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Third Trimester Changes

Physical changes:

Unfortunately the physical changes in the third trimester can sound like a laundry list of aches and pains; the good news is that you're in the home stretch!  The third trimester begins at 28 weeks and ends with the birth of the baby. 

  • The baby is growing bigger and stronger; the kicks can be quite powerful and easily felt by others through the mother's belly.
  • The mother's abdomen is becoming larger and heavier. Stretch marks may develop if they haven't earlier in the pregnancy. Braxton-Hicks contractions- which are usually perceived as painless tightening can be felt. 
  • Low back pain is very common and can be relieved by wearing a pregnancy support belt and doing exercises especially for this area daily.  There may be more pelvic pressure and with this more frequent urination.
  • Swollen legs and feet tend to occur after standing for long periods of time but should get better after elevating legs. Some women will experience breathlessness when active or lying too flat, avoid lying flat on your back and rest when feeling out of breath. 
  • Colostrum, the early breast milk, may begin leaking from the breasts. Wearing a supportive bra day and night can help alleviate discomfort from heavy, full breasts.  
  • It becomes more difficult to eat a normal sized meal at one sitting- eating smaller more frequent meals can help with digestion and control heartburn. 
  • Most women will experience interrupted sleep due to discomfort in back and hips and necessary trips to the bathroom.  This can lead to more fatigue during the day; taking naps can help as well as sleeping with more pillows placed to support your body.  Remember- you're almost there!

Emotional changes:

The third trimester is a time of anticipation and excitement for the baby's arrival.  Fear and worry about childbirth and caring for the baby after birth are common.  Taking childbirth classes, reading about birth and parenting, practicing relaxation techniques and positive imagery are all good ways to prepare for childbirth and decrease anxiety. 

Some women may feel less attractive due to body changes, partner support and reassurance is very important during this time.  Father's may also feel anxious about their role in the childbirth process and question their ability to parent and provide for a larger family.  Everyone may begin to feel impatient for the baby's birth. Remember to enjoy your baby's kicks inside you for these last few weeks and be sure to spend special time with your partner and other children- life is about to change!

Warning signs:

Always call your care provider if you:
  • experience painful, regular contractions prior to 37 weeks or if you think you are in labor
  • have leaking of fluid or vaginal bleeding
  • have sudden pronounced swelling especially if accompanied by persistent headache, epigastric pain or changes in vision

Source: Angela Anderson, Certified Nurse-Midwife, LDS Hospital