Third Trimester Symptoms
As your pregnancy moves into the third trimester, some of the symptoms of trimesters one and two will probably have disappeared while other symptoms and physical sensations will either increase in intensity or manifest themselves for the very first time. It’s natural to be a bit nervous at this stage, as labor approaches, and you should therefore try to relax and take these symptoms in stride. However, if you are worried about any new development, you should not feel embarrassed about contacting your doctor.
New Pregnancy Symptoms
Although it’s not really correct to describe the classic third trimester pregnancy symptoms as “new” because some of these symptoms begin in the second trimester or even earlier for some women, the following symptoms are most typically experienced in the last phase of pregnancy:
Joint Swelling – your uterus is now expanding significantly and putting pressure on all sorts of internal organs. This includes the veins which bring blood back from the legs and feet. As a result, some women find they have swollen feet and ankles in the third trimester of pregnancy. If you experience swelling you should contact your doctor right away. In most cases this symptom is nothing to worry about; however, swelling is also associated with preeclampsia, a dangerous pregnancy complication.
Puffiness – in the third trimester your pregnant body tends to retain more fluid. Your blood vessels also dilate. This may cause your face and eyelids to be puffy.
Backache – many pregnant women complain of backache in the latter stages of pregnancy. If you are experiencing back pain, it’s probably due to your baby growing and gaining weight, while, at the same time, your pregnancy hormones relaxing the joints between the bones in your pelvic area (preparing your body for giving birth). This can cause discomfort in the back and hips.
Varicose Veins – although some women will develop varicose veins before the third trimester (and some women will develop no varicose veins at all), these tell-tale bluish/reddish lines beneath the skin are a commonly-experienced symptom of advanced pregnancy. Some pregnant women may even develop hemorrhoids (varicose veins in the rectum). Spider veins (clusters of small blood vessels visible on the skin’s surface) are another common third trimester symptom.
Some symptoms which may be very familiar to you by now will continue into the third trimester. These include:
Weight Gain – you may be surprised by the speed at which you put on weight in the third trimester. Doctors recommend that a pregnant women should gain between 25 and 35 pounds by the time she is due to give birth. If you are concerned about your weight gain (whether you think it’s too much or too little) you should raise the issue with your doctor (if he hasn’t addressed it already).
Stretch Marks – you may really begin to notice more stretch marks on your breasts, belly, upper arms, buttocks and thighs. These marks usually appear as pink, red or purple streaks and they may itch. For tips on how to deal with stretch marks see our page on symptom relief.
Breast Growth and Colostrum Leakage – by the latter stages of the pregnancy your breasts may be significantly bigger than they were at the beginning. Most women gain between one and three pounds of breast tissue by the end of the third trimester. Your breasts may (continue to) leak fluid called colostrum in preparation for breast feeding.
Digestion Problems – the pressure on your internal organs and the pregnancy hormones flying around your body may cause digestion problems such as heartburn and constipation. Heartburn at this stage of the pregnancy is often attributed to the uterus having pushed the stomach out of position which causes you to have stomach acid in places where it wouldn’t normally be.
Increased Urination – needing to go to the bathroom more often is very normal at this stage of the pregnancy. This tends to be caused by pressure on the bladder.
Breathlessness – in the third trimester, the enlarged uterus presses against the diaphragm (the muscles just below the lungs) which restricts the movement of the lungs and may leave you feeling short of breath.
Vaginal Discharge – vaginal discharge in the third trimester of pregnancy may be particularly heavy. If you are losing fluid at such a heavy rate that you suspect you may be leaking amniotic fluid, see your doctor right away.
Braxton Hicks – these “warm-up” contractions, as described on our page on second trimester symptoms, may continue and even increase in frequency as labor approaches. If your Braxton Hicks become painful and regular you could be experiencing actual labor – contact your doctor!
Pregnancy Symptoms: There Are Not All Bad!
After reading this list of symptoms (and those for the first and second trimester) you could be forgiven for thinking that pregnancy is not much fun. However, this does not have to be the case and a lot depends on your mental attitude and self-preparation. Being well informed makes you less likely to be stressed when a new symptom appears. Remember that not all women experience all the typical symptoms. If you are struggling to manage your pregnancy symptoms, try to focus on the fact that all these experiences are necessary for the growth of your healthy baby. Of course, only a super heroine could manage to feel great every single day of her pregnancy, so for the rest of us, we’ve put together a page on symptom relief. Check it out.