For many expecting mothers, the final trimester leading up to delivery is the most challenging part of the pregnancy. During this time, your body changes shape to accommodate your fast-growing baby. You may continue to gain weight and feel increasingly uncomfortable; your feet may swell; backache or soreness may intensify; and you may feel exhausted during the day and have difficulty sleeping at night. As much as possible, try to rest and continue to take good care of yourself as your due date approaches.



When you’re busy with all the details — choosing a crib, decorating the baby’s room, attending baby showers, installing a car seat — it’s easy to forget about your health. Ask for help from your partner, family and friends so you can avoid getting overly tired and stressed. Do your best to continue eating well and getting some light exercise, with your health care provider’s permission.


Continue your prenatal visits as scheduled. “The final weeks of pregnancy are especially important for continuing prenatal care,” said Brandi Compton-Joseph, M.D., board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital. “Starting at 36 weeks, we recommend a prenatal visit every week.” Your health provider will continue checking the baby’s heart rate and watching your health closely. He or she may check your cervix to watch for dilation or softening in preparation for birth.


Know your options for labor and delivery. Your health care provider can walk through your options for pain management and different scenarios for delivery, including the possibility of cesarean section for high-risk situations. If you haven’t already, you and your partner may want to take a childbirth preparation class to learn more about what to expect during labor and delivery.


Write down your preferences. “Your birth experience will most likely turn out differently than you expect, but it can still be helpful to write down a birth plan,” said Compton-Joseph. “Your plan may include preferences for pain management, expectations for bonding with baby immediately after delivery and plans for breastfeeding or bottle feeding.”


When in doubt, call your health provider. It may not be easy to identify when true labor starts because many women experience early contractions (called Braxton-Hicks contractions or false labor). Call your doctor or clinic if you experience contractions that persist or grow stronger. If you suspect your baby is moving less than normal (less than 10 movements within two hours) or if you experience vaginal bleeding, call your health care provider right away to rule out any serious problems.



No one can predict how your birth experience will unfold. That’s why it’s important to surround yourself with support so you feel confident and ready for anything. At Houston Methodist Childbirth Center at Sugar Land, our health professionals are here to help you be well prepared.


When you choose the Houston Methodist Childbirth Center at Sugar Land for the birth of your baby, you can trust that we will listen to your needs and offer a range of solutions to help you move through labor — so you can focus on welcoming your little miracle into the world.