Common Questions in Later Pregnancy


What kind of physical changes can I expect during this part of my pregnancy?

The following are common changes that pregnant women experience during their second and third trimesters. Each pregnancy is unique, and you may experience several of these, or none at all.

  • Skin changes: including a darkening around eyes; stretch marks on abdomen, breasts, or upper thighs
  • Varicose veins of the legs, vulva, and anal area (hemorrhoids)
  • Round ligament pain may occur as the enlarging uterus stretches ligaments that help support it, causing sharp pain in the abdomen tat may last only seconds, or several minutes
  • Palpitations (heart pounding) are common for some women during pregnancy. If they are frequent or continuous, please let us know.
  • Joint pain, backache, and hip discomfort
  • Heartburn and indigestion

My belly gets very tight every once in a while. Are these contractions? Are they normal?

It is normal for the uterus to contract throughout pregnancy. These are called Braxton-Hicks contractions. They may become noticeable to you after about 20 weeks of pregnancy. They are irregular and erratic. If the contractions become regular, coming every 10-15 minutes, you may be experiencing preterm labor. Preterm labor is true labor that occurs between 20 and 37 weeks of pregnancy. The following are signs that often occur with preterm labor, although some are a normal part of a healthy pregnancy:

  • Regular contractions (tightenings) every 10-15 minutes. These are often painless.
  • Lower backache, either constant or rhythmic
  • Menstrual-like cramps
  • Increase or change in vaginal discharge
  • Pelvic pressure

If you are experiencing “tightenings” every 10-15 minutes, empty your bladder, then lie down on your left side and drink 3-4 glasses of liquid. If you are still contracting after one hour, please call the office immediately.

How often should my baby move?

You will learn your baby’s own activity pattern. Generally, after 28 weeks, you should feel at least 10 fetal kicks in an hour after a meal. Please call the office any time you are concerned about your baby’s activity.

Are there other things I should report?

Please call any time something concerns you. The following should always be reported:

  • Blurred or double vision
  • Headaches that are unusual or severe
  • Leaking fluid from the vagina
  • A decrease, or lessening, of baby’s activity

What about childbirth classes?

Childbirth classes are strongly recommended for couples having their first child Refresher classes are available for women who have already given birth but need to review breathing techniques for labor. Full classes last five weeks and the refresher is one week.

Because we are concerned about the health and safety of both you and your unborn child, please wear your seat belt. Lap belts must be kept under your growing belly. Shoulder belts can be safely used as normal.

Please feel free to call the office any time you have a question or concern. The Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) are available weekdays until about 4:30. A physician or Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) is on call at all other times and can be reached by calling the office number 717-397-8177.