Oh, third trimester. It arrived so quickly, but yet feels like it is taking forever to pass. Suddenly your body has reached a whole new level of discomfort and with birth being around the corner, you’re feeling all the overwhelming mama prepping emotions. Everything just got really real.
As this final wave of your prenatal journey takes its course, you may notice a new world of physical, emotional and mental challenges. You’re on the homestretch and feeling it big time. Here are some tips to help you face each day with strength and positivity…
Alleviate the pain // Your body is experiencing serious strain. With the new weight and heavy pressure, you may face a boatload of new pain in your back, neck, pelvis, etc. For me, I was swimming in Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) by month 7 and was about as miserable as ever. The pain was unbearable at times. The best advice that was given to me: don’t ignore what hurts. Your body needs you right now. Reach out to your doctor and be as transparent as possible about what you’re feeling. This is not a time to cover anything up and try to be a hero. If you can be vulnerable to this process and open to help, you may receive really helpful recommendations that can bring some comfort back into your days.
Soften the swelling // You might experience pure terror as you notice severe swelling in areas of your body. Suddenly your feet feel like they are going to explode out of your shoes, your jewelry doesn’t fit, your face looks like you’ve got a mouthful of marshmallows, and you’re standing in front of your mirror horrified at the new puffiness.
Deep breaths. Swelling is totally normal in pregnancy and can be especially present in the heat of summer or when you’ve been on your feet for an extended period of time. Your body is producing more fluids to grow that beautiful baby and well, it just is what it is. With that said, there are some ways to help soften that swelling so you can feel less discomfort…
> Sit down more often! Give your body a break from standing.
> Elevate your feet while resting.
> Apply a cold compress to swollen body parts (I used this cold compress a ton).
> Wear compression socks (these were my go-to compression socks, especially when I was traveling).
> Reduce sodium intake.
> Escape the heat in search of a cooler place to relax.
> Stay hydrated to help your body hoard less water.
> Eat foods rich in vitamin C or E (i.e. melons, strawberries, potatoes, sunflower seeds, vegetable oils, tomatoes, etc.). These kinds of foods will help decrease that inflammation.
> Eat foods high in potassium (helps monitor the water to salt ratio in your body).
> Decrease caffeine intake = less urination = less dehydration!
> Drink dandelion tea because it encourages the elimination of extra fluids in the body.
> Increase circulation with massage and/or acupuncture.
Pamper yourself // Recognize the fact that your body and mind have been working overtime and need some extra attention before your little lovebug arrives. Ease the physical and mental exhaustion with some much-needed peace and relaxation. You deserve it!
Haven’t treated yourself in awhile? Here are some ideas. Go wild…
> Enjoy an afternoon at the spa and schedule a full body massage and/or relaxing facial treatment.
> Sign up for a prenatal yoga class and engage in some much-needed meditation.
> Take a personal day from work to simply unwind with your feet up.
> Escape the tight clothing frustrations and shop for flattering maternity pieces.
> Quit squeezing your toosh into painfully tight undies and go splurge on some more comfortable options.
> Take a babymoon and get away to somewhere new and inspiring!
> Dress up for a night out with your honey.
> Sit back, turn that massage chair on high and enjoy the relief of a nice pedicure.
> Visit your hairdresser and get a fresh cut.
> Take a break from your daunting house chores and hire a professional cleaner.
Prevent dehydration // Hyrdation should be on your health priority list, especially during those last couple months of pregnancy. Dehydration can throw your body into panic mode. Alongside dehydration can come contractions and potentially preterm labor, so prioritize that water intake!
Embrace nesting // Do you have a sudden urge to turn your kitchen inside out and add labels to your linen closet? That unavoidable desire to clean and sort every inch of your home is called nesting and it’s completely healthy. If scrubbing your floors and steaming your curtains makes you feel more ready to bring this baby home, then go nuts! This is your way of getting baby ready!
I was a nesting machine. Here are some storage organizing products that brought more order to our home and peace to mind…
Take your space // Sometimes you just need a break from the crowd to take a deep breath and be in your own space. If you suddenly feel this desire to walk away from a party or escape from your office for 10 minutes to just be alone, that is okay. You are facing hormonal ups and downs which can cause you to feel anxious in situations that may have never felt overwhelming in the past. If you need a little bit of space to collect your thoughts and emotions, don’t hesitate to take it!
Stock the fridge and pantry // I’m assuming you already know this but, you are going to be really, like REALLY, busy and tired during the first month of mamahood. If you’re looking for an activity, get those shelves and that fridge stocked with all the yum yums. Freeze meals and prep snacks because cooking will be the very last thing on your mind once your babe makes his or her appearance!
Document all the feels // Believe it or not, you will probably forget a lot of the feelings you have right now once your baby arrives and fills your world with diapers, snuggles and sleepless nights. Your thoughts will completely shift and you’ll find yourself having trouble recalling what it felt like to be pregnant. Here are some ways to capture this beautiful, crazy part of your life…
> Schedule a maternity photo session.
> Pick up a diary and start jotting down anything and everything.
> Invest in a camera (I highly recommend something like the Sony a5100), and have it readily accessible around the house. Pick it up from time to time for grabbing snapshots and video clips of your prenatal journey.
> You know all of your feelings and hopes for the future? Share them with your little one! Let your babe know that you loved them so much, even before they were born. What a special gift those letters would make someday!
> Pick up a birth book and document the months of anticipation and excitement leading up to delivery. This time is a special part of your daughter or son’s story!
Fight fatigue // It’s very difficult to eliminate fatigue at this stage in the game. The third trimester can be pretty exhausting, especially when you’re filling the night with multiple visits to the bathroom or laying wide awake unable to find a cozy position. Here are some tips to help you maximize some shut-eye and have more energy during the day…
> Pick up a maternity pillow and make it your new best friend. I loved the PharMeDoc because I was able to wrap both my arms and legs around it while gently resting my baby bump along the flexible material.
> Try hydrating more throughout the day rather than gulping down gallons of liquid right before you hit the hay. This way you are keeping up with your hydration without filling your bladder before you attempt to get some sleep.
> It’s time to adopt an earlier bedtime! Even if you can’t fall asleep until midnight, crawling into bed early in the evening and relaxing your muscles will help your body bounce back the next day.
> Say goodbye to that afternoon espresso. Caffeine late in the day isn’t going to help you get those extra z’s.
> Try getting in the habit of stretching before saying goodnight. This will help eliminate those terrible leg cramps. Another anti-cramping tip: make sure to include potassium in your diet! Think bananas, potatoes, and leafy greens!
> Truth: I have never been a good napper. I’ve wanted to be one because naps look so refreshing and relaxing, but I’ve always struggled to stay still and shut off my thoughts. That was until I was pregnant and discovered the power of a solid afternoon snooze. If you can force an uninterrupted 30 min – 1-hour nap into your day, your body and mind will feel so rejuvenated afterward.
Write a birth plan // The unknown of birth can be really frightening, especially for a first time mama. There is only so much that you can control, and only so many of your preferences that can be fulfilled in those moments. Even with that limited control, I still highly recommend creating a written birth plan. listing out a birth plan will force you and your partner to come together and discuss subjects that may have otherwise been missed. If you plan to be side by side during the delivery, it is immensely helpful to be on the same page about the specifics. I also found that writing out a birth plan somehow helped me mentally prepare for the real thing. Here are some topics you may want to include in yours…
> Who do you want to be in the delivery room? Where do you want them standing or sitting during the delivery?
> Do you want to move around during labor? Would you like to make use of a bathtub during labor?
> Is there anything special that you need in the room (i.e. birthing ball, music, etc.)?
> Are you open to medication or prefer a drug-free birth?
> Would you like someone to hold your legs during birth or use the stirrups?
> Will a midwife be joining you during your delivery?
> How do you feel about a potential c-section?
> How do you feel about being induced?
> Would you like your baby immediately placed on your chest, or cleaned first?
> Who do you want to announce the gender of your baby (if you don’t already know)?
> Will someone be photographing or videotaping your delivery?
> Who do you want to cut the umbilical cord?
> When would you like for the baby’s first feeding to take place? Do you prefer to nurse or bottle feed?
> Are you comfortable with a medical student(s) attending your delivery?
> If the baby is a boy, will you have him circumcised while in the hospital?
> Who is welcome to visit, and how soon after birth?
> Would you like the baby to sleep in your room or in the nursery?
> Will your partner be staying overnight or going home?
Get that hospital bag ready // Hospital bag rule: Bring whatever you think will make you more comfortable away from home. For me, this meant overfilling an obnoxiously large suitcase with everything on this list…
> Birth plan, hospital paperwork, insurance card and wallet
> Bathrobe (I lived in this one!)
> Socks and slippers
> Shampoo, conditioner, lotion, lip balm, toothbrush, hairbrush, and other cosmetics (the hospital will have these but if you’re picky like me, pack your own!)
> Maternity pads
> Camera and memory cards
> Newborn bodysuits, socks, booties, blanket, and going home outfit
> Car seat
> Your breast pump – it’s great to have the nurses give you a little pumping lesson!
> Phone (make sure to make room for a ton of pictures!) and charger