Congratulations! When you first thought about how you would survive those nine months, it seemed like a long time to prepare and ponder this new little one’s arrival. As with most things, the first two trimesters have probably seemed to fly by and now you are in the final stretch!
Hopefully this third trimester will continue to go smoothly, and here are some tips to ensure that it does.
1. Take It Easy On Yourself
It can be very tempting to keep pushing yourself to be as active as you were before. You may find that you won’t be able to do as many things in the day as you did before you were pregnant and that is okay. You are growing a whole other person, after all. Put your feet up to reduce swelling in the legs and learn to relax a little bit more. Take some time off at the end of the day for yourself to read or soak in the bath. Say no to weekend engagements if you feel the need to rest and get a good night’s sleep. Listen to your body and your heart as you grow closer and closer to meeting your baby.
2. Pamper Yourself A Little
Your body is working really hard to sustain, grow and nourish your baby and by now, it is really starting to take a toll. To increase and enhance your comfort at this very uncomfortable stage, treat yourself to little luxuries like massages, pedicures and nursing bras and panties. If you can find a chiropractor who is trained in pregnancy spinal adjustments, it is well worth getting a few treatments. It will help keep your pelvic balance and spinal aligned and can release muscles that may impede labor if they are pulled too tightly.
3. Stay Hydrated And Active
It is really important to stay hydrated throughout your pregnancy, especially at the end. Your body needs lots of water for cell regeneration, proper circulation and maintaining blood supply to the baby’s amniotic fluid. If water has become boring to you, don’t turn to pop or juice. Instead find ways to spice up your water, like adding fruit, cucumbers or a little carbonation for a variety of tastes. Coconut water is a great option too. It is very hydrating and full of electrolytes and loaded with potassium.
While being active is the last thing you will probably feel like doing, keeping fit and getting in a lot of movement will help improve your mood, aid your digestion and help you sleep better at night. Staying active during these last few months will also aid you to have an easier and safer labor with fewer complications. If walking has become difficult, swimming is a great third trimester activity as it is not weight bearing and you aren’t fighting against gravity with the extra weight you are carrying.
4. Keep Heartburn At Bay
As your baby continues to grow, your organs get compressed and pushed upwards making heartburn and acid reflux symptoms much stronger. To help combat this, try eating several small meals during the day. Leaving a little extra space in your stomach helps lower the amount of acid reflux you may experience.
Try to avoid foods you know will give you trouble and keep antacids on hand to soothe any heartburn you experience. Drinking lots of peppermint or ginger tea can help. Some women find it helpful to keep ginger or peppermint candies in their purse to soothe these symptoms as well.
If you find you are unable to sleep due to heartburn or acid reflux, trying keeping your head and shoulders slightly elevated to minimize your discomfort. Drinking a glass of warm milk before bed can also help calm any tummy trouble and help ease you into dreamland.
5. Take A Non-hospital Childbirth Class And A Hospital Childbirth Class
You’ve probably heard that nothing is as natural as giving birth. Maybe you’ve even heard it said that giving birth is as natural as walking. While it’s true that women’s bodies are designed to give birth and that birth is a natural process, like walking, it is a skill that requires some learning and practice.
If you are hoping to have a smooth and snag free labor or if you are just feeling unsure about the whole process, taking a birth class is a good idea. While many couples opt to take an in-hospital class, the classes at the hospital are really designed to orient you to the practices at that particular hospital and to inform you of all of the hospital procedures. The majority of these classes give very little information on what to expect during labor and how to get through labor itself. This is exactly why I require every one of my clients to take some kind of birth class so they are more prepared for what will happen during labor and will hopefully learn some valuable information as well as some coping skills for labor and the newborn period. Even if you are planning to have a standard hospital birth, having a little knowledge and a few skills can prevent needless interventions.
6. Get Maternity Pictures
This is such a special time and whether it’s your first or third child, it is worth documenting. Plenty of photographers have maternity specials and if the budget is pinched, even setting aside some time to put on nice clothing and have a family member or a friend take some pictures in the back yard or at a local park, can result in some great shots. With a decent digital camera and the right light, an amateur can take pictures that are a perfect fit for your baby book.
7. Create Your Birth “Wish List”
While making a birth plan is a trendy thing to do, I recommend that no one goes to the hospital without one. Birth plans are useful for a variety of reasons.
First, they help to make you aware of the options you have while giving birth, options many of us aren’t even aware of. Second, thinking about a birth plan helps you visualize the kind of birth you want to have and narrow down thing things you need to help that happen. Third, crafting a birth plan makes you more conscious of the things that are really important to you during the birth and newborn care period as well as the things that you are willing to give on if things don’t go as planned.
Finally, although these documents are usually called birth plans, I encourage all of my child birth students and doula clients to view this as more of a wish list, a plan for what you would like to have happen in your ideal birth. Birth, like life, doesn’t always go as planned. Some things may go wrong or at least not in the direction you expected. Being flexible, remaining open, and knowing what you are willing to give a little on, will help you if and when there are bumps in your birth journey.
8. Make A Birth Playlist
Not only will setting your labor to music give you something to occupy your time and keep your mind off when you go into labor, it can also help you pass the time and enhance your coping skills during your labor and delivery.
Be sure to have a variety of types of music in your soundtrack. You will probably want upbeat, familiar tunes for the early part of labor to bolster your mood and keep things moving. Later in labor you will want soothing and calming music like romantic ballads or classical pieces.
Some couples I have worked with have used their favorite workout tracks for the pushing phase and welcome songs to play during the first minutes that they are welcoming their new baby.
I am not a huge classical fan but I made sure to include plenty of it in my own soundtrack because I instinctively knew it would create a calm, peaceful atmosphere for certain parts of my labor. I was glad I did because it definitely came in handy and I ended up skipping past songs I thought I would really want to listen to because I just needed something different during that particular phase of labor.
9. Finalize A Birth Location And Prepare Accordingly
Each birth location has pluses and minuses. If you find yourself feeling the need to change, even if it is just a few weeks before you give birth, do so. Whether it is the location or the birth provider that is giving you pause, do what is right for you and your baby, regardless of the extra details it may involve.
No matter where you give birth there are a few things to bring that will make your labor and delivery a little more pleasant. While many birth locations do not allow candles with a flame, many do allow flame-less LED candles. Dim lighting can be very relaxing and create a cozy ambiance. You can even find scented ones made with a wax base and that will release fragrance while they are lit. Hospitals often smell like, well… hospitals, sterile and uninviting. If this bothers you, nothing says you can’t bring your own plug in air fresheners to make your room smell more comforting and home-like.
Finally, while many birth locations will issue you a gown for labor, delivery and the postpartum period, you will probably be more comfortable in your own pajamas and robe, especially after birth. Bringing your own support pillow may help you get more rest and don’t forget warm fuzzy socks. Many birth locations keep the temperature on the cool side to keep their bustling doctors and nurses in comfort.
10. Give Into The Urge To Nest
Nesting is biology’s way to urge us to ensure our lives are safe and be ready for our baby’s arrival. It is also a great way to pass those final weeks and months leading up to having a brand new family member. Whether it is fussing over the nursery, deciding on a post-maternity leave childcare provider, or interviewing pediatricians, it is these little details that will make the transition from a couple to a family so much easier for all involved. Your loved ones may criticize you for doing too much, fussing too many details. While you definitely need your rest, getting everything perfect now leaves you less to worry about once your little one arrives and you can just enjoy softly settling into life with them.
Again, congratulations to you and I wish you a happy pregnancy, labor and delivery as well as a speedy recovery and a beautiful post-partum period!