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Third Trimester Issues and Tips

Third Trimester Issues and Tips

It’s your final trimester. Almost there! Here are a few reminders of third trimester issues and some tried and true third trimester tips to help you cope with common pregnancy discomforts and trimester issues at the end of your pregnancy.

Medically reviewed by a board-certified OB/GYN


As your baby and uterus grow, your muscles stretch. This can put a strain on your back muscles and make backaches a painful third trimester symptom.

Tips to Ease Back Pain in Your Third Trimester:

  • Backrubs
  • Be mindful of your posture
  • Wear comfortable shoes with good arch support
  • Stretch
  • Use your legs and arms if you have to lift something

Hip Pain

In preparation for childbirth, hormones cause the joints around your pelvis to loosen. It sounds worse than it is, but it may cause hip pain, usually on one side.

Tips to Ease Hip Pain in Your Third Trimester:

  • Ask your doctor for exercises to strengthen your lower back and stomach muscles
  • Try warm baths and compresses
  • Consider pelvic physical therapy

Leg Cramps

Hormonal changes in your joints help prepare your body for birth. But that pelvic pressure can press on nerves and blood vessels causing leg cramps. These cramps usually happen more at night or early in the morning. As your baby grows, changing circulation, increased swelling, dehydration, or water retention can make your leg cramps worse. Follow some of these tips to get relief during the third trimester.

Tips to Ease Leg Cramps in Your Third Trimester:

  • Keep moving
  • Drink enough water
  • Consider eating an extra banana or potassium-rich food every day
  • Walk at a moderate pace
  • Try flexing your feet and stretching your legs, toes pointed up
  • Elevate your legs
  • Talk to your doctor about maternity support hose or an elastic maternity belt

Lower Back or Leg Pain

Your growing baby can put pressure on your sciatic nerves which run from your lower back to your feet. This can cause tingling, numbness, or pain.

Tips to Ease Lower Back and Leg Pain in Your Third Trimester:

  • Try warm baths or a heating pad
  • Sleep on the opposite side of where you feel the pain
  • Perform daily back stretches
  • Wear shoes with good arch support

Fluid Retention

Swelling in your wrists or ankles comes from a rise in hormones. Although annoying, it’s a good thing since fluid retention can loosen your pelvic bones, preparing you for delivery. Retained water helps accommodate expanded blood volume and offsets water you'll lose during delivery.

Tips to Ease Fluid Retention in Your Third Trimester:

  • Elevate your feet when possible
  • Wear loose-fitting, comfortable shoes
  • Exercise to improve circulation, with your doctor's blessing
  • It may seem counterintuitive, but keep drinking water
  • Avoid salty foods

Some third trimester issues are more serious than others. If swelling is more obvious in one leg, you may have a deep vein thrombophlebitis or a clot in your leg veins. Contact your doctor immediately if you see this.


Heartburn comes from stomach acid rising into your esophagus, or from the pressure of your baby and uterus on your stomach.

Tips to Ease Heartburn in Your Third Trimester:

  • Eat several smaller meals instead of three big ones
  • Drink more water
  • Try to eat slowly
  • Walk after eating to help keep gastric juices down
  • Reduce citrus, like tomatoes, oranges, lemons, and grapefruit
  • Avoid greasy, spicy, and processed foods, as well as carbonated drinks and chocolate

Constipation and Hemorrhoids

High hormone levels slow down your bowel muscles. Not to mention your baby’s now crowding your digestive system, which can result in constipation. Constipation can also lead to hemorrhoids.

Tips to Help Ease Constipation and Hemorrhoids in Your Third Trimester:

  • Drink lots of water
  • Exercise safely
  • Eat high-fiber foods like whole grains, bran, and prunes
  • Try not to push during bowel movements
  • Avoid standing or sitting for long periods of time
  • Ease discomfort with ice pack compresses, witch hazel pads, warm baths, adult moist wipes, and soft, unscented toilet paper

Frequent Urination and Leaking

The larger your uterus grows, the less room for everything else—bladder included. This makes bathroom visits more frequent. It can also cause leaking after you sneeze, cough, or laugh, which isn’t so funny, unfortunately.

Tips to Help Ease Frequent Urination and Leaking in Your Third Trimester:

  • Try to empty your bladder completely when you go to the bathroom
  • Wear thin sanitary napkins
  • Kegel exercises can help with control
  • Consider pelvic physical therapy for strengthening the pelvic floor


It's baaaack! Exhaustion. Most likely due to the physical exertion of carrying all that extra weight around. Waking up for bathroom visits and comfort issues doesn’t help either.

Tips to Ease Fatigue in Your Third Trimester:

  • Ask your doctor about possible sleep aids that are baby friendly
  • Try to take naps or go to bed early
  • Eat well and drink lots of water
  • Continue to exercise
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help

Sleep Problems

Stomach size. Aches and pains. Trips to the bathroom. Baby kicks. The list for sleeplessness goes on and on.

Tips to Ease Sleep Problems in Your Third Trimester:

  • Try high-carb snacks like crackers, fruit, or toast and jam before bed. Carbs trigger the release of serotonin, which helps you sleep
  • Sleep on your side, legs bent at the knees
  • Use pillows under your stomach on the side you sleep on, and/or between your legs to support your hips and tummy

Shortness of Breath

Your baby may be pushing on a muscle under your lungs, decreasing your lung capacity. This may improve as your baby drops into your pelvis, but our third trimester tips can help, too.

Tips to Combat Shortness of Breath in Your Third Trimester:

  • Try keeping your back straight, shoulders relaxed
  • Exercise, with doctor’s approval
  • Use a lumbar support pillow in your desk chair

Itchy Belly and Stretch Marks

As your skin stretches, it gets dry and itchy. You might get stretch marks on your breasts, stomach, and upper thighs. They're common third trimester issues, so you're not alone in these. While there are no proven treatments for stretch marks, they tend to fade after delivery.

Tips to Ease Itchy Belly and Help Avoid Stretch Marks in Your Third Trimester:

  • Moisturizer or a doctor-approved anti-itch cream
  • Use gentle soaps
  • Stay hydrated

Spider Veins and Blotches

Spidery or patchy-looking areas on your face, neck, arms, and chest tend to come from increased blood flow and changes in hormones. They often fade after pregnancy.

Tips to Help Avoid Spider Veins and Blotches in Your Third Trimester:

  • Eat healthy
  • Hydrate
  • Use milky cleansers and gentle soaps to wash your face
  • Moisturize your skin
  • Stay out of the sun

Varicose Veins

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.

Tips to Help Avoid Varicose Veins in Your Third Trimester:

  • Elevate your feet as much as possible
  • Don't cross your legs
  • Exercise
  • Consider wearing compression stockings

PUPPP (Pruitic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy)

These are itchy, red, raised patches on your stomach, arms, and legs. This condition runs in families. The good news: it usually only happens with first pregnancies.

Tips to Help with PUPPP in Your Third Trimester:

  • Talk to your doctor about anti-itch creams and medication options
  • Try oatmeal and Aloe Vera baths
  • Seek medical attention if the rash doesn’t improve

Hopefully this information about third trimester issues and these third trimester tips will help bring some comfort during the last part of your pregnancy. Now, ready for your big day?

All information on Enfamil, including but not limited to information about health, medical conditions, and nutrition, is intended for your general knowledge and is not a substitute for a healthcare professional's medical identification, advice, or management for specific medical conditions. You should seek medical care and consult your doctor or pediatrician for any specific health or nutrition issues. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment, care, or help because of information you have read on Enfamil.