Reaching the third trimester of your pregnancy is a triumphant, exciting time because it’s almost time to meet your little bundle of joy. The third trimester begins at 28 weeks, and runs to the 39-week mark of your pregnancy, after which your pregnancy is considered full-term. The third trimester can bring unique changes and symptoms as you await the birth of your child. During this time, your baby is growing quickly, they gain half of their birth weight during this stage of your pregnancy. This time of excitement and anticipation can, however, cause a number of annoying symptoms.
Here are some common symptoms moms-to-be experience, and tips for a more comfortable final stretch:
Shortness of Breath
During your third trimester, it’s common to experience shortness of breath. Depending on the position of the baby’s head, this can vary in intensity. When the baby is upright, it can push on your diaphragm, which is what leads to this phenomenon. Taking it easy during this time is important, don’t strain yourself by going up and down the stairs or by walking fast if you don’t have to. If you feel sudden changes in your breathing, be sure to contact your doctor.
Swelling in the Feet and Ankles
Swelling, also known as edema, often occurs during the third trimester. This annoying symptom is caused by fluid retention because your body produces about 50% more blood in the final trimester to prepare for delivery. Additionally, the uterus is growing larger and becoming heavier during this time, which can lead to even more swelling.
Luckily, there are ways to alleviate some of the discomfort from edema. Compression pregnancy socks are a great way to reduce swelling. By applying gradual pressure to your legs, they keep up your blood circulation to fight against fluid buildup. Be sure to drink lots of water, take regular walks, and keep your feet elevated when you can as well.
Your baby’s rapidly growing size in the third trimester may mean they’re pressing on your bladder more than before. Although it can be annoying, just know that this is completely normal. You may be tempted to drink less fluids, but it’s important for both you and your baby that you stay hydrated despite the frequent need to go. When going to the bathroom, try leaning forward as you urinate to empty the bladder more completely for fewer trips to the bathroom.
Braxton Hicks Contractions
As your pregnancy gets closer to full-term, Braxton Hicks Contractions become more common and noticeable. These 30-60 minutes contractions happen when the uterine muscle tenses and are essentially your body preparing for delivery. These contractions tend to be infrequent and irregular in intensity and timing, more uncomfortable than painful, and usually taper off and disappear. For those suffering from these contractions, drinking a warm cup of herbal tea, taking a hot bath, or changing positions can help alleviate discomfort. Remember to also drink enough water, as dehydration can bring them on.
Hormone changes during pregnancy allow the muscles in the esophagus to relax more frequently, which can lead to more heartburn and indigestion than usual. As the fetus grows larger in the third trimester and your uterus expands, it puts more pressure on your stomach, further intensifying heartburn.
Some tips to prevent heartburn during pregnancy include eating smaller meals more frequently, eating slowly and chewing every bite all the way, taking a small walk after eating, and avoiding food a few hours before bed.
During pregnancy, the body releases more of the hormone progesterone to relax the joints and help the body adapt to the growing size of the uterus, but also creates back pain. As the baby grows in size, it also means you’re carrying more weight, leading to even more pressure on the lower back.
To ease this pain, place a pillow under your hips when sitting. You can also try taking a warm bath or using a hot compress. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes during your third trimester.
Don’t let annoying symptoms get in the way of this wonderful time in your life. Using the tips above, you can reduce some of the pain that comes with the third trimester of your pregnancy.