Continuing on with this series, here’s my final post.. The Third Trimester!
THIRD TRIMESTER: WEEK 28 – WEEK 40
Increase in OB Appointments: Starting at 28 weeks, you’ll start seeing your OB every two weeks instead of every 4 weeks! That’s more face time with your little one! And at 36 weeks, you’ll go from 2 weeks to every 1 week, which is when your OB will start checking you… down there… to see if you’re progressing any. At 36 weeks I hadn’t made any progress (0 cm dilated), wasn’t checked at 37 weeks but was checked this past appointment (38 weeks) and was 1 cm dilated! Progress!
The Return of Fatigue: Not only are you lugging around an extra 25 to 30 pounds (or double that in my case!), your expanding uterus has rearranged other organs in your body, adding even more strain. You’ll likely have to slow down a little in the third trimester, but you also want to keep your energy up. A walk around the neighborhood does the trick for me. I really would have liked to get into prenatal yoga but not many places around here offer it AND those that do charge a ridiculous amount of money. But if even that seems like too much, put your feet up. If possible, take a few minutes to close your eyes. If your energy level feels really low, check with your doctor. You might be suffering from anemia, which is not uncommon during pregnancy.
Back Pain: An expanding belly can throw off your posture, and the hormone relaxin, which loosens your joints in anticipation of delivery, exacerbates the stress on your body. You can do several things to fool gravity and ease your aches… Do pelvic tilts. Rock your pelvis back and forth while kneeling on all fours and keeping your back straight. I find myself doing these most nights right before bedtime. Speaking of sleep, lay on your side. Some say it’s best to be on your left side, however, at this point, you just need to sleep on whatever side is most comfortable for you. I alternated back and forth but I always start off on my right side, which I how I slept before pregnancy. Support your abdomen with a small pillow while sleeping. This is a HUGE help. Some preggers jump on the body pillow fad right away, which is fine if you actually NEED one. I’m so glad I waited to find out whether I needed one or not. They are NOT cheap and unless you need support EVERYWHERE and intend on taking up the entire bed, they’re not a must-have. Prenatal massages are a life-saver though! Do not under estimate what a deep tissue massage by someone who actually knows what they’re doing can do for your poor swollen pregnancy body!
Even More Frequent Urination: Yea, it gets worse! Your uterus puts pressure on your bladder most heavily in the third trimester, so you’ll probably have to go to the bathroom more than you ever did before. What’s even more annoying is that you might have sudden, uncontrollable urges to urinate, called urge incontinence. More than 40 percent of first-time moms experience it. It’s also important to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day to stay properly hydrated and to eat plenty of high-fiber foods to prevent constipation. As your baby moves deeper into your pelvis (drops), you’ll feel more pressure on your bladder. You might find yourself urinating more often. This extra pressure might also cause you to leak urine — especially when you laugh, cough or sneeze. If you’re worried about leaking urine, panty liners can offer a sense of security. Continue to watch for signs of a urinary tract infection, such as urinating even more than usual, pain during urination, fever or backache. Left untreated, urinary infections increase the risk of pregnancy complications. I myself void once every hour to hour and a half, even during the night. It’s very annoying but there’s nothing I can do about really.
Heartburn: Nearly half of all moms-to-be will be plagued by heartburn. Thanks to all the hormones circulating through your body during pregnancy, the muscle at the top of your stomach—the one that usually prevents digestive acids from splashing into the esophagus—relaxes, allowing those harsh juices to shoot back up. What’s more, by now your uterus has taken up most of your abdominal cavity, pushing your stomach up toward your throat, which makes the burn more noticeable. How can you get relief? The best thing you can do is to figure out the foods that cause you heartburn and STOP EATING THEM. Second best thing is to stop eating a couple hours before bedtime.
Swollen Feet, Legs, and Varicose Veins: If you follow me on Instagram and/or Facebook, you know I suffer from this BIG TIME. Edema, the technical name for swollen feet, ankles and legs, is caused by fluid retention in the lower half of the body. Varicose veins occur when valves inside blood vessels in the legs become soft or weak, which allows the blood to flow backward, pool and form painful bulges. Mine aren’t “painful” but they are always hot to the touch. Although the swelling should subside, some varicose veins are there to stay. To ease the discomfort of both edema and varicose veins: Put your feet up often, switch standing and sitting positions frequently, and never cross your legs. Lie down whenever possible, preferably on your side. Wear compression hose, which may help soothe the aches and diminish the appearance of varicose veins. Avoid wearing anything that reduces circulation, like knee-high stockings. Even though I still wear mine, they are no longer affective. Either my swelling is THAT BAD or the hose have stretched out from too much wear. I betting on both of those reasons are contributing factors. Whatever you do, don’t limit fluids to try to minimize puffiness. Your body will respond by hanging on to liquids even more. Soak in the tub… studies show that the pressure of even a foot of water reduces discomfort. I soak in epson salt baths at least once a week. They say it helps. I think my situation is just too far gone but I love baths so….
Increase in Braxton Hicks Contractions: By month eight or nine, you’ll probably feel Braxton-Hicks contractions. I’ve been feeling them since 22 weeks and they’ve only grown more noticeable. They are among the “fun” third trimester symptoms that prep your body for labor and can startle you into thinking birth is imminent. How do you distinguish them from labor? False contractions tend to be felt in the front of the abdomen; real ones start in the back and come around to the front, sometimes moving from top to bottom. Real contractions may also intensify if you shift your position, so try moving around to determine whether it’s time to go the hospital. Still not sure if it’s the real thing? Call your doctor.
Colostrum Production: As delivery approaches, your nipples could start leaking colostrum — the yellowish fluid that, if you breast-feed, will nourish your baby during the first few days of life. Mine came in during the second trimester (week 24 I think?) but still only shows up when I purposefully express it. Thank goodness I haven’t leaked but it’s completely normal if you eventually need to wear nursing pads before everything is said and done.
Weight Gain: If you had a normal BMI (18.5- 24.9) before pregnancy (mine was around 21), you might gain 25 to 35 pounds before giving birth (I’ve gained 60 pounds). Your baby accounts for some of the weight gain, but so do the placenta, amniotic fluid, larger breasts and uterus, extra fat stores, and increased blood and fluid volume. Don’t stress yourself if you gain a little more than the norm. Everyone’s body is different and handles pregnancy differently. Due to my Meniere’s disease, my body couldn’t handle excess fluid on its own even before, so my pregnant body (without my Meniere’s meds) didn’t have a chance.
Shortness of Breath: You might get winded easily as your uterus expands beneath your diaphragm, the muscle just below your lungs. Practice good posture to give your lungs more room to expand. Don’t worry, you’ll feel relief when baby drops into your pelvis (around week 36 – week 38).
Hemorrhoids: Varicose veins in your rectum are called hemorrhoids and can appear to on the outside of your rectum, right on your anus. This might be TMI, but let’s not kid ourselves, pregnancy by nature is just a whole bunch of TMI, but I only have one tiny tiny hemorrhoid and it’s not painful whatsoever. Most are. To prevent hemorrhoids, avoid constipation. Include plenty of fiber in your diet and drink lots of fluids.
Hot Nature: Feeling overheated? I’m usually on the cooler side but DANG this pregnancy stuff makes me a boiling hot mess most of the time. Not like hot flashes, but just hotter than normal all the time. Chalk it up to increased blood volume. During pregnancy, the amount of blood in your body increases by as much as 50 percent. To better handle all that extra blood, your blood vessels dilate slightly, allowing the blood to come of the surface, which can make you feel hot. In the third trimester, your metabolic rate also increases, which can also add to that overheated feeling. You might find yourself sweating more too. The good news? Your blood volume — and internal thermostat — will return to normal after delivery. Until then, you’ll have to find ways to deal with feeling hot. Consider dressing in light layers so it’s easy to add or remove clothing quickly as needed. You should also drink plenty of water. Staying well hydrated will prevent dehydration and make you feel more comfortable, especially when it’s hot outside. Thank goodness I’ll be done with this pregnancy before we have hot weather!
Sore Belly Button: It’s pretty natural for your belly button to be sore. As your belly grows, your natural tissues — the ones that hold your muscles — stretch in a way that hasn’t happened before (if this is your first pregnancy, of course). As your body gets used to a belly growth spurt, you’ll have some discomfort, but it’ll get better with time. Another fun trick that pregnancy plays on you that you might want to be prepared for? Sometimes an innie becomes an outtie! Mine hasn’t but I’ve seen it happen! This happens because of a combination of the stretching and the pressure your growing uterus is putting on your abdomen. If you’re not a huge fan of the outtie, don’t worry — it’s not permanent. It usually returns to normal after delivery once your body gets back to its original state (or close to it), although it may look a little stretched, around 6 weeks after delivery.
The Pregnant Waddle: Ah, the pregnant waddle. I know it very well. As your pregnant belly grows, it throws your center of gravity out of whack, so you end up shifting your weight to offset the added heft in front. Plus, all those pregnancy hormones cause your joints to loosen up. The icing on the waddle cake is the inside of your pelvis, which starts to tilt and widens your stance. When baby drops, the waddle will widen (?). Being completely honest here, it’s only because baby’s head is IN your pelvic cavity and sometimes it feels like he’s going to fall right out (he won’t, don’t worry).
Baby Hiccups: If you were sipping from a glass of water all day long, there’s a good chance you’d be hiccupping a lot, too. That’s pretty much what’s happening to baby — your little one is constantly drinking amniotic fluid, and if a small amount enters his lungs, his diaphragm will contract in order to get rid of it. And yes, it’s totally normal. Baby won’t choke because he receives all his oxygen through the placenta. If baby’s hiccupping in utero, you’ll notice some small, repetitive jerks, similar to feeling his heartbeat, and it can go on for an hour or more. My baby boy has the hiccups 3-4 times a day! These hiccups are most common in the third trimester, as the baby grows larger and more developed. It can actually be a reassuring sign that things are progressing as normal, and that he’s just getting ready for life outside the womb.