Basics of Physical Changes during Pregnancy for Dads

By Mathew Miller, Sharon Perkins

A pregnant woman at the end of the second trimester still looks pretty much like her normal self to a dad-to-be. Your partner may not even be wearing maternity clothes at this point, letting large shirts (probably yours) and pants a size or two larger than normal cover her cute little belly.

All that changes in the third trimester for most women. Some lucky women never look all that pregnant, even when delivering 8-pound babies.

Between the seventh and ninth months, expect these changes in your partner’s physique and physical condition:

  • Backaches are common because of the strain from the additional weight in front.

  • Breasts may start leaking a few drops of colostrum, the first fluids produced after birth. They may also look humongous because they contain around 2 pounds of extra weight — each!

  • Constipation and hemorrhoids can occur due to sluggish, compressed bowels. Pain and rectal bleeding can accompany hemorrhoids. Stool softeners and lots of roughage, along with physical activity, can help.

  • Feet and ankles often swell, especially if you’re having a summer baby. Encourage her to rest with her feet up as much as possible.

  • Heartburn becomes more severe, but despite old wives’ tales, it’s in no way related to the amount of hair the baby will have.

  • Her center of gravity shifts, making falls more likely. Hide her high heels and, if she’ll let you, take her arm when walking, like a proper gentleman.

  • Interest in sex may be at either extreme; it may be the last thing she’s interested in or one of the things that interests her most. Hormones are funny that way.

  • Itchy skin is a huge problem for some pregnant women in the third trimester. Creams help keep the skin moisturized and decrease itching.

  • Leg cramps occur because of nerve compression by the growing uterus.

  • She may have trouble sleeping, even though she’s always tired. Try tying a 6-pound, baby-shaped weight to your abdomen, and you’ll quickly understand why.

  • Shortness of breath comes with exertion because the baby is pressing on her lungs. When the baby drops, she may feel relief, but the tradeoff is increased frequency of urination.

  • Urination becomes almost a full-time job. She may need to get up in the night to urinate, possibly more than once.

  • The uterus can be felt a few inches above her belly button at the start of the third trimester and up under her ribs by the end.

  • Vaginal discharge increases, so expect the reappearance of sanitary pads in the linen closet.

  • Varicose veins may pop out on her legs; they may itch or ache. Spider veins, small broken capillaries, may also occur on her face, neck, and arms.

Contractions may also begin to occur on and off, starting first with Braxton Hicks contractions, which don’t change the cervix and are felt mostly in the front of the abdomen rather than in the back.

As the due date approaches, more contractions may come and go, usually with just enough frequency to have you leaping for the suitcase and putting it in the car before they peter out. Don’t worry; the real thing will start soon enough!