Pregnancy is definitely one of those times in your life when the days and weeks seem to drag on, but you blink, and here you are in the 3rd trimester! Whether you’ve just entered or your delivery is right around the corner, the 3rd trimester is full of excitement and anticipation towards meeting baby.
On the not so exciting side of things, the 3rd trimester pregnancy symptoms can be some of the toughest to handle. As your body continues to grow and change things start to get pretty uncomfortable. Luckily, I have some tips and tricks to help manage your symptoms and get more comfortable as your baby, and belly, grow.
Understanding why the symptoms are happening is also helpful in finding relief. So, let’s dive right in and start getting more comfortable ASAP!
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In general week 28 is considered the start of the third trimester and it means you are officially in the home stretch.
As you progress in your pregnancy, the exact line of when one trimester ends and the next begins starts to become a little gray. If you search this term on google, you will find a range of responses plus or minus a few weeks depending on whether you are counting by weeks, days or months of pregnancy.
Reaching the third trimester milestone is an exciting time! It marks a 90% increase in the likelihood of a pre-term baby surviving. It also means that you are ready to switch to having appointments with your provider every 2 weeks. Around week 36 you’ll up the frequency of visits to every week until delivery.
We’re going to dive into the symptoms and remedies in just a minute, but along with getting comfortable I’m willing to bet the reality of baby’s arrival is starting to feel very real.
During the third trimester you’ll want to make sure you:
If you’re looking for help and support with getting all of this accomplished, and even more done before baby arrives, enroll in our FREE Nest Smart email course today. Using the 5 pillars of nesting you’ll get everything done in a flash.
Insomnia is a very common symptom of pregnancy and according to the American Pregnancy Association, affects over 75% of all pregnant women. Typically, it happens as a result of all of the other discomforts associated with pregnancy.
Women are unable to fall asleep or stay asleep because of general discomfort, heartburn, needing to pee during the night, anxiety, weird dreams and hormonal changes.
If you still can’t sleep, it might make sense to get up and indulge your energy a bit. Have a snack and do a relaxing activity like reading a book or working on a small project for baby. I would often knit for N while listening to an audio book when I couldn’t sleep at night.
You might also find it helpful to work on getting organized when you are feeling sleepless. Sometimes creating lists, or doing some planning will relieve your anxiety and allow you to sleep. Our Nesting Planner has all of the checklists and planning sheets you could ever need.
You should also mention extreme insomnia to your provider. Especially, if it is interfering with your ability to function in day-to-day life. They may be able to recommend or prescribe something that is safe for pregnancy and will help you get some much-needed shut eye.
Vivid, strange or even alarming dreams are very common during pregnancy. I would often swap crazy dream stories with the women in my prenatal group. Researchers don’t know for sure why this occurs but may be due to:
Keeping a dream journal can be a helpful way to process and possibly learn from your dreams. I always liked to share my dreams with my husband, Patrick. It usually got a good laugh and caused an unexpected bond between both of us and baby. Sharing weird dreams was also a great way to break the ice and bond with other expectant mamas.
Mama Natural’s free weekly pregnancy email series is full of a ton of great info. You’ll love the tips and advice in your inbox every week as you prepare for birth.
Water retention and swelling during pregnancy is impossible to avoid to some degree. This is because during pregnancy your body produces around 50% more blood and body fluids in order to grow your baby!
Your body also holds on to extra fluid to help your body soften and expand as baby grows and eventually to allow your pelvic joints to open for delivery.
So while the degree to which your swelling and water retention is noticeable may vary, it is a necessary part of pregnancy.
Swelling can begin at any point in pregnancy and most will have at least some degree of noticeable swelling by the third trimester. This is because during the third trimester your growing baby causes your uterus to put a lot of pressure on the large vein on the right side of your body (vena cava).
This vein carries blood from your legs and feet back to your heart. This can cause blood to pool and results in noticeable fluid retention below the knees. In general, this is totally normal (but annoying!) and is nothing to worry about.
Summer heat can definitely escalate the presence of swelling, so if you’re entering the third trimester during the peak of summer you should prepare to deal with this on some level.
Swelling is usually most frustrating in the legs, feet and ankles because it can make wearing shoes very uncomfortable and standing for long periods of time uncomfortable. Here are some things that might help:
As I mentioned, swelling during pregnancy is pretty par for the course but is always worth mentioning to your doctor. Extreme swelling, especially in the face and upper body can be a sign of the serious condition, preeclampsia. Swelling wouldn’t be your only symptom, but extreme swelling coupled with headaches or vision changes is a big red flag.
Never wait to talk to your provider about any concerns when it comes to pregnancy symptoms or discomforts. No call is ever too small.
Back pain can occur at many points in pregnancy but is most common in the third trimester because of the excess weight you are carrying around. It can be worsened if you spend your days standing or don’t practice good posture while sitting.
Like many other symptoms in pregnancy, changing hormones also play a role. As your body allows for joints to open and loosen, the changes in joint positioning can cause back pain.
While there is no one quick fix, generally focusing on good posture and sleeping on your side may help. You should also avoid high heels and try to squat when you pick things up instead of bending over.
Some women swear by seeing a chiropractor during pregnancy. A mom in my prenatal group went regularly and had a much more comfortable second pregnancy than her first by doing this. Always discuss these kind of decisions with your provider and be sure to check credentials and specialties before booking an appointment.
You guessed it! In addition to all of the extra weight putting pressure on your pelvic bones, your changing hormones are to blame again. As your joints and ligaments loosen to allow for opening during birth, you will start to feel more pain and pressure in your pelvic region which is no fun.
Using a belly band can be really effective in helping with pelvic pain. It is basically a super tight band that goes around your belly. It is stitched so that it isn’t too tight on the belly, but around the belly it gets very tight and lifts. I never used one, but Trina found it during her second pregnancy and couldn’t believe what a difference it made.
Not only does it help relieve pelvic pain (especially if you have to stand all day) but it can help you not feel like you have to pee all the time too! It provides just enough lift to get the pressure off of your bladder as well.
Ugh! This is third trimester pregnancy symptom is a tough one. If you’ve never experienced a muscle cramp before, it will really catch you off guard! They are an extremely painful tightening sensation. And definitely no fun. Trina just started experiencing them in her 28th week of pregnancy and can totally relate.
Leg and foot cramps during pregnancy are so painful and can strike at any moment, but tend to be most common at night. When they’re happening, there’s not much you can do but grit your teeth and breathe through it. Maybe practice some of those labor breathing exercises you’ve been working on for your birth toolbox 😉
While nothing can keep them away for sure, preventative measures can help.
During the third trimester, heartburn was a symptom that I remember vividly. I unfortunately had morning sickness last until around week 22, and then a few short weeks later, my heartburn was almost unbearable!
Pregnant women are more susceptible to heartburn because of the hormone progesterone. This hormone allows your body to relax and loosen, but not necessarily just in the pelvic region. It will also cause the valve in your esophagus that keeps stomach acid down to loosen, making heartburn more prevalent.
Between the loosened valve and a growing baby that makes your stomach volume a lot smaller, stomach acid gets pushed up more and more frequently.
Braxton Hicks contractions are basically practice contractions. They can occur at any point in pregnancy, but if you notice or feel them, it is most likely to be in the third trimester. They will feel like a tightening or cramp in your lower abdomen/uterus area.
Braxton Hicks contractions typically don’t come with any regularity and are often not as painful as real contractions. Unlike real contractions, they will not grow in intensity and will not become rhythmic or closer together.
If you think you are experiencing contractions and are unsure if they are Braxton Hicks or the real deal, try having a big glass of water and moving around. Typically, Braxton Hicks contractions will subside with hydration and movement, while real contractions may become stronger with movement. If you found the practice contractions occurring while you were active, then try laying down and resting to see if they stop.
Remember, this is not a fool-proof test. If your contractions continue, become more painful, rhythmic and close together, or you are having any other doubts that it is really labor, call your provider!
It is not fully known why we experience these. They are not thought to play a role in dilation, but they are thought to help strengthen the uterine muscles in preparation for labor. They also may promote blood flow to the placenta.
These often occur in conjunction with dehydration, a full bladder, and after sex. But they may also occur at seemingly random times as well.
Extreme thirst is a very normal pregnancy symptom and is rarely an indicator that anything is wrong. As I mentioned in point 2, the amount of fluids and blood in your body at this point in pregnancy has increased by almost 50%. To keep up with the production of blood and fluids your body needs to be well-hydrated.
The best way to manage this symptom is not surprisingly, to drink more water! Treat yourself to a large, high quality water bottle. I love my Hydroflask because it keeps water nice and cold. I guarantee you’ll continue to get use out of whatever water bottle you choose once baby arrives because nursing will make you thirsty too.
In addition to upping your water intake, eating fruits and veggies with a high water content can help quench your thirst too. Think watermelon, oranges, celery and cucumber.
You can also try treating yourself to flavored seltzer waters or making your own flavored water by adding fruits, cucumber slices, or lemon to a pitcher of water. In our house, especially during the summer we love keeping a pitcher of “spa water” as Patrick likes to call it, in the fridge.
Unfortunately, these two symptoms can be really common for women in their third trimester and often go hand in hand. To some degree, these can be tricky to avoid. This is because the uterus sits on the large vein that carries blood from the lower body up. This causes pressure on the veins making them more likely to dilate or swell, forming hemorrhoids.
They are swollen blood vessels in your rectal area. They can have a wide range in size and position. You may find them to be itchy, uncomfortable or very painful depending on their size and location. Some bleeding may also be associated with hemorrhoids.
Staying well-hydrated and avoiding constipating foods is your first line of defense against hemorrhoids. Sitting or standing for long periods of time can also cause pressure and blood to pool. Varied positions and some movement is important to keep blood flowing. Lying on your side at night and while resting is a good position for comfort and keeping blood moving.
Keep in mind that your hemorrhoids may stay until after delivery. I know this isn’t what you want to hear, but it can be difficult to rid them completely while there is still pressure on the region from your growing uterus.
You may also experience more hemorrhoids after delivery during your postpartum period. Labor and particularly pushing your baby often results in hemorrhoids. This makes investing in any of these pain relievers worthwhile because they will continue to serve you and are great to have on hand now so that you aren’t scrambling when you arrive home with baby.
You may or may not have experienced fatigue back in the first trimester, but either way, it is likely going to occur now. A lot of this has to do with all of the added weight you are carrying around and because of possible insomnia.
The most obvious way to beat fatigue is by resting as much as possible. Even when you can’t actually sleep, finding some time to get off of your feet and relax is very important. Take up a stationary hobby, find a great book or get into a new (or old favorite) TV show.
Eating a well-balanced diet is important and will help you feel like you have more energy. If you are having trouble finding the time or motivation to cook healthy meals each night, consider doing some meal prepping. This is a great activity to do with your partner, and something I highly recommend doing before baby arrives anyways to ensure you’ll have a well-stocked freezer for easy meals.
Movement and exercise can actually be invigorating and help you feel more awake. If the season is right, try swimming or walking in water. At any time of the year a brisk walk around the block, on a local trail, or even in the mall will help you feel more awake.
After mentioning my sudden extreme fatigue to my provider, she ordered an additional blood test to check for low iron and that was in fact the culprit. By starting on an iron supplement, I was shocked at how quickly I started to have more energy and how much better I felt.
Nesting is an important part of pregnancy and usually starts to really ramp up during the third trimester, so much so that it really is like a symptom. Nesting is our brain’s intrinsic way of wanting everything to be completely prepared, safe and ready for baby.
Maybe you’re already very aware or your nesting tendencies because of the way you are obsessively organizing every nook and cranny of the house, or maybe you aren’t quite sure why you keep pinning every DIY nursery idea under the sun… either way, rest assured that this is normal!
The only ‘downside’ to all of this is that sometimes, nesting can manifest in a sort of form of anxiety. And especially as a first time mom, it can be hard to know how to channel these inner desires effectively. To learn more about staying organized and having checklists and planning sheets for every essential task when it comes to planning for baby and birth, check out the Nesting Planner.
Now you know the whys behind 10 of the most common 3rd trimester pregnancy symptoms and have a variety of ideas to help you get more comfortable right away. As your body grows and changes it can be frustrating to feel so uncomfortable all the time.
This is a wonderful point in pregnancy to start incorporating some birth affirmations in your daily routine. Keeping a positive mindset will be so helpful during labor and delivery. Start this mindset with daily affirmations now, particularly while things are so uncomfortable.
Lastly, you can ease your mind and indulge your nesting instincts as a way of alleviating at least the mental side of your third trimester pregnancy symptoms. Do this right now by enrolling in the FREE Nest Smart Nesting Crash Course 🙂