The Third Trimester
The third trimester is like the climax of a story that leads to the final ending: labor & delivery. In the third trimester there are quite a few more visual physical changes in a mother’s body. The baby has begun to take over the majority of her abdomen, thus making the belly more profound than it has been. No matter how many times you have seen a pregnant woman, it does not adequately prepare for how you feel yourself when you have a large belly. You have to start watching corners, it’s hard to reach over the sink to do dishes, and sometimes getting into your car… you have to move the seat back just to get in! Despite this physical change, you can feel your baby move and kick which brings a happiness and reassurance only a mother can know.
Physically in the third trimester you will see significant changes in the size of your abdomen depending on the growth of your baby. You will notice that you may start to swell more, especially in your lower legs and feet, so some of your shoes may not fit like they used to. There is also the return of a few symptoms such as nausea, constipation, headaches, or insomnia. However not everyone feels any or all of these! That’s the beautiful thing about pregnancy: everyone experiences it differently.
Also in the physical aspect, I feel like it important to note that it is also in this trimester that women can begin to experience problems with their bladder such as stress incontinence. That does not make this “normal” or “okay”! This is where healthcare professionals should be advocating for their patients to seeks medical assistance, but sadly patients have to advocate for themselves most of the time.
You might also begin to have hip, back or pelvic pain with certain movements or after a long day of work or house chores. Unfortunately that is common, but let us not treat it as “normal“. Those are all symptoms that a good physical therapist should be able to treat effectively. If you have any questions regarding that feel free to leave a comment down below or message me through the contact form!
Braxton Hicks contractions will also start to ramp up in the 3rd trimester. It is important to remember the difference between Braxton Hicks and actual labor contractions. Braxton Hicks are called false labor contractions for a reason, they are not a true indication of going into labor. They are the uterus contracting and relaxing, rehearsing for the real event. They are not in a true pattern, and can be very irregular, but they can resolve with position change of whatever you are doing. If you are walking, try lying down, and if you are lying down, try getting up and taking a small walk. Usually the change will help them subside. If you begin to notice a pattern with the contractions, and they are progressing in intensity, time duration and intervals, you could always call your OB to be sure.
The third trimester testing involves usually another ultrasound closer to the end to see how the baby is measuring, and if they are breached or not! There is also the Group B strep test which is a swab of the vaginal canal and this occurs generally between weeks 35-37.
At every appointment you will likely have to leave a urine sample, and they will take record of your weight, blood pressure and do a general check up. Now the frequency of appointments is the biggest change. Once you hit 28 weeks you begin to go bi-weekly, and then once you hit 36-37 weeks you will be seen once per week. They will check your cervix for dilation throughout those last 3 weeks to see if you are progressing into preparation for labor, but occasionally doctors will give you the option to get checked or not since it is an internal pelvic exam, and not always a true indications of labor progression.
The third trimester is a beautiful season of change, but it can also be the greatest challenge since you start to really feel out of your own body. Just keep in mind that at the end of this trimester, there is labor and delivery and THAT is how you get to meet your beautiful baby. Trust me, it’s all worth it in the end.