Now we’re down to the home stretch! You will really start to put on weight this trimester, and this extra weight is necessary to maintain a healthy pregnancy. Do not try to lose weight during this time, because burning your maternal fat stores can release toxins that are harmful to your baby.
The volume of blood circulating through your body has now increased 30% to 50% more than normal. That’s to make sure there is enough blood available to serve the fetus and to compensate for the blood you will lose at delivery.
You will probably start seeing your doctor once every two weeks now. Your breasts may start to leak a clear fluid called colostrum, your balance may be thrown off, and you may feel that things are very tight in your abdomen. Backache and breathlessness will arise. Your baby will become very active during this trimester, which may leave you sore at times!
Physical changes in the seventh month of pregnancy
This month, the movements of your baby will begin to change. As space in the uterus becomes cramped, your baby will make smaller movements such as shifting her elbows and knees. Your baby is likely to curl up and cross her legs. She is getting heavy now, and her weight may throw you off balance. Try to maintain good posture.
Your white vaginal discharge will become increasingly heavy this month and your breasts may begin to leak colostrum. Heartburn is still quite common.
The growing baby puts a lot of pressure on your diaphragm, liver, stomach, and intestines. The additional weight can cause backaches. Your baby puts pressure on your lungs, causing you to feel breathless at times. Your rib cage and pelvis will feel sore as your baby gets bigger. You will feel larger and clumsier, your movements will be slower, and you may begin to waddle.
To decrease back strain, make sure to maintain good posture, wear low-heeled shoes, and use a firm mattress when lying down. Also ensure that you receive proper nutrition and exercise, to maintain your energy levels and increase your stamina for birth. Physical activities such as swimming fit well into late pregnancy. Don’t over-exercise, though!
Your Braxton Hicks contractions will continue this month and they will become more noticeable throughout the rest of your pregnancy. These are a tightening of the uterine muscles, which occur every 20 minutes or so. Braxton Hicks contractions serve to prepare the uterus for labour.
This month, many airlines will not allow you to fly any more or they will require a medical certificate from your doctor stating that it is safe for you to travel. You may also want to avoid long car trips, as they will be uncomfortable. If you must travel long distances, make sure you get up and walk around for five minutes every hour to keep your circulation going.
It is recommended that you keep track of your unborn baby’s kick counts from about six months of pregnancy, as a way of making sure that she is OK. Each day, record how long it takes for your baby to make 10 kicks, flutters, swishes, or rolls. You should feel at least 10 movements within two hours, but you will probably feel that many movements in a much shorter amount of time. Alternately, time how long it takes your baby to make three movements. You should feel at least three movements in a half hour.
You may start to notice patterns and a general length of time that baby usually takes to make a certain number of movements. If you notice major deviations from the pattern, check with your health care provider.
For more information, see "Kick Counts."
Medical visits in the seventh month of pregnancy
This month, you will see your health care provider once every two weeks. Your medical visits will be similar to previous months. Your health care provider will check the following:
- blood pressure
- fetal heartbeat
- height of the top of your uterus, called the fundus
- size and shape of uterus
- size and position of the fetus
- swelling of ankles and feet, especially if accompanied by headaches, visual changes or abdominal pain, which could be a sign of pregnancy-induced hypertension
If you are Rh-negative, your health care provider may wish to give you an injection of Rhogam this month, to prevent complications.
Now is a good time to talk about your labour plans with your health care provider. If you are having a hospital birth, you will want to go over your feelings about episiotomy, fetal monitoring, and pain relief.
Concerns in the seventh month of pregnancy
Bleeding after the 28 th week of pregnancy may indicate a true emergency. Bleeding may be very mild or extremely heavy, and might be accompanied by abdominal pain. Causes of late pregnancy bleeding include problems with the placenta called placenta previa, where the placenta either partially or completely covers the opening to the cervix, and placental abruption, where the placenta comes away from the walls of the uterus. Another cause of bleeding in late pregnancy is rupture of the uterus. All of these conditions are very dangerous if not treated right away. The only one of these that can be diagnosed before the bleeding occurs is placenta previa, which can be seen at your 16 to 20 week ultrasound. If you have placenta previa, your health care provider will tell you about the precautions you can take to reduce the risk of bleeding. If you notice bleeding, which is more substantial than spotting or blood on the toilet tissue when wiping, or abdominal pain during this month or afterward, contact your health care provider right away.
You should continue to be aware of the signs of premature labour, so that you will know if you need help. The symptoms are:
- more than five contractions per hour
- bright red blood from vagina
- swelling of the face or hands
- pain during urination
- sharp or prolonged pain in stomach
- acute or continuous vomiting
- sudden gush of clear, watery fluid from vagina
- low, dull backache
- intense pelvic pressure
Emotional changes and depression in the third trimester of pregnancy
This is a trimester of pride, fulfillment, and anxious anticipation of the unknown. Thoughts about your baby are ever present, and you will probably talk constantly about her. You may ache to hold your baby. You might still worry about losing her.
The reality of pregnancy is inescapable now and your protruding belly will bring lots of attention. You will feel quite special, as strangers will want to give you their chair or help you in other ways. Some women appreciate these gestures, while others may feel annoyed if they are treated as though they are helpless.
You may need to stop working at some point this trimester. If work has been important to your self-esteem, you may find this to be a very difficult adjustment. Add to this the fact that you will have renewed energy this trimester, with an intense urge to bustle around and do things. You may wonder what you will do with your time if you stop working before your due date. There are lots of last-minute preparations to be made, though, and these should keep you occupied.
Body image is a major issue in the third trimester. Your belly may swell larger than you thought it would. You may feel unattractive and sloppy, and will need lots of reassurance from your partner.
If you are a first-time mother, the unknowns of labour and delivery may be frightening and worrisome. You might be concerned about “losing control” during the labour process. You may worry about unexpectedly having to deliver your baby at home. If you have had children before, you might be concerned about reliving the pain of childbirth or any previous complications you may have had.
The physical symptoms of pregnancy can lead to irritability, mood swings, and impatience to get on with the birth. These feelings are perfectly normal. However, if you feel continuously sad, hopeless, and resentful of the pregnancy, you could be depressed and you should seek help from your doctor. Depression symptoms in late pregnancy often carry over into the postpartum period, so it is important to get these feelings checked out.