Best Yoga Poses for the Third Trimester of Pregnancy

Yoga poses for the third trimester
Image © fizkes / Adobe Stock

And just like that, you’ve reached your third trimester and are on the final stretch of your pregnancy. Time has probably zipped by faster than you had imagined, and you are only a few months or weeks away from holding a tiny human in your arms.

If yoga has been a part of your pregnancy journey throughout the first and second trimester, you are likely noticing that the intensity of your yoga practice has changed. Yoga will have become harder, but so have other activities such as walking, putting on your shoes, or sleeping.

You may also be having a hard time accepting your new body and wondering how much bigger your belly will be able to get.

Let’s take a look at what’s going on to have a better understanding of what yoga poses are best for the third trimester of pregnancy.

The Changes in Your Body during the Third Trimester

Your third trimester starts in week 28 and lasts until the end of pregnancy. A full-term pregnancy is anywhere between 39 to 41 weeks.  If your pregnancy goes past the 42-week mark, your doctor will most likely induce labor. 

Your baby is probably a very busy bee, especially when you’re trying to get to sleep. You’re feeling lots of activity, pokes, and jabs, which become stronger and more noticeable.

As your bump gets bigger, your uterus pushes the abdominal organs up and against your diaphragm. This short video is a great demonstration of what happens. As a result, there’s less room for your lungs, and breathing can get harder. You might run out of breath after walking a short distance or a flight of stairs, even if you were in a great physical shape before pregnancy.

You can also experience heartburn, fatigue, back pain, and abdominal aches due to the stretching of ligaments that support the uterus.

Your growing uterus rests on your bladder, which means more frequent bathroom breaks. This can wake you up several times at night, making it harder to get a good night’s rest.

Due to hormones, extra weight, and fluid retention, some women may also notice swelling of the ankles and feet. Soak your feet in cool water or elevate them to feel better. You may also need slightly bigger shoes.

It is also possible for you to start experiencing Braxton Hicks, which are also known as “practice contractions.” They feel like tightening of the abdomen that is neither painful nor regular. If you start experiencing contractions that are painful, getting closer together and don’t go away when you move, then that’s probably the real thing.

The third trimester of pregnancy is a good time to slow down and take things easy.

Your Baby’s Development in the Third Trimester

In the final trimester, your baby continues growing very fast, grow fat under their skin, and will double in weight over the past few months of pregnancy. It will grow from the size of an eggplant to the size of a watermelon.

Around 28 weeks, your baby will be able to open and close their eyes and sense light and dark. By week 31, your baby will get signals from all five senses, and even taste the food that you eat.

Your little one’s brain will also develop rapidly, enabling them to dream, blink, and regulate body temperature.

During months 7 and 8, your baby will transform cartilage into bone. Since the little one is getting all calcium from you, make sure to include plenty of calcium-rich foods into your diet, such as yogurt, cheese, black-eyed peas, and leafy greens.

During the final weeks of pregnancy, your baby’s digestive system will start building meconium, the baby’s first poop. It’s greenish-black, sticky, tar-like poop that you’ll have fun cleaning up when the baby finally arrives. It consists of everything the baby has collected inside your uterus, such as old skin and blood cells, vernix, the waxy substance that protects the skin, and lanugo, hairs that keep the baby warm.

And, finally, around 34 weeks your baby is expected to turn head down and settle into bottom-up birthing position, getting ready for their journey out.

10 Best Yoga Poses for the Third Trimester

As your pregnancy progresses, you may note that your body naturally craves different yoga poses, and your third-trimester practice will look completely different than it did before pregnancy. That’s absolutely normal. 

Make sure to move safely, take your time to come in and out of poses, and allow ample room for the belly. This may require you to use yoga props such as blocks or a bolster.

Below are some of the most beneficial prenatal yoga poses for the third trimester.

1. Table Top

Table Top Pose can be beneficial to help your baby settle in the correct position. In this yoga pose, your belly faces the floor and makes a hammock, in which the baby can lie.

Since your baby’s back is the heaviest part of its body, gravity will pull it down, and it will settle where it has more space. If, however, you spend most of your third trimester leaning back, your baby’s back can settle against your spine, making delivery harder for both of you.

Table Top can also help alleviate lower back pressure.

Child’s Pose can also be beneficial for the same reason. If it feels more comfortable, prop your upper body on a bolster.

You can also make circles with your hips and “wag your tail” while in Table Top to stretch your sides, improve hip mobility, and release tension.

2. Cat Cows

Cat-Cow flow helps you strengthen your core, namely muscles in the lower back and lower abs. They also increase hip mobility, and help to release tension and ease lower back pain as well as labor. 

3. Puppy Pose

Puppy Pose combines the benefits of Downward Dog and Child’s Pose. It can release tension from the hips and upper back and stretched the torso. It can also provide relief for your bladder if you get regular kicks and jabs from your baby.

From Table Top, move your hands forward and lower your forehead or chin on the mat. Widen your knees if your belly needs more space.

4. Low Lunge

It is beneficial to include a wide variety of hip-opening yoga poses during the third trimester. Both Low and High Lunges help to strengthen and lengthen the muscles in the legs. However, Low Lunges may feel safer and easier as your pregnancy progresses.

Low lunges also help to stretch the hip flexors. If you have a sedentary job or spend lots of time sitting down, hip flexors tend to tighten and shorten. Low Lunges are great to counter that.

If you struggle with flexibility or balance or there’s not enough room for your belly, use yoga blocks to prop yourself up.

5. Lizard Pose

Lizard Pose is a way to take Low Lunges a step further and keep working on lengthening the hip flexors. Lower your forearms onto blocks if that makes the pose more accessible.

Keep in mind that you will naturally be more flexible during pregnancy. Therefore, be cautious and take a step back if you have reached your limit.

6. Malasana

Malasana or yogi squat helps to release tension in the lower back, hips, and ankles.

It also helps to release the pelvic floor. While strengthening pelvic muscles is beneficial for pregnancy, labor, and recovery, working only en strengthening the pelvic area can lead to tense pelvic muscles. This can lead to a harder birth, and it’s common for athletes or yogis with a strong practice to experience that.

Therefore, Malasana is a beneficial pose to work on releasing the muscles to counter that.

If Malasana is uncomfortable or you experience balance issues, place a rolled-up blanket under your heels or a sit on a yoga block while you use your elbows to open your knees.

It is, however, best to avoid the pose if your baby is in a breech position.

7. Wide-Legged Forward Fold

Seated and Standing Wide-Legged Forward Fold are both great yoga poses for the third trimester. They also help to release lower back pain, improve hip mobility, lengthen inner thigh muscles, and release the pelvic floor muscles.

You may have a harder time maintaining balance in Standing Wide-legged Forward Fold due to the weight of your belly pulling on your midline. If that’s your case, place your hands on blocks. Make sure to fold from the hip rather than bend your lower back and keep your back straight.

In Seated Wide-Legged Forward Fold, your belly will not permit you to go all the way down to the floor. So, prop yourself up on forearms or blocks as you fold forward with your back straight.

8. Goddess Pose

You may not feel like a goddess during your third trimester, but Goddess Pose can definitely make you feel better. It can strengthen the leg muscles, lengthen inner thing muscles, and relax the pelvic muscles.

You can try a few variations rather than remain static. Try straightening your legs and lifting your arms up on the inhale and lowering into Goddess Pose on the exhales. Another great variation is placing your hands on your knees and alternating lowering your shoulders and turning the torso. This mild twist lengthens your back muscles, releases the tension in the back, and gives your inner things and extra stretch.

9. Butterfly Pose

Also known as Cobbler’s Pose, Butterfly Pose can stretch inner thing muscles and release the pelvic floor. It’s suitable for the beginning or the end of your practice so that you can take some time to rest, relax, and clear your mind.

In Butterfly Pose, keep your back straight. If that’s a challenge, sit up on a folded blanket. You can also place blankets under your knees if the stretch in your inner things feels a bit too much.

10. Modified Savasana

Things may get hectic on your end, so taking some time to relax and do nothing may be just what you need to. Due to the weight of your belly, you should not do regular Savasana. However, you can also enjoy the benefits from modified Savasana during pregnancy.

Lie on your side or prop your upper body up on blocks, bolsters, and blankets. Use plenty of props to feel comfortable.

Last but not least, make sure to stay safe, follow your doctor’s advice, and rest as much as you can.


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