Over the course of your pregnancy, you've likely experienced excitement, nervousness, curiosity and unfortunately, some aches and pains. By week 36, your body has made an amazing transformation and your baby has grown by leaps and bounds. She is now close to six pounds and will continue to gain about one ounce each day. As you near the end of your pregnancy, you may be experiencing new kinds of pains. It's important to know which of these are common at this stage and which are cause for concern.
Hip Pain and Pelvic Pressure
Hormonal changes occur throughout pregnancy. During your third trimester, high levels of relaxin hormones are working to help loosen your pelvic joints, in preparation for childbirth. This, and the fact that you're carrying a significant amount of extra pregnancy weight, can cause you to experience some hip pain.
Pelvic pressure is often experienced at this point in pregnancy as well. Your baby begins to drop lower, putting pressure on your pelvis and lower abdomen. If he is very low in your pelvis, you may also experience pressure in your vagina, notes BabyCenter.
Back pain is something as many as 50 to 70 percent of women experience at some point during pregnancy, reports the American Pregnancy Association. It is most common during the later stages of pregnancy, as the baby grows and weight increases.
Back pain can be caused by a variety of things, including weight gain, poor posture or changes in posture as your center of gravity moves forward and stress. As your pelvic joints soften and loosen, this can lessen the amount of support your back normally has, also causing back pain.
Headaches During Pregnancy
Another common complaint during pregnancy is the frequency of headaches. Generally, headaches are not a symptom of anything serious. Speak with your doctor about safe over-the-counter medications to treat your headaches.
Consult with your doctor if you have headaches that will not go away with rest and medication. Headaches near the end of pregnancy can sometimes be a sign of preeclampsia, warns MedlinePlus.
Leg Aches and Pains
You're likely to feel some aches and pains in your legs around this point too. Excess weight is the main reason for this. Leg cramps also occur in the last months of pregnancy, especially at night.
The nerves in your legs are sometimes pressed on by your growing uterus, which can lead to some tingling and numbness in your legs and toes.
Leg aches and pains are usually not serious but if you begin to experience swelling and pain in just one leg, it could be a symptom of a blood clot. Contact your doctor right away should this happen, suggests MedlinePlus
Minor abdominal discomfort is not something that's uncommon for a pregnant woman. It's often harmless but can sometimes be a sign of something dangerous. Any time you experience abdominal pain that is severe or doesn't go away with some rest, it's important for you to speak with your doctor, notes BabyCenter.
A urinary tract infection can cause discomfort in your lower abdomen, along with frequent urination, pain when urinating and cloudy or bloody urine. These symptoms, along with chills, sweats, fever, back pain, nausea and vomiting can mean you have a kidney infection.
Gas and bloating occur during pregnancy because of the pressure on your stomach and your slowed digestion.
Indigestion and heartburn may occur, also thanks to your slowed digestion, especially if you eat greasy or spicy foods or lie down right after you eat, notes the March of Dimes.
Constipation can lead to discomfort and is also caused by the change in your digestion and the pressure your uterus places on your rectum.
Round ligament pain can occur on one or both side of your groin or lower abdomen. As your ligaments stretch to help support your uterus, it can cause a dull ache or brief, sharp pains.
Placenta problems can cause you to experience pain, too. Placental abruption sometimes occurs in the last weeks of pregnancy. It can cause your placenta to start peeling away from the uterus, causing low amniotic fluid. Symptoms include tenderness in the uterus, back pain, abdominal pain, rapid contractions and vaginal bleeding.
Placenta previa is a condition where the placenta blocks the cervix. Sometimes placenta previa has no symptoms at all but can sometimes cause sudden vaginal bleeding, pain in the lower back and abdomen and contractions.
Both are serious conditions and require emergency care, warns WebMD.
Braxton Hicks Contractions or Pre-term Labor
Braxton Hicks contractions are a completely normal part of pregnancy. In the 36th week and beyond, these otherwise painless contractions may begin to cause some discomfort and can start becoming more regular. Braxton Hicks contractions will not grow stronger, come closer together or last longer though, unlike true labor contractions.
Cramp-like contractions in the latter part of pregnancy can be brought on by dehydration. This will not result in labor but can make you quite uncomfortable. Avoid these by drinking at least 32 ounces of water each day. Avoid caffeinated drinks and limit the amount of time you spend in the hot sun.
Pre-term labor occurs between 20 and 37 weeks, according to WebMD. Premature labor can be caused by things like an infection of the uterus, drug or alcohol use, breaking of a mom's water, placenta abruption or being pregnant with multiple babies. Symptoms of pre-term labor include leaking amniotic fluid, lower back pain that won't go away, pelvic pressure, cramping and contractions that are regular and get stronger. If you have these symptoms and suspect premature labor, seek medical assistance right away.
- Women's Healthcare Topics: Pregnancy: Week 36
- BabyCenter: Your Pregnancy: 36 Weeks
- American Pregnancy Association: Back Pain During Pregnancy
- WebMD: Back Pain in Pregnancy
- BabyCenter: Braxton Hicks Contractions
- Mother and Child Health: Preventing Dehydration and Pre-Term Contractions
- WebMD: Preterm Labor-Topic Overview
- Mayo Clinic:What Are the Treatment Options for Low Amniotic Fluid During Pregnancy?
- WebMD: Placenta Previa - Topic Overview
- Mayo Clinic: Placental Abruption
- Photo Credit View Stock/View Stock/Getty Images
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