In the last trimester you're just not as secure on your feet as you used to be. Your center of gravity has shifted forward, your joints are less stable, and you can barely see your feet. All of these things make it more likely that you're going to fall down if you're not careful.
Although the heroines of many soap operas still lose their babies when they fall tragically (or get pushed) down the stairs, a fall during pregnancy is not as dangerous to the baby as was once believed. Your baby is cradled in an incredibly shock-resistant womb. He is protected by amniotic fluid, tough membranes, the flexible, muscular uterus, and the abdominal cavity, which is made up of muscles, bone, and fat. It would take quite an accident to penetrate that fortress.
If an accident were severe enough to cause a problem, however, the damage would most likely be to the placenta. (Remember, this is the organ that attaches to the uterine wall and supplies the fetus with nutrients and carries away wastes.) Trauma to the abdomen can cause the placenta to pull away from the uterine wall. This occurrence needs immediate attention. If you notice vaginal bleeding, leaking amniotic fluid, abdominal pain, or uterine contractions after an accident, call your doctor immediately. He will probably want to meet you in the emergency room.
As you begin to feel yourself getting wobbly on your feet, pay attention to things in your environment that could be hazardous, including the following:
- To avoid slips and falls in the bath or shower, make sure the tub has a nonslip surface or a slip-resistant mat. If you have trouble getting in or out of the tub, ask your partner for help, or bathe only when someone else, who can help you if you fall, is in the house.
- Don't climb on anything. If you need something that's up on a high shelf, leave the ladder (or worse yet, the chair) where it is and call your partner or a friend for help. Keep your feet on the ground.
- Watch your feet. It's time to give up high-heeled shoes completely. Think twice about your floppy slippers and sandals. And stay away from wet, slippery floors.
- Trip-proof your house. Look around for potential hazards, such as stray electrical cords, loose throw rugs, stuff on the stairs, and poorly lit stairs and hallways.
- Work with the weather. If it's raining, be aware that the ground might be slippery. If it's cold, look out for ice patches. If the leaves are falling, watch where you step—they can be very slippery. If it's snowing, stay inside!
You can also avoid trouble by getting more sleep. In the third trimester, you're bound to feel more fatigued and clumsier than usual and this can put you at risk for accidents.