In the third trimester of pregnancy, many women experience a shift from the so-called "pregnancy glow" to feelings of discomfort and swelling. It's not uncommon to feel a strong desire for the baby to be born and you may be screaming “get out already!” but it's important to remember that delivering before 37 weeks is considered preterm and can come with various risks. Healthcare providers typically encourage labor to occur at 37 weeks or later, unless of course, there are medical reasons to induce labor or perform a cesarean earlier.
So why is the third trimester often considered the most challenging? Here are several reasons:
1. Swelling: As the baby grows, the gestational sac takes up more space in the abdomen, leaving little room for other organs often resulting in not being able to move or breathe as you used to. This can lead to feelings of discomfort and shortness of breath, particularly when lying down. To alleviate these symptoms, it's recommended to lie on the left side to improve circulation and relieve pressure on the superior vena cava (SVC) and other oxygen-supplying organs.
2. Increased appetite: Some women may experience an increase in appetite during the third trimester. However, eating can cause heartburn or a feeling of fullness. It’s important to continue eating to meet your body’s nutritional threshold. Try not to overeat. It might be a good idea to eat smaller portions and more frequently to remain healthy during the final stretch.
3. Changes in body appearance: Now, we're at the point in pregnancy where our feet disappear! As the baby grows, it can become challenging to groom oneself, particularly in hard-to-reach areas. It may feel like you're shaving with a blindfold on. Ouch! The good news is, that healthcare providers are not concerned about personal grooming and actually recommend to avoid shaving beyond 36 weeks to reduce the risk of infection during labor.
4. Desire for the baby to be born: I'm sure with the swelling, the discomfort, and extra caloric intake in the third trimester, you're ready to serve your baby an eviction's notice. It's totally natural to feel eager to meet the baby and have feelings toward parting ways with pregnancy.
It's important to remember that every woman's experience is different. While some may find the third trimester challenging, others may simply embrace it. In our next post, we will explore the positive aspects of the third trimester. Stay tuned!