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Third Trimester: Symptoms and Preparing for Labour

Posted on April 01 2020

As you prepare to welcome your baby in your final trimester, here are some symptoms that you may experience, as well as those indicating the approach of labour.

After about 40 weeks, you’ll get to meet your little one for the first time!

 

Third Trimester Symptoms: Weeks 28 - 40

 

Bleeding

If you experience any bleeding, contact your OB-GYN and he/she will do a physical exam or ultrasound.

 

One of the reasons for bleeding late in pregnancy include the placenta previa, which could be near the edge, completely covering or partially over the cervix. Risk factors include past pregnancy, fibroids in the uterus, past uterine surgeries or caesarean deliveries. Women older than 35 or of non-white ethnic backgrounds and those who smoke, or who have had past history of placenta previa are also more susceptible.

 

Warning Signs

If you have bright red, painless bleeding in the third trimester, be sure to contact your OB-GYN for a diagnosis. He/she will do a physical exam or an ultrasound to make a diagnosis. You’ll likely need bed rest or a hospital stay. This may lead to an early or caesarean delivery or a blood transfusion if you’re losing blood.

 

 

Frequent Urination

Improve your control over your urine flow by reducing your intake of caffeinated beverages.

                       

One of the reasons for frequent urination is due to your baby descending into your pelvis. This can range from two to four weeks to days before labour begins. The good news is you can breathe a little better, but this also sends you to the bathroom all the time. Additionally, you might also experience the oh-so-sexy urinary leakage when you cough, exercise, laugh or sneeze.

 

Warning Signs

As you’re also more susceptible to getting an UTI during pregnancy, do also monitor your urine. Check to see if it appears cloudy, red, pink, or concentrated. Perhaps the most uncomfortable but obvious symptoms include pain or a burning sensation when you urinate. If you think your bathroom visits are too frequent, try keeping a journal of how often you go and how much you urinate to help your doctor with your diagnosis.

One way to improve your control over your urine flow is by doing Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor. Some other ways include reducing your intake of caffeinated beverages, or leaning forward while you urinate to better empty your bladder.

 

 

Insomnia

To relieve the aches and pains you might feel, use a pregnancy pillow.

 

While the common advice most expecting mums get is to “sleep while you can”, sometimes this is nigh impossible in the third trimester. Between getting up to urinate, inability to get comfortable, and keeping to their regular schedules, some mums might find their quality of sleep severely impacted, and they probably struggle to stay awake.

Don’t worry - there are things you can do to sleep better. First, sleep on your left side, so the foetus, uterus and kidneys get the best blood flow. It’s best to avoid lying on your back for too long. Otherwise, a pregnancy pillow may help relieve pain in your body so you can get better quality sleep.

 

Warning Signs

If you begin snoring during your pregnancy, this may be due to nasal congestion, as well as your increased abdominal girth and uterus that puts pressure on the diaphragm. Snoring could be a warning sign of hypertension, preeclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction.

 

 

Fever

Definitely contact your doctor if you have a fever, whether it’s caused by cold or flu.

 

Do call your doctor if you have a fever. They may be caused by a cold or flu or a urinary tract infection. If your doctor knows you have a fever, he/she can quickly treat it. One more serious condition is listeria, a bacterial infection, caused by eating undercooked meat and eggs. The fetal membranes are inflamed.

 

Warning Signs

Other symptoms of listeria include a headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions. Ways to prevent listeria are to thoroughly scrub raw vegetables, and cook your food thoroughly.

 

 

Pain

To ease back pain during pregnancy, try a chiropractor or have a back massage.

 

Leg pain

Experiencing leg pains? One of the causes include sciatica, where the sciatic nerve is irritated. Avoid carbonated soda and drinks if you have leg cramps. Try straightening your leg and flexing your foot upwards. Do this several times before going to bed several times to present future cramps. However, it could also be something a little more serious, such as deep-vein thrombosis or uterine fibroids, so do call your doctor if you’ve got leg pain.

On a related note, some pregnant mamas also develop restless legs syndrome during the third trimester. You might feel a crawling or uncomfortable feeling in the foot, calf or upper leg that could disturb your sleep. The irritation returns whenever the leg is still. This could be an indication that you’re lacking in folate and iron.

 

 

Back pain

In your third trimester you’ll likely feel some cramps and pain in your lower back and groin as labour approaches, since your muscles and joints are preparing for birth. Since you’re also carrying all the baby weight in front, some back pain is normal. However, do let your healthcare practitioner know if you’re having back pain, as it could also be an indication of pre-term labour

 

 

Indigestion and Heatburn

If you’re having indigestion, note any trigger foods, and eat smaller meals more often.

 

Caused by your baby pushing against your stomach, indigestion and its symptoms become more common in the third trimester. Such symptoms may include heartburn, reflux or regurgitation, burping, feeling sick, heavy or full, and vomiting. Reduce these by eating smaller meals more often, while avoiding eating right before bed. Take note of trigger foods and drinks, and avoid coffee at the end of the day. Other changes might include raising the head of your bed by 10 - 15 cm, lying on your left side and sitting up straight while eating.

 

 

Warning Signs

If your diet and lifestyle changes do not ease your indigestion, check with your doctor, who may prescribe you a pregnancy-safe medicine. Should these symptoms still persist, it may be a sign of something more severe like preeclampsia. Definitely let your doctor if the medicine doesn’t work.

 

 

Lightheadedness and Dizziness

Diagnosed with gestational diabetes? Monitor your blood sugar, and maintain a strict diet and exercise plan, which could include prenatal yoga.

 

                                                 

As your hormones change to increase the blood flow to help your baby develop, your blood pressure may drop during pregnancy. This might result in low blood pressure, especially when moving from lying down or getting up too quickly. Dizziness may also be a result of gestational diabetes, which you’ll be tested for between week 24 and 28. If you have this, you’ll need to regularly monitor your blood sugar, and stick to a strict diet and exercise plan.

Other conditions that may cause lightheadedness are anemia, signifying a lack of iron and folic acid, which you can resolve with additional supplements. Additionally, ensure you’re sufficiently hydrated by drinking at least 1.5 litres of water every day. More ways to manage lightheadedness include avoiding lying on your back, eating healthy food frequently to keep your blood sugar levels stable, and wearing breathable, comfortable clothing.

 

Warning Signs

If your dizziness is sudden or severe, or it’s accompanied by symptoms like difficulty breathing, severe headaches, heart palpitations or chest pain, it’s best to call your medical provider immediately.

 

 

The Stages of Labour

Labour Symptoms

One of the first signs that labour is impending is that your baby descends into your pelvis. For first-time mums, this typically starts a few weeks - two to four - before labour begins. While this helps you breathe a little better, your baby’s head is now pushing down on your bladder, so you’ll have to head to the bathroom a lot more.

Other changes include your cervix dilating and effacing in the days and weeks before you deliver. At your weekly check-ups after week 36, your OB-GYN will measure and track your dilation and effacement in an internal exam. Some other indications may include diarrhea or your weight dropping or staying the same.

 

 

Early Labour

Though the most painful part of your labour, you’ll get to meet your precious baby for the first time.

 

Whereas losing your mucus plug in the second trimester was worrisome, it’s definitely welcome now. This may come out as one large piece or lots of little ones. You might not even notice that it’s out. Your vaginal discharge should also increase and/or thicken, with a pinkish hue. The “bloody show” is a good sign that labour is imminent. If you’re only 3 to 4cm dilated, and you don’t have contractions, labour might be a couple of days away.

Unlike Braxton Hicks, which you may have been experiencing previously, you should start feeling stronger, frequent contractions. Being active doesn’t ease the contractions like with Braxton Hicks, instead the contractions might be stronger. Over time the intensity should increase. These might feel like menstrual cramps, or a stomach upset, and might be in the lower abdomen, the lower back and into the legs.

Only 20 per cent of pregnant mums actually have their water break, so it may not be a telltale surefire sign of labour. Hence, you may want to time your contractions instead. If they last around 30 to 70 seconds each time, it’s time to call your doctor. It’s perfectly fine to call your OB-GYN if you’re unsure. Ready to have the baby? Some ways - although not scientifically proven - include having sex, walking a lot, spicy food and acupuncture. Do check with your doctor if these are okay before trying to expedite your baby’s arrival.

 

Warning Signs

Call your doctor if you see blood or bright red discharge. When your water breaks, and the fluid looks green or brown, it’s a sign that your baby’s first stool - or meconium - is present. This can be dangerous if your baby ingests it during birth. Other warning signs include experiencing a severe headache and swelling, which may be signs of preeclampsia. This condition also includes other symptoms like blurred vision, sudden weight gain or swelling.

 

Second Stage

Though the most painful part of your labour, you’ll get to meet your precious baby for the first time.

 

Once your cervix is fully dilated, you enter the second stage of labour. After you’ve found a comfortable position, as the contractions come, you can start to push. Progress may be slow and steady, and may take up to two hours, so just follow your body’s natural urges to push.

When the baby’s head is visible, instead of pushing, you’ll have to pant or puff a couple of quick breaths through your mouth, to slow down the birth so your perineum will stretch but not tear. After this, the difficult part is mostly over, and your baby should be born within the next push. You can then hold your baby once the umbilical cord is clamped and cut, and the baby dried.

 

Warning Signs

While most deliveries are usually pretty straightforward, there are times when they won’t go as planned.

 

 

Slow Progress of Labour

The first complication that could arise during pregnancy include the slow progress of labour. If your cervix is opening slowly, or your contractions have slowed or stopped, your midwife or doctor may say your labour is not progressing. Ways to restart labour include changing to a comfortable position, walking around, a warm shower or bath, back rub, a quick nap or eating or drinking something. An IV drip with Syntocinon may also help the effectiveness of your contractions. It’s also a good time to use pain relieving options.

 

 

Position of Your Baby

While most babies are born head first, there are cases where babies are facing the wrong direction. For example, your baby could be in the posterior position, where your baby is facing the front rather than the back, which may result in a longer labour. You may be able to push your baby out yourself, or the doctor may assist with forceps or a vacuum pump. Getting on your hands and knees and rotating or rocking your pelvis may aid the delivery, as well as relieve your backache.

Another potentially complicated position is the breech position, where the baby presents bottom or feet first. Sometimes the doctor can turn the baby around to be born head first, otherwise a caesarean birth may be recommended. Finally, when you’re giving birth to more than one baby, they’ll likely need more care, and you may be induced if your babies are in the correct position, usually with an epidural. After the first child is born the second may get in an unusual position, and the OB-GYN will have to move the second into the correct position.

 

 

Baby Distress During Labour

Should your baby’s heart be beating in a faster, unusual or slower pattern, or if the baby makes a bowel movement, his/her heart rate will be monitored. Also, the baby will be delivered as quickly as possible, using vacuum, forceps or by caesarean.

 

 

Postpartum Haemorrhage

Mums with excessive bleeding from the vagina may have a postpartum haemorrhage, which either occurs within 24 hours of the birth or after the first day to six weeks after birth. This may be due to the contraction of the womb after the baby is born, infection of the membrane around the womb or part of the placenta remaining in the womb. Once your baby is born, you’ll be offered a Syntocinon injection to push the placenta out, and your uterus will be checked regularly after birth.

 

 

Third Stage of Labour

After the baby is born, you may feel contractions that are markedly less painful from earlier on. This stage is where the placenta separates from the uterus wall and is passed through the vagina. Usually lasting up to 20 minutes, this is the shortest stage of labour.

As you prepare to welcome your baby in your final trimester, here are some symptoms that you may experience, as well as those indicating the approach of labour.

After about 40 weeks, you’ll get to meet your little one for the first time!

 

Third Trimester Symptoms: Weeks 28 - 40

 

Bleeding

If you experience any bleeding, contact your OB-GYN and he/she will do a physical exam or ultrasound.

 

One of the reasons for bleeding late in pregnancy include the placenta previa, which could be near the edge, completely covering or partially over the cervix. Risk factors include past pregnancy, fibroids in the uterus, past uterine surgeries or caesarean deliveries. Women older than 35 or of non-white ethnic backgrounds and those who smoke, or who have had past history of placenta previa are also more susceptible.

 

Warning Signs

If you have bright red, painless bleeding in the third trimester, be sure to contact your OB-GYN for a diagnosis. He/she will do a physical exam or an ultrasound to make a diagnosis. You’ll likely need bed rest or a hospital stay. This may lead to an early or caesarean delivery or a blood transfusion if you’re losing blood.

 

 

Frequent Urination

Improve your control over your urine flow by reducing your intake of caffeinated beverages.

                       

One of the reasons for frequent urination is due to your baby descending into your pelvis. This can range from two to four weeks to days before labour begins. The good news is you can breathe a little better, but this also sends you to the bathroom all the time. Additionally, you might also experience the oh-so-sexy urinary leakage when you cough, exercise, laugh or sneeze.

 

Warning Signs

As you’re also more susceptible to getting an UTI during pregnancy, do also monitor your urine. Check to see if it appears cloudy, red, pink, or concentrated. Perhaps the most uncomfortable but obvious symptoms include pain or a burning sensation when you urinate. If you think your bathroom visits are too frequent, try keeping a journal of how often you go and how much you urinate to help your doctor with your diagnosis.

One way to improve your control over your urine flow is by doing Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor. Some other ways include reducing your intake of caffeinated beverages, or leaning forward while you urinate to better empty your bladder.

 

 

Insomnia

To relieve the aches and pains you might feel, use a pregnancy pillow.

 

While the common advice most expecting mums get is to “sleep while you can”, sometimes this is nigh impossible in the third trimester. Between getting up to urinate, inability to get comfortable, and keeping to their regular schedules, some mums might find their quality of sleep severely impacted, and they probably struggle to stay awake.

Don’t worry - there are things you can do to sleep better. First, sleep on your left side, so the foetus, uterus and kidneys get the best blood flow. It’s best to avoid lying on your back for too long. Otherwise, a pregnancy pillow may help relieve pain in your body so you can get better quality sleep.

 

Warning Signs

If you begin snoring during your pregnancy, this may be due to nasal congestion, as well as your increased abdominal girth and uterus that puts pressure on the diaphragm. Snoring could be a warning sign of hypertension, preeclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction.

 

 

Fever

Definitely contact your doctor if you have a fever, whether it’s caused by cold or flu.

 

Do call your doctor if you have a fever. They may be caused by a cold or flu or a urinary tract infection. If your doctor knows you have a fever, he/she can quickly treat it. One more serious condition is listeria, a bacterial infection, caused by eating undercooked meat and eggs. The fetal membranes are inflamed.

 

Warning Signs

Other symptoms of listeria include a headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions. Ways to prevent listeria are to thoroughly scrub raw vegetables, and cook your food thoroughly.

 

 

Pain

To ease back pain during pregnancy, try a chiropractor or have a back massage.

 

Leg pain

Experiencing leg pains? One of the causes include sciatica, where the sciatic nerve is irritated. Avoid carbonated soda and drinks if you have leg cramps. Try straightening your leg and flexing your foot upwards. Do this several times before going to bed several times to present future cramps. However, it could also be something a little more serious, such as deep-vein thrombosis or uterine fibroids, so do call your doctor if you’ve got leg pain.

On a related note, some pregnant mamas also develop restless legs syndrome during the third trimester. You might feel a crawling or uncomfortable feeling in the foot, calf or upper leg that could disturb your sleep. The irritation returns whenever the leg is still. This could be an indication that you’re lacking in folate and iron.

 

 

Back pain

In your third trimester you’ll likely feel some cramps and pain in your lower back and groin as labour approaches, since your muscles and joints are preparing for birth. Since you’re also carrying all the baby weight in front, some back pain is normal. However, do let your healthcare practitioner know if you’re having back pain, as it could also be an indication of pre-term labour

 

 

Indigestion and Heatburn

If you’re having indigestion, note any trigger foods, and eat smaller meals more often.

 

Caused by your baby pushing against your stomach, indigestion and its symptoms become more common in the third trimester. Such symptoms may include heartburn, reflux or regurgitation, burping, feeling sick, heavy or full, and vomiting. Reduce these by eating smaller meals more often, while avoiding eating right before bed. Take note of trigger foods and drinks, and avoid coffee at the end of the day. Other changes might include raising the head of your bed by 10 - 15 cm, lying on your left side and sitting up straight while eating.

 

 

Warning Signs

If your diet and lifestyle changes do not ease your indigestion, check with your doctor, who may prescribe you a pregnancy-safe medicine. Should these symptoms still persist, it may be a sign of something more severe like preeclampsia. Definitely let your doctor if the medicine doesn’t work.

 

 

Lightheadedness and Dizziness

Diagnosed with gestational diabetes? Monitor your blood sugar, and maintain a strict diet and exercise plan, which could include prenatal yoga.

 

As your hormones change to increase the blood flow to help your baby develop, your blood pressure may drop during pregnancy. This might result in low blood pressure, especially when moving from lying down or getting up too quickly. Dizziness may also be a result of gestational diabetes, which you’ll be tested for between week 24 and 28. If you have this, you’ll need to regularly monitor your blood sugar, and stick to a strict diet and exercise plan.

Other conditions that may cause lightheadedness are anemia, signifying a lack of iron and folic acid, which you can resolve with additional supplements. Additionally, ensure you’re sufficiently hydrated by drinking at least 1.5 litres of water every day. More ways to manage lightheadedness include avoiding lying on your back, eating healthy food frequently to keep your blood sugar levels stable, and wearing breathable, comfortable clothing.

 

Warning Signs

If your dizziness is sudden or severe, or it’s accompanied by symptoms like difficulty breathing, severe headaches, heart palpitations or chest pain, it’s best to call your medical provider immediately.

 

 

The Stages of Labour

Labour Symptoms

One of the first signs that labour is impending is that your baby descends into your pelvis. For first-time mums, this typically starts a few weeks - two to four - before labour begins. While this helps you breathe a little better, your baby’s head is now pushing down on your bladder, so you’ll have to head to the bathroom a lot more.

Other changes include your cervix dilating and effacing in the days and weeks before you deliver. At your weekly check-ups after week 36, your OB-GYN will measure and track your dilation and effacement in an internal exam. Some other indications may include diarrhea or your weight dropping or staying the same.

 

 

Early Labour

Though the most painful part of your labour, you’ll get to meet your precious baby for the first time.

 

Whereas losing your mucus plug in the second trimester was worrisome, it’s definitely welcome now. This may come out as one large piece or lots of little ones. You might not even notice that it’s out. Your vaginal discharge should also increase and/or thicken, with a pinkish hue. The “bloody show” is a good sign that labour is imminent. If you’re only 3 to 4cm dilated, and you don’t have contractions, labour might be a couple of days away.

Unlike Braxton Hicks, which you may have been experiencing previously, you should start feeling stronger, frequent contractions. Being active doesn’t ease the contractions like with Braxton Hicks, instead the contractions might be stronger. Over time the intensity should increase. These might feel like menstrual cramps, or a stomach upset, and might be in the lower abdomen, the lower back and into the legs.

Only 20 per cent of pregnant mums actually have their water break, so it may not be a telltale surefire sign of labour. Hence, you may want to time your contractions instead. If they last around 30 to 70 seconds each time, it’s time to call your doctor. It’s perfectly fine to call your OB-GYN if you’re unsure. Ready to have the baby? Some ways - although not scientifically proven - include having sex, walking a lot, spicy food and acupuncture. Do check with your doctor if these are okay before trying to expedite your baby’s arrival.

 

Warning Signs

Call your doctor if you see blood or bright red discharge. When your water breaks, and the fluid looks green or brown, it’s a sign that your baby’s first stool - or meconium - is present. This can be dangerous if your baby ingests it during birth. Other warning signs include experiencing a severe headache and swelling, which may be signs of preeclampsia. This condition also includes other symptoms like blurred vision, sudden weight gain or swelling.

 

 

Second Stage

Though the most painful part of your labour, you’ll get to meet your precious baby for the first time.

 

Once your cervix is fully dilated, you enter the second stage of labour. After you’ve found a comfortable position, as the contractions come, you can start to push. Progress may be slow and steady, and may take up to two hours, so just follow your body’s natural urges to push.

When the baby’s head is visible, instead of pushing, you’ll have to pant or puff a couple of quick breaths through your mouth, to slow down the birth so your perineum will stretch but not tear. After this, the difficult part is mostly over, and your baby should be born within the next push. You can then hold your baby once the umbilical cord is clamped and cut, and the baby dried.

 

Warning Signs

While most deliveries are usually pretty straightforward, there are times when they won’t go as planned.

 

 

Slow Progress of Labour

The first complication that could arise during pregnancy include the slow progress of labour. If your cervix is opening slowly, or your contractions have slowed or stopped, your midwife or doctor may say your labour is not progressing. Ways to restart labour include changing to a comfortable position, walking around, a warm shower or bath, back rub, a quick nap or eating or drinking something. An IV drip with Syntocinon may also help the effectiveness of your contractions. It’s also a good time to use pain relieving options.

 

 

Position of Your Baby

While most babies are born head first, there are cases where babies are facing the wrong direction. For example, your baby could be in the posterior position, where your baby is facing the front rather than the back, which may result in a longer labour. You may be able to push your baby out yourself, or the doctor may assist with forceps or a vacuum pump. Getting on your hands and knees and rotating or rocking your pelvis may aid the delivery, as well as relieve your backache.

Another potentially complicated position is the breech position, where the baby presents bottom or feet first. Sometimes the doctor can turn the baby around to be born head first, otherwise a caesarean birth may be recommended. Finally, when you’re giving birth to more than one baby, they’ll likely need more care, and you may be induced if your babies are in the correct position, usually with an epidural. After the first child is born the second may get in an unusual position, and the OB-GYN will have to move the second into the correct position.

 

 

Baby Distress During Labour

Should your baby’s heart be beating in a faster, unusual or slower pattern, or if the baby makes a bowel movement, his/her heart rate will be monitored. Also, the baby will be delivered as quickly as possible, using vacuum, forceps or by caesarean.

 

 

Postpartum Haemorrhage

Mums with excessive bleeding from the vagina may have a postpartum haemorrhage, which either occurs within 24 hours of the birth or after the first day to six weeks after birth. This may be due to the contraction of the womb after the baby is born, infection of the membrane around the womb or part of the placenta remaining in the womb. Once your baby is born, you’ll be offered a Syntocinon injection to push the placenta out, and your uterus will be checked regularly after birth.

 

 

Third Stage of Labour

After the baby is born, you may feel contractions that are markedly less painful from earlier on. This stage is where the placenta separates from the uterus wall and is passed through the vagina. Usually lasting up to 20 minutes, this is the shortest stage of labour.