How to Spot Critical and Alarming Third Trimester Risks


Pregnancy is a remarkable journey that culminates in the third trimester, a period full of anticipation and excitement. However, this final stage also comes with increased risks and potential complications that require vigilant attention.

Understanding and recognizing the danger signs during this critical time can make a significant difference in ensuring the safety and health of both the mother and the baby. This article explores the various warning signs that can arise in the third trimester of pregnancy and emphasizes the importance of prompt medical attention.

Understanding the Third Trimester

The third trimester spans from the 28th week of pregnancy until the birth of the baby, typically around the 40th week. This stage is characterized by rapid fetal growth and significant physical changes for the mother. As the baby develops, the mother’s body undergoes several adaptations to accommodate the growing fetus. While many of these changes are normal, some can indicate potential problems that need medical intervention.

Common Discomforts vs. Danger Signs

It is important to differentiate between common discomforts and genuine danger signs during the third trimester. Normal discomforts may include back pain, heartburn, and swelling in the legs and feet. These issues, though uncomfortable, are generally not harmful. However, certain symptoms require immediate medical attention.

1. Severe Abdominal Pain

While mild abdominal discomfort can be normal as the body adjusts, severe abdominal pain is a red flag. Intense pain in the lower abdomen can indicate conditions such as placental abruption, where the placenta detaches from the uterine wall, or preterm labor. Both conditions can pose serious risks to the mother and baby and necessitate urgent medical care.

2. Vaginal Bleeding

Any amount of vaginal bleeding during the third trimester should be taken seriously. It could signal placental abruption, placenta previa (where the placenta covers the cervix), or preterm labor. Light spotting might not be alarming, but heavy bleeding or bleeding accompanied by pain requires immediate medical evaluation.

ALSO READ  Banker murders Wife, Kills Self, left 8-Months baby orphan, drops message

3. Severe Headache

A persistent or severe headache that does not respond to usual remedies like hydration and rest could be a sign of preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a serious condition characterized by high blood pressure and often protein in the urine. It can lead to complications for both mother and baby if not treated promptly.

4. Changes in Vision

Blurry vision, seeing spots, or temporary loss of vision can also be symptoms of preeclampsia. These visual disturbances should not be ignored, especially if accompanied by other symptoms like severe headache or swelling.

5. Sudden Swelling

While mild swelling in the hands and feet is common, sudden and severe swelling in the face, hands, or feet can indicate preeclampsia. This condition requires immediate medical attention to prevent serious complications.

6. Reduced Fetal Movement

Fetal movement is an important indicator of the baby’s well-being. A noticeable decrease in movement, such as fewer than ten movements in two hours, can signal potential distress. If reduced fetal movement is observed, it is essential to contact a healthcare provider for further evaluation.

7. High Fever

A high fever (above 100.4°F or 38°C) during pregnancy can be a sign of infection, which can pose risks to both mother and baby. Common infections that may cause fever include urinary tract infections and respiratory infections. Prompt medical treatment is necessary to manage the infection and prevent complications.

8. Severe Shortness of Breath

While mild shortness of breath can be normal due to the growing uterus pressing against the diaphragm, severe or sudden shortness of breath is concerning. It could indicate conditions like pulmonary embolism, where a blood clot travels to the lungs, or severe anemia. Both conditions require urgent medical attention.

9. Persistent Vomiting

Occasional nausea and vomiting can be normal, but persistent vomiting, especially in the third trimester, can lead to dehydration and malnutrition. This condition, known as hyperemesis gravidarum, may require hospitalization and intravenous fluids to ensure the health of both mother and baby.

ALSO READ  Unveiling the Path to Empowered Motherhood

10. Chest Pain

Chest pain during pregnancy can be alarming and may indicate serious conditions such as heart problems or pulmonary embolism. Any chest pain, especially if accompanied by other symptoms like shortness of breath or dizziness, should be evaluated by a healthcare provider immediately.

11. Premature Rupture of Membranes (PROM)

Premature rupture of membranes refers to the breaking of the water (amniotic sac) before labor begins. If this occurs before 37 weeks, it can lead to preterm labor and increase the risk of infection. If PROM is suspected, immediate medical evaluation is necessary.

12. Itching All Over the Body

Severe itching, particularly on the hands and feet, can be a symptom of cholestasis of pregnancy. This liver condition can lead to complications, including preterm birth and fetal distress. Blood tests are required to diagnose cholestasis, and treatment usually involves medication and close monitoring.

13. Contractions Before 37 Weeks

Regular contractions before 37 weeks may indicate preterm labor. These contractions can be distinguished from Braxton Hicks contractions by their regularity, increasing intensity, and the fact that they do not subside with rest. Preterm labor requires immediate medical intervention to delay delivery and protect the baby’s health.

Importance of Regular Prenatal Visits

Regular prenatal visits play a crucial role in monitoring the health of both mother and baby. During these visits, healthcare providers can detect potential problems early, provide necessary treatments, and offer guidance on recognizing danger signs. Pregnant women should always communicate any concerns or unusual symptoms to their healthcare provider.

How to Respond to Danger Signs

Recognizing the danger signs is the first step, but knowing how to respond is equally important. Here are steps to take when experiencing any of the warning signs:

1. Contact Healthcare Provider: Immediately inform your healthcare provider about the symptoms. They can provide guidance on whether to visit the office, go to the hospital, or take other actions.

ALSO READ  What are some parenting secrets that no one shares publicly?

2. Go to the Hospital: If symptoms are severe or the healthcare provider advises it, go to the nearest hospital or maternity unit without delay.

3. Stay Calm: While it can be frightening to experience these symptoms, staying as calm as possible will help you think clearly and follow instructions.

4. Keep Records: If possible, keep a record of symptoms, including their onset, duration, and any factors that alleviate or worsen them. This information can be helpful for medical professionals.

Preventive Measures

While not all complications can be prevented, certain measures can reduce the risk of developing dangerous conditions in the third trimester:

1. Healthy Diet: Eating a balanced diet rich in nutrients supports overall health and can help prevent conditions like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.

2. Hydration: Staying well-hydrated helps prevent dehydration and related complications.

3. Regular Exercise: Moderate exercise, as approved by a healthcare provider, can improve circulation, reduce swelling, and promote overall well-being.

4. Adequate Rest: Ensuring sufficient rest and avoiding excessive stress can positively impact maternal health.

5. Monitoring Blood Pressure: Regularly checking blood pressure can help detect preeclampsia early.

6. Avoiding Harmful Substances: Avoiding alcohol, smoking, and illicit drugs is crucial for the health of both mother and baby.


The third trimester of pregnancy is a critical time when the risk of complications increases. By understanding and recognizing the danger signs, pregnant women can take prompt action to protect their health and the health of their baby.

Regular prenatal care, healthy lifestyle choices, and effective communication with healthcare providers are essential components of a safe and healthy pregnancy. If any concerning symptoms arise, seeking immediate medical attention can make a significant difference in the outcome.


Contact the founder,

My Midwife and I (MMI)

Nurse/Midwife: Joy Eke – Ilediagu

for more  information.