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Mothers' Physical Changes in the Third Trimester


couple lounging, pregnant woman holding her belly


During the third trimester you may be feeling excited or impatient to finally meet your baby.  In the meantime, your body goes through tremendous physical changes.

Here are some examples, and tips that can help:

Stretch marks (striae) on abdomen, breasts, and thighs

  • Some women never lose their stretch marks.
  • However, after birth, the marks will gradually change from red or purple to tan or white and will be harder to see.

Dry, itchy skin

  • If you to use soap, try one made with glycerin.
  • Avoid long, hot baths.
  • Apply oils or lotions to keep your skin moisturized, especially after a bath or shower.
  • Calamine lotion may relieve the itching.
  • Severe itching can be a sign of a serious liver condition. If your itching is severe, talk with your healthcare provider. 

Increased fatigue

  • Rest often and listen to your body.
  • Ask someone to help with daily chores.
  • If possible, stop work early. 

Muscle cramps in legs, especially at night

  • This can indicate low calcium. Talk to your healthcare provider about a calcium supplement.
  • Avoid getting overtired.
  • Elevate your feet.
  • Be physically active.
  • Take a warm bath and stretch your lower leg area before going to bed.


  • Avoid constipation and straining.
  • Do pelvic floor (Kegel) exercises
  • Rest and sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs. Do not lie flat on your back.
  • Try not to sit or stand for long periods of time – change positions or walk around.
  • For relief, apply ice wrapped in a cloth to the affected area.


  • Eat small, frequent meals.
  • Avoid fried, fatty, and spicy foods.
  • Drink lots of liquids between meals.
  • Elevate your head and shoulders while resting.
  • Do not bend or lie down immediately after a meal.
  • Do not wear tight waistbands.
  • Chewing sugarless, non peppermint gum (ideally containing xylitol) may also help.

Sudden groin pain

  • Avoid sudden movement.
  • Bend slightly at the hips when you expect to cough or sneeze.

Shortness of breath

  • Try taking deep, slow breaths through the mouth.
  • Wear loose clothing.
  • Use good posture.
  • Get plenty of rest.

Difficulty sleeping

  • Practice regular sleep habits.
  • Be physically active.
  • Before going to bed try: 
      • taking a warm, relaxing bath
      • eating a snack with a warm drink
      • using extra pillows for support 
      • practicing deep breathing and relaxation exercises
      • listening to relaxing music

Improved breathing

  • This may mean you baby has moved down into your pelvis in preparation for birth. Make a note and tell your healthcare provider at your next visit.

Increased need to pee

Braxton Hicks Contractions: 

You may find you get increased Braxton Hicks (pre-labour). This is normal. Your uterus is contacting to soften and thin your cervix in preparation for labour. If you plan to give birth in a hospital, this is a good time to:

  • pack your hospital labour kit 
  • arrange care for your home and any older children while you are in the hospital

Feelings of Doubt

During your third-trimester you may also find that you have feelings of doubt or fear about labour. You will want to talk with your health care provider about your concerns and plans for labour. Also, attending prenatal classes, developing a birth plan and learning about labour and birth so you know your options will help ease those feelings as well. 


Last Updated: August 9, 2013