The third trimester is the period of six to nine months in a pregnancy. It is important to keep active during this time, as most of the final development of the fetus takes place during this time.
Read our latest blog: fetal development milestones by trimester.
There may be periods of pain and discomfort over the course of the third trimester, and it is important to know what is normal and what is not. Although it may feel like every part of the body is hurting, they are more concentrated in some areas, and most common symptoms can be singled out and dealt with.
Discomforts you may feel in the third trimester
1) False alarms
Stomach pain can include gas, constipation, and Braxton-Hicks contractions. Braxton-Hicks contractions are signs of false labor as the uterus is preparing itself for labor. While these can cause some abdominal discomfort, they shouldn’t cause excessive amounts of pain. More severe and concerning abdominal pains may be due to other reasons also. It would be a good idea to consult your doctor or medical practitioner if pains persist.
2) Sore muscles
Owing to the weight of the baby, soreness in muscles, swelling of arms and feet, and aches in the lower back and shoulders are common during the last trimester. Many women also complain of pain in the upper back owing to a change in posture. As the body goes through further changes in preparation for childbirth, hormone levels increase, loosening connective tissue. This enhances flexibility in your pelvis so that the baby can pass through the birth canal more easily.
However, women frequently experience hip pain as the connective tissue loosens and stretches. Lower back pain can also occur along with hip pain, as posture changes may cause you to lean more toward one side or another.
The sciatic nerve is a long nerve that runs from the lower back all the way down to the feet. When pain occurs along this nerve, the condition is known as sciatica. Many women experience sciatica during pregnancy because the enlarged uterus presses down on the sciatic nerve. This increased pressure causes pain, tingling, or numbness in the lower back, buttocks, and thighs. It may affect one side or both sides of the body.
4) Vaginal pain
Vaginal pain during the third trimester can make you feel anxious and stressed. You may wonder if your baby is coming or if the pain is a sign that something’s wrong. This depends on the severity of the pain. Some women experience sharp, piercing pain in the vagina. This could potentially indicate that the cervix is dilating in preparation for delivery. Call your doctor immediately if you’re experiencing severe or intense vaginal pain, intense pain in the lower abdomen, or vaginal bleeding. Even if these symptoms turn out not to be cause for concern, it’s best to get a confirmation from your doctor. Leg cramping may also occur due to too much phosphorus and too little calcium in the body.
Flatulence or gas, indigestion, and heartburn are also reported by many pregnant women. Sometimes, the pain owing to gas is misinterpreted as early labor pain.
5) Other Issues
Urinary tract infections are another cause of pain. Preeclampsia causes high blood pressure during pregnancy. Placental abruption is a condition that occurs when the placenta separates from the uterus too early. It is advisable to get in touch with a doctor if the mother experiences vaginal bleeding, fever, chills, dizziness, nausea, or vomiting.
Ways to ease the discomfort
1) warm bath
An age-old remedy that has been advocated by our grandmothers, a warm bath is a wonderful way to relieve pain. As is evident, a warm bath relieves tension in muscles and also helps a pregnant mother to feel more sheltered owing to warmth. Care must be taken to make sure that the water is not too hot, as this could be harmful to the mother.
2) Warm or cold packs
Warm compresses or an ice pack can be another way to alleviate pain in the muscles. A partner, parent, or caregiver can take this opportunity to pamper you, by applying the pack on your swollen feet, which you cannot see by now owing to the little one growing inside you. Any pack-hot or cold should not be applied to the abdomen, for obvious reasons.
3) A prenatal massage
While the word ‘massage’ brings to mind some wonderful images of scented candles, serene music, and a beautiful spa-like setting, none of this is really necessary. Someone at home (again, your wonderful partner or parent) can massage your feet, arms, and back with a little warm oil and help you relax. The advantage of this is that you need not limit your massage time to a day at the spa, but could have it on a daily basis.
4) Support your body
While it is tempting to curl up or sit in weird positions, it is important that you ensure maximum support for your body. Sit in chairs with good back support. Use cushions to support your lower back. If you are sitting with your feet propped up, try to lean back into an armchair, while your feet on a table or pouf stool which is a little lower than the chair you are sitting on.
5) Pain relievers
After consultation with your doctor, take an over-the-counter pain reliever to reduce soreness and discomfort. Please follow the recommended dosage, and do not self-prescribe any medication. Natural remedies also must be taken with precaution.
6) Stretching and yoga
While the pain of sciatica is uncomfortable, it shouldn’t hurt your growing baby. You may be able to ease the pain by stretching, taking a warm bath, or using pillows to position yourself as comfortably as possible.
Many traditional practices support stretching and prenatal yoga. It is gaining popularity all over the world owing to the many stretch exercises that are a part of the exercise regimen. Stretches also help to prepare the cervix for childbirth, while the mother learns new ways to breathe to ease the pain and relieve stress.
7) Pregnancy pillows
With the weight of the baby beginning to have an effect on your sleep, and adding pressure to your back and internal organs while you sleep, support becomes of prime importance. A pregnancy pillow will help you lie down and rest better. There are many pillows to choose from. If you do not want to buy an additional product that you will have to find storage space for, you can use some extra pillows for support.
A doctor will be able to suggest better sleeping positions to ease pains and discomfort during the third trimester. A pregnancy pillow is a boon during this time and helps support the belly while sleeping. It is strongly recommended that any over-the-counter medication is avoided and all medication that is taken is recommended by your doctor, keeping in mind the health of the mother and baby.
Less worry more sleep, longer walks, or recommended exercises will be your best friends during this final trimester. Your little one will be here soon, so get ready to welcome your baby!