Your Third Trimester Survival Guide

31 week baby bump

The third trimester of pregnancy can feel a bit overwhelming, especially when you're expecting your first. On the one hand, you can't wait to meet your baby; on the other, what if you've not bought everything you need and look how long your to do list is you're never going to get it all done and what do YOU know about looking after babies anyway and what if everyone's right about you never sleeping again and OMG IS IT SUPPOSED TO BE THIS UNCOMFORTABLE CARRYING A WHOLE NEW HUMAN BEING AROUND IN YOUR TORSO?!

Aaaaaaaaaaaaand... breathe.

At least: as much as you can when there are feet in your lungs.

* * *

Here are the five things you must do before the baby arrives:
  1. Pack your hospital bag.
  2. Assemble the crib/cot/moses basket.
  3. Buy nappies and put them in the place(s) you expect to change your baby.
  4. Buy maternity pads/nighttime sanitary towels and put them in the bathroom.
  5. Practise using the carrier, pram and/or car seat (even though you feel ridiculous doing so; you don't want to be figuring out how to adjust the straps in the hospital waiting room). 
If these things are done, you are ready enough

* * *

Still don't feel it, though, do you?

You still want the nursery to be finished (right there with you on this one) and you're still sure you've forgotten to buy the single most essential item (whatever the hell it is) and you're still having moments of wondering whether you're actually up to this whole parenting lark (you are).

On top of all that, the second trimester glow is a thing of the past. Your back hurts, you can't sleep, everything gives you heartburn, and your baby keeps on slapping you in the bladder. Or whatever your own personal litany of pregnany-related woes may be. Some days, the third trimester is rough.

And I'm not here to tell you to cherish every moment. Wish the crap bits away as much as you like - they're crap. They're the rubbish stuff you have to get through before you get to meet your baby; they don't have to be sentimentalised.

But I am here to tell you that there are good bits to the third trimester. And I'm going to tell you how to create even more.


Your Third Trimester Care Plan

Comfort

It's so hard to get comfortable when you've got a massive bump and there's somebody walloping your internal organs. But there are things you can do to help.

  • Invest in lots of maternity pyjamas. Lots. Change into them as soon as you get home, because you know what gives you heartburn, in addition to any food which is not basically liquid? Clothing which is tight across the top of your bump (so: bras; skirts; trousers; dresses which are fitted under your bust; basically everything you wear through the day). Evenings should be all about lounge wear.
    (On a related note: consider putting a nightie in your hospital bag instead of/as well as pyjamas. Not to scare you, or anything, but pyjama bottoms and catheters are not a great combination)
  • Get a yoga ball. They cost about a fiver and will keep you sane in the later weeks. Slouching on a low sofa all the time will not help your back or get the baby into a good position. Bounce on your ball. Do stretches on your ball. Lean over your ball while you're reading or watching TV. Yoga balls are your friend.
  • Use however many props and pillows you need to to get comfortable in bed. I've got a specific knee cushion which goes between my thighs and a wedge for under the bump; some nights I need both, some nights one or the other, some nights neither, but it's wonderful having the choice.
  • I'm inclined to be sceptical of multivitamins (expensive way to turn your pee orange etc etc), but my restless legs have completely cleared up since switching from the free NHS vitamins to the brand name ones with magnesium in them. I did this based on anecdotal evidence and this is anecdotal evidence, too, but I thought it was worth mentioning just in case it helps.
  • If your partner hasn't already taken on the vast majority of the housework, ask them to do so. They may not have realised how hard it is to reach a sink or push a vacuum cleaner when you're eight months pregnant. And you're growing a tiny human for them, so it's only fair.
  • Consider booking a pregnancy massage.
  • And joining a pregnancy yoga/pilates/aquanatal class. If, like me, you can't find any classes which work for your schedule and/or location, check out YouTube or buy a book/DVD. I do about ten minutes of stretches straight after Matilda's bedtime - I really notice it the next day when I forget! 

Health


  • Drink lots and lots of water. You may as well have something in your bladder to get rid of during your six thousand daily bathroom trips.
  • I'm all for trusting your instincts when it comes to eating - I'm sure the reason I'm craving so much ice cream is that it helps to settle the heartburn - but, you know: try to find a balance between sugar and things which are actually healthy. I ended up needing a forceps delivery last time because I was so... eh... backed up that there was no room for the baby to shove her way out; this time, I'm being very careful to keep my fibre intake up!
  • Leave work on time. 
  • I know most of us want to save as much of our maternity leave for after the birth as possible, but if you're getting tired you could consider: reducing your hours; working from home; booking every Wednesday off for the last month or so before you finish up. Find some way to let yourself rest more as your due date rolls around.
  • Get outside. Go to quiet places where you can feel the wind on your face/sand between your toes/pine needles between your fingers/whatever. Breathe some fresh air, even if it's only for half an hour at lunchtime.

Mental Preparation


  • Hypnobirthing. Honestly, you don't have to spend a fortune on classes - listen to a few relaxation tracks on YouTube or get a DVD/CD/book; they will all help you to shift from the "I can't possibly go through labour!" mindset to one in which you feel calmer and more in control. 
  • If you're looking for a parenting book which won't freak you out, I recommend BabyCalm by Sarah Ockwell-Smith.

Emotional Support


  • Gather your friends around you. You do not have to have a baby shower if you don't want to. It's totally not my kind of thing (although I'm all for being given presents. Also, cake). But I have made sure that, the weekend I hit full term, I'm spending a couple of hours with my oldest parent friends (the three mums I've known since I was pregnant) and - separately - I'm going to my book group. Neither of these meet ups is any way focused on me or my pregnancy, but they're a good reminder that I have excellent friends and a strong support network around me as I go into this whole new stage of my life.
  • I highly recommend planning a curry night for your due date. You may have to cancel at the last minute but most first babies are a little late; it's a fun nod to the "curry kick starts labour" tale.
  • Look for ways to meet other women who are due at around the same time as you. You could: ask mutual friends to put you in touch; use play dating apps like Mush; join local parenting/birth groups on Facebook; go to antenatal/NCT classes; go to local "Bump Clubs" and/or antenatal fitness classes. All of these options terrify me on one level or another, but I'm so glad I pushed myself out of my comfort zone last time around - it made such a difference, knowing other women at about the same stage of newborn parenthood.
  • On the other hand, a lot of people - myself included - find that they want to hide away from the world in the last few weeks of pregnancy. Don't be afraid to keep time aside for yourself and your partner; I recommend keeping one day at the weekend completely free from plans.

Getting Ready


  • So many lists of "Things To Do Before The Baby Arrives" will tell you to batch cook and freeze lots and lots of meals. Yeah, there's no way I'm standing over a hot cooker at eight months pregnant. I'm here to tell you: there is absolutely nothing wrong with buying a bunch of ready meals instead. Pick the healthier ones, by all means, but this is a time to go easy on yourself: as long as you can eat the food with one hand and it's not made entirely of salt, you're good. 
  • Back to the housework: seriously, if you can afford an extra £20 a month, consider getting a cleaner in, once a month for the first four or five months. We had so many visitors in the early days and I remember feeling so stressed out about the state of our toilet, every time one of them used it. This time around, Steve swears he's going to clean it every Sunday, but I'm still sorely tempted to throw money at the problem instead.
  • And if there are still household improvements sitting on your to do list which you absolutely will not cannot leave until after the birth, schedule them in to your calendar now. Make a plan of action and write it down; having time blocked out to get it done will help to relax you. A bit.


Is there anything other parents would add?


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