You experience an intensification of Braxton-Hicks contractions, those spasms you may have been feeling in your lower abdomen.
It's time to call the doctor when:
- You see a "show" or blood-tinged mucus discharge from the vagina.
- Your waters break, either in a gush or a trickle.
- You feel contractions at regular intervals, and the intervals gradually shorten.
- The intensity of the contractions gradually increases.
- You feel discomfort in your back and abdomen.
Your doctor will probably tell you to start for the hospital when your uterine contractions:
How to tell if it's false labor
- Are repetitive.
- Are coming five to six minutes apart.
- Have persisted for an hour or more (depending on your distance from the hospital and your previous labor history).
contractions you feel may not be the real thing. In false labor, you're
having Braxton-Hicks contractions, which decrease and go away. They're
real (not false) contractions, but they're not the productive
contractions of true labor that result in the necessary uterine or
cervical changes. Braxton-Hicks contractions usually stop when you get
up and move around. Showing up at the hospital with false labor is
fairly common for first time mothers, so don't be embarrassed if you
make the trip and then get sent home. Just consider it a practice run!