When I was pregnant last year, I remember how glorious the second trimester was for me. I no longer felt nauseous every second of every day like the first trimester, and I felt safer that I would be able to stay pregnant and have a viable pregnancy. I was so excited to start feeling my son kick and a tiny bump was finally there. Then the third trimester hit. My belly became massive and uncomfortable, my anxiety and depression went through the roof, and I was miserable. So I’m here to tell you the third trimester blues are real, and you’re definitely not alone if you’re experiencing them.
The third trimester. Not only are you feeling practically immobile, but everything feels like a chore. Washing your hair feels like you’re running a marathon, and shaving your legs? Forget about it. Even though you are so excited and so ready to meet that baby who has been kicking you since the second trimester, you still can’t shake the down-in-the-dumps feeling. And that’s OK. It’s normal to feel down when you’re not feeling like your best self, and if you’re anxiously waiting the arrival of a brand new tiny human. There’s also the lack of sleep and peeing 10 times a night that will make you feel a little down about your current situation, and add all those changing hormones? Your mood is toast. Of course you feel blue, right?
But it can actually go deeper than that according to Dr. Idries Abdur-Rahman, an OB-GYN, medical travel blogger, and one-half of the Twin Doctors for TwinDoctorsTV. "The third trimester blues are similar to the baby blues except they occur during the last third of pregnancy, the third trimester (from 28 weeks until delivery)," he says in an email interview with Romper. As to why they happen, "much like the baby blues, the third trimester blues don't just have one cause, and they are related to fluctuating hormone levels and physical discomforts exacerbated by life circumstances (lack of sleep, uncertainty about the future, financial concerns, relationship issues, etc.)," he says.
These blues can come as early as 7 months, but they usually really kick in those last few weeks before you deliver your baby. How do you know if you're just feeling crummy, or if you have third trimester blues? Abdur-Rahman says, "The third trimester blues are characterized by sadness, tearfulness, feelings of guilt, anxiety, irritability, and fear about the future (labor, delivery, and parenthood)."
And if you have a prior history of depression — postpartum or generalized — Abdur-Rahman says that much like the baby blues, you'll have a higher risk of developing the third trimester blues. "And mothers who develop the third trimester blues have a higher risk of developing the baby blues or postpartum depression."
But you're definitely not alone. "Do most pregnant women experience fear, anxiety, and at times sadness during pregnancy? Absolutely! Does it rise to the level of the third trimester blues? Likely not, but many expectant mothers and new mothers don't feel comfortable discussing sadness surrounding pregnancy and new motherhood, so there is likely a lot of bias from under-reporting," Abdur-Rahman says.
To make sure you're doing "OK" and that you're not experiencing full-blown third trimester blues, he says it helps to have an attentive partner, and for you to monitor yourself for signs during and after pregnancy. Do you have excessive sadness, tearfulness, fear, anxiety, irritability, and feelings of guilt? You may need to talk to your healthcare provider.
Additionally, Abdur-Rahman suggests using the Edinburgh Depression Scale. "And we recommend that all expectant mothers take it at least once per trimester and at least twice after delivery. It asks and scores 10 simple questions and it is one of the easiest ways to spot developing depression in any form," he says.
The third trimester blues are a real thing, and are much more than the normal irritability, discomfort, and impatience you may be feeling in your third trimester. If you have a history of anxiety or depression, be sure to let your healthcare provider know so you can be evaluated to make sure you don't need additional assistance. Good luck, mama. Everything will be OK.