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Third Trimester

Congratulations – you’re in the home stretch! The last three months can come with some additional weight gain and aches and pains, but it helps to remember that your bundle of joy will be here soon.

Don’t rush your baby’s due date. While you may be more than ready for your baby to arrive, your little one needs to spend as much time in the womb as possible. Babies aren’t fully developed until at least 39 weeks of pregnancy. If your pregnancy is healthy, wait for labor to begin on its own. Babies born even a few weeks early can experience serious medical complications. For more information on the risks of inducing labor early, visit the March of Dimes website.

Prepare for labor and delivery. Now’s the time to talk to your health care provider about a birthing plan which will help you determine how you’d like to deliver. Some topics to address: your preferred medical facility or hospital, whether you do or do not want pain medication, such as an epidural or if you have any nontraditional preferences like a water birth. Don’t forget to sign up for labor, delivery and newborn care classes. These are generally offered for free at your local health care center. Now is also a great time to pack your hospital bag, determine who will attend the birth and decide what kind of support you’ll have once the baby comes.

Learn about breastfeeding. Breast milk is the best food for most babies in their first year of life and it should be the exclusive food for your baby from birth to six months. Mother’s breast milk protects babies from many illnesses, provides the vital nutrients the baby needs to grow and develop and helps moms lose pregnancy weight faster. Additionally, breast-fed babies experience fewer ear, lung and urinary tract infections and are less likely to have asthma, certain cancers, obesity and diabetes later in life. And breast milk is free! For more information on breastfeeding, visit the March of Dimes website.

Gather supplies you’ll need for your newborn. Sure, there’s no shortage of fancy baby gadgets on the market, but in reality newborns need only a handful of key supplies. Buy or borrow basic baby gear like towels and washcloths, clothes, a safety approved crib and crib linens, diapering supplies and a car seat.

Get vaccinated against the flu. Get vaccinated against the flu if you haven’t already. Pregnant women are at high risk for severe illness and complications from the flu including premature labor and delivery. Pregnant women can receive a dose of the inactivated (killed) flu vaccine at anytime during the pregnancy. The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone over the age of 6 months, so it’s important that women get the flu vaccine every year, even when they are not pregnant.

Get your Tdap vaccine! The Tdap vaccine provides both mom and baby with protection against pertussis (whooping cough). Whooping cough causes serious illness in infants less than 6 months of age; over half of infants who get pertussis end up in the hospital. Pregnant women should receive a dose of Tdap preferably at 27 through 36 weeks’ gestation to ensure the baby is protected at birth against this serious disease. It is also important that all family members and caregivers receive a dose of Tdap before the baby arrives if they have not received a dose of Tdap previously.

Prenatal Care

Having a healthy baby takes planning. Going to early and regular prenatal care visits is critical for you and your baby’s health.

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