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Third Trimester of Pregnancy

Now that you've reached the third trimester, you're in the home stretch of your pregnancy. You've only got a few more weeks to go, but this part of your pregnancy can be the most challenging. 

In this article, you'll learn what to expect during your third trimester of pregnancy. You'll find out which symptoms are normal, and which ones may warrant a call to your doctor.

Changes in Your Body

Backache. The extra weight you've gained is putting added pressure on your back, making it feel achy and sore. You might also feel discomfort in your pelvis and hips as your ligaments loosen to prepare for labor. To ease the pressure on your back, practice good posture. Sit up straight and use a chair that provides good back support. At night, sleep on your side with a pillow tucked between your legs. Wear low-heeled, comfortable shoes with good arch support. To relieve back pain, use a heating pad and ask your doctor whether it's OK for you to take acetaminophen.

Bleeding. Spotting may sometimes be a sign of a serious problem, including placenta previa (the placenta grows low and covers the cervix), placental abruption (separation of the placenta from the uterine wall), or preterm labor. Call your doctor as soon as you notice any bleeding.

Braxton Hicks contractions. You might start to feel mild contractions, which are warm-ups to prepare your uterus for the real labor to come. Braxton Hicks contractions often aren't as intense as real labor contractions, but they may feel a lot like labor and can eventually progress to it. One main difference is that real contractions gradually get closer and closer together -- and more intense. If you're red in the face and out of breath after your contractions, or they're coming regularly, call your doctor. 

Breast enlargement. By the end of your pregnancy, your breasts will have grown by as much as 2 pounds. Make sure you're wearing a supportive bra so your back doesn't suffer. Close to your due date, you may start to see a yellowish fluid leaking from your nipples. This substance, called colostrum, will nourish your baby in the first few days after birth.

Discharge. You might see more vaginal discharge during the third trimester. If the flow is heavy enough to soak through your panty liners, call your doctor. Close to your delivery date, you might see a thick, clear, or slightly blood-tinged discharge. This is your mucus plug, and it's a sign that your cervix has begun dilating in preparation for labor. If you experience a sudden rush of fluid, it may mean that your water has broken (although only about 8% of pregnant women have their water break before contractions begin). Call your doctor as soon as possible after your water breaks.

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