You have successfully navigated the two long phases and are now in your final stage – the third trimester of pregnancy (also known as home stretch). Not to disappoint you, but this phase might seem to be the longest stretch of your gestation period, more if you are beyond 40 weeks. There’s no reason to this other than the mother’s impatience to meet her mini-me!
However, besides all the excitement, third trimester is also an important phase which will bring lots of new, contented as well as uncomfortable experiences for you.
Let’s begin with –
When does this third trimester of pregnancy start?
The period continues from 27 – 40 weeks (until labor) of your gestation. It’s a remarkable phase of your baby’s growth as s/he develops body fat under his or her skin. Babies complete their form to look the way mothers have imagined them to be.
How’s your bun in 27 weeks?
- Your soon-to-be-born baby’s head is same as the size of lettuce.
- At 27 weeks, the fetus weighs 1.9 pounds and the size is 14.4 inches.
- The baby sleeps and wakes at regular intervals, and the mother can sense his/her sleep-wake cycle.
- Last but not the least; your baby is getting smarter too as its brain is quite active with all the brain tissues developing rapidly.
In 3rd trimester, your amniotic fluid reduces to half in volume. So? Well, as this cushioning lessens, a lucky you may see elbows and bony knees whenever the infant turns or kicks your stomach. Do watch it next time!
Now; what your body should be prepared for!
By now, you’re well aware that hormonal changes and other magical transformations are constantly happening in your body. Here, take a look at the things your body is going to experience.
- Shift of the uterus –
The major internal change in third trimester is the shift of uterus (which measures 11 by 14 inches) towards the sternum or breastbone. Lightening, however, occurs 1 – 6 weeks before the labor. It’s when the baby’s head engages downward in the pelvis.
- Vagina –
As the time comes closer, more mucus secrete through the vaginal opening preparing the passage for the baby. You will also experience more vaginal swelling.
- Increased urination –
In third trimester, as the baby’s position and size create a pressure on the bladder, a mother is likely to have an increased tendency of urination.
- Change in vision –
Some women might also experience vision change due to hypertension, gestational diabetes or other problems. In that case, they must immediately inform the doctor.
Now, this brings to another relevant factor – third trimester pain.
During your third trimester, pain can occur in any part of the body (and also indicate that you’re in your home stretch; if initially, you aren’t aware of).
- Breast pain – As hormones are preparing the breasts to feed the baby, you’re likely to experience pain and soreness along with an increase in size.
- Abdominal pain – This includes gas, Braxton-Hicks contractions, constipation or maybe false labor. The severe pains can be due to preeclampsia, urinary tract infection or placental abruption.
- Sciatica – It’s a pain in the long nerve from lower back to feet. You may face tingling, numbness or pain when the uterus pressurizes the sciatica nerve.
- Vaginal Pain – At times, the pain is piercing and sharp which indicates that the cervix is dilating. At other times, you might feel that the baby is coming out.
- Hip and lower back pain – In this last phase, the connective tissue loosens as your hormone levels amplify.
- Restless Leg syndrome – It’s an urge to move the legs which can often give the sensations of general discomfort to throbbing or burning. Common mostly in the evenings, this problem can cause sleep disturbances.
- Insomnia – Falling or staying asleep becomes quite challenging in the third trimester due to constant discomfort by the growing belly. You might not be able to sleep on your back.
Note: In case your third trimester pain is extreme, it is recommended to consult the medical expert immediately.
Along with physical changes, women also experience certain emotional changes during their third trimester of pregnancy. This is the time that not only the mother but also the father is impatient to welcome their child, find the perfect name, arrange the little one’s room and do more.
Again, it is the time when mommies-to-be feel heavier and often experience drop in their confidence and self-esteem. Husbands and other close ones need to reassure her that staying positive and happy is extremely important. Experts suggest not encouraging negative thinking and rather having an optimistic attitude towards whatever comes.
Few tips to deal with your third trimester pain and discomfort
- To help with frequent urination at night, you can reduce fluid intake just before going to bed.
- If you ever notice swelling in feet or ankles due to the extra fluid in your body, elevate your legs at regular intervals.
- To deal with your anxiety and impatience, simply calm down, read good books and ask your family members to assist you.
What you should strictly avoid when in home stretch!
For ensuring a safe pregnancy in your final stage, make sure you don’t do the following –
- Taking steam bath as that changes the internal body temperature.
- Consuming heavy meals, junk, and fried foods, etc.
- Carrying or lifting heavy weight.
- Performing heavy and strenuous exercises
- Wearing high heels.
- Doing heavy household chores.
All of these can not only increase your pain, but these can also pose a risk for your unborn child.
Last but not the least: What’s water breaking?
Once a woman is in her third trimester, she is most likely to be curious about water breaking. So, what’s it all about?
During pregnancy, the fetus is wrapped by protective amniotic sac, a fluid-filled membranous cover. Water breaking is when this amniotic sac ruptures and indicates that your labor is underway or imminent. The sensation is different for every individual – while some may experience a discharge sort of feeling, others might have a gush (as if they have peed on their pants).
What should you do next?
The first thing is to call your ob-gyn and follow her instructions. Depending on your condition, the expert might delay the labor or may treat you with antibiotics intravenously if the baby takes too long to come after water breaking.
Overall, third trimester is an incredible phase which you should enjoy being relaxed and patient.