Thursday, September 29, 2016

17 third trimester symptoms and ways to feel better (plus, signs of labor):

Hi Moms,

The third and first trimester mirror one another in many ways including the exhaustion, and constant need to pee. However, it does help to know that the end (or actually the beginning) is almost here.

While I had a crazy last trimester in my second pregnancy with multiple hospitalizations and preterm labor (which is why I have been MIA) - however, for most the last trimester goes quite smoothly and I thought it was the easiest one the first time around.. So hang in there, you will have your baby in your arms really soon! 

Also, for those of you wondering what things are looking like down there or trying to decipher what your physician is talking about, here are the three terms you have to understand : (tons on this in my previous post on labor and delivery but for those who want a quick reference  see below) 

Dilation - how much your cervix has opened. The goal is 10 cms, and the journey from 0 to 10 can take weeks or hours (rarely, though it does happen in subsequent pregnancies -  minutes). Once you have passed 4, you are in active labor (also known as "I can get an epidural" zone). The role of contractions is to make you dilate.

Stations: where baby's head is at. Negative stations mean baby's head is inside, and 0 station means baby's head is engaged enough that if your dilated enough and the doc says go, it's safe to push. 

Effaced: how thick your cervix is. During effacement, your cervix is getting thinner to prepare for labor. These numbers are discussed in percentages. 0% effaced means your cervix is  long (average is a little over 4 cms), and 100% means it has thinned out completely. 

Here are 17 common third trimester symptoms you should know about: 

1. Stretch marks: these often show up right at the end, and often the day after you think you have gotten away without them. Unfortunately, no matter what you use - stretch marks can happen. It depends on your genetics and the elasticity of your skin. However, keeping your skin hydrated really does help, so does exercising during pregnancy as helps your belly stay toned . (I managed to not get them the second time around though it may just be because I put on half the weight this time around so my skin didn't have to stretch as much). 

2. Pregnancy insomnia: I wake up less often with a new born then while I was pregnant as I had to go to pee ... And I had to roll over, stretch, belch and whine about how tired I feel. Pregnancy pillows, sleeping closest to the bathroom, having less water in the evening  and trying to empty your bladder as much as you can before you sleep, will all help a little. Ofcourse, If your little one tries all their stunts and acrobatics at night, like most (since they are asleep when you are in motion and awake more when you are at eat), try to count kicks instead of sheep and hope that it helps you sleep ..

3. Hunger: no matter how well you manage to curb your hunger and zip up the first two trimesters, when the third hits, you are likely to feel much much hungrier than you did before. For some reason all I could think of for a lot of my last trimester was cheese, cheese and more cheese. But don't worry, your child is growing faster than before and now needs more calories and some fat, so go ahead and give in, you are now eating for 1 and a quarter (no, not two unless you want to look like two of you!). 

4. Pee..more pee, even more pee: can i get that catheter already? You can't really avoid public restrooms anymore, but feminine hygiene wipes or even baby wipes in your purse (get used to it !), can save you from some uncomfortable rashes and infections. 

5. Bursts of nesting energy: even if your husband insists its too early to get the bassinet out, listen to your instincts and feelings and do things when you feel ready, you really never know how the  pregnancy will proceed, when your energy will run out and how many days you will be too tired to redo the closet or do up baby shelves, so keep things ready.  I ended up in hospital at 32 weeks with a viral and again at 34 weeks with pre term labor and in a panic about all the laundry left to be done at home, though I didn't deliver till 37 weeks I had to delegate a lot of the things I would have liked to do myself. 

6. Braxton hicks or false labor: apparently you can have these through your pregnancy and they only get strong enough to feel in the last trimester. Frankly, I didn't feel them at all in my first pregnancy, and I felt them throughout my second one (as early as 16 weeks). So while every woman and every pregnancy is different, if you feel pains coming at regular intervals that do not go away when you change positions and seem  to be getting closer together in time or lasting longer in duration - call your doctor ! 
However, if they go away when you change position, or they are at odd intervals (20 minutes, then 15 mins then 20 mins apart again) don't worry - they are false labor and you need not sound an alarm. And ofcourse - if you have a heavy discharge of any kind (with contractions) , or your water breaks (with or without contractions)  call your doctor. 

7. Hot flashes: I've been pregnant through an Indian summer and a New York polar vortex filled winter (different pregnancies) , and let me tell you - It was easier to waddle in the snow than to melt it out in the crazy heat! Whichever climate you are in, try and dress is layers so you can quickly undo some layers when you go indoors from the cold, or add some on if your stepping into air  conditioning after the heat. Stay hydrated (and use a strong deodorant). 

8. Upset tummy: while constipation is much more the rage, an upset stomach is also common and can be caused my hormones. Keep that in mind before subjecting yourself to a stool test. While my stomach was a mess through my last trimester during both pregnancies, a sudden change in this area can be a sign of impending labor . 

9. Leaking everything: and I mean everything.. So get familiar with panty liners and nursing pads, they will be your companion for months to come. 

10. Jumping ribs and baby hiccups: that small rhythmic movement that you thought may have been your heart beat? It's the baby's digestive system getting ready for previously undigested food  (eventually), and throwing hiccups your way. They are so adorable in the day and equally annoying at night when you want to sleep. 

11. Little jabs and baby pressure: while the little kicks and movements have been gentle and sometimes difficult to differentiate (from gas) so far, they can actually get a little painful in the third trimester when the amniotic fluid levels drop, and the baby's space is also suddenly less than it was before. 

12. The  belly drop: quickening or belly dropping, usually happens late in the last  trimester and can be an indicator  that the end is near (not too near but within the distance - 2 weeks or so away) for those who are pregnant the first time, in subsequent pregnancies the drop is "supposed" to happen even later. Though in my case it didn't happen at all the first time and happened around 32 weeks the second time (I did go into preterm labor at 34 weeks). So if you do feel like your belly has moved down and you not at 37 weeks yet, do inform your practitioner who may want an ultrasound or do an internal to see if you have started to dilate. 

Once your belly does drop - your heart burn is likely to reduce and the pressure in your ribs will also get better, however, your urge to pee will increase as will your hunger (thanks to more pressure on the bladder and less on the stomach). 

13. Itchy belly: since your skin is stretching  to the max, your belly and even chest and thighs can feel itchy. Keep moisturized with a good stretch mark cream , while they may or may not keep  the marks at bay they will offer some relief. Also, clothes that don't cover your belly with spandex (low rise pants, or jersey dresses if the climate approves will help you feel better). 

14. Itchy hands and feet: quite an unusual symptom but an annoying one nonetheless !! It's hormonal and there's not much you can so other than moisturize and distract yourself. 

15. Discharge: while some is normal, call your physician immediately if you see blood or anything other than mucus. Also, if you lose your mucus plug before 37 weeks, talk to your OB. It's not a sign that labor is going to be immediate but definitely one that you have started to dilate. 

16. Bed rest: while this is not really a symptom, it's an outcome that can happen if your body is throwing labor signs at you or your getting contractions too early. There are medicines that can slow down labor (if you haven't started to dilate) , but having your hips raised against gravity can often be as effective and would be prescribed if needed. It's not ideal but if you do end up in this situation like I did , try and be positive and remember that you will miss your time in bed soon. I did this with a 2 and a half year old to entertain who ended up spending 2 weeks entertaining me in return and it went by faster than I can remember. Lots of tv shows, and good books, some cross stitch or other nesting activities than can be done laying down / are the best ways to pass your time. 

17. Desperation to be done: I was sure that the second time around I would want my baby to take her time to cook and come out as I have had my hands full with one - and there was a part of me that did want her to take her time - but a very very small part as the rest of me was desperate to just get the pregnancy part over with and hold my baby in my arms no matter how full my heart and hands  already were. Wanting to hold and finally see your little bundle,  but also just wanting to be done with being pregnant makes the last trimester feel like it's going at snails pace (along with you since your lugging around weight and definitely showing at this point if not waddling), but  your baby will be here sooner than  you think.

Goodluck mama, for all that lies ahead !  

More to come!

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P.S. - Incase you were wondering where I had disappeared to - I had a crazy last trimester (with almost a month of bed rest thanks to preterm labor) and then have been juggling my two with little time for much other than breathing! I do have a number of interesting posts lined up though ( I've been jotting   down points while nursing again ), so stay tuned. 

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