I have had four beautiful children and I have been a nurse for over 28 years, so I think I may have a pretty good handle on what to expect during pregnancy.
Pregnancy is really a miracle in every sense of the word. I think women in general go through stages, I know I did. Not just the regular stages of pregnancy like the first trimester, second and third, but their own stages.
At first there is the new and not really real stage where you can’t believe your really pregnant, you may feel fine or you may feel sick at your stomach. You begin to feel anxious about everything. You look pretty much the same on the outside but you are having a lot of inner feelings and all you want to do is sleep. Not to mention it seems like it takes an eternity to start showing and all those people that do know your pregnant want to give you advice.
You have the “okay, now here I go” stage, where your showing and everyone knows your pregnant. You are getting asked daily when your due and you can feel the baby growing and moving. Not to mention your feeling better and full of happiness and have a little more energy than you expected you would. Everyone says your glowing and all you want to do is buy things and get things prepared but you have still a good ways to go.
Then you have the home stretch stage, where you start to feel kinda like a big balloon that may pop at any moment and you look the part too. Your ankles may swell and you may be irritable more. The finishing line is almost here and you keep thinking your not ready, “what did you forget to do”. The good thing is she/he is almost here and you can literally feel the excitement brewing as you can’t wait to hold the baby that you feel so connected with already.
All these stages are normal, and the home stretch stage is better known as the third trimester.
So here are some things to look for and expect in the third trimester.
Some women find their breasts start leaking, your breasts are fuller than ever these last few months and may start to hurt. Your nipples may start to crack from the leakage, just ask your medical doctor or a nurse and they will suggest some ointments to help. Pharmacists can also give your some OTC ointments that can possibly help. Maintaining good hygiene especially when it comes to your breasts will also help. You may also need to start having support on your breasts all the time, wear a sports bra even when you sleep that is what I did and it helps with the leakage also.
Your medical doctor may have you come in for tests more like gestational diabetes or RH testing. Don’t worry about these things having issues arise in the last trimester is normal and testing for things is a normal process too. Your doctor will make those decisions and there is no need to worry, the whole reason you do the tests is to know if there is going to be any problems later so your doctor can be prepared.
Your maybe starting to experience a lot of heartburn, but if you eat smaller meals and drink some milk some of this will subside, if it is unbearable ask you doctor and they can prescribe something for you. The heartburn is normal because the baby’s growth is pushing everything around in your abdomen and sometimes if can effect your digestion.
Your going to have less energy than when you were in your second trimester and you probably will have some aches and pains when you have been on your feet all day. Your ankles may swell and you may feel exhausted more. But think about this, men would feel the same way too if they were carrying around a little person inside them growing and moving around all day long. Not to mention bathrooms need to be handy cause the baby will soon be lower down in the abdomen and pressing on your bladder. This is when all those people will come up to you and say you look like you’ve dropped. Gee, where did they get that terminology, however it is true later during your third trimester the baby will turn in the womb and move down in preparation for the birth process. Your doctor will let you know everything just ask.
It will be difficult to get into comfortable positions when your sleeping or resting however putting pillows between your legs will help and having your head elevated is almost a must at this stage. I slept in a lounging position most of the time or on my left side. Most women will start to waddle by the third stage this is because of the birthing process that is preparing inside of your body. Your hips start to widen and waddling is normal, not to mention cute.
You are probably making all the preparations for the baby now and thinking more about the birth process. In the third trimester make sure you have all the questions and steps lined out for the big day, so you and your doctor are both on the same page. I know being a nurse it isn’t good for a mother to come in to have the baby and not know that her doctor is out of town and the new doctor covering doesn’t know she doesn’t want an epidural or spinal. A lot of mothers want to do it as natural as possible and they want to call the shots, your doctor needs to know your wishes and what you have in mind about who will be there during delivery. Most birthing centers within hospitals will provide you will check lists to go over with your family and your doctor as to your wants and desires for the birthing process. Of course your doctor will make needed decisions should a problem arise and you need to be aware of those things too.
After 32 weeks you will gain about a pound a week since the baby is off to the racetrack in growing now and he/ she is putting on weight by leaps and bounds during this time.
Sometimes you will be just sitting there and your baby will start to stretch making you have possibly pain in your ribs, just talk to him/she and you can even push a little bit on the side that they are stretching and they will move for you. I used to watch my baby contort my stomach it was like they were trying to squirm there way out. Sometimes even a small foot would protrude from my stomach and it was hysterical. Not to mention this is a great time to let your significant other feel the baby move and kick.
The baby will start to respond more to rubbing of the belly and even music or talking will sometimes get responses from the baby in the last stages.
You will probably be more emotional now and irritable. Don’t worry I am sure your friends and family know your not normally this way but your hormones are raging and it is normal for mothers to get a little more emotional in the last stages of pregnancy.
Sometimes you will start to experience Braxton Hicks contractions, they are normal too. Trust me when you go into real labor you will see more of a pattern in the contractions, not to mention they will get stronger. Just ask your medical professional to explain the labor signs and how to tell the difference in Braxton Hicks vs real labor.
Another point to remember is real labor doesn’t subside when you rest and Braxton Hicks do.
In the last few weeks you will visit your doctor more so they can do a pelvic exam and see if your starting to dilate. This is were they check on the cervix and they can tell whether your getting closer to going into labor. You may start having more vaginal discharge. It maybe more difficult sit or stand for long periods. Having relations will start to become more of a problem in the last stages since sometimes it is difficult to get comfortable. Just remember any questions can be answered by your doctor, especially if something is worrying you. OB doctors are very understanding of new moms and they don’t want you to worry about things, besides that is what they are for to answer your questions and to give you answers.
I remember everything about each one of my children’s births. From the moment that I arrived at the hospital, to the moment that I held them for the first time and you will too. As a nurse there are also many births that I have participated in that I remember special things about and I have to tell you, it is an extraordinary feeling to be apart of something so special in someone’s life.
My only wish is that you have a healthy happy baby, remember to take your vitamins, don’t smoke, and let your doctor know if you start having any problems immediately.
Resources for this article include: Mayo Clinic, Web MD and Parenting.com