I’ve written about coping with the first and second trimester blahs, and now we come to be biggest, roundest, most uncomfortable trimester: the third. This trimester can be pretty impressive– you’re definitely a very pregnant women and might get lots of wanted attention. You’ve gotten used to being pregnant, it’s been more than half a year. You’ve probably gotten pretty good at it. You have tips for other women– about pillows, belly bands, papaya enzyme. But there’s no doubt that this trimester comes with it’s own set of blah-inducing troubles. Mostly they have to do with physics. And mostly they will be resolved soon. When the pregnancy is over. But in the meantime here are a few tips for getting through the last stretch.
1. Eat small meals, infrequently, don’t drink a lot before bedtime, and sleep with your head elevated. So many of the woes of the third trimester have to do with heartburn and indigestion and the fact that there’s increasingly little room for two people in your one body. In first pregnancies the baby will drop several weeks before labor starts– this will give you more room to breathe (literally) and eat. But you’ll have to pee constantly. Staying hydrated is very important– dehydration is a leading cause of premature labor– so drink lots of water early in the day when getting up every 20 minutes to pee is a hassle, but not a sleep-disruptor
2. Take an open-minded childbirth class and newborn/breastfeeding classes. These classes will give you an idea of what you might expect and the many ways to cope (with labor) and soothe a newborn. But also, you get around other super dooper pregnant women (and their partners) and can exchange stories and experiences and advice. The benefits of being with other people in the same boat as you– even if you’re havig vastly different experiences and otherwise have little in common– are impressive. I teach childbirth classes and can say that half the benefit comes from what I teach but the other half comes from what the students share.
3. As much as it sucks, try to stay active. It’s annoying when you feel so heavy and walk slower than an 80 year-old with bad knees, but those daily walks will actually help with your insomnia, cramps, digestion, mood and, possibly your labor, too.
4. You can actually do things once the baby is born. It’s great to nest and many couples set up the nursery before the baby is born, but if you’re very busy and/or prefer to buy baby stuff after the baby is born (for religious/custom/superstitious reasons) realize that babies generally don’t need much. In a pinch, they really just need somewhere to sleep and some clothes. The mobiles and baths and special gizmos can be ordered and sent any old time. But also, if you’re worried that you have to DO EVERYTHING NOW and it’s seriously bothering you– this is your “last chance” to eat out, get organized, have sex– please know that parents do actually accomplish things. Maybe not right in the newborn period, but they do manage, somehow, eventually, to exfoliate and order new hand-towels and alphabetize the books and have sex.
5. It’s okay to tell people to back off till the baby is born. Edging up to 40 weeks it can get a little nutty mcnutty with everyone calling, “Are you okaaaaaay?” “Are you still here!?” “Any signs???” A first time pregnancy lasts, on average, 4 days beyond the “estimated due date,” and women can feel, frankly, a little grouchy about it all. And not so social. Fine. But not really in the mood to deal with lots of people, especially needy ones. There’s something sort of grunty and intimate about labor and our mammalian instinct is to find a safe, dark place away from the madding crowd. If you feel this way, celebrate how normal you are by not answering every call or telling your loved ones you’ll promise to text the minute the baby is out and really, really look forward to help and cheers on the other side. (That’s when lots parents suddenly want people around, people with food and advice and the ability and eagerness to run errands or tidy up while you nurse.)
What are the hardest parts of the third trimester for you? And how are you coping?
Ceridwen Morris, CCE, is a writer, childbirth educator and the co-author of From The Hips: A Comprehensive, Open-Minded, Uncensored, Totally Honest Guide to Pregnancy, Birth and Becoming a Parent. Follow her on Facebook.
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