Fatigue, heartburn and carpal tunnel, oh my! Here’s what you can expect as you head into the home stretch.
The last three months of pregnancy are often exciting, nerve-racking and physically demanding.
While you may feel like you couldn’t possibly get any bigger, baby isn’t done growing and neither are you. Your belly will continue to stretch and with the additional weight comes a whole new host of health issues to contend with. Be on the lookout for these seven symptoms.
1. Back Pain
There are two things working against you: Your growing belly can throw off your posture and put strain on the spine, and the hormone relaxin, which is prepping your joints for delivery, can exacerbate the stress on your back. Try prenatal yoga, stretching, or spring for a massage to help relieve the pain.
2. Bowel problems and Frequent Urination
These are some of those pregnancy symptoms that will get worse before they get better. That’s because your uterus is putting pressure on your bladder most heavily during the third trimester, so you might find that you must go more now than ever before. Cut back on caffeinated drinks, which increase urination. Also, with the baby taking up most of your pelvic space, your bowel movements may be slower. Do your best to keep hydrated and maintain fiber intake.
3. Increasing Fatigue
Your expanding uterus is making it difficult to catch your breath, you’re lugging around an extra 20 to 30 pounds (or more) and you’re waking up at night to use the restroom — no wonder you’re exhausted! Keep energy levels up by continuing to exercise, eating well and resting whenever you can.
Almost half of all moms-to-be deal with heartburn, especially in the third trimester when your uterus is taking up most of the space in your abdominal cavity and pushing your stomach up near your throat. Swap out your three big meals for six smaller ones, minimize acid-inducing foods (spicy foods, citrus, and tomatoes), and avoid eating too close to bedtime or lying flat after eating to help combat the burn. If this is not enough, speak to your provider about safe medication options to help relieve symptoms.
5. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Swelling combined with repetitive motions like typing can cause carpal tunnel, making tingling, numbness and pain in the hands common for many pregnant women. Change or avoid these repetitive activities if possible or wear a wrist splint at night to help keep your wrist straight.
6. Mood changes
You may remember feeling moodier than usual in the first trimester. Due to hormone changes and life changes coming, many pregnant women again have symptoms of depression or anxiety. It is important to notify your physician of any concerns surrounding depression or anxiety symptoms. Getting educated by taking prenatal classes and joining new parent groups can help to alleviate concerns surrounding labor, delivery and the postpartum period. Also getting adequate sleep is very important in this stage of pregnancy.
7. Preterm contractions
As your body begins to get ready for labor, you may experience a few rounds of practice contractions, known as Braxton Hicks. They can be alarming at first, but they’re totally normal and typically not very painful. How do you tell the difference between these and real labor?
Real contractions typically start in the back and come around to the front of the body making it feel very tight for about 30-60 seconds at a time with occasional pelvic pressure, while Braxton Hicks tend to be felt in a smaller areas often in the front of the abdomen. It is normal to have occasional contractions of either type, but you should notify your physician if you are experiencing 4-6 in an hour or occurring every 5-10 minutes for one hour between 28-36 weeks of pregnancy. Once past 37 weeks, this may be signs of labor.
The last trimester is a very exhausting time mentally and physically, but it is getting you one step closer to meeting your new baby! Remember to take care of yourself during this time and speak to your doctor about any concerns.
Editor's note: This blog was originally published on July 27, 2017 and has since been updated.