As you enter into your third trimester of pregnancy, you are well aware of pregnancy discomforts. Some discomforts that disappeared in the second trimester may now return, and some new discomforts are likely to develop. However, the third trimester of pregnancy is the last trimester before delivery and, before long, you will be holding your baby.
Braxton-Hicks contractions are referred to as warm-up, tightening or practice contractions. As you get closer to your delivery date, these contractions will increase. Although these aren’t the real labor contractions that start the process, they will cause your uterus to tighten and relax and feel a lot like labor contractions. However, they don’t normally increase in intensity or get closer together. You may also notice them more If you are dehydrated.
By this point in pregnancy, you have gained an average of 25 to 40 lbs., with the majority of weight centered in your stomach. This increased weight can pull your spinal alignment forward, which increases the pressure on your back muscles causing discomfort. According to the American Pregnancy Association, nearly 50 to 70 percent of all women experience back discomfort.
By this trimester, your baby is much larger, and his head is pressing on your bladder. This constant pressure is the cause of frequent bathroom trips. You may also notice that you release a little urine if you sneeze, cough or laugh too hard. Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles with Kegel exercises can help urine control before and after the baby is born. Also, make sure to empty your bladder when it feels full and report any signs of burning or stinging immediately to your provider.
Heartburn is caused by the hormone progesterone which also contributes to constipation. Progesterone causes the smooth muscles of the stomach to relax. This allows digested food and acid back into your esophagus, causing a burning feeling. To relieve heartburn, eat several small meals instead of a few large meals. You should also avoid lying down immediately after eating and sleep propped up if heartburn is a problem at nighttime. The American Pregnancy Association suggests eating yogurt or milk to calm a burning stomach and esophagus. If the heartburn becomes too painful, consult with your provider.
Hemorrhoids are just swollen veins around the anus. In pregnancy, your blood volume increases significantly — up to 50 percent — so your veins expand to accommodate the extra blood. Hemorrhoids can be internal or external. As the baby gets larger and exerts more pressure on your pelvic floor, it can cause hemorrhoids, or aggravate ones that are already present. Do Kegel exercises to help increase circulation and sit in a warm tub of water. You can also use a witch hazel compress to alleviate the stinging sensation that often accompanies hemorrhoids.
Increased vaginal discharge is common during the third trimester. You may even start to see a thicker white or yellow mucus that is tinged with red or brown blood closer to your delivery date. If you notice this, it indicates that your cervix is changing and preparing for labor. If the vaginal discharge becomes watery and you need to use pads, call your provider. This could mean that the amniotic sac, the fluid around the baby, is leaking.
Just like the first trimester, you may notice that you are tired again, especially toward the end of the day. You are carrying around extra baby and body weight, and your sleeping schedule is often interrupted by bathroom trips. Take naps throughout the day when you are tired. If you can’t take a nap, just sit down and rest.