Read how to manage the increasing physical demands of the last trimester of pregnancy.
As the final weeks of pregnancy become more physically demanding, you may feel increased fatigue or discomfort. Eat well, rest and stay active to help cope with what you might be experiencing. Here are some tips:
As your baby and uterus grow, your muscles stretch, which strain your back muscles.
Tip: Ask for backrubs! Rest when possible. Maintain correct posture, wear comfortable shoes and try stretching. Limit any lifting, but if you must, use your legs and arms.
In preparation for childbirth, hormones cause the joints around your pelvis to loosen. This may cause hip pain, usually on one side.
Tip: Ask your doctor for some exercises to strengthen your lower back and stomach muscles. Try warm baths and compresses, too.
Softening of the pelvic joints in preparation for birth, often coupled with bad circulation and baby pressing on nerves, can cause leg cramps. This usually happens at night or in the early morning.
Tip: Get moving. Walk at a moderate pace. Try flexing your feet and stretching your legs (without pointing your toes). Keep your legs elevated. Talk to your doctor about maternity support hose or an elastic maternity belt.
Sciatica/Lower Back or Leg Pain/Tingling/Numbness
Your growing baby can put pressure on your sciatic nerves, which run from your lower back to your feet via your legs. This can cause tingling, numbness or pain, known as sciatica.
Tip: You may get relief when the baby changes position. Until then, try warm baths or a heating pad. And sleep on the opposite side of where you feel the pain.
If you're feeling sharp pains in the vaginal area at this point, your cervix may be starting to dilate.
Tip: Try to relax, and know that your baby will soon be here.
Swelling and Fluid Retention
Swelling in your wrists or ankles is the work of fluid retention and a rise in estrogen. Retained water helps accommodate expanded blood volume and offsets water you'll lose during delivery.
Tip: Elevate your feet when possible, and wear loose-fitting, comfortable shoes. Exercise to improve circulation (consult your doctor first). Increase your water intake and limit (or avoid) diuretics, which cause your body to excrete water and salt. Refer to your doctor for recommendations.
Heartburn can come from stomach acid rising into your esophagus, or from the pressure of your baby and uterus on your stomach.
Tip: Eat small, frequent meals. Limit greasy or highly seasoned foods, as well as processed foods, chocolate and carbonated drinks. Try to relax and eat slowly. If you can, take a walk after eating to keep gastric juices down.
High hormone levels slow down your digestive tract, plus your baby is now pushing on your digestive system, making it less efficient and causing constipation.
Tip: Drink lots of water. Exercise safely. Eat high fibre foods like whole grains, bran and prunes.
Learn more about getting fibre in your diet
Constipation can also lead to hemorrhoids, the painful, swollen veins around the rectum that often itch and bleed.
Tip: Eat lots of fibre, drink water and exercise to keep you regular. Try not to push during bowel movements. Avoid standing or sitting for long periods of time. Ice pack compresses, witch hazel pads, warm baths with baking soda and soft, unscented toilet paper may help ease the discomfort.
Frequent Urination and Leaking
As your uterus expands, it applies pressure on your bladder, resulting in the frequent urge to urinate. It can also cause urine to leak, especially after you laugh, cough or sneeze.
Tip: Empty your bladder completely. Wear panty liners, and keep up your kegel exercises to keep in control.
Fatigue at this stage is common and expected, given the physical exertion required to carry the extra weight of your rapidly growing baby.
Tip: Take it easy. Take naps if possible, and go to bed early. Eat well and drink lots of water. Continue your exercise routine. And don't be afraid to ask for help.
t is often difficult to sleep comfortably during the third trimester due to the size of your stomach, emotions, discomfort or the baby's movements or position.
Tip: Carbohydrates trigger the release of serotonin, which helps you sleep, so try a high-carbohydrate snack like crackers, fruit, or toast and jam before bed. Try sleeping on your side, with your legs bent at the knees. Use pillows to support your tummy, between your legs and the small of your back.
Healthy Hint for Your Pregnancy
Start to prepare for the arrival of your newborn. Pick up essentials such as diapers, clothing, nursing bras or formula and bottles, a crib, etc.