During the third trimester, an expectant mother is anxious but also happy that they are almost giving birth. The discomfort as you waddle around on your swollen feet, worries about how the labour will go and how healthy your baby is, may make you wish the baby would just pop out.
At this time, many of the worst risks and symptoms you and your baby experience are already over and the long awaited due date is closing in.
It was the same for Allen Nanyanzi, a mother of three. Her first pregnancy was not as bad in the first trimester, she had spotting but it cleared in two days.
Many people had told her about morning sickness but she did not experience it. “Everything apart from the two-day spotting in the second month was normal. I went for my first, second and third antenatal visit and everything was normal,” she says.
In the seventh month, however, Nanyanzi’s feet started swelling. She immediately went to hospital and the doctor told her that her blood pressure had risen. She was given medication to lower the pressure and was put on bed rest. After a week, she was discharged because the pressure was normal.
“After three weeks, the swelling was on again. I heeded the doctor’s advice and went to hospital immediately. I was diagnosed with preeclampsia and was told that the baby had to be removed as soon as my blood pressure was back to normal,” she recalls.
She was given medication but her blood pressure failed to normalise. “I saw doctors run up and down as they tried all means but things failed. I started getting nervous, started sweating because I feared I was going to lose my first born. I asked the doctors to do whatever they could to save it,” she says. By the time the pressure normalised, the baby had stopped moving. “The doctors said it had died. I had induced labour and was told to push normally. This was the worst moment in my life. The thought that I was going through pain for a dead baby made me cry throughout the delivery process. Other women had their babies cry after delivery but mine was dead,” she recalls.
For the subsequent births, Nanyanzi has always gone to hospital for review as soon as she clocks seven months and takes medication to keep her pressure normal.
Like Nanyanzi, many women notice some symptoms during their third trimester and ignore them yet some are fatal for both mother and baby.
Blurred vision, dizziness, headaches
Headaches that often make you feel dizzy and your vision blurry could be symptoms of preeclampsia. They may be accompanied by swollen hands, stomach pain (especially on the right side), and high blood pressure.
Dr Charles Kiggundu, an obstetrician/gynaecologist at Kawempe general hospital, says if it is not treated, a mother with preeclampsia will develop eclampsia, which causes seizures, kidney failure, and the death of mother and baby.
“You will need a variety of medications to bring down your blood pressure, prevent seizures, and improve your liver and kidney function,” Dr Kiggundu says.
After the blood pressure returns to normal, the baby must be delivered as soon as possible. You may need to undergo induced labour or a C-section, depending on how far you are into your third trimester.
Even if you do not have an existing health problem, many doctors recommend a preconception appointment with your health-care provider to ensure you are as healthy as you can be before you become pregnant. At this appointment your doctor may recommend steps you can take to reduce the risk of certain problems.
• Getting at least 400 micrograms of folic acid daily beginning before and continuing through pregnancy.
• Getting proper immunisations.
• Eating a healthy diet and maintaining proper weight.
• Getting regular physical activity, unless advised otherwise by your doctor.
• Avoiding cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs (except for medications approved by your doctor).
See your doctor immediately if you experience the following symptoms:
• Unusual discharge
• Baby stops moving