As you enter the last three months of pregnancy, you may find yourself thinking more and more about the upcoming birth. Your large size and your baby’s movements are constant reminders that you will become a mother soon.
You may find yourself wanting to slow down a bit, preferring quiet evenings at home, slow walks, midday rests with your feet up, and a generally slower pace to your life. The twenty-four hour a day job of making a baby becomes tiring toward the end of pregnancy. When you add to that a job, child care, a social life, and the fact that you might be sleeping more lightly than usual, it is not surprising that you may want to simplify your life and take it easier from now until after your baby is born.
As you slow down and contemplate the upcoming birth and baby, you may be surprised to learn that your body has not slowed down at all. It is working at full speed, preparing for the birth. The baby is growing very rapidly, from about two to three pounds at the end of the twenty-eighth week to about six and a half to nine pounds at the end of the fortieth week. Many changes take place in your body to support such rapid growth. In this chapter we will examine these changes and the birth process itself. We will describe the newborn baby, what she looks like, what she can do, and her immediate care. In addition, we will discuss the first few weeks after birth-the immediate care of the mother and the emotional adjustments to new parenthood.
The Third Trimester
All your baby’s systems were formed in the first trimester. The organs and skeleton took shape and your baby took on a tiny but complete human form. During the second trimester, your baby began to move noticeably, gained the ability to see and hear, and began reacting to outside stimuli-that is, sounds outside your body, light and dark, and your eating and activity patterns. Your baby began turning somersaults, sucked his thumb, hiccupped perceptibly, and generally made you aware of his presence. The third trimester [the last three months od pregnancy] might be best thought of as a time when the final touches are put on your baby in his journey toward life outside your body.
As your baby grows in size her nutritional requirements increase. For example, she requires about one third more protein in these last months of pregnancy because every cell in the human body has protein as a primary ingredient and with each passing day she has more cells. In addition, because the bones are growing and becoming strong, the need for calcium, which is important to bone strength, increase by about two thirds during the last three months of pregnancy. The baby’s absorption of iron also dramatically increases.
As you can see, with these increased nutritional requirements, it is very desirable that you eat well o supply your baby’s nutritional needs as well as your own. It’s a good idea to reassess your nutritional intake during this last trimester, to see if you are getting the recommended foods in each of the food groups.