Pregnancy week by week



Symptoms of third trimester

The third trimester of pregnancy runs through the 28 weeks till the 40 week. The baby continues to grow in size and the systems of its body mature. You will gain more weight during the last two months of your pregnancy. As a result, you may notice that you start to slow down. As you move to the last leg of your pregnancy, you will begin to experience the discomforts of carrying your baby. Your baby’s size and position might make it hard for you to get comfortable. Swollen feet, backache, heart burn and difficulty sleeping are just a few problems you may have to face. The end is in sight though, so focus on resting as much as possible. We offer you some tips that will help you deal with the common discomforts during this stage of pregnancy.

1) Tiredness

Towards the end of your pregnancy you will start feeling tired again. Your body is working hard to keep your baby growing and developing, you are carrying extra weight, and you may still be working or looking after older children. Don’t exhaust yourself as this will not good for either you or the baby. Your doctor may prescribe you some iron supplements if your haemoglobin level is low.

Coping with fatigue

  • Get plenty of rest; go to bed early at night and try taking naps during the day
  • Listen to what your body is telling you-if you get breathless, it means it’s time to stop

  • Exercise daily to increase your energy levels

  • Remind yourself that eating little and often is good for you- take a break to have an apple, cheese sandwich, dry fruits, or a glass of juice.


2) Heavy breasts

You might have gained an additional 1 kg of breast tissue by now. Your breasts are getting ready to produce milk for your baby. As a result, your breasts may feel more full, heavier, or tender as you get closer to your due date. Your breasts may also start to leak small amounts of the first milk which is called colostrum. This is a creamy yellow colour and although there is not much of it, it’s full of antibodies which are good for your baby.

What you can do

  • Wear a bra that provides firm support
  • Look for wide straps that can be adjusted and a high percentage of cotton for comfort

  • Increase your bra size as your breasts become larger. Your bra should fit well without irritating your nipples. Try maternity or nursing bras which can be used after pregnancy for breast feeding.

  • You may need to wear the bra during the night as well to ease discomfort and maintain support.

  • Clean your breasts with warm water only as soaps can cause dryness.

  • If you find you do leak a little, use a breast pad inside your bra. Make sure to change these pads as needed to prevent irritation to the underlying skin.

3) Back pain

The hormone relaxin relaxes the joints and ligaments in your pelvic area. This combined with your growing bump, can put strain on your

back as you move into the last few weeks of pregnancy. To help prevent backache, make sure you sit properly. The ideal posture is where your neck is long, your chest is lifted and your pelvis is tilted so that your bottom is tucked under. If you sit for long periods, try to get up and stretch frequently. Apply a heat pad or ice pack to the painful area. Wear low heeled shoes with good arch support. If the pain still persists or is accompanied by other symptoms, contact your doctor.

4) Skin changes and stretch marks

Many women notice skin changes during pregnancy. Some women develop patches of darker skin usually over the cheeks, forehead, nose, or upper lip. These spots are called melasma or chloasma and are the result of hormonal changes in the body. These dark spots will fade after your baby is born. Check with your doctor if you notice any changes in the colour and size of a mole on your skin, to make sure it is just a side effect of pregnancy. Many women develop a dark line called the linea nigra on the skin that runs from the belly button to the pubic hairline.

Stretch marks are another common skin change seen during pregnancy. They are red, pink, or brown streaks that usually appear on the thighs, buttocks, abdomen, and breasts.  They are caused by the stretching of the skin, and usually appear in the second half of pregnancy. These marks can be prevented by regular application of creams or oils that contain cocoa butter, vitamin E, or sweet almond oil. There are plenty of stretch mark creams and oils available in the market that have been specifically designed to keep your skin firm and moisturised throughout your pregnancy. Start applying over the thigh, abdomen and buttock area as early as the second trimester.

5) Clumsiness

Do you find that you drop things all the time? Clumsiness is caused by changes in your body-you are carrying more weight, and your fingers, toes, and other joints are all loosening due to pregnancy hormones. When you are pregnant, the centre of gravity in your body changes, this also causes you to become clumsier. So remember to take extra care when climbing stairs, or when walking on wet, or uneven surfaces. You might be walking a little differently and you may appear to “waddle” like a duck, caused from your ligaments softening, which make your hip spread.

6) Wrist pains

The swelling of your hands and your weight gain at this time could cause a tingling or numb sensation in your fingers. This is because the extra weight can compress some of the nerves in your wrist.  It usually gets better after the baby is born. Raise your arm on a cushion when you are sitting, reading, or watching TV. If your hands are tingly when you wake up, raise your hands and wriggle your fingers. Wearing a splint at night helps some people. Talk to your doctor if it’s very uncomfortable.


7) Swollen hands, feet and ankles

Many women develop mild swelling in the face, hands, or ankles. This is usually the result of the combined pressure of your baby, uterus and amniotic fluid pressing down on your pelvic veins, restricting the circulation to the lower half of your body, causing water retention. As your due date approaches, swelling often becomes more noticeable. Rest with your feet up whenever you can. Avoid tight-fitting shoes, and socks. Wear support tights. Remove tight fitting rings. Drink 8-10 glasses of fluids daily. Don’t drink caffeine or eat salty foods. Contact your doctor if your hands and feet suddenly become swollen and  you begin to get headaches- together they may signal pre-eclampsia.


8) Heartburn

Many women get heartburn. It’s a burning feeling in your stomach, sometimes rising up to your throat. This may be accompanied by nausea, bloating, burping and abdominal discomfort. Pregnancy hormones make the muscles at the top of the stomach lax so they don’t close properly. This allows the acids to come back up from the stomach. As your baby grows bigger, the uterus pushes on the stomach, making this symptom worse during late pregnancy.

Ways to cope with heart burn

  • Try to eat small, frequent meals (have 6 smaller meals rather than 3 large ones)
  • Avoid spicy and fried food.

  • Do not lie down after meals

  • Drink water or milk when you get the burning feeling.

  • Sleep propped up on pillows.

  • If heartburn keeps you awake at night, eat early rather than late in the evening.

  • Ask for a remedy from your doctor that is safe to take in pregnancy.

Try these ideas; they will also help you make every meal count in that they provide good nutrition for you and your growing baby:

  • Well- cooked scrambled egg
  • Fruit salad with bio- yoghurt

  • Ginger and digestive biscuits with cheese spread

  • Cheese, crackers and grapes

  • Toasted sandwich with cheese and tomato

  • Home- made soups with plenty of vegetables and pulses (peas, beans, lentils)

  • For drinks have orange, apple, mango juice, a glass of milk, or tomato juice.


9) Leg cramps

Leg cramps are painful spasms in your calf. It isn’t clear what causes it. Some experts believe that it is because of lack of potassium or calcium in the diet. Eat bananas, high in potassium and milk, cheese, yogurts, and dried fruit.  If you get cramp, massage the leg firmly. You can also stretch the muscle by firmly bending up your ankle or flexing it. If you are getting it frequently, see your doctor. Your doctor may advise you calcium supplements.

10) Forgetfulness

Absent-mindedness is a classic side effect of pregnancy. But forgetting where you left your car keys, or constantly losing your glasses can be very irritating. Try some tricks to help remember what’s important: carry a notebook to jot down reminders; keep a daily calendar; put down items you use often, such as keys, in one place only.

11) Symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD)

SPD is pain and tenderness over the pubic bone which may extend into the groin and down the thighs. During pregnancy the hormone relaxin causes increased flexibility in your ligaments and other soft tissues, allowing your baby more space to grow within your pelvis. The ligaments that support your pubic bone become more lax, allowing your pelvis to move more than normal, causing pain and instability.

All those activities that require you to take your knees apart such as walking, driving, getting in and out of the bed can cause pain.

Ways to cope with SPD

  • Avoid taking your knees too far apart, and get someone to help if you can.
  • While getting out of the bed, keep your knees together. Roll over onto your side to get out of bed and then push yourself up into sitting on the side of the bed.

  • To get in to bed sit on the edge of the bed near your pillow, then lie down onto your side, slowly lifting your legs onto the bed with your knees together.

  • Your physiotherapist will advise you if you need a pelvic support belt.

  • Exercises taught to you by your physiotherapist will help to strengthen the muscles that contribute to the stability of your pelvis.

12) Weight gain

You can expect to gain 11-16 kg (25-35 pounds) by the end of your pregnancy. Your baby accounts for some of the weight gain but the rest is contributed by placenta, amniotic fluid, large breasts, enlarged uterus, and increased blood volume.

13) Breathlessness (shortness of breath)

In the third trimester, you may start to feel breathless as your uterus expands beneath your rib cage and presses on your lungs. This might improve when the baby settles deeper into your pelvis before delivery.

Ways to combat breathlessness

  • Practice good posture; sit or stand upright as this can take some pressure away from your lungs.
  • Sleep with your body propped up on pillows to relieve pressure on your lungs.

  • Later in the pregnancy, do gentle form of exercise such as yoga to avoid getting breathless.

  • Check with your doctor to be sure that you are not anaemic.

  • If you experience acute breathing difficulty, seek medical advice immediately.


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