Just 10 weeks to go! How are you feeling? Ready? By week 30, it is not uncommon to feel both excited and nervous. You might find yourself alternating between periods of confidence and moments of complete panic when you think about what lies ahead. Not only is this completely normal, but remember, your pregnancy hormones are still at work, causing fluctuating mood swings and other emotional changes.
As you enter the final few months, you might find that your physical symptoms are becoming more troublesome. Early in your pregnancy, you might have had to use the toilet more often or your joints might have felt loose and achy. In the first trimester, those symptoms were caused by pregnancy hormones preparing your body for what lay ahead. Now, you may experience these and other symptoms because of the physical changes your body is going through. Your uterus is continuing to grow and exerting pressure on the whole of your body.
Here are some common third trimester symptoms and tips for alleviating them:
- Haemorrhoids. Haemorrhoids occur when increased pressure on the veins causes the blood vessels in your rectum to swell. They can be painful and itchy and either slightly protrude or remain inside, and sometimes they can bleed. Try taking a warm bath. A well-placed ice pack can also reduce the burning and itching. Eat a fibre-rich diet to avoid constipation.
- Varicose veins. Like haemorrhoids, varicose veins are caused by extra pressure on your veins. Varicose veins are small veins just under your skin that become visible. They often resolve after you give birth, but exercising daily and wearing compression socks can help reduce their appearance.
- Heartburn. Pregnancy heartburn is usually caused by a relaxation of the sphincter muscle that lies between your oesophagus and stomach. The best approach is to try and establish which foods are exacerbating your symptoms and avoid them. You can also try to remain upright for at least an hour after eating, and (with permission from your doctor) use over-the-counter heartburn medication.
- Leg cramps. Also caused by pregnancy hormones and pressure, you can help alleviate cramps by drinking plenty of water and getting lots of exercise.
- Back pain. Considering you are probably carrying significantly more weight at the level of your lower back, it is not surprising that backache is a common pregnancy symptom from week 30 onwards. Massages, belly bands, good posture, exercise, and frequent rest periods are probably the best options for managing the discomfort.
- Fatigue. Fatigue in the third trimester is most often caused by poor sleep because of difficulty getting comfortable. The pressure of your growing uterus on your bladder may cause more nocturnal toilet trips, disturbing your sleep further; and you may still be experiencing the vivid dreams we described in the week 28 article. The best solution for overcoming fatigue? Take naps when you’re tired.
- Swelling. Swelling in the hands and feet is common during pregnancy. Take frequent breaks, keep wearing your compression socks, and, when possible, elevate your feet above the level of your heart to help with circulation.
- Constipation. A high-fibre diet, lots of water, and regular exercise can all help to reduce constipation. Less constipation will also help to prevent the formation of haemorrhoids.
At 30 weeks’ gestation, your baby is also starting to get him- or herself ready for the big day. A typical baby at this point, weighs almost 1.4 KGs and measures just over 40cm from the top of the head to the tips of the toes. Whilst you should still expect to feel lots of activity from your little one, the chances are that by now he or she is feeling pretty confined within the restricted space of your uterus.
The major development is done, but subtle changes are starting that will prepare your baby for birth. The fine downy hair called lanugo that formed early in your pregnancy, is starting to shed into the surrounding amniotic fluid. The eyes, which were open, are now usually closed; and your baby’s bone marrow has started making red blood cells in preparation for transporting oxygen around the body after birth.
“Now is the time to think about purchasing a car seat, and getting it installed properly so that you know it is 100% safe.”
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