Nine Months: Here's what you need to know about getting through the third trimester

The first cry, the first word, the tiny footsteps, it’s likely you’ve dreamt about these moments during your pregnancy only to realise you still have a very crucial stage to get past.

Say hello to the third trimester, the one that rings an alarm bell in many young mothers to-be. It’s not just another moment in time. A number of changes in the body are taking place. Looking at it, you come to realise the miracle your body is soon preparing to work.

After the first and second trimester, it’s time for this final transitioning phase to motherhood. For a primer on everything you need to know, follow Firstpost's show Nine Months — a visual how-to survival guide that brings experience, knowledge and perspective to mothers so they can follow a reliable and singular narrative on pregnancy and parenting.

The Tell-tale Signs

Waking up to the sight of swollen hands or a probable swollen nose may compel you to wonder if you’re just beginning to imagine things. However, these symptoms are nothing unusual. Weight and oedema generally accompany the third trimester and will naturally subside post the delivery.

Moreover, there is a chance you may complain of aches due to the laxity in joints. This is generally the result of hormones in your body that are preparing your body for labour.

Frequent visits to the restroom are not unusual either. This is largely owing to the pressure on your bladder, which is a sign that your baby’s head is getting engaged in the right position. Other common third trimester pregnancy symptoms include gastric concerns like acid reflux and heartburn.

Managing Fluid Retention (Oedema)

With fluid retention or oedema being a concern during pregnancy, several women come with questions on reducing the symptoms to an extent. Although the condition cannot be completely avoided until the delivery, it can be controlled with these effective tips.

  • Increase intake of water
  • Reduce salt and sugar in your diet
  • Rest often and keep your legs elevated whenever possible
  • Occasionally soak your feet in saline water for relief
  • Do not stand or walk for long hours
  • Increase the intake of protein in the diet as your baby is now developing at a faster rate, with brain development at its peak
  • Monitor your diet and include food containing healthy fats like avocados and walnuts
  • Consult your doctor about intake of iron supplements to stabilise your haemoglobin levels

On The Look-out For The Antagonists

Listen to your body. This is advice that you need to hold on dearly to. Watch out for signs of preterm labour, which is characterised by a feeling of heaviness and pain that intensifies with time. In other instances, if you notice red spotting or bleeding, consult your doctor at the earliest.

Also, since your baby is now able to move, pay attention to kicks and other movements that indicate he’s doing fine. If you feel something is amiss, look for any sign of movement while taking a walk or after eating your meals. If these don’t work, sip on a sweet drink or listen to music; it’s likely your baby may surprise you by responding to that song you’ve lately taken a liking to! And yes, your baby can hear in the final trimester, so take a while, pat your tummy and talk to your little one to induce a gentle baby kick.

Keeping Medical Assistance Only A Call Away

The third trimester involves a routine of check-ups and pregnancy tests to monitor the normal progression. Both mother and baby are scanned to ensure the delivery remains unaffected. Here’s a look at the general procedure.

For Mother:

  • Tests to confirm normal haemoglobin and vitamin levels
  • Blood pressure test to rule out the possibility of preeclampsia
  • Monitoring for urine infections

For Baby:

  • An ultrasound scan to check the baby’s growth, position, heartbeat, and movements
  • Tests to check the amniotic fluid and blood flow
  • Heart rate monitoring to regulate the baby’s health

Weight Matters

Your weight during pregnancy will particularly impact your health and your baby’s wellbeing. Doctors consider a weekly addition of half a kilogram to be normal, taking into the cumulative weight of your own body, that of your baby’s, and the placenta. Of this, nearly 200 to 250 grams comprises your baby’s weight.

Furthermore, part of your weight can be attributed to fluid retention, which is normal during the third trimester. However, it’s important that you watch out for red flags like excessive weight gain or too less of it. In certain cases, it could be possible that you may not be putting on much weight but your baby would still be growing normally. Make sure you approach your doctor to confirm everything is fine. And if he nods in approval, lucky you!

Prenatal Exercises To The Rescue

It’s highly likely that you may experience pain in the lower back during your third trimester. In such cases, performing prenatal yoga or mild exercises like the pelvic tilt and the cat and camel pose would offer relief and strengthen the lower spine. Additionally, these could also help to increase the flexibility of the pelvis and ease the delivery process. Other forms of exercise like the duck walk, butterfly pose, or simple stretching will aid in engaging the baby’s head into the pelvis.

The wait is nearly coming to an end but so is the need to be extra careful. Make sure you eat food that’s nourishing and never miss an appointment with your healthcare provider. And although you may be anxious, it’s good to reassure yourself that things will only get better!

Watch this episode of 9 Months for a more comprehensive discussion on what to watch out for in your third trimester.

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Updated Date: Jan 30, 2018 18:22 PM