Pregnancy: A Miracle In The Making – Three Months Closer to Destination Motherhood

The last leg of pregnancy comes with some discomfort. You feel bigger and have little room for anything, because your baby is bigger and occupying most of the space in the abdomen. He’s kicking harder and more often, leaving you with little or no energy at all. This trimester may feel like the longest in your journey of motherhood, but it’s also the sweetest period of anticipation, because soon you will be holding your bundle of joy in your arms. Rashmi Ullas finds out more about these anxious waiting weeks.

So, you’re in your third trimester now; both your body and your baby are busy preparing for your first date – the due date! Your baby is slowly learning things that he will be first doing when he pops – like breathing, blinking and suckling. As the trimester progresses, he will descend into the head down position. He is also actively gaining weight.

As for you, you may be oscillating from feeling exhausted to elated about your baby’s grand arrival. While it is good to eat well and rest more in these weeks, it is also important to prep your pelvis for a safe delivery.

Changes in Your Body

#Backache:

It is important to maintain your back in the best of shape, especially before conceiving. With all the extra weight you’re carrying around, your back is bound to feel achy and sore. The ligaments in your pelvis and hips are also loosening in preparation for labour, adding to your discomfort.

Regular strengthening exercises (under the supervision of an expert) can help build a strong back, even if you didn’t pay attention to it before pregnancy. To ease some of the pressure, you can practise good posture; always sit upright with a back support. While lying down, lie on your side with a pillow tucked between your legs. Avoid high heels and wear comfortable shoes that support the arch of your feet. Heating pads could also relieve some pain.

#Breast enlargement:

Yes, the sisters are growing and may add on as much as 2 pounds by the end of your pregnancy! It is therefore important to wear a good supportive bra so your breasts don’t add to the stress on your back. Closer to the delivery date, your nipples may leak some yellowish fluid called colostrum; this is the first milk that will nourish your baby soon after he is born.

#Vaginal Discharge:

The amount of vaginal discharge increases throughout pregnancy; this is to protect the vagina from unwanted microbial attack. However, the third trimester discharge is slightly more than the rest of the months. If the discharge is thick, milky white (sometimes slightly bloodtinged) and mild smelling, there is no concern. If it smells funny or you bleed, that should be a red flag to see a doctor immediately

Vaginal discharge could be distracting; use panty liners to keep yourself dry and comfortable. Sometimes, you may experience a sudden rush of fluid, which could be an indication that your water has broken. Call the doctor as soon as possible when the water breaks.

#Frequent urination:

Your growing baby now presses harder on your bladder and the extra pressure means that you’ll need to visit the bathroom more frequently. You’re most likely to leak urine even when you cough, sneeze, laugh, or exercise.

You can prevent the uncomfortable leaks by wearing liners. Also, avoid drinking lot of fluids after 6 pm in the evening so you could cut down on the late-night bathroom visits. There should be no pain or burning sensation while urinating, as this would indicate urinary tract infection.

#Fatigue:

It is natural to feel less energetic in your third trimester. At this stage, you may be unable to sleep comfortably due to the big size of your belly. You will also be making very frequent trips to the bathroom, which will prevent you from sleeping well in the night. As a result, you’ll feel tired and lethargic during the day. Try resting as much as you can. Eat healthy and exercise regularly (after consulting your doctor and under supervision of an expert) to boost your energy levels. You will need to save up as much energy as you can to take care of the little monster after he arrives.

#Spotting:

Spotting (light bleeding or reddish brown streaked mucous) may sometimes be seen in your panties. This is normal, especially towards the end of pregnancy. However, if the bleeding is severe, it may be a sign of serious problem like placenta previa (where the placenta lies low and covers the cervix), placental abruption (separation of the placenta from the uterine wall) or preterm labour. You will need to see the doctor as soon as you spot bleeding.

#Heartburn and constipation:

The hormone progesterone that is produced in abundance during pregnancy also relaxes the abdominal muscles to accommodate the growing uterus. This slows down digestion, and causes heartburns and constipation.

You could avoid heartburn and constipation by eating small, more frequent meals throughout the day. You should also avoid spicy, oily and acidic foods (such as oranges, etc.) if you have heartburns.

Adding fibres to the diet and drinking more amounts of fluids could improve constipation. If the heartburn or constipation is very bothersome, your doctor could suggest some medications as relief.

#Shortness of breath:

The expanding uterus begins to push into the surrounding regions of the abdomen, including the rib cage. This leaves very little room for your lungs to expand and make it difficult to breathe. Regular exercises can improve the shortness of breath. Propping the head and shoulders up with pillows when in a sleeping position could also improve the breathing.

#Spider and varicose veins:

With pregnancy, the blood volume and circulation drastically increases. This is to supply the extra blood to your growing baby. However, the excess blood flow can cause spider veins (tiny red veins) on the skin. The appearance of spider veins could get worse as the trimesters proceed, but this would fade once the baby is born.

In addition, the pressure of the growing belly on your leg veins can make them swollen and blue or purple, which is called varicose veins. There is no way to avoid varicose veins, but it should improve a few months after your delivery. Varicose veins could be stopped from worsening by moving around more often, wearing support hose and propping up your legs when seated for long periods of time.

#Haemorrhoids:

When varicose veins form around the anus, it is called haemorrhoids. Even the veins around the anal region enlarge during pregnancy, due to the extra flow of blood and the extra pregnancy weight. This may cause itching and discomfort, which could be relieved by trying to sit in a warm tub. Some over-the-counter haemorrhoid ointment or stool softener could help, but always consult your doctor before taking any over the counter drugs.

#Swelling:

Excess fluid retention is another change you will notice, especially in the third trimester. Your ankles and face may look bloated; a condition called as oedema. This is quite normal as pregnancy progresses. You can relieve some swelling by propping the feet on a stool whenever you sit for longer time and when you sleep.

However, a sudden onset of swelling could be a sign of preeclampsia (excess blood pressure, which could be dangerous during pregnancy) and you should consult your doctor immediately.

#Weight gain:

Gaining the right amount of weight during these nine months is very important. The average weight gained at the end of pregnancy depends on the woman’s pre-pregnancy weight. A woman of BMI 18.5-24.9 will need to gain about 25- 35 pounds. An underweight woman (BMI: <18.5) should gain 28-40 pounds. An overweight woman (BMI: 25-29) should gain between 15 to 25 pounds and an obese woman (BMI: ≥30) should gain 11 to 20 pounds at the end of pregnancy.

#Braxton Hicks contractions:

Yes, some women do get the warm up contractions before actual labour, which in medical terms is called the Braxton Hicks contractions. While actual labour has contractions that are much closer in length, and more intense, the Braxton Hicks contractions are milder and occur at lengthy intervals. If you do have the Braxton Hicks contractions, call your doctor

Change with your body

In these last few months, your body will be changing on a fast track. With the growing size of the belly, moving around, sleeping, even eating would feel like a herculean task. The tummy feels tighter, breathing becomes heavier and the trips to the bathroom become even more frequent. Here’s how you can adapt to these changes and feel better:

• Do small amounts of exercises: a medium paced walk, prenatal yoga and light cardio or strength training (under supervision of an expert) could help you feel energised
• Don’t sit for too long as this will add to your lethargy. Try taking short breaks and put your feet up when you’re seated.
• Eat small and frequent meals because you will have little room in your tummy.
• Constipation may also bother you, so eat fibrous foods and increase your fluid intakes.
• Wear comfortable clothing and shoes at all times.
• Avoid drinking too much water or fluids in the late evening.
• Read about breast-feeding and try to practise the technique.
• Try to practise breathing exercises, which will help you during labour and calm you down.

Red Flag Symptoms

If you see any of the below symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible:
• Bleeding
• Severe abdominal pain or cramps
• Severe nausea, dizziness or vomiting
• Pain or burning sensation during urination
• Rapid or too little weight gain
• Severe fatigue (could indicate anaemia)
• Reduced or no foetal movements