Third Trimester of Pregnancy
In the third trimester, your body and your baby are growing and preparing to give birth. This may lead to uncomfortable days as your center of gravity changes and your muscles adapt to your new shape. You may find yourself thinking more about how you will manage life with a new baby, and for some women this is the time they really start thinking about being prepared for the labor process.
Some common experiences include:
- Inability to find a comfortable sleeping position
- Eating smaller meals because you feel full sooner
- Tender or leaking breasts
- Concerns about managing life with a new baby
- Frustration about the changes in your body
- Feeling more or less sexy than before pregnancy
- Paying attention to weight gain
- Thoughts about the birth process
Third Trimester To Do List
As your uterus grows, so does the pressure on your pelvic floor. Kegel exercises become even more important late in pregnancy. Having a strong pelvic floor prevents incontinence problems and will help your baby align properly for birth. Help yourself remember to kegel every day by doing your kegels when you have your first cup of coffee or tea.
You should begin your childbirth education classes far enough in advance that you have time to practice the comfort measures you are learning, but not so far that you forget them before labor starts. If this is not your first baby, you may want to take a refresher course to brush up on your labor coping skills.
Start looking at the options you have for nursing clothing. There are a variety of styles available with several different ways to access the breasts. Nursing clothing is not required for breastfeeding, but it can make you feel more confident and less clumsy when breastfeeding in public.
Make sure you know all your options for birth places before making your decision. Tour local hospitals and birth centers to find out what services they offer. Find out if anyone attends homebirths in your area. At this point, you are probably comfortable with your health care provider, but it is possible to change providers if you feel the services available to you are not what you want. Very few women are disappointed when they change providers late in pregnancy, but many are disappointed if they don't switch when they think their caregiver isn't on the same page as them.
If you will be having a baby shower (or two) make sure to let your friends and family know what items you would like to receive. Most baby supply stores offer registries to avoid duplicate gifts and unwanted gifts. Start setting up your area for baby, thinking about where baby will sleep, where baby will be fed during the day and night, where diapers will be changed and dirty diapers stored, and where baby will play.
Now is crunch time for selecting your baby's name. Some families choose names that have special meaning, others choose names that sound good to them. Some mothers find keeping the baby's name a secret until born prevents unhelpful friends and family members from trying to talk them into a different name. Other mothers find referring to their baby by name helps them feel bonded to the baby.
Now is the time to hire a doula to help you during labor. Studies have shown that having a doula at your labor reduces requests for pain medication and reduces the need for cesarean and forceps deliveries. Be sure to interview several candidates because doulas all have different personalities and styles. Selecting from several choices makes sure you get the doula you can work the best with.
You will want to arrange for help after your baby is born. This can be as formal as hiring a postpartum doula, or as informal as making a list of chores other family members will need to help with. Some mothers find making double batches of dinners and freezing the extra is helpful for the immediate postpartum. Other mothers take friends and family members up on the offer of providing a meal after baby is born.
If your childbirth class didn't provide breastfeeding instruction, you may want to take a separate breastfeeding class or attend a La Leche League meeting to get more information. This is especially true if you are still trying to decide between breastfeeding and bottle feeding. Although the general belief is that bottle feeding is easier, most mothers who have done both rate breastfeeding as easier in every way except that it requires they pump while away from baby.
No matter what decisions you made about using pain relieving medications during labor, you need to be practicing comfort measures. Although an epidural can give you relief in as fast as 20 minutes, it generally takes up to an hour from the time you request it until you feel its effects. This is due to the set-up that needs to be done for the anesthesiologist to be ready. During that time you will need to do something to manage your contractions and your only option will be the natural comfort measures.