What Are the Symptoms of the Third Trimester of Pregnancy?

Reviewed on 5/25/2021

By the time a woman reaches the third trimester of pregnancy, many of the symptoms from the first trimester may have improved or gone away (nausea, fatigue, and morning sickness). The third trimester may include other symptoms such as difficulty taking deep breaths, difficulty getting comfortable to sleep at night, increased urinary frequency, leg cramps, swelling, constipation, and others.
By the time a woman reaches the third trimester of pregnancy, many of the symptoms from the first trimester may have improved or gone away (nausea, fatigue, and morning sickness). The third trimester may include other symptoms such as difficulty taking deep breaths, difficulty getting comfortable to sleep at night, increased urinary frequency, leg cramps, swelling, constipation, and others.

The third trimester refers to the last three months of a pregnancy, lasting from weeks 29 to 40. As the fetus continues to grow and develop and turn itself head-down in preparation for delivery, most women experience a number of uncomfortable symptoms. 

Some symptoms that started earlier in pregnancy, such as nausea, fatigue, and morning sickness, usually improve, but may continue into the third trimester for some women. 

Common symptoms of the third trimester of pregnancy include:

  • Difficulty taking deep breaths as the fetus crowds the abdominal cavity
  • Difficulty getting comfortable at night for sleep
  • Increased skin temperature and feeling hot, as the fetus radiates body heat
  • Increased urinary frequency due to increased pressure on the bladder
  • Fluid retention (edema) that may cause swelling of the ankles, hands, fingers, and face
    • If swelling is sudden or extreme, or if you gain a lot of weight quickly, talk to your doctor right away as this could be a sign of preeclampsia, a serious complication of pregnancy in which high blood pressure (hypertension) and evidence of organ injury develops in a pregnant woman after 20 weeks of pregnancy
  • More frequent leg cramps
  • Decreased blood pressure due to the fetus pressing on the main vein that returns blood to the heart
  • Hair growth on the arms, legs, and face due to hormones
  • Hair may feel more coarse
  • Belly button may stick out
  • Stretch marks can appear on the abdomen, breasts, buttocks, and thighs
  • Dry, itchy skin, especially on the belly as the baby grows, stretching the skin
  • Increased sex drive
  • Dark patches of skin on the face 
  • Constipation
  • Heartburn/indigestion
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Worsening backaches
  • Varicose veins in the legs
  • Increased white-colored vaginal discharge (leukorrhea), which may contain more mucus
  • Breast tenderness
  • The baby moving lower in the abdomen (dropping)
  • Fluid may begin to leak from the nipples (called colostrum, which is a milky fluid produced just before breast milk)
  • False labor (Braxton-Hicks contractions) may occur at irregular intervals in preparation for childbirth

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Reviewed on 5/25/2021
References
https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-third-trimester

https://www.womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/youre-pregnant-now-what/stages-pregnancy