Now that you know all the staff by first name in your provider’s office, strangers are asking to touch your pregnant belly and women seem to be crawling out of the woodwork to share their amazing (or terrible) birth experiences, please give yourself a well-deserved treat for arriving at trimester three. Here are your last few months of anticipation and, while some days may feel long, in no time at all you’ll be holding your child. If all has been typical up until this time, you should be feeling relatively well for another few weeks with some energy and a body that still fits past others in the hallway.
But baby’s plans will put an end to all mom’s comfort soon enough. His focus for the third trimester is largely to fatten up growing from about 1.5lbs at week 26 to between 6-8.5lbs at full term. Most women report that after about 35 weeks, they start to really feel those pounds in the form of increasing pressure in the pelvis and bladder, low back strain or achy, swollen lower legs and feet. Also, sleep becomes problematic for many as it gets more difficult to find a comfortable position and the brain produces endless to-do lists during the quiet of night. On the upside, perhaps these to-do lists can serve as a good day-time distraction from the physical discomforts of pregnancy as you finalize all the fun baby projects you’ve got going.
Another great place to focus your energy right now is on your family. If this is your first child, these weeks are the very last time you and your partner will be “just two.” If you’ve already got other children, their lives and your attention to their lives are about to change dramatically. As exciting as the arrival of a new baby is, take some slow, steady and loving steps to show appreciation for the family you’ve already got with a fancy dinner, a movie just with the kids, a house project or craft that isn’t focused on baby or just some time to talk without media blaring at you. You’re bound to look back fondly at those quiet moments from the excitement of new motherhood and be glad you created such a memory.
On a practical note, you’re prenatal visits will be spaced more closely together. Sometimes it’s helpful to schedule your next several visits so that you can get into the office when it best suits you and during times that you feel most energetic. If you haven’t already done so, you’ll want to get specific instructions from your provider as to where you should go and what you can expect once you go into labor.
The third trimester is when childbirth educators recommend participating in a class. If you haven’t already done so, consider this great option and get yourself registered. If you are planning to breastfeed, it’s also very beneficial to take a class or to, at least, find your local resources (La Leche League, a private lactation consultant or a doula with postpartum experience in addition to your midwife or obstetrician). Breastfeeding is the healthiest option for you and your child but getting started can sometimes be more challenging than expected. With support, women get through the early weeks and get on track but it’s hard to look for support when you’ve just had a baby, the baby is hungry, everyone is tired and you don’t know who to turn to. So, get some resources jotted down that you can refer to if you find you need some help.
Okay, last but not least, get your hospital bags packed, make sure you’ve got phone numbers and email addresses collated for the big announcement, keep your devices charged and your cameras ready. Keep moving! The more you walk, the more you’ll help that baby settle down into your pelvis so that labor can begin and progress. Accept offers of food and help around the house. You’ll appreciate it once the baby arrives and the people that love you really want to nurture you so that you can nurture your baby.
These are just a small smattering of things to think about as you come to the end of pregnancy. We love to gab about all of the exciting preparations but what we really do best is to provide outstanding health care. So, please supplement our list with the many others available on the internet and let us take this final paragraph to give you a pep talk about the highest highlight of them all – the arrival of your infant. Whether you are feeling confident or frightened, experienced or naive, alone or surrounded by support, the fact remains that every cell of your body is designed to do this and you will come through this miraculous process feeling stunned and amazed at what has transpired and the life that you’ve created. Many people feel frightened of labor but, in fact, in some ways labor is the easiest part (didn’t say the least painful. . .). Just think, once you and your baby begin the process of labor you have, literally, just hours left to go. Unlike pregnancy which sometimes seems to go on forever, labor and delivery is intense but it is very finite. You’ll never feel perfectly prepared but if you’ve reached this sentence, we suspect that you’re in good shape. Now, let your mind go on vacation and let your body do what it knows how to do.