A Partner's Guide to Pregnancy in the Third Trimester

What You Can Expect

man and pregnant woman on couch

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Once your pregnant partner gets to the third trimester—the time period from about the 28th week of pregnancy until the delivery—many soon-to-be parents wonder what to expect. Although these final weeks may seem to go by slowly, your baby is growing rapidly which can cause an ever-increasing belly for your partner along with some discomfort.

These last weeks of pregnancy are an important time of preparation as you both eagerly await the arrival of your little one. You will want to support your partner in any way you can as well as begin to prepare for the arrival of your baby. Let's look at what the third trimester has in store for your baby, your partner, and you and how you can prepare.

Baby's Third Trimester Development

A lot will be happening with your baby's development during these last few months. During this time period, your baby's size and weight continues to increase. Meanwhile, they can see and hear, but their lungs, kidneys, and brain are still developing.

When your partner is 28 weeks pregnant, your baby will now be covered with vernix, a greasy substance that protects them from the amniotic fluid that surrounds them in the womb. Additionally, your baby's body has grown to catch up with the size of their head. And, they are now able to live, with specialized care, if they are born early.

By 32 weeks, your baby is fully formed, if a bit thin. During the next few weeks, they will gain body fat, their lungs will mature, and male babies' testicles will descend into the scrotum. By the end of the third trimester, they will be about 19 to 21 inches long and weigh anywhere from 6 to 9 pounds. Around 36 weeks their head may engage or drop into the pelvic area in preparation for birth. This is a process called lightening and should bring your partner a little relief.

Pregnant Parent's Experience

As your baby's size increases, most people experience a certain amount of discomfort and fatigue. Your baby's weight and its more vigorous movements also can cause your partner a number of physical problems, including aching backs, restlessness, and sleepless nights. Providing support, care, and compassion during this time can make all the difference.

Your partner also may feel hot much of the time because your baby is radiating heat causing your partner's skin temperature to increase. They also may need to use the restroom more frequently because of increased pressure on their bladder. And, they may experience swelling in their hands, ankles, and face because of fluid retention.

It also likely that their interest in sex may decrease during this time period. And they may experience heartburn, indigestion, and constipation more frequently, which only adds to their discomfort. They also may experience false labor known as Braxton-Hicks contractions at various times in preparation for childbirth. The best thing you can do is be understanding of all the changes they are experiencing and offer to comfort them.

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Moms Share What to Expect in the Third Trimester

How Partners Can Prepare for Baby's Arrival

Preparing for your baby's arrival and supporting your partner in the upcoming months before your baby is born can help you be better prepared. Here are a few things to consider.

Support Your Partner

Ask your partner what you can do to support them in these final months and then follow through. Maybe they need help getting last minute things ready for the baby like purchasing supplies or finishing the nursery.

You also might consider taking on more of the chores around the house so that they can rest or fix them snacks and meals. Even offering to provide a back rub or doing little things for them so they can rest and de-stress are excellent ways to support your partner.

Take Care of Yourself

But, don't forget to take care of your own health, too, particularly by getting enough sleep. Eating a balanced diet, getting plenty of rest, and exercising can also help minimize your stress, making you a better partner.​​ While you will not be the one giving birth, you need to be sure you are ready to provide comfort and support to your partner throughout labor and delivery.

Prepare for Labor and Delivery

Familiarize yourself with the signs of labor so that you'll know when it's time to go to the hospital. You also may want to help devise a birthing plan with your partner. This can make you feel a part of the process and let you know your partner's wishes. Joining in this process also can give you an idea of what will happen, what you will see, and how you can best support your partner during labor.

You also can watch videos of births—either on your own or during childbirth classes. Seeing a variety of births may help you be ready for anything. It's also important to recognize that labor and delivery does not always go as expected.

Install the Car Seat

In order to bring your baby home of the hospital, you are required to have a car seat installed in your car. Putting the car seat in your car early gives you have time to make sure it is properly installed. You may even want to get it inspected as an added safety measure.

Pack for the Hospital

Your partner is not the only one who will need a bag for the hospital. You should also have a bag ready to go, as well, that includes a change of clothes, toiletries, and something to sleep in. Consider also including light snacks, money for vending machines, and a phone charging cable. You may even want to include written directions for getting to the hospital in case your phone is dead or your GPS doesn't work when labor starts.

Talk About Your Concerns

Communication is key during the third trimester, so if you have concerns about the birth or the health of your baby, talk to your partner, friends, family members, or a healthcare provider to get your questions answered. Getting support from others for yourself can help you be better able to provide optimal support to your partner.

Spend Quality Time Together

A huge change is coming to your relationship, so savor and reinforce the bond you have before baby makes three. Take time to enjoy the last pre-baby weeks with your partner. Go for walks together or linger over a nice dinner. Cuddle on the couch to watch a favorite show or movie. The key is that you enjoy some quiet bonding time together before the baby arrives.

A Word From Verywell

It's normal to feel anxious about becoming a parent and to be worried about the birth and how it will go for both your partner and baby. Remember, while it can be overwhelming or scary, millions of people give birth every day, and for many partners, becoming a parent is one of the greatest joys of life.

If you are having trouble coping with these coming changes, talk to your partner. Communication is an important part of working together and finding solutions. But, most importantly, take some time to enjoy the idea of becoming a new parent.

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2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Stanford Children's Health. The third trimester.

  2. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. A partner’s guide to pregnancy.

Additional Reading

By Jerry Kennard, PhD
Jerry Kennard, PhD, is a psychologist and associate fellow of the British Psychological Society.