Just 10 weeks to go! How are you feeling? Ready? At this point, it’s not uncommon to be both excited and nervous, or you might find yourself alternating between confidence and feeling completely unprepared for what’s coming. Not only is all of this normal, but remember your pregnancy hormones are still going to work on you, causing mood changes and other emotional changes.
As you enter the final stretch, you might find that your physical symptoms are becoming more troublesome. Early in your pregnancy, you might have had to pee more often or your joints might have felt loose and achy. Back then, these symptoms were caused by pregnancy hormones. Those symptoms—as well as a host of others—might come roaring back but with a different cause. This time, it’s more due to the size of your uterus and the pressure it’s putting on your whole body. Here are some common third trimester symptoms and tips:
- Hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are caused when pressure on your veins causes the blood vessels in your rectum to swell. They can be painful and itchy and either slightly protrude or remain inside, and sometimes they can bleed. Try taking a warm bath or using a sitz bath for relief. A well-placed ice pack can also reduce the burning and itching, and try to avoid constipation.
- Varicose veins. Like hemorrhoids, varicose veins are caused by extra pressure on your veins. Varicose veins are small veins just under your skin that become visible. They often resolve after you give birth, but exercising daily and wearing compression socks can help reduce their appearance.
- Heartburn. Pregnancy heartburn is usually caused by pregnancy hormones that relax the sphincter between your esophagus and stomach. The best approach is to avoid foods that trigger heartburn, stay upright for an hour or so after eating, and (with permission) use over-the-counter heartburn medication.
- Leg cramps. Also caused by pregnancy hormones and pressure, you can help alleviate cramps by drinking plenty of water and getting lots of exercise.
- Back pain. Considering you’re carrying several pounds of extra weight right at your lower back level, it’s only natural to experience back pain. Massages, belly bands, good posture, exercise, and frequent rest periods are a great idea.
- Fatigue. Fatigue in the third trimester is often caused by poor sleep because it’s so hard to get comfortable. The best solution? Take naps when you’re tired.
- Swelling. Swelling in the hands and feet is common during pregnancy. Take frequent breaks, keep those compression socks on, and elevate your feet above the level of your heart to help with circulation.
- Constipation. A high-fiber diet, lots of water, and exercise can all help reduce constipation, which will also help reduce your hemorrhoids.
At 30 weeks’ gestation, your baby is also starting to get ready for the big day. A typical baby at this point is about 3 lbs. and measures about 16 inches from the top of the head to the tips of the toes. While you can still expect lots of activity, chances are good that he or she is feeling pretty confined nowadays.
While the major development is done, subtle changes are starting that will prepare your baby for birth. The fine downy hair that formed early, called lanugo, is starting to shed into the surrounding amniotic fluid. The eyes, which were opened, are mostly closed now, and your baby’s bone marrow has started making red blood cells in preparing for the day baby will be making his or her own red blood cells.
“Now is the time to think about purchasing a car seat, getting it installed, and making sure it’s in correctly.”
Reviewed by Dr. Jen Lincoln, April 2020