The third trimester starts from the 28th week of gestation and ends with the delivery of the baby. It is an exciting period for the mother-to-be as well as her family members. However, it does bring with it its share of some major pregnancy-related problems. Here is an article to tell you all about pregnancy problems that women may face in their third trimester.
Pregnancy Complications in the Third Trimester
Listed below are some of the problems pregnant women may face in their third trimester.
Pregnant women may face this condition after the 20th week of pregnancy. It is a major complication and requires immediate treatment. If the right treatment isn’t provided on time, it can result in eclampsia or seizures, failure of the kidneys, and in extreme cases, death of the mother and the unborn baby.
The symptoms of preeclampsia are high blood pressure, protein in the urine, swelling of the hands and feet due to water retention, and excessive weight gain. In severe cases, the expectant mother may get headaches, blurred vision and pain in the upper abdomen.
The treatment varies and will depend on how serious your condition is. If you are past the 37th week, the doctor will call for a caesarean delivery immediately. If you’re at 34 weeks or less, then medication will be given to expedite the lung development of the foetus.
2. Preterm Labour
This is one of the most common pregnancy complications in the third trimester. You are said to be going through preterm labour when you start getting contractions before the usual maturity period of pregnancy, i.e., 37 weeks. Women with multiple pregnancies, a history of preterm labour in their earlier pregnancies, or those who suffer from problems related to the uterus and cervix are at a greater risk of dealing with preterm labour.
Look out for signs like loose motions, the urge to urinate more frequently, pain in the lower back, a tight feeling in the lower abdomen, discharge from the vagina, and tightness in the vagina. Some may even experience vaginal bleeding with very painful contractions.
At times, doctors prescribe medicines with magnesium sulphate to prevent preterm labour. In some cases, when labour starts before the 34th week of pregnancy, the pregnant woman is given steroids to expedite the lung development of the foetus.
3. Intrauterine Growth Restriction
In rare cases, it may be found that the foetus has restricted growth. This condition is termed as intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). At times small-sized babies could be born due to genetic reasons too.
The causes of IUGR in babies can be many – conditions ranging from diabetes, anaemia, malnutrition, kidney problems, high blood pressure levels in pregnant women being a few. Doctors recommend an immediate C-section if the foetus stops growing in the mother’s womb.
4. Placental Abruption
In some rare cases, even before the start of labour, the placenta and uterus separate. This condition is termed as placental abruption. It is a very serious condition in which the baby may die inside the mother’s womb. It also causes severe vaginal bleeding, abdominal pain, and contractions, and can cause the body to go into shock.
While the exact cause for this condition is unknown, the factors that can increase the risk of placental abruption are diabetes, drinking alcohol and smoking, high blood pressure, twin pregnancies, a short umbilical cord, substance abuse, the advanced age of the mother, and the bulging of the uterine wall due to excess amniotic fluid.
Someone who suffers placental abruption may have to go in for an immediate C-section. In the case of excessive blood loss due to vaginal bleeding, she will have to undergo a blood transfusion.
5. Placenta Previa
The food and all the nourishment that a baby gets in the womb is through the placenta. It comes out after the baby is born. However, in placenta previa, the placenta comes out before the baby and bars the cervix opening.
It is said that women with a previous C-section delivery, who have had surgeries of the uterus, have an unusually bigger placenta. Even women who smoke are more prone to this condition. It can prove to be fatal if there is excessive bleeding.
The most common symptom of this condition includes heavy bleeding without any pain all of a sudden. The blood is bright red in colour in this case. Quite often, it starts after the 28th week of pregnancy.
If the bleeding is less or stops, then immediate delivery can be avoided; otherwise, a C-section will be required immediately.
Some pregnant women may experience insomnia from the very beginning; but for most, sleep problems during pregnancy in the third trimester are more pronounced. Many women will be unable to get a good night’s sleep during the last stage of pregnancy.
The first cause for sleepless nights is the bulging stomach which makes it difficult for pregnant women to toss and turn comfortably. Another very important reason is the effect of the oestrogen hormone which is secreted more in the last trimester. Other than these, the continuous movement of the foetus while resting or the urge to empty the bladder frequently leave women wide awake.
It is advisable for pregnant women to not take sleeping pills. Therefore, women suffering from insomnia during pregnancy can meditate just before going to sleep to relax their mind. They can also listen to some soothing music or get a massage with some essential oils like lavender, chamomile or sandalwood. They should turn onto their left side and prop some pillows in between their legs and under the stomach to provide their body support and comfort.
7. Breathing Problems
Breathing problems during the third trimester of pregnancy are mainly due to the expansion of the uterus. As the uterus bulges, there is less space for the lungs to expand, thereby making it hard for the woman to breathe. This can be taken care of by elevating the head and shoulders with more pillows.
8. Gestational Diabetes
During pregnancy, the body may not be able to efficiently use insulin due to hormonal changes. As a result, blood sugar levels tend to rise. While it does not pose any risk for the mother, it can be dangerous for the growing foetus inside. This condition leads to the excessive growth of the foetus which may lead to requiring a caesarean delivery. The only way to prevent or combat gestational diabetes is through lifestyle changes by the expectant mother.
Like insomnia, depression can set in from the early days of your pregnancy. However, most mothers-to-be start experiencing it from the third trimester, and for many, it may continue post delivery. It is primarily a result of hormonal changes. Prenatal depression can lead to low birth weight of the baby since the mother may have a loss of appetite and suffer from extreme exhaustion due to insufficient rest.
It is harmful to take anti-depressants during pregnancy; instead, try to reduce your stress through meditation and prenatal yoga. You can also read good and positive books and listen to soothing music to calm you down.
10. Deep Vein Thrombosis
A swollen leg is common during the third trimester but is it also causing you pain? If the answer is yes, then you could be suffering from deep vein thrombosis (DVT). In this condition, a blood clot forms in a part of the vein to form a lesion. These lesions can become dangerous if they become big since they can disrupt the flow of blood. Consult your doctor immediately if you see any symptoms of DVT (pain, redness or discolouration on the leg, or a feeling of warmth). It can be treated with medication even during pregnancy.
The third trimester is crucial and may be a challenging time for you as well as your unborn baby. However, do not stress yourself over it. Stress can only aggravate your pregnancy complications. However, in case you experience symptoms of any of the above conditions, do not fail to talk to your doctor immediately.