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What are common complaints pregnant women have in their third trimester?

Common complaints pregnant women have in the third trimester include increasing maternal size. That baby's getting bigger, and that baby is kind of running out of room. Pregnant women will notice more pressure in the ribs, shortness of breath or pain in the upper abdomen. These are all very common. If a pregnant woman experiences increased pain that seems abnormal, she should call the doctor. Also, at this time, pregnant women will notice regular fetal movement. There may be a slight decrease in fetal movements as the delivery date approaches, and that's normal, but there should still be 10 distinct movements over two hours. The doctor should be contacted if there are fewer than 10 distince movements over two hours.

Dr. Deborah Raines, MSN
Nursing Specialist

Common problems that may present in the third trimester include preterm labor, vaginal bleeding and preeclampsia.

  • Preterm labor is the onset of regular, rhythmic uterine contractions. If the woman experiences a persistent backache, feeling of fullness or pressure in the vagina or regular contractions, she needs to seek care. There are treatments that can stop premature labor, but they are most effective when implemented early.
  • Vaginal bleeding may be a sign of a placental problem such as a placenta previa, low-lying placenta or placenta abruption. When vaginal bleeding begins the woman needs to contact her health care provider. Frequently an ultrasound examination will be conducted to determine the cause of the bleeding.
  • Pre-eclampsia is a condition of the last half of pregnancy and involved elevated blood pressure, proteinuria and edema. If left untreated pre-eclampsia can progress to eclampsia or the onset of seizures. Both conditions can have serious consequences for the mother and the fetus.
  • Decrease in fetal activity may also occur.

If any of these symptoms occur it is important to contact the healthcare provider promptly.

A lot of women experience problems like heartburn during the third trimester of pregnancy, but that can be adjusted by eating healthy and in smaller, more frequent meals. Other problems include frequent, leaky urination and shortness of breath. These are caused by your expanding uterus putting pressure on your bladder and diaphragm. Braxton Hicks contractions may be concerning to some women, though they are normal practice contractions that your uterus does in preparation of labor. They can be relieved by moving around. Be aware of signs of preterm labor, though, in case they should occur too early in your third trimester.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.