Tuesday, July 31, 2012

More Braxton Hicks contractions and increased vaginal discharge

It may be harder than ever to get comfortable enough to sleep well at night. Studies show that the quality of sleep in the third trimester is worse than any time before. (Once your baby is born, however, you may look back on this period rather fondly.)

Braxton Hicks contractions may be coming more frequently now and may last longer and be more uncomfortable. You might also notice an increase in vaginal discharge. If you see some "bloody show" (mucus tinged with a tiny amount of blood) in the toilet or in your undies, labor is probably a few days away — or less. (If you have heavier spotting or bleeding, call your caregiver immediately.)

In the last month of pregnancy, there's a higher probability of developing a serious condition called preeclampsia, which is one reason why your caregiver wants to see you more frequently now. She'll take your blood pressure to make sure it isn't too high and check your urine for excess protein — two key signs of preeclampsia. She'll also look for swelling — especially in your face and hands — and ask you about symptoms like headaches, upper abdominal pain, and vision changes. Another reason for weekly visits is to keep closer tabs on your baby to make sure he's doing okay. (If there are any concerns, you'll have a nonstress test or a biophysical profile.) The placenta slowly ages over the course of pregnancy and generally by 42 weeks it no longer efficiently eliminates wastes or delivers glucose to your baby, says Dr. Margaret Pfeifer, an obstetrician and gynecologist at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. If your caregiver feels your baby's at risk, she may recommend inducing labor.

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