What it Feels Like to Be in Your Third Trimester

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Indigestion, acid reflux, rib pain, sleepless nights…those are just a few of the symptoms I experienced during the third trimester of pregnancy. Of course I was excited about this mystery human growing in my belly, and I loved the sensation of swirling summersaults inside me, but to be honest it was mostly just exhausting. Especially the second time around, when I already had a 3-year-old to chase and care for.

Here’s the thing: Your third trimester does not give you a break. What felt nerve wracking in your first trimester and exciting and energized in your second trimester, just becomes this constant bulge in your third. You can’t bend over or tie your shoes, you can’t do much of anything “quickly”, and you’re swollen, tired, and peeing every 10 minutes without fail. Days in your third trimester can drag slower than snails in honey, or you might be in full-on panic mode, watching time whizz by as you realize the nursery still isn’t ready and you haven’t even begun to think about a birth plan. There are backaches, stretch marks, this totally bizarre symptom called “pregnancy mask” (aka melasma), but you keep reminding yourself that it’ll be over soon … and then one day (or days) it is. You go into labor and — poof! — the third trimester is over.

But, just because your baby is on the outside now, doesn’t necessarily mean all your pregnancy symptoms will vanish overnight. Pregnancy is a pretty jarring experience for the human body, so don’t be surprised if your back aches for a little bit longer, or the trail of your linea nigra hangs around for a few more months. And forget about the stretch marks. Those are here to stay, most likely. But, who knows. The third trimester is a crazy time, and it can be different for everyone. I asked a few of my friends what their third trimester was like, and I got some pretty awesome feedback. Check it out and see if you can relate to any of the emotions and physical symptoms associated with being in your third trimester.

“I loved the third trimester. I felt like I had climbed a mountain and had no idea what the descent would be like. It was like being on the brink of newness and at the same time getting used to the amount of change my body had undergone, which felt like the new normal. I was strong, super empowered and also calm in knowing that I was going to meet my baby soon. I also relished the last moments of being with my baby all the time.”–Sasha W., Portland, Oregon

“It felt overwhelming and exciting. I had to pee constantly and I would pee and then immediately have to pee again before leaving the bathroom. It was at times hard to breathe. Also it’s when the realization that I was actually going to have to push this creature out of my vagina really set in. At that point, being pregnant and delivering was really the only thing I could think about, like the only thing.” —Tracy T., Durham, North Carolina

“I have really enjoyed my third trimester of pregnancy so far. The thing I find most interesting about this phase of pregnancy is the dichotomy of what I can and can’t do. For instance, I still take boot camp classes 5 times a week and can do almost all of the same exercises at 8 1/2 months – but I have a hard time getting up from my couch without my husband helping me. It’s pretty frustrating!” —Rachel C., Red Hook, New York

“To be honest, I didn’t love being in my third trimester. I had a hemorrhoid, a pulled groin muscle which made it difficult to walk (or get any exercise), and I couldn’t eat so much as a bowl of cereal without tasting acidic cereal-burps for hours afterwards (thanks to reflux). I also had a big fibroid bulging out of my uterus, so while other moms get to have a beautiful round pregnancy belly, mine looked more like camel humps.” —Alice O., Bath, England

“I like to describe the third trimester to people as: Imagine adding 35 pounds to your body, the inability to bend, having to pee constantly but eternally constipated (TMI?!), being hungry and full simultaneously at all times. Then add my toddler. That’s how I feel. But then you also think about the little guy that keeps kicking you, reminding you that he’s there and the sheer, indescribable excitement you have to meet him (now I’m getting teary-eyed). And I’m just thankful that he’s so low because I don’t experience any of the rib pain that I did with the first one.” —Beth S., Chicago Illinois

“During my third trimester I felt like a really overweight middle aged man trying to get up the stairs.” —Tanya M., Long Island, New York

“I’m in my 36th week right now! I feel impatient and tired and uncomfortable and it feels like someone punched me in the vagina and it sometimes feels like the baby is punching me in the vagina from inside. Emotionally, I feel excited and hopeful. I’m suddenly *thinking* about this baby much more than I have been for the previous months of this pregnancy. I’m aware of the magical way that I have a head start on knowing her through the way she moves/behaves in my belly. I think it feels like a balance of physical discomfort and emotional pleasure. Also, my husband’s affection has increased with each trimester, so it’s at a lovely peak right now.” —Polly K., Brooklyn, New York.


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Photo: Getty