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Third Trimester of Pregnancy

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Changes in Your Body continued...

Hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are actually varicose veins -- swollen veins that form around the anus. These veins enlarge during pregnancy because extra blood is flowing through them and the weight of pregnancy increases the amount of pressure to the area. To relieve the itch and discomfort, try sitting in a warm tub or sitz bath. Ask your doctor whether you can also try an over-the-counter hemorrhoid ointment or stool softener. 

Shortness of breath. As your uterus expands, it rises up until it sits just under your rib cage, leaving less room for your lungs to expand. That added pressure on your lungs can make it more difficult to breathe. Exercising can help with shortness of breath. You can also try propping up your head and shoulders with pillows while you sleep.

Spider and varicose veins. Your circulation has increased to send extra blood to your growing baby. That excess blood flow can cause tiny red veins, known as spider veins, to appear on your skin. Spider veins may get worse in your third trimester, but they should fade once your baby is born. Pressure on your legs from your growing baby may also cause some surface veins in your legs to become swollen and blue or purple. These are called varicose veins. Although there's no way to avoid varicose veins, you can prevent them from getting worse by:

  • Getting up and moving throughout the day
  • Wearing support hose
  • Propping up your legs whenever you have to sit for long periods of time.

Varicose veins should improve within a few months after you deliver. 

Swelling. Your rings might be feeling tighter these days, and you may also notice that your ankles and face are looking bloated. Mild swelling is the result of excess fluid retention (edema). To reduce swelling, put your feet up on a stool or box whenever you sit for any length of time, and elevate your feet while you sleep. If you have sudden onset of swelling though, seek medical attention immediately as it may be a sign of preeclampsia, a dangerous pregnancy complication.

Weight gain. Aim for a weight gain of 1/2 pound to 1 pound a week during your third trimester. By the end of your pregnancy, you should have put on a total of about 25 to 35 pounds (your doctor may have recommended that you gain more or less weight if you started out your pregnancy underweight or overweight). The extra pounds you've put on are made up of the baby's weight, plus the placenta, amniotic fluid, increased blood and fluid volume, and added breast tissue. If your baby seems to be too small or too big based on the size of your belly, your doctor will do an ultrasound to check his growth.

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