6 Symptoms you may experience in Trimester 3 (Weeks 28-40)
Trimester 3 is a time of great joy as you prepare for the birth of your beautiful baby! Also, a time to celebrate with friends and family by planning a baby shower and time to finalize the plan you and your partner would like for the birth. As your due date gets closer anxiety may start to take over, thoughts about the birth or how you are going to keep your little human alive after he/she arrives!
Don’t panic, it is totally normal to worry. Try and take it in your stride by managing the stress and the symptoms of Trimester 3 using the suggestions below.
Symptom: Stress management and relaxation is top priority for anyone who is striving for a healthy pregnancy. You probably already know the things that cause you stress and the things that bring you relief from that stress, so be proactive in seeking them out.
My personal experience: Following a healthy lifestyle, staying active and mobile, and eating lots of nutritious foods (with a few ice creams in-between) really did help to manage my stress. It helped control my blood glucose levels which meant less mood swings, the feel-good hormones from working out really helped with my self confidence levels and how I felt in my maternity clothes.
Adequate sleep in the evenings and napping in the days (whilst my toddler napped) really did help reduce my stress hormones and help me feel more relaxed, yet more energized for the demands of the day.
My apple watch regularly reminded me to breath, so I would take that opportunity to focus on deep breathing during whatever I was doing at that moment, during the duration of the minute I would notice all the tension in my body gradually being released
Suggestions: Pick something yummy to eat for the ‘extra 300kcals’ you require each day in the third trimester and enjoy it at the end of the day, it will give you something to look forward to and motivate you to eat well for the whole day.
Nap when the opportunity comes along, or if it doesn’t come along create the opportunity.
Be active for at least 30 minutes a day, even if majority of the day means resting. It will pay off.
Practice deep breathing. When you are feeling stressed, just stop, notice how you’re feeling in your body (tight chest, clenched jaw, etc.), inhale through your nose and fill your lungs up with air, then release it slowly through your mouth as if you were making a candle flicker but not blow out. Repeat this 3-4 times or until you feel better. Simply taking a big, deep breath can help immediately. Breathing deeply helps bring our central nervous system into a more relaxed state, it can also help free up our diaphragm if its feeling restricted with our growing baby inside.
Lower back Pain
Symptom: Suddenly it will seem like you are carrying this huge ball in front of your body that you need to accommodate. The added stress of the weight gain and additional fluid volume can take a toll on your body. Your center of gravity changes and the extra weight along with the modification in your silhouette can cause a stiff and painful back.
Lower-back pain can also be caused by hormones, just like the pain you may experience on your menstrual cycle. The nervous system acts to protect you when there are hormone changes in the body and the center of your body is an easy target to give pain.
My personal experience: I felt very stiff in my upper and lower back during both pregnancies due to the extra weight from my growing breasts and bump but I was fortunate enough not to experience any pain in these areas during my Pregnancy. Spending a few minutes mobilizing the upper back on a daily basis brought an instant feeling of relief, strengthening the upper and lower back regularly during the week also meant my body was strong enough to accommodate the additional weight.
I continued to exercise my glutes throughout my pregnancies, primarily to maintain strong glutes and curves but also to prevent load being transferred onto my lower back. I did this through deadlifts, band exercises and kneeling hip thrusts.
Suggestions: Stay active and mobile, and continue to exercise and strengthen your posterior chain, primarily upper and lower back and glute and hamstrings. (See Chapter on ‘Exercises for reducing the risk of back pain’) as well as continuing to engage your deep inner core muscles regularly through the trimesters (See my Blog on ‘Should we train our abdominals during pregnancy?’)
(If your experiencing radiating leg pain, see my blog on ‘Reducing the risk of back pain during Pregnancy’)
If you have not done so already, you might want to consider adding prenatal chiropractic care, acupuncture, or prenatal massage to your pregnancy care plan.
Swelling and Cramping
Symptom: This tends to happen to most women and the puffiness tends to be focused around the ankles, hand and face. This swelling occurs as a result of decreased circulation of the blood.
My personal experience: It was in the last few days before I gave birth I really felt like a big bubble. My sandals would no longer fit, my ¾ leggings were cutting off the circulation in my calves, and my veins in my lower legs were popping out of the surface.
On two occasions during the night on both pregnancies I experienced severe cramping in my right calf, it was one of the most painful experiences ever! It happened after a full day of tutoring where I talked a lot and was on my feet the whole day. I increased my daily water intake, added a magnesium supplement before bed and also tried to switch between sitting and standing throughout the day.
Suggestions: Exercising during pregnancy will help to prevent cramps, varicose veins and swelling in your lower legs and feet due to the increased circulation it provides. Elevating your legs during the day whenever you can and even when you sleep will also help relieve cramping and swelling.They say a bath helps a lot, but getting in and out of the bath may not be so easy.
Braxton Hicks contractions
Symptom: This is a tightening sensation in the muscles of the uterus that comes and goes and can last 30-60 seconds or even up to 2 minutes. **If contractions start increasing in intensity or frequency then maybe it’s the start of real contractions and you are going into labor!**
My personal experience: I sat in the cinema thinking I was experiencing another bout of Braxton Hicks contractions, it was only a few hours later after the film showing I realized they were real contractions! Thinking back I should have known the difference, real labor contractions usually come with back pain and don’t tend to disappear if you change positions.
Suggestions: Braxton Hicks contractions can be brought on by various things such as dehydration, sex, a full bladder or simply the body preparing for labor. Things that could help are a warm bath, changing positions, a nice warm herbal tea, or a few glasses of water to rehydrate. Use them as an opportunity to practice for the real event and focus on deep breathing during the contractions.
Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP)
Symptom: The body will experience changes to allow baby to pass through the birth canal easier, sometimes this brings discomfort/pain. PGP is Pain anywhere from thelumbar spine/abdomen down to the thigh either front or back which limits function of any of the pelvic joints and causes painful sensations. Pelvic pain can also be caused by tight hips, weak core or general ligament laxity (due to the relaxin hormone) allowing too much movement in an area which would normally be stable and supported.
My personal experience: I experienced some SPD pain (pain in the pubic bone area) around week 18 and then again around week 32. I experienced the pain when stepping up into my husband’s car and also squatting down to wash my daughter in the shower. I modified my gym routine, removed any lunges and most movements where the legs split and I moved from deep squats to bench squats to remove squatting at depth.
During my second pregnancy I really focused on keeping my hip joints mobile and core strong to keep my pelvis supported reducing the risk of pelvic pain.
Suggestions: Modify posture movements such as getting in and out of the car, rolling over in bed, walking and going up the stairs, depending on where you feel the pain. E.g. if the pain is in your coccyx avoid sitting/lying in uncomfortable and painful positions. With SPD pain, pretend the thighs are glued together like you’re wearing a tight skirt and decrease the length of your stride when walking to decrease the strain on the pubic bones.
See Blog on ‘Exercises for Hip Mobility and Core training during Pregnancy’ to reduce the risk of pelvic pain.
Symptom: Constipation is uncomfortable. It could be that just like heart burn you are not digesting your foods well, and therefore they are not broken down and absorbed. These undigested foods can enter the digestive tract like a log and have a hard time passing through.
My personal experience: For me, I found for most part of the pregnancy, I was passing bowels way more than usual from the pressure of the uterus on my intestine walls. I did however find that if I didn’t work out on a particular day my food would take a long time to digest leading me to feel very sluggish and would go to bed feeling full up and uncomfortable.
Suggestions: There could be various causes of your constipation challenges but start with focusing on consuming enough fiber through eating plenty of veggies and wholesome foods. Exercise will help keep all the fluids in the body moving well, massaging the internal organs of the digestive tract which will encourage regular bowel movements
Doctor may recommend supplementing with fiber and/or digestive enzymes to eliminate issues with constipation.
Soon you will be saying goodbye to your pregnancy symptoms, embrace them, go with the flow and always look on the bright side. When your beautiful baby is born, any pain or discomfort that pregnancy brought you will soon be forgotten and will totally be worth it!
I hope that this blog helps you recognize any personal symptoms you may experience so that you know they’re normal symptoms of pregnancy and nothing to worry about. If you are concerned about any of the symptoms you are experiencing or anything else that worries you please consult a medical professional.
I hope that my simple tips and personal experience help you manage your symptoms so that you can enjoy your pregnancy and be a happy and healthy mummy ready for the arrival of your little one. Stay relaxed and enjoy your pregnancy.