Third trimester worries

From holidays to running in pregnancy, here are some common concerns about the third trimester.

We've booked a holiday and I'll be 30 weeks pregnant. Will I be able to fly?

Most airlines will not carry pregnant women on their planes after 37 weeks, or 32 weeks if they are having twins or triplets. You should always check with your particular airline, though, as their rules may be different.

If you are over 28 weeks, some airlines will also ask you for a letter from your midwife or doctor confirming your due date and saying that they are happy for you to fly.

If you are flying out of the country, you must check that you are covered by travel and medical insurance. Check that your insurance will cover you for the whole of your holiday. This is important – if you went into labour early, maternity care and the care and transport home of a premature baby could cost thousands of pounds.

Book an appointment with your doctor to talk through your travel plans if you’re worried. You should also tell your midwife you are planning to be away, particularly if you have had any complications during your pregnancy. If you need jabs to visit a particular country, you need to check whether they are safe in pregnancy.

Carry your notes with you in your hand luggage. During the flight, avoid coffee, tea and alcohol and be sure to drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.

You are at higher risk of developing a blood clot (deep vein thrombosis or DVT) in pregnancy. Women who are overweight are at extra risk of this. If your flight is more than four hours long:

  • wear support stockings or socks on the plane
  • keep moving your feet and get up to walk around as often as you can
  • drink water throughout the flight.

My bump is so big and I just can’t seem to get comfortable at night. How can I get some sleep?

It’s very hard to get to sleep when you’re so big and uncomfortable. It doesn’t help that some babies are more active at night and keep you awake!

Use as many pillows as you need around your bump. You can also try putting pillows between your legs – do whatever feels comfortable for you. You may find extra pillows to support your back will help as well.

Avoid lying on your back in the later weeks as the weight from your baby can put pressure on a major blood vessel, This is not good for your baby. Once you have a bump, you’ll probably find that you naturally avoid lying on your back as it’s not comfortable. If you wake up on your back, don’t panic. It’s likely that you’ll have woken up because of the discomfort fairly quickly, so no harm will have been done. Read more about why sleeping on your side is best for your baby.

If you still can’t sleep, try gently massaging your tummy and practising your breathing and relaxation techniques from your antenatal classes or pregnancy yoga. You may need to plan a nap during the day to catch up on your sleep. Remember to sleep on your side when napping too.

My fingers hurt and keep going numb. Why is this?

Even your fingers can be affected by pregnancy! If you find your fingers are becoming numb, you may have carpal tunnel syndrome. This often affects women whose job involves repetitive hand movements, such as working on a keyboard. Carpal tunnel syndrome often feels worse at night.

Give your hands a shake whenever you can and if you use a keyboard, try to keep your elbows above your wrists.

If you’re struggling to cope with the pain, talk to your doctor or midwife.

I run regularly but I’m 29 weeks now. Is it safe to carry on?

As you’re used to running, it’s safe and healthy for you to carry on in pregnancy as long as you feel comfortable. It’s important to make sure you drink plenty of water. Also, you should warm up before you run and cool down afterwards. Try to avoid your heart rate getting so high that you can’t hold a conversation while you run.

As your bump grows, running may become uncomfortable. This is because of the hormone relaxin, which loosens your ligaments. This means there is less support for your knees, ankles and back when you’re running, which could make you more at risk of injury.

Running in pregnancy will also put pressure on your pelvic floor muscles so it’s important to do your pelvic floor exercises all through your pregnancy. Your breasts may be tender and uncomfortable when you run so you should wear a good sports bra that supports them.

Your bump will be growing fast now and you may find that fairly soon you might prefer to switch to low-impact exercise, such as walking or swimming. See how you’re feeling and talk to your midwife about what is right for you.

As the birth gets closer I'm worried about meeting my baby. What if I don't love them?

It can be very hard to imagine loving someone you haven’t met yet! Try talking to your baby in your bump. Just as you can feel your baby turning, kicking and even hiccupping inside you during these last few months, your baby can hear your voice and feel the touch when you stroke your tummy.

Some women feel an intense love for their babies when they are born, but for many others it takes a few weeks or even months to adjust and to grow into loving their baby. Either way, it’s entirely normal. It doesn’t have to be love at first sight for you to be a great mum.

If you’re worried about how you feel now or after the birth, talk to your doctor, midwife or health visitor.

The weeks after the birth can be an intensely emotional time so it’s good to plan for it now. It’s especially useful to arrange for someone to help mind your baby and allow you to get enough sleep to recover from the birth. 

  1. RCOG (2006) Exercise in Pregnancy: Statement No. 4, London, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists:
  2. Stacey T, Thompson JMD, Mitchell EA, Ekeroma AJ, Zuccollo JM, McCowan LME (2011) ‘Association between maternal sleep practices and risk of late stillbirth: a case-control study’, BMJ 342: d3403: doi:
  3. Smith MV, Marcus PS, Wurtz LD (2008) ‘Orthopedic issues in pregnancy’, Obstetrical and Gynecological Survey 63(2): 103–11:
  4. RCOG (2006) Recreational Exercise and Pregnancy: Information for you, London, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists:
  5. Macdonald S, Magill-Cuerden J (2012) Mayes’ Midwifery, 14th edition, London, Ballière Tindall
  6. Clapp JF (2006) ‘Influence of endurance exercise and diet on human placental development and fetal growth’, Placenta 27(6–7): 527–34: doi: 10.1016/j.placenta.2005.07.010.
Review dates
Reviewed: 01 April 2015
Next review: 01 April 2018

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