In the third trimester of pregnancy the responsibilities of fatherhood come into focus. Discover the signs of labour and help to create a relaxing environment.
This article covers the following areas:
Dads-to-be in the third trimester (28 weeks onward)
Signs of labour
What dads-to-be can do during this period
Now in the final phase of pregnancy, there might be a few final preparations you might want to think about.
The baby is now fully developed and the third trimester is all about growing in size. This means that your partner is starting to get pretty big. The burst of energy that she had in the second trimester will start to ebb away and tiredness returns accompanied by breathlessness, as her lung capacity decreases due to the growing bump. From now on, she will be relying on you for a lot more support.
Sleep will become tougher as your partner gets bigger. Help her out by providing extra pillows so she can support her bump.
The last few weeks can be hard for your partner. Amid all the general discomfort she is feeling, you may both be unsure whether she is in labour. For most women, labour starts when there is a combination of factors.
Think of labour as a process that happens gradually, and not a single event that suddenly happens. Although your partner may experience one of these signs, it could still be several days before she goes into labour. If in doubt, call your midwife, the birth centre or labour ward. The main signs of labour are:
- Regular contractions – these will be stronger than Braxton Hicks ‘practice contractions’ and they will be at regular intervals.
- Waters break – this can be a slow trickle or a gush as the amniotic sac breaks. Call the midwife if your partner’s waters break.
- A show – the white mucus sealing the cervix comes out, often with a little blood. Some women may experience nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea.
Try and treat yourselves before the birth with nice meals, films or relaxing evenings in. Time together will be hard to find in a few months time, so take the chance to pamper yourselves ahead of the big event.
If you're going to hospital or a birth centre, mum will have her bag, but what about yours? You will need the birth plan, change for car parking if you’re driving, something to eat and drink and a camera. Consider taking along something to help you pass the time, such as a book or newspaper. If you're having your baby at home, is everything ready?
Make sure you have all the important numbers you’ll need saved on your mobile phone, and try and keep it as fully charged as possible.
Have you informed your boss about your impending paternity leave? Unlike your partner, you’re not displaying any visual signs of an imminent birth and they may not be aware that you are about to becoming a dad.
NCT's helpline offers practical and emotional support in all areas of pregnancy, birth and early parenthood: 0300 330 0700. We also offer antenatal courses which are a great way to find out more about birth, labour and life with a new baby.