From stretch marks to frequent bathroom trips, you are no stranger to changes in your body by this point. As you round the corner from your second trimester into your third, expect those changes to keep accelerating. While the experience is different for every woman, and even different for the same woman from pregnancy to pregnancy, there are a few key things you can expect to happen as you near the end of your pregnancy.
1. You Could Start Producing Milk Early
By now, your breasts are probably gearing up to produce milk for your new baby. You may experience some leakage of milk in the third trimester, ranging from a few drops soaking through your shirt to a puddle on your bed in the morning. This phenomenon, while annoying and uncomfortable, is completely normal.
2. Even Your Shoe Size is Changing
You may develop swelling in your extremities, especially your feet and legs. Many pregnant women ditch the restricting dress shoes for work and opt for stretchy, accommodating footwear whenever possible. Keep in mind, your balance is already thrown off by your expanding belly, so avoid high heels and unsteady dress shoes that could cause you to fall.
3. You Might Think You’re in Labor
False labor pains, also called Braxton Hicks contractions, often start in the third trimester, if you haven’t been feeling them already. While these mild uterine contractions can feel alarming, most of the time they are nothing to worry about. Women who have had children before can often distinguish between Braxton Hicks contractions and real labor pains, but new moms may not be able to tell the difference between the menstrual-cramp-like tightening of false labor and the more urgent contractions that signal real labor. You should mention your contractions to your doctor if you have any concerns about early labor or if something doesn’t feel quite right. Early labor can and does happen to some women.
4. You Could Lose Your Mucus Plug
Some people consider the loss of a mucus plug to be the ultimate indication that the pregnancy is drawing to a close. So, what do you do if your mucus plug makes an early appearance weeks before you were expecting it? First of all, don’t panic. Losing your mucus plug does not mean you will begin labor immediately. Some women lose noticeable pieces of mucus throughout their entire pregnancies and still carry their babies to term. Do, however, mention it to your doctor. Your OB/GYN will check you for any other signs that labor is impending. Most likely, the large blob of mucus is just another delightful surprise your body has in store for you, and losing it is a normal part of the process. On the opposite side of this coin, don’t be alarmed if your due date is approaching and you haven’t seen your mucus plug. Many women lose it in small bits and pieces that get flushed away unnoticed, while others may have missed it when it happened or simply may not have lost it yet.
5. Your Baby May “Drop”
Your little one, in preparation for making a grand entrance in the next few weeks, will likely start to move into a head-down position and sink lower into your pelvis. Known as “lightening” or “dropping,” it can feel like you are suddenly carrying lower than you have been. You may notice you can breathe more easily because your baby isn’t high up under your lungs anymore. That relief is short-lived, however, when you also find yourself visiting the bathroom more frequently as the baby nestles down over your bladder. Not every woman notices the sensation of the baby dropping, especially if she has been carrying low for most of the pregnancy. But if you do suddenly feel like your baby is staging his or her exit, you could very well be correct!