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As you enter the “home stretch” of your pregnancy, you’ll undergo some of the most significant physical changes yet. Many of them will be the same symptoms you’ve been experiencing during the second trimester, although to a greater degree. Now more than ever, it’s important to pay close attention to your body and report any concerns to your doctor, who will also be examining you more frequently as your due date approaches.
Below are some of the most common physical changes you’ll notice during the third trimester:
• Heartburn: Many women complain of this uncomfortable burning sensation at the tail end of their pregnancy. This is often due to a combination of elevated hormone levels and the pressure applied by the weight of the baby.
• Swelling: Although a moderate amount of swelling is normal, especially in the ankles, fingers, and face, you should contact your doctor immediately if you notice excessive or sudden bloating or weight gain, as this could be an indication of preeclampsia.
• Restless sleeping: Many pregnant women complain of having trouble sleeping as they approach their due date. As the baby -- and your belly -- grow larger, you’ll most likely find it difficult to get into a comfortable position. You may also experience muscle spasms, late-night thirsts, and sudden changes in body temperature, all of which contribute to restlessness.
• Bladder sensitivity: The urge to urinate, usually starting at the end of the first trimester, will ramp up now that the baby’s heavier weight is pressing against your bladder and other organs.
• Shortness of breath: A carry-over from the second trimester, this symptom will intensify in the final weeks of pregnancy, as your uterus grows larger and your respiratory system becomes more taxed.
• Discharge: It’s normal to see thick, white discharge during the final weeks of pregnancy. To prepare for delivery, your cervix will begin to thin out and grow softer, which causes the mucous-like secretion. Your doctor will check your cervix regularly to monitor the effacing process as you approach your due date.
• Weight gain: During the third trimester, the rate of weight gain will be approximately 3-4 pounds per month. An overall gain of 25-30 pounds throughout the entire pregnancy is considered a healthy range for both mom and baby.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|