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What To Expect In Your Third Trimester
Judy Miders|
Third TrimesterIntroduction

By the time you reach the third trimester, you’re in the home stretch. It’s almost time to meet your baby, and begin the wonderful journey of motherhood, but there are still some milestones to hit in your third trimester and they can sometimes be the most challenging. From your belly getting a lot bigger to your baby growing even more, this article will help you learn what to expect from the last few weeks of your pregnancy.

Changes in Your Body

Although you may think your body has changed as much as it possibly can during pregnancy, there are still some changes you can expect. Some are painful, some are external, and some are changes that only you will notice. The following things are very common, and some even necessary, in the third trimester of pregnancy.

Discharge

This most likely has been happening throughout pregnancy, but in the third trimester, discharge will become even heavier. When it gets very close to your due date, it’s common to experience a heavy clear or blood-tinged discharge which indicates that your cervix is preparing for childbirth. Feeling a sudden rush of fluid can mean that your water has broken, but that may not happen until you’re already in the hospital.

Increased Back Pain

With the increasing stress on your back and body from weight gain associated with pregnancy, back pain can increase. Feeling discomfort in your hips and pelvis is also common, and is called round ligament pain. This is your body and muscles stretching and preparing for labor. A heating pad set on low to moderate heat can help alleviate the pain associated with these symptoms, and if approved by your doctor, you may also take a low dose of acetaminophen.

Braxton-Hicks Contractions

Although sometimes confused with actual labor pain, Braxton-Hicks contractions are false labor pains. They are mild contractions that happen to prepare your body for actual labor. Even though they are mild pains, they can easily be mistaken for the real thing, especially by a woman who is experiencing her first pregnancy. The main difference is that real labor pains increase in intensity and gradually occur closer together. Your doctor will be able to tell you if what you are experiencing is actual labor or Braxton-Hicks contractions.

Breast Enlargement

Although your breasts will have increased in weight by about two pounds by your third trimester and may feel like they can’t get any bigger, they may still increase in size. It’s vital to wear a supportive bra, because that will help to decrease the pain associated with breast growth. You may also notice some discharge near the end of your third trimester, which is indicative of your body preparing to nurse your baby.

Hemorrhoids

Possibly one of the most common things that happen in the third trimester, hemorrhoids can be very uncomfortable and embarrassing. Even though they are common and happen to most pregnant women, they can be hard to talk about. They’re actually varicose veins that occur around the anus, and swell due to pressure. Using cooling pads and medicated creams can help to alleviate the pain associated with them. They should clear up after childbirth.

Frequent Urination

Now that your baby is even bigger, there’s more pressure on your bladder. So even though it might seem like you’re visiting the restroom all hours of the day and night, it never seems to bring any relief. That’s because any amount of pressure can cause urgency, and your baby is often sitting right on top of it. That can also cause some potentially embarrassing situations when laughing or sneezing, but don’t let it get you down. It’s something that every pregnant woman experiences.

Shortness of Breath

While your baby is pressing on your bladder, he’s also taking up more space in your body and displacing some of your organs. This can cause some pressure on your lungs and less space for them to expand, which can cause some shortness of breath. This is not dangerous, and unless is causes you significant distress, does not need to be treated by your physician.

Heartburn

Increased production of progesterone can cause heartburn, which can be exacerbated by your baby putting pressure on your organs. If this becomes a serious problem, it may be necessary to decrease spicy foods for the duration of your pregnancy. Eating fewer small meals throughout the day can also help, as can refraining from eating before bedtime.

Bleeding or Spotting

Bleeding or spotting is possible in the third trimester, but if it occurs you should consult your physician as soon as possible. This may indicate that your baby is in some distress.

Conclusion

Although it seems like your body has already gone through so many changes during pregnancy, the third trimester is still very important. Your body and your baby will go through changes that have to happen in order for you to have a safe and healthy delivery.


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Photo credit: sundaykofax / Foter.com / CC BY