There are probably a million possible pregnancy symptoms that we can think of, but the most shocking for some women are those that they have never heard of. The most well known pregnancy symptoms are typically those associated with early pregnancy: like nausea, morning sickness and fatigue. And the second trimester is often known as the most blissful part of pregnancy, when women feel great, full of energy and even “glowing”.
But, when it comes to the third trimester, you just might get more than you bargained for! Of course you are tired and uncomfortable, and desperately ready for the baby to make his or her debut. But, this final stretch of pregnancy symbolizes a whole lot more than fatigue followed by labor and delivery.
Many women are more than a little surprised when pregnancy shows its uglier side: like big feet, blotchy skin, blurry vision, bleeding gums, and leaking breasts! And those are just a few of the symptoms that might catch you by surprise. Feeling sick is pretty common, too, whether by nausea or by cold and flu.
Many women also have trouble with constipation or incontinence, and maybe with sleeping, too! Keep reading to find out more about these lesser-known symptoms and if they are dangerous to you. The more you know now, the less likely you find yourself in a panic when they happen in to you. In addition, you can learn how to relieve some of the symptoms and what to expect from them after your pregnancy has ended.
15 Big Feet
The third trimester may not exactly be a time when you are feeling the most like Cinderella, but you probably weren’t expecting that your glass slippers…or your bedroom slippers would suddenly come up short. This strange late pregnancy is quite common though. Many women report both larger and longer feet. Swelling or edema occurs when the body accumulates extra fluids to promote a healthy pregnancy for both you and the baby. In addition, all of the ligaments in your body loosen up as your body compensates for your growing baby and prepares for delivery. But, the ligament stretching isn’t exclusive to your belly. For some women the ligaments in the feet can stretch enough to elongate their feet an entire shoe size. The swelling isn’t usually permanent, but often times ligament changes in the feet are. It’s not uncommon for women in this stage to find it necessary to completely swap out their shoe collection for everything in a bigger size.
14 Phantom Food Poisoning
Some women become quite startled and sometimes even frightened when they suddenly find them worshiping the porcelain god all over again. Wasn’t this supposed to end in the first trimester? But, the sudden nausea is all too commonly followed up with diarrhea and occasionally vomiting, too. Many obstetricians report women in the late stages of pregnancy, who call or come in to the office believing that they have food poisoning. Most of the time this isn’t the case, and your doctor might send you to back home or back to bed with the information that you are in early labor. Diarrhea is one of the first signs of labor that can begin hours, days, or even weeks before the arrival of your baby. It happens because the muscles in your body start relaxing as it prepares for delivery, and the rectum is not excluded! However, if you have legitimate reason for food poisoning concerns, you should see your doctor right away.
You’re not sick and you’re sure it’s not allergies, but suddenly every time you lay down you find yourself all stuffed up. Whether naptime or night time, some women are horrified to discover that they have suddenly started snoring. It’s nothing to feel bad over as it happens to most women by the 3rd trimester if not before. Luckily, it usually has a lot do with those pesky pregnancy hormones. You can rest assured that if it didn’t exist before it will probably dissipate soon after the baby is born. Pregnancy hormones cause the mucus membranes in the nose to swell up which leads to nasal congestion. It is usually more annoying than harmful, but can occasionally be an indicator of gestational diabetes or sleep apnea. Both conditions are dangerous for your baby, so it’s always a good idea to rule them out. Try sleeping on your left side and with a warm mist humidifier in the room to alleviate the symptoms.
12 Incontinence And Constipation
Bladder and bowel issues can quickly become a woman’s greatest woe. You are one of the lucky few if you don’t experience one of the three: urinary incontinence, diarrhea or constipation. All three are relatively normal symptoms of the third trimester. The pressure in the nether regions is building and the space for your organs in diminishing. The combination can cause all sorts of disruptions that are both uncomfortable and common. Exercise, healthy diet, and appropriate levels of prenatal supplements can make all the difference in your comfort levels. Too much or too little fiber can complicate matters, so getting it just right is the key. Kegel exercise can strengthen your pelvic floor and better help to control your bladder. A little extra movement through exercise and activity can also go a long way in relieving constipation. Many women don’t realize that diarrhea is also a sign of constipation that can be regulated with similar adjustments in diet and exercise.
11 Cold And Flu
One big misconception about pregnancy is that you suddenly become a super hero for immunity. Some people think that in order to protect the baby, pregnant women get an immune boost. In actuality, the opposite is true. The immune system slows down a bit to prevent your body from treating your baby like a foreign object. This does indeed protect your baby, but can spell bad news for you during cold and flu season. So, if it seems like you are getting every single virus that goes around the block, it might be true. Unfortunately there isn’t much too do about it, other than the rest, hydrate and let it pass. Hold off on the cold and flu medications, as many are not approved for use in pregnancy. Keep an eye out for signs of secondary infection like yellow or green mucus, or a fever of more than 100.
10 Itchy Stomach
It might not seem very noteworthy to report a simple itch. But, if you’ve been pregnant before; you already known that incessant belly itches are customary for anyone in the third trimester. The sudden obsessive urge to scratch is pretty harmless and probably has nothing to do with a rash or an allergy. This can happen anytime in pregnancy, but might be more noticeable in the final stage of pregnancy as your belly swells to its biggest size. This very irritating symptom is caused by the skin stretching to accommodate your growing belly. It becomes depleted of moisture in the process. Applying lotion, taking a lukewarm bath, or using a humidifier might alleviate the symptoms. Vitamin E and Cocoa Butter are popular choices for relieving itch and potentially preventing stretch marks. Calamine lotion is soothing, too. But, try to refrain from scratching as that will usually only irritate the skin more.
No matter how careful they are, many pregnant women find it quite difficult to counter the tendency to totter and waddle in the third trimester. A lot is happening in the body to make a woman feel off balance. The larger than normal belly is certainly a culprit for losing your center balance. But, there are also many other reasons pregnant women find themselves feeling a bit extra clumsy. Hormones in the body cause changes in the muscles, joints and ligaments as the body prepares for labor. This can make you feel wobbly, out of sorts, and lacking control of your own body. You may not feel like yourself at all. Fatigue is a big factor, too. It can lead to dizziness, mental fogginess, and forgetfulness. Take your time, listen to your body, and don’t be afraid to ask for a little help when you can’t seem to balance out.
8 Leg Discomfort
As if you weren’t already uncomfortable enough, with a bulging belly and swelling feet, your legs might start to betray you as well. The symptoms can begin earlier on, but are most common in the last trimester of pregnancy. Shooting pains might suddenly and unexpectedly send you to your knees, rendering you confused and utterly useless. These are usually related to the sciatica nerve in the back that can easily become agitated in pregnancy. Or you might only notice a problem when you try to lie down and rest. As soon, you start to relax, your legs start switching and jumping around, betraying your best plans for slumber. Doctors aren’t sure why it happens, but it could be a result of carrying around added weight or it might be genetic. Both leg afflictions can be lessened by spending shorter amounts of time on your feet and by increasing your water intake.
7 Leaking Breasts
Since you have not had your baby yet, you might be a bit confused if you start finding wetness in your bra or crustiness on your nipples. Some women even experience oozing from the breasts after a hot shower. It doesn’t happen for everyone, but when it does it is totally normal. As you near the end of your pregnancy, the body goes through another shift in hormones. This time around is it beginning its preparations to bring your baby into the world. While your milk won’t actually “come in” until after baby’s arrival, your colostrums production could begin in the days or weeks prior to delivery. Because of the yellow coloring, some moms worry that this is sign of infection. But, yellow or oily looking discharge is not only normal; it’s a very healthy signal that your body is preparing the right way. If you don’t seem to experience leaky breasts, that’s okay too. Yours will likely come in later when stimulated by the baby.
6 Blurry Vision
If you are a contact or glasses wearer, you might be surprised if your doctor suggests that you delay your yearly exam when in lands during your pregnancy. Or, if you never had vision issues before and suddenly it feels like the world is a little blurry, it might also be recommended that you wait for vision screening. Those pesky pregnancy hormones are probably to blame once more. Vision complaints are most common late in the trimester, but it’s usually best to wait it out. The vision changes that occur at this time don’t usually last long beyond delivery. Hormonal changes can cause the eyes to either be overly dry or overly wet, which can both make your vision seem a bit blurry. Sometimes women also experience variations in the curvature of the eye during pregnancy, which can make wearing contacts difficult or uncomfortable. The changes are temporary though and typically dissipate soon after the pregnancy ends. Doctors say to just give your eyes a rest, where glasses instead of contacts, use eye drops if they help, and resist the urge to change your prescription unless the vision disturbances are seriously interfering with your life.
5 Bleeding Gums
As if there weren’t enough pregnancy symptoms to deal with already, many women suddenly find their gums swollen and tender during pregnancy. It is not uncommon for gum bleeding to begin anytime after the first trimester, but possible more as pregnancy progresses. This is a sign of gingivitis, likely induced by pregnancy hormones. It is important to visit your dentist as usual, practice good dental hygiene, and to receive necessary treatment. Pregnant women are extra prone to gum tissue problems and cavities. Sometimes women also experience teeth becoming loose during pregnancy. Unmonitored and untreated dental issues can lead to other pregnancy complications. Not receiving treatment increases the risk for periodontal disease, which is linked with premature, birth weight babies and preeclampsia. It’s better safe than sorry! Keep up with your regular exams and call your dentist right away if you feel bothered by your gums or a sore tooth.
4 Changes In Skin Pigment
So, you might have heard of acne or rosy cheeks during pregnancy, but for some reason no one told you about the other strange stuff that happens with your skin during pregnancy. Some women experience discoloration of their hands and feet or even on their face. In addition, it’s relatively common for pregnancy to cause darkening of the skin pigment under the arms, between the thighs, and on the areolas. Freckles and moles can also darken during pregnancy, and how about that dark line that appears from the belly button to the bikini line? All of these are normal symptoms of pregnancy, and often they are more accentuated as the pregnancy furthers along. There is no real reason for concern, and usually the changes in pigment subside after the baby arrives. If the discoloration bothers you, cover up or use sunscreen when outdoors to prevent further darkening. Some doctors believe the changes could be linked to folic acid deficiencies, so be sure that you are not forgetting to take your prenatal supplements!
3 The Outie Belly Button
This happens to almost everyone sometime in the late second trimester, and surely by the third. The inconspicuous “innie” bellybutton that you once had suddenly reverses itself and pops out like a cabbage patch doll! This is something of an icon of pregnancy and is completely normal as your uterus grows and pushes it out. If you are a belly-ring wearer, it might be a good idea to take it out at this time to avoid getting it snagged or pulled on anything. If you decide to keep it in for now, don’t forget to take it out when it’s time for delivery. After the baby is born, the outie bellybutton will eventually sink back in. It might not look the way it always did, as sometimes it does get stretched out or saggy looking. But, that varies by each woman, just as stretch marks do. Many mommies just consider it another proof of what their bodies just went through, a badge of honor so to speak!
2 Tingling And Swollen Hands
For some women it comes as a surprise when their hands swell up, just the same as their poor feet! Especially for those who work in fields where repetitive hand motions are needed (like typing for example): swelling, tingly, pain, or burning might be common during pregnancy. Swelling in the hands caused by pregnancy hormones can put added pressure on a certain nerve in the wrist can cause complications similar to carpal tunnel syndrome. The symptoms are usually strongest at night or when you lay down to rest. Symptoms can be alleviated by stretching or shaking out the hands, and by letting your hands dangle over the bed at night. Avoid caffeine and sleeping on your hands, and be sure to type with your elbow above your wrists. If the discomfort is extreme, your doctor may recommend wearing a wrist brace or seeking acupuncture treatment. Sometimes non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications can be prescribed.
1 Varicose Veins
You might have thought before that bulging blue veins on the legs were only ailments for grandmothers…but, surprise, they can surface during pregnancy! These almost never show up until sometime in the 3rd pregnancy, but they don’t happen in every case. As unsightly as they may be, varicose veins in pregnancy are typically harmless. The bulging veins occur as a result of extra blood being pumped through the body, as you literally “make” a baby. In addition, the hormone progesterone can cause the vessels to relax. This means the body has to work extra hard to pump extra blood through the body. Especially in the legs, this blood has to pump all the way back up and against gravity to reach the heart again. The veins simply swell with the effort, but retract again a few months after pregnancy. This pregnancy symptom is largely hereditary and is just as much luck of the draw, just as stretch marks and linea negra are.