Pregnancy & Postpartum, Pregnancy Stages, The Third Trimester

13 Common 3rd Trimester Pregnancy Challenges & Ways to Cope

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The end of pregnancy is near! You’re this much closer to meeting your little one, as some of the most challenging symptoms of early pregnancy return during the third trimester. This third trimester of a pregnancy can be both mentally and physically challenging for a woman owing to the final growth stages the fetus goes through. 

Especially the last month is like never-ending as you may be feeling excited or impatient to meet your baby finally.

This is also true that as your due date approaches, you may begin thinking about whether you are genuinely prepared to have a baby! Nursery arrangements, finding the ideal car seat, and attempting to handle a well-meaning family can all lead to anxiety about the arrival of your little one. 

I would advise to take it slowly and carefully and understand that babies don’t generally need a lot. Rest when you can and as much as you can, and make the most of your last few weeks by doing a few things you probably won’t be able to do once your baby arrives!

Also, not to miss, but your baby bump will get more bigger over the third trimester of pregnancy – A lot bigger.

The 3rd trimester begins in week 28 of pregnancy and lasts until you give birth, which may be around week 40 of your pregnancy. Generally, your fetus development is over by the end of week 37. After that, you may become a mother anytime, and knowing what all you can expect during this period can help!

Baby’s Development In Third Trimester

Your little one will get a whole lot more extensive in the third trimester, growing from about 2 1/2 pounds and 16 inches long in week 28 of pregnancy to between 6 and 9 pounds and 19 to 22 inches long in week 40. Indeed, your baby is growing fast

  • Bones: When you enter the 32nd week of your pregnancy, by then, the bones of your baby may get fully developed. The cartilage of the fetus fully transforms into bones, and the calcium required to develop healthy bones comes from your calcium-rich diet. So be sure to eat plenty of calcium-rich foods.
  • Hair, skin, and the Nails: When the 32nd week of your pregnancy starts, the baby’s skin may also develop fully, including hair growth and nail formation. In week 36, fat continues to accumulate as your baby sheds his vernix and lanugo.
  • Digestive System: When you reach the last few weeks of your pregnancy, meconium, or the baby’s “first poop,” consisting of blood cells, vernix, and the lanugo, will start to show up in the fully formed baby’s intestines.
  • The Senses: Your fetus touch sensibility may develop in the 29th or the 30th week of pregnancy. And, by week 31 of pregnancy, your baby will get signals from all five senses and may start showing responsibility towards the known senses, i.e., the ability to see and perceive light, taste senses, hearing, and smell.
  • Brain Development: The brain may also show noteworthy growth in the third trimester as the fetus may be able even to dream or regulate its body temperature.
  • Organs: By the 37th week of pregnancy, the organs of the baby are also entirely developed.
  • Head Position: By the 36th week, the head of the fetus should be facing downwards. And, if after an ultrasound, your doctor tells you that this is not the case, then he may do his best to change the positioning or may suggest you go through a cesarean section surgery.

Symptoms To Expect In Third Trimester

3rd trimester pregnancy Symptoms


It’s quite common to have swollen feet and ankles, especially during the third trimester. Basically, due to the increasing volume of blood and fluids in your body and the pressure from the growing uterus causes swelling (or “edema”) in the ankles and feet.

Some swelling is normal, but some swelling indicates a red flag, like, If swelling affects only one leg and is accompanied by pain, redness, or warmth, a blood clot could be a concern, Or if you experience sudden worsening swelling in your face, around your eyes, or hands accompanied by high blood pressure, then you must call your doctor immediately as it could be a sign of preeclampsia.

Try these simple steps to reduce and prevent those swollen ankles:

  • Avoid standing for long periods.
  • Exercise and walk regularly.
  • Prop up your feet when sitting and avoid crossing your legs.
  • Stretch often while in longer sittings.
  • Put maternity support stockings on before getting out of bed in the morning. These are quite effective to promote better circulation and provide a mild squeezing action to support enhanced blood flow.
  • Lie on your left side when sleeping.
  • Swim or stand in a pool up to your neck. Swimming is considered a great choice to combat edema.

Frequent Bathroom Trips

Your growing uterus puts pressure on the pelvic floor muscles, bladder, and urethra, which can make you feel the urge to urinate more often. Even a single sneeze can make you pee in your pants. 

Few Tips to cope with urinary incontinence:

  • Kegels: They are so essential both during and post-pregnancy. Try three sets of 30 Kegel exercises a day.
  • Maintain a healthy weight: Extra weight will put extra pressure on your bladder. So try and keep your pregnancy weight moderate.
  • Avoid carbonated or caffeinated drinks: Avoid coffee, citrus, tomatoes, sodas — all of which can irritate your bladder and make it harder to control those leaks.
  • Try not to get constipated: Eat foods that are high in fiber to avoid constipation, so that full bowels don’t put added pressure on your bladder.
  • Try Pads: Another good option to manage your urine leakage is by wearing an absorbent pad or panty liners. These are very effective in saving you from any embarrassing urine leakages (no tampons, please).

Low Back Pain

Pregnancy can put a lot of pressure on your back, especially during the third trimester, as your uterus is fully grown, which can put pressure on certain nerves in your back.

The added baby weight in the front forces you to use your back to support yourself, which may result in sharp back pain. 

The back pain may also occur because of the high secretion of “relaxin,” the pregnancy hormone; your joints start to loosen up, and the grown abdomen may pull the center of gravity of the body in the forward direction.

Some Ways to Cope from pregnancy-related back pain.

  • Try Yoga poses to relieve back pain. I have always emphasized doing yoga throughout the pregnancy, as it truly helps you sail through better. If you are not taking any yoga classes, then you can try these ten poses from spinecorrectioncenter.
  • Warm Bath & Massages: Treat yourself to a warm bath and a good massage, as a massage therapist can offer relief for back pain. They also have unique beds for pregnant women, so that you can lay on your stomach. Do tell them which part to focus more on.
  • Maternity Belt: If you have pelvic girdle pain around your middle lower back and hips, a maternity belt may relieve your pain. Try wearing them during more strenuous activities—which includes lots of bending, lifting, walking, or standing.
  • Wear comfortable shoes: Having good support for your feet can translate to better support of your knees, hips, and back.

Leg Cramps

A lot of women experience leg pain during the second and third trimester, which worsens during the last trimester.  Here I’m talking about wake-you-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night, catch-you-any-time-of-day, excruciating leg cramps that are extremely painful and can contribute to insomnia. They are not dangerous but can be annoying.

Personally, Leg-Cramps was the most annoying part of my pregnancy, due to which I hardly slept, although getting a knee pillow helped me ease out a little while sleeping because these leg cramps are extreme, especially when you go to bed.

Few Tips to cope with it:

  • Stretching exercises can help stop cramps before they strike. Before you head to bed, stand about two feet away from a wall, and put your palms flat against it. Lean forward, keeping your heels on the floor. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds, then relax for five. Try this three times.
  • Put your feet up as often as you can when you’re seated, and if you are going to the office or at work, try to keep an ottoman stool for better elevation.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet that includes lots of calcium (try yogurt, which may also help with pregnancy constipation) and magnesium (bananas are full of it).
  • Talk to your practitioner to find out if you should be taking a magnesium supplement before going to bed.
  • Pregnancy Pillow & Knee Pillow: Try using Pregnancy Pillows or Knee Pillows. I had personally used both because I suffered extreme leg cramps, and in order to sleep better, I have used both in rotations, which has really helped me survive this pain.
  • Try massaging your legs as this can also promote blood flow and loosen any tight muscle knots. (Ask your partner to do that for you, and the good thing is that they won’t say no also, even if they want to :), you would enjoy that pampering)
  • Drink at least 12 to 13 glasses of fluids a day.

Shortness Of Breath

Blame it to the expanding uterus, as because of that, you might experience shortness of breath. As the uterus bulges, there is less space for the lungs to expand, thereby making it hard for the woman to breathe. 

Few Tips To Deal With Breathing Issues During Last Trimester: 

  • Try keeping a good posture: Keep your back and shoulders straight to give your lungs room to expand as much as possible. 
  • Extra pillows: If breathlessness is disturbing your sleep, elevate the head and shoulders with more pillows.
  • Arms up: Lifting your arms will take the pressure off your rib cage and allow you to breathe easily.
  • Yoga: Doing yoga throughout the pregnancy helps you in lots of pregnancy challenges. Breathing exercises that are taught during yoga classes may help you control your breathing better.


The increased pressure is placed on the stomach externally because your growing baby takes up a lot of space in the abdominal cavity, especially in the third trimester. Due to which you experience worsen heartburn symptoms such as Burning pain in the center of the chest, especially after eating. 

I suffered extreme heartburns starting from my second trimester and continued till the end; my heartburns were so severe that it used to get triggered even after eating a small cookie, and with every meal, I had to take medicine to relieve it.

To alleviate any discomfort, try to avoid foods that aggravate it.

  • Avoid spicy or fatty foods or other types of food and drinks that don’t agree with you. It could be anything from caffeine to citrus fruits.
  • Eat smaller meals throughout the day instead of three big ones and include more fiber in your diet.

Leaking Breasts

You may be surprised to find your breasts are leaking a yellowish watery fluid called colostrum. That’s completely normal and nothing to worry about. Leaking breasts are most common during the third trimester as your body prepares for your baby. It’s a healthy sign your body is getting ready for breastfeeding.

Tip: If it bothers you, you can try putting a breast pad or nursing pads in your bra to absorb the milk. You would also need these after your baby is born because then you would be visibly leaking more.

3rd trimester challenges

Difficulty Sleeping

As your bump grows, it will get challenging to get comfortable in bed, which can lead to frequent awakenings at night. Get rest whenever you can. Also, using body pillows or pregnancy pillows can help you get more comfortable, too. 

These Pregnancy Pillows instead become your great friend, and the good thing about them is that they are quite useful even after the baby’s birth as it will help you to put your baby in the right position during breastfeeding.

Braxton Hicks

During your third trimester of pregnancy, you may begin to experience Braxton Hicks contractions as your body prepares for labor. This is stiffness or the “practice contractions” that you may frequently feel that may even fool you into thinking that it is time for the delivery. During these “fake” contractions, your uterine muscles tighten for anywhere between 30 seconds to two minutes. 

This is one body change that would continue until the real labor starts. 

If you are getting these Braxton Hicks contractions and are feeling uncomfortable, then try these:

  • Change positions, take a walk, or rest if you have been active.
  • Drink a glass of water or a cup of herbal tea.
  • Perform relaxation exercises or practice those breathing methods you have learned in your childbirth classes if you take them.
  • Take a warm bath.

Stretch Marks & Itchy Skin

To accommodate the growing size of the baby, your body stretches to the extent that the middle layer of skin (dermis) becomes stretched and broken in places,  that stretch marks start showing up, followed by lots of itchiness, which will increase or worsen the marks if you would not keep you belly moisturized.

Tips for caring for itchy belly:

Although no cream can do miracles to stop them from coming, you will get them if you’re going to get them, But there is no harm in taking care.

  • Moisturize your belly day and night. Try using Belly butter, as there are plenty of options available, — Shea Butter OR Cocoa Butter (Cocoa one is my favorite as it smells nicer). Moisturizing will help you nourish your skin and prevent itching. 
  • Eating plenty of vitamin C-rich foods may also help keep your skin toned and less subject to stretch marks.
  • Do not scratch your belly; instead, rub lotion or powder on belly itchiness. Scratching can further irritate the skin, making things worse.

Swollen & Bleeding Gums

Due to hormonal changes, about 50% of pregnant women experience bleeding gums, I have personally experienced this, so I know how annoying it is. 

This is due to changing hormones that start sending more blood to your gums, making them more sensitive and causing them to bleed. This is also called pregnancy gingivitis, 

Tips: Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush gently (twice a day), floss, mouthwash, and limit your sugar intake. Also, start using anti-gingivitis toothpaste and Mouthwash.

Return Of Fatigue

In your third trimester of pregnancy, sleeping in bed is not comfortable; you may be tired during the day as well since you have to carry your weight along with the increasing weight of the baby. Due to this discomfort, you will most likely begin to feel tired again #returnofthefatigue, you probably remember from the first trimester. 

Listen to your body and rest as much as you can — because once the baby arrives, you’ll be even more tired!

Pelvic & Cervical Pain

Pressure in the lower abdomen is a common symptom during pregnancy. The enlarging uterus continues to put pressure on the cervix and vagina, especially in the 3rd trimester (between 28 and 40 weeks). This pressure can be extremely uncomfortable.

Also, as your body prepares for childbirth, your pelvis and cervix will relax and expand due to the release of a placental and uterine hormone called relaxin. It softens the connective tissue in the pelvis and dilates the cervix. These expansions, combined with the added pressure and movement from the baby, can cause a lot of pain in the area.

Ways to deal with it: 

  • Do your pelvic floor exercise.
  • Use a belly sling. They’re designed to support your belly and offer relief to your hips, pelvis, and lower back.
  • If you feel like coughing or sneezing, bend forward or flex your hips to avoid straining any ligaments.
  • Avoid sudden movements if possible. Try not to twist at the waist. Instead, work on turning your whole body.
  • Get a prenatal massage with a licensed therapist who specializes in treating pregnant women (Check if your hospital provides it because mine did).
what to expect in 3rd trimester


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