Third Trimester Common Concerns
Trouble with sleep: One of the most common problems for women in their third trimester of pregnancy is sleep, or lack of it, to be precise. It is reported that fully 97 percent of pregnant women fail to sleep through the night, according to researchers at St. Joseph’s University in Pennsylvania. Your sleep positions have probably become limited to lying on your sides. The baby’s movements might wake you up, or you might feel pressure on your bladder, causing you to use the bathroom more frequently.
Try these ideas:
- Try to get a little extra exercise during the day, especially in the late afternoon or early evening, but not within two hours before you retire.
- Use pillows to help support you in bed. Put one between your knees and others around your shoulders or back, or wherever they feel good. You can also purchase a body pillow, an extra-long rectangular pillow you can mold around your whole body for support.
- Have a cup of herbal tea. Skullcap relieves nervousness and contains calcium, which can also promote sleep. Oat tea also contains calcium. You can try chamomile tea, a safe sleep-inducing standby, as well.
- Try a good old-fashioned cup of hot milk. Milk contains both calcium and the amino acid tryptophan, which promote sleep. Any cup of warm liquid will raise your body temperature slightly, making it easier to slow down and relax.
- Homeopathic treatments good for insomnia include Coffea cruda, Pulsatilla, Arnica, and Chamomilla. You can find a premade remedy at a health food store, or see a homeopath.
Leg Cramps: Half of all women report problems with leg cramps toward the end of pregnancy. This seems to happen primarily at night and can be quite uncomfortable. The reasons for this phenomenon are still not understood. Calcium, magnesium, and sodium tablets are sometimes recommended. Although these are harmless if a health care provider supervises their use, studies have not actually proven them to be effective.
Massage, and stretching your calves are probably the most helpful things you can do to relieve leg cramps. Dry brush the affected area, then massage a little arnica ointment, a homeopathic remedy that may offer some relief. Taking the homeopathic remedy Chamomilla may also help.
Edema: Swelling of the legs and ankles are also common toward the end of pregnancy, and can be quite uncomfortable. However, it has not been shown to have any negative effects on the baby. Do not try to decrease your fluid intake in the hopes that you will reduce the swelling. It won’t work, and your body needs plenty of water during pregnancy.
Exercise, such as walking or swimming, may help to relieve this condition by increasing circulation. Try sleeping with your legs elevated on a pillow, and put your feet up frequently during the day. Support hose may also give some relief.
Try tepid-to-cool footbaths to relieve swelling. Put three drops of geranium or lemon oil and three drops of lavender in the water, and soak your feet as long as you can.
Changes in fetal movement: The baby’s movements will change throughout pregnancy. In the beginning of the third trimester, they will feel strong and vigorous at times. You will most likely find that when you lie down or sit still, these movements will become more intense. If you get up and start walking around, the baby is often rocked to sleep and moves less.
As you get closer to the end of pregnancy, however, there is less and less room for the baby to move around.
Incontinence: Your growing uterus is expanding into new territory! Sometimes it presses against your bladder, causing occasional leaks. While annoying, it is normal. Daily Kegel exercises will help prevent this problem.
Breast secretions: Some women begin to notice small amounts of a clear or yellowish liquid secreting from their nipples during the third trimester. This is the initial sign of colostrum, which is the first milk your newborn will drink. It may start to look white or opaque in the last weeks of pregnancy.
Shortness of breath: This is common and perfectly normal. The baby is taking up more and more room inside your belly, leaving you less room to breathe. If you feel short of breath, don’t push yourself. Take your time with stairs in particular. Try to keep exercising, but make sure you can maintain a comfortable conversation throughout.
Dizziness and feeling faint: This is also common. It may be a result of low blood sugar, or a momentary drop in blood pressure. It is probably not a cause for concern, but check with your health care provider if you do feel dizzy or have a fainting spell. Try to carry snacks with you as a future preventive.
Bleeding: If you find a small amount of blood right after having intercourse or a vaginal examination, there is probably nothing to worry about. Check with your health care provider for peace of mind.
If you have blood-tinged mucus that looks like the beginning of your period, you may have a bloody show, which means that your mucous plug has released in anticipation of labor. This should also be reported to your practitioner, who may ask you to come in for a quick checkup.
Any bright red bleeding that appears heavy could constitute an emergency, perhaps indicating placenta previa or placenta abruptio. Call your doctor or midwife right away.
Placenta abruption: In this condition, a part of the placenta separates from the uterine wall, causing hemorrhage. The seriousness of this condition depends on how much of the placenta has torn away. There may also be accompanying abdominal pain. You will most likely be hospitalized until the bleeding has stopped and advised to take it easy and avoid sex until after the baby is born.
Placenta previa: For unknown reasons, sometimes the placenta will grow partially or completely over the cervical opening. Although it is sometimes diagnosed early in pregnancy, this condition normally corrects itself. In the unlikely event that it does not move away from the cervical opening, a vaginal birth could cause the placenta to tear, causing potentially severe bleeding and depriving the baby of oxygen.