Discomforts of the Third Trimester

Discomforts of the Third Trimester

You're in the home stretch now! Your abdomen is becoming bigger every day as your little one grows inside the uterus.

Though you're closer than ever to seeing your baby, you'll probably have to weather a few new aches and pains before giving birth. The increased weight and pressure bring their own set of discomforts, including breathlessness and problems with digestion. These ailments will most likely go away right after birth, but there are measures you can take now to help make the last months of pregnancy as easy as possible.

Shortness of Breath

Because your uterus is getting larger and growing higher in your abdomen, pressing on your diaphragm, breathing can become more difficult. You might find that you can't make it up a flight of stairs without being winded. The best thing to do is simply take it easy, and try not to become overheated.

Some women have problems breathing when they lie down, too. If this is the case, try sleeping in a semi-sitting position, surrounded by pillows for support. (For more sleep tips, click here.) Nearly all shortness of breath during the last trimester is normal, but if you are concerned, talk to your healthcare provider.

Heartburn and Indigestion

These two related stomach ailments usually attack in the third trimester. This is the first time some women experience problems with digestion, and it's a big surprise to them. Why now?

During pregnancy the entire gastrointestinal system slows down. As a result, the muscles of the stomach and esophagus (the tube leading from the mouth to the stomach) relax. This allows digestive acids, which normally stay in your stomach, to go backward, up into your esophagus and mouth. The acids give you a burning feeling in your throat (though it's called heartburn, it has nothing to do with your heart). You're then left with an awful taste of old food and stomach acids in your mouth, and that's indigestion.

To help prevent heartburn and indigestion, try these suggestions:

  • Eat small, frequent meals, and snack between meals as well. This will keep the stomach acids working on digestion instead of backing up.

  • Avoid fatty foods.

  • Stay upright after you eat (gravity helps!). And don't eat dinner right before going to sleep.

  • Chew gum to help take away any bitter taste in your mouth.

Don't take any over-the-counter products, like antacids, without first checking with your provider.

For more information on what happens during the third trimester, see this article.

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