New Health Guide

What Causes Vaginal Pressure in the Third Trimester?

Jan 14, 2018

You’re in your last weeks of pregnancy, so vaginal pressure third trimester can be a bit concerning. While the heaviness of the uterus is very noticeable by over 80 to 90 percent of women during pregnancy, some may not even be phased by it. However, most feel some pressure towards their due date and it helps to know why this happens and when to worry. It also helps to hear experiences of other moms and what they did about it.

What Causes Vaginal Pressure in the Third Trimester?

If you are in the last weeks of pregnancy, your baby will drop down deep into your pelvis. This occurs around 2 to 4 weeks prior to your due date. It can be uncomfortable, and concerning, but is perfectly normal.

Your baby “drops” to get ready for labor and delivery. The pressure sensation is because your baby’s head is “engaged” into the pelvis and pushing against the cervix and top of the vagina. It may also cause pressure on your bladder, upper legs, and even your hip areas. The good news is when this happens, you may find it easier to breathe and eat a full meal again.

It is usually no reason for concern, but there may be some instances where you need to get checked out. Understanding the symptoms of normal “lightening/dropping” and early labor will help you know when to contact your doctor.

What Does It Feel Like?

If you are feeling vaginal pressure third trimester, it helps to understand all of the symptoms that go along with your baby “dropping” into your pelvis. This is what you may be feeling along with the pressure: 

1. Urgency to Pee

Once your baby drops into your pelvis, you may notice an urge to pee a lot again like you did in the beginning of pregnancy. This is because the baby’s head is now up against the wall of your bladder. This sometimes causes excessive urination during the night as well. Keep in mind that urinary tract infections also cause an urge to pee. If you have burning with urination, blood in your urine, fever, or pain you should get ahold of your doctor.

2. Chang in Belly Shape

Your belly may appear lower than usual or even change shape. Some women notice the baby looks “balled up” towards the lower pelvis. This means your baby has engaged and labor could be starting soon. If you notice this before week 37 and are having pain and contractions it could be early labor, you may need to let your doctor know or go to the hospital.

3. Less Heartburn

Since baby is lower, he or she will no longer be pushing on your abdomen. This means the heartburn you experienced in your second trimester and early third will be less. You may also be able to eat bigger meals than before.

4. Easier Breathing

It may be easier to breathe. As the baby drops into the pelvis, it opens up more room for the lungs to expand. Many women find they have to sleep propped up towards the end of the second trimester just to breathe at night. It may be easier to sleep flat now.

5. Pain

You may have some slight pain with vaginal pressure third trimester that feels like slight twinges or mild cramping on occasion. Watch for pain that is unbearable or gets worse when walking. Also, watch for pain that starts in the lower back and wraps around to the front. This could be labor starting and needs to get checked by your doctor or at the hospital.

When to Call Your Doctor

Vaginal pressure could be a sign of complications or even impending labor. Call your doctor or go to the hospital if you experience the following:

  • Vaginal pressure with bleeding or spotting
  • Contractions that get stronger, longer, and closer together
  • Your water breaks
  • You feel like you need to have a bowel movement and “push”
  • Sudden sharp pain in your abdomen or pelvis
  • Low back pain with vaginal pressure and contractions

If you believe you are in labor, do not try to drive yourself to the hospital. Have someone drive you or call 9-1-1.

Experiences of Other Moms 

Feeling vaginal pressure in your third trimester may concern you, but rest assured that many new moms feel this sensation. Keep in mind that if this happens earlier than 37 weeks you should contact your doctor, but after that it may just be your body getting ready for labor and delivery. Here are some experiences of other moms: 

“I’m at 34w 5d and I am starting to feel like my baby is sitting right on top of my vagina. There are also some twingy pains coming from my cervix once in a while. There is pressure and my Braxton-Hicks are getting more frequent. My doctor checked and I’m not dilating, so everything is okay for now.” Robin, age 30/Baby #3

“For the last few weeks I’ve been feeling pressure over my vagina. I’m 32 weeks and my hips are also very achy and sore. My doctor said the baby has dropped, and I’m dilated to 1 cm. I was put on bedrest for the next month to see if things clear up. I’m not having increasing contractions, so little one will be baking just a bit longer.” Kacey, age 25/Baby #1

“I’m 39w 6d and my doctor said my baby is still very high in the pelvis. I’m not feeling the head “down there” and was concerned. The doctor did an ultrasound in the office and my baby is in the breech position. They said that it can take all the way up until labor for the baby to flip and drop down. We shall see. In the meantime, they are having me do some pelvic tilt exercises to see if that helps.” Marie, age 29/Baby #4 

“I’m 36w2d and I started feeling pressure over my vagina. I’m feeling sharp pains in my cervix, so I called the doctor. They had me come in and I am starting to “efface and soften.” They said no dilation and not to worry that this is normal. I’m not having regular contractions, so it may be a little while. I can breathe better, but I pee all night long.” Carrie, age 34/baby#3

“My doctor told me if I have vaginal pressure third trimester to come in and get checked. I’m glad I did. I had this pressure at 32 weeks and was dilated to 3cm. They put me on bedrest until 37 weeks. My contractions were regular and I was having low back pains from 30 weeks. Lucky for me, my baby was born healthy at 37w 5d. Glad I didn’t ignore it.” Tracy, age 22/Baby #1