The third trimester is known for being a stage where above all you will notice your tummy grow. For most women this is when they can say goodbye to discomforts, spells of dizziness, and morning sickness. What you will feel now is a gain in weight and you will find some difficulty in finding a good position in which to sleep and rest. The good news is that you are nearly there!
Your tummy will start to be really big now. And inside your baby seems to never tire of kicking. Also, there are other obvious physiological changes, such as an increase in vaginal discharge, which is normal as long as it does not feel itchy or irritated. You will notice also a white liquid come out of your breasts; this is colostrum, which in some women only appears at a later stage. Apart from these, you might also get varicose veins, haemorrhoids, and other minor physical discomforts. All this will go away after labour, so there is no need to worry.
With such a large tummy you will find it more difficult to move and find a good position in which to sleep, drive, work, etc. You might get backaches and at times you will feel hot even when temperatures are low. This is because the metabolic activity of the baby and the placenta comes together with your own metabolic activity. If temperatures are high, try to refresh yourself and drink enough to not become dehydrated.
By this stage you may have the feeling that you have been pregnant for years and that things will continue like this indefinitely. But of course that is not the case. These feelings might be due to the fact that you find it difficult to move with the same agility as before and that there are some new discomforts added to the ones you had, or the ones you had increase, such as constipation and heavy digestion. All of this is normal in pregnancy, so try not to get too worked up about it, as the discomforts will not last much longer. Try to be philosophical about it and to find ways of easing digestion and bowel transit, such as eating fresh fruit, vegetables, and fruit-based products.
During this week the womb occupies the whole of the abdominal cavity, so you might find some difficulty in breathing. Don't overexert yourself, breathe deeply, and relax as much as possible. Try sleeping on your left side in order to avoid applying too much pressure on your vena cava and aorta, as this will guarantee a good blood flow to your inner organs and limbs. Another thing you will notice is an increase in Braxton Hicks contractions, which will help prepare your muscles and pelvis for labour.
Your Braxton Hicks contractions by now will have become stronger. They will cause your pelvic ligaments to stretch and your hips to widen. Apart from discomforts, you will now have conflicting feelings about the day of delivery: On the one hand you will be eager to see your child, but on the other hand you will feel uneasy about the actual labour. But this is perfectly normal. Try not to listen to stories about cases of difficult labour. The present state of medicine is very advanced and is prepared for the vast majority of complications. As to your physical changes, you might notice a larger flow of colostrum from your breasts. It is a good idea to start using pads to avoid staining your clothes.
By now you will probably feel very heavy and not be enthusiastic about using the bathroom scales. Don't worry. Most of the excess volume you now have is pregnancy-related: foetus, placenta, amniotic fluid, etc. After birth and when you start breastfeeding your child, you will recover your figure. Some women do so earlier, other later, but with some willpower you will get there sooner. In any case, try to eat lightly, keep moving, go for walks, and get all the rest you can with your feet up in the air. Your body will tell you what you need!
One of the major discomforts will be heaviness in the legs, as the pressure of the womb on the lower vena cava will hinder blood circulation. Some tricks that may help alleviate this feeling: Walk for a short while very day, ideally using comfortable shoes with no closed heel (don't use flip-flops), and wear comfortable and loose-fitting clothes. Try placing a folded blanket under the mattress towards the feet area, and ask your partner to massage your feet in an upwards movement. Teamwork is always best!
By this stage some babies start engaging in the birth position at the pelvis where there is a gap between your hip bones. This will make your tummy hang lower and allow you to breathe with more ease. The downside is that the baby's head will apply pressure to your bladder, which might mean more visits to bathroom. Your belly-button might also stick out, which is perfectly normal. Don't worry, it will return to its place after delivery. If your baby has engaged in delivery position, he will remain there until birth. So all is ready for the great moment! If he continues to be positioned buttocks-down, don't worry, as there is still time to turn around. :)
What's new? Due to the pressure of the womb on the stomach and the esophagus, you might get an increase of heartburn episodes. Sleeping for long stretches of time will become more difficult due to the volume of your tummy. Some women don't suffer from any of these two problems, others from only one and some unlucky ones from both. If in your case you suffer from any of these two problems, patience is the best solution. You can start preparing everything for the great day, as labour might start at any time.
This week marks the start of the possibility of delivery. It may happen at any moment. This is why if you feel regular contractions that increase in intensity, you should contact your doctor or midwife. Sometimes you might get false labour, which is a set of painful but irregular contractions which you may feel in various parts of the body, such as the back, the abdomen, or the pelvis. The trick is to make them go away by changing position.
The real labour contractions originate at the top of the womb and extend downwards to the pelvis and the lower-part of the back. They get stronger by the minute, they are continuous and regular, and you cannot make them go away by changing position.
It is also possible that you do not have any type of contractions but that you lose the mucus plug that sealed your womb during your pregnancy, although this is not a sign of imminent labour. You will recognise it because it is thick, yellowish, and will have traces of blood. Seek advice from your doctor.
More volume, more liquid retention, heavy circulation, backache, frequent visits to the lavatory, reduced nocturnal rest make this one of the harshest stages of pregnancy, but keep in mind that you're almost there. Just be patient and get all the rest you can. If you feel any contractions, before rushing to the hospital make sure it is not a case of false labour. If, however, your water breaks (a rupture of the amniotic sac) go to hospital immediately.
Are you sure you have everything in place? Remember that at any moment you might give birth. Although nobody knows for sure how it works, apparently the hormone oxytocin plays a role here by regulating your womb's contractions and then blocking your memory so that you forget the pain you went through. It also strengthens the bond between you and your baby. Men also produce it, as it is essential for establishing an emotional bond.