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Third Trimester Changes Explained

As your baby gets bigger during the third trimester, your uterus pushes on your stomach and can cause heartburn, especially before bedtime or right after you eat. Continue to avoid greasy, fried foods, and eat six to eight smaller meals instead of large meals. You also can take small sips of milk or eat small pieces of chipped ice. If your heartburn is severe and doesn't improve with these tips, talk with your doctor. Also talk with your healthcare provider before taking an antacid medication.
In the third trimester, you might notice more swelling than you had before, especially in your ankles, fingers, and face. Continue to drink lots of fluids (water is best), and rest when you can with your feet elevated. If you notice sudden, extreme swelling in any of these areas, or have a rapid significant weight gain, call your doctor right away. This could be a sign of preeclampsia or toxemia.
During the third trimester, you might begin to experience more discomfort from hemorrhoids from the increased pressure of your growing baby on the veins in your rectum. You might also be constipated, which makes hemorrhoids worse because you might strain for a bowel movement.
Try to avoid hemorrhoids by drinking lots of fluids and eating plenty of whole grains, raw or cooked leafy green vegetables, and fruits. Try not to strain for bowel movements, and always talk with your healthcare provider before taking a laxative.
(Click Hemorrhoids During Pregnancy for more information, including ways to help prevent or if necessary treat hemorrhoids.)
Tender Breasts
Your breasts have most likely increased in size and fullness as your pregnancy has advanced. During the third trimester, hormones in your body cause your breasts to increase even more in size to prepare for breastfeeding. Your breasts can feel full and heavy, and they might be tender or uncomfortable. Wearing a well-fitting maternity or nursing bra will help you be more comfortable because these types of bras offer extra support.
Some pregnant women begin to leak colostrum in the third trimester. Colostrum is the first milk that your breasts produce for your baby. It is a thick, yellowish fluid that contains antibodies that protect new babies from infections. If leaking becomes a problem for you, you can purchase disposable or cloth nursing pads (that you can use when nursing your newborn) to place inside your bra.
Now and after delivery, it is a good idea to only wash your nipples with water instead of soap. Soap might cause the skin of your nipples to become dry, irritated, and cracked. If you do have skin cracks, which can be sore and painful, use a heavier cream that contains lanolin for extra moisture.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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