As your physical challenges grow in these final months of your third trimester, keep your eyes on the prize. You'll soon be holding your baby and one look into your newborn's beautiful eyes can cause nine months of discomfort to become a thing of the past.
Here are some tips to help you cope with common pregnancy discomforts and third trimester symptoms you may be experiencing:
As your baby and uterus grow, your muscles stretch. This can put a strain on your back muscles.
- Ask for backrubs!
- Rest when you can.
- Watch your posture.
- Wear comfortable shoes.
- Try stretching.
- If you have to lift something, use your legs and arms.
In preparation for childbirth, hormones cause the joints around your pelvis to loosen. This may cause hip pain, usually on one side.
- Ask your doctor for some exercises to strengthen your lower back and stomach muscles.
- Try warm baths and compresses, too.
Softening of the pelvic joints in preparation for birth, often coupled with bad circulation and baby pressing on nerves, can cause leg cramps. This usually happens at night or in the early morning.
- Get moving.
- Walk at a moderate pace.
- Try flexing your feet and stretching your legs (without pointing your toes).
- Keep your legs elevated.
- Talk to your doctor about maternity support hose or an elastic maternity belt.
Sciatica/Lower Back or Leg Pain/Tingling/Numbness
Your growing baby can put pressure on your sciatic nerves, which run from your lower back to your feet via your legs. This can cause tingling, numbness or pain, known as sciatica.
- You may get relief when the baby changes position.
- Until then, try warm baths or a heating pad.
- And sleep on the opposite side of where you feel the pain.
If you're feeling sharp pains in the vaginal area at this point, your cervix may be starting to dilate.
Try to relax, and know that your baby will soon be here.
Swelling and Fluid Retention
Swelling in your wrists or ankles is the work of fluid retention and a rise in estrogen. Retained water helps accommodate expanded blood volume and offsets water you'll lose during delivery.
- Elevate your feet when possible.
- Wear loose-fitting, comfortable shoes.
- Exercise to improve circulation, with your doctor's blessing.
- And believe it or not, keep drinking water and avoid diuretics, which are drugs that cause your body to excrete water and salt. Ask your doctor to explain these.
Heartburn can come from stomach acid rising into your esophagus, or from the pressure of your baby and uterus on your stomach.
- Eat several smaller meals instead of three big ones.
- Avoid greasy or highly seasoned foods, as well as processed foods, chocolate and carbonated drinks.
- Try to relax and eat slowly.
- If you can, take a walk after eating to keep gastric juices down.
Those high hormone levels are still slowing down your bowel muscles. And that baby of yours is now crowding your digestive system. Which can lead to the common complaint of constipation.
- Drink lots of water.
- Exercise safely.
- Eat high-fiber foods like whole grains, bran and prunes.
Constipation can also lead to hemorrhoids, the painful, swollen veins around the rectum that often itch and bleed.
- Eat lots of fiber.
- Drink water.
- Exercise to keep you regular.
- Try not to push during bowel movements.
- Avoid standing or sitting for long periods of time.
- Ice pack compresses, witch hazel pads, warm baths with baking soda and soft, unscented toilet paper may help ease the discomfort.
Frequent Urination and Leaking
The larger your uterus gets, the less room you have left in there for everything else. Including your bladder. This can make you a frequent flier for the bathroom. It can also cause urine to leak, especially after you laugh, cough or sneeze.
- Make sure you empty your bladder completely when you go.
- Wear panty liners.
- Keep up your kegel exercises to keep in control.
It's back. Most likely due to the physical exertion of carrying all that extra weight around, plus waking up at night for bathroom visits and other issues.
- Take it easy.
- Take naps if possible, and go to bed early.
- Eat well and drink lots of water.
- Keep up the exercise if you've been doing it all along.
- And don't be afraid to ask for help.
The size of your stomach. Nerves or excitement. Aches and pains. Trips to the bathroom. Your baby's in-uterus gymnastics. The list for sleeplessness goes on.
- Try a high-carb snack like crackers, fruit, or toast and jam before bed. Carbs trigger the release of serotonin, which helps you sleep.
- Try sleeping on your side, with your legs bent at the knees.
- Use pillows to support your tummy, between your legs and the small of your back.
Shortness of Breath
Your baby may be pushing on a muscle under your lungs, decreasing your lung capacity.
- Keep your back straight and your shoulders relaxed.
- Exercise may help too, if it's okay with your doctor. This situation may improve as your baby drops into your pelvis.
Itchy Bellies and Stretch Marks
As your skin stretches and tightens, it may get dry and itchy. It (coupled with genes) may also cause stretch marks, the red or white streaks on breasts, stomachs, and upper thighs.
For itching, try moisturizer, or a doctor-approved anti-itch cream. There are no proven treatments for stretch marks, but they do tend to fade after delivery.
Spider Veins and Blotches
These spidery or patchy-looking areas of your face, neck, arms and chest are most likely the product of increased blood flow, and they usually fade after pregnancy.
- Eat healthy foods.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Wash your face several times a day.
- And stay out of the sun.
Though mainly hereditary, varicose veins are aggravated by pregnancy factors like weight gain, decreased blood circulation, and the weight of the baby in your pelvic region.
- Put your feet up as much as possible.
- Don't cross your legs.
- Try exercise.
- And consider wearing support pantyhose.
PUPPP (Pruitic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy)
In other words, itchy, red, raised patches on your stomach, arms and legs. This condition runs in families, and usually only happens with first pregnancies.
- Talk to your doctor about anti-itch creams and medication options.
- In the meantime, try oatmeal and baking soda baths.