Third Trimester Tips & Survival Tricks
How do I deal with the inherent contradictions of the third trimester of pregnancy? I’m starving all the time, but I’m also full-feeling all the time. I’m elated, anxious, happy, and worried all at the same time.
More difficult than those, though, is that I am exhausted all the time, but I also can’t sleep at night at all. I keep having to get up to pee, or someone (looks significantly at bump) keeps kicking me awake or winter allergies complete with both sneezing and coughing are dragging me up to get water (I keep it next to the bed, but I can’t drink laying down anymore). How do I deal with the exhaustion with seemingly no logical reason?
4 Hours in a row isn’t too much to ask, right?
Ah yes, the third trimester. Evolution’s sneaky little way of ensuring that by the time your due date rolls around, you’re all but screaming GET OUTTTTTTTT!!!! at the occupant(s) of your uterus.
What you’re experiencing now is normal
Gone are the lovely second trimester days of a reasonably-sized bump and maternity clothes that fit. The gentle, fluttering baby kicks have been replaced by the pointy ELBOWS and KNEES of a NINJA. There’s hunger and heartburn; nerve pain and back pain. The overwhelming urge to punch people who make jokes like, “enjoy your sleep while you still can, har har har!” A bladder being compressed within an inch of its life, and the never-ending question of did my water break or did I just pee a little? Swollen ankles and widening feet, because you already blew your clothing budget on maternity tops, pants, and bras, but did you even consider that you might end up having to buy maternity SHOES?
(I wore flip flops to the hospital each time, every time.)
Practical solutions to help you through the rest of the 3rd trimester:
1. If you haven’t bought or borrowed a pregnancy-specific body pillow, definitely do so.
You’ll be so, so grateful for it during this final stretch, as it makes getting in (and out) of bed much less of a production than trying to strategically arrange extra pillows under your stomach and in-between your legs. I also found that the pillow kept me from sleeping weird and crooked so I had less back and neck pain in general. (I had one of the wrap-around C-shaped pillows, which you can also use as a nursing pillow later.)
2. Also, get yourself a lidded cup with a handle and a long bendy straw for your water!
A hospital-style insulated mug is the best thing in the WORLD, for both now and postpartum. It’s basically designed for bedridden patients and will make those middle-of-the-night I’M SO PARCHED moments so much easier, since you CAN drink from it while lying down on your side. And it’s the best thing I ever used for staying hydrated while breastfeeding. (I stole mine from my first birth and hospital stay and affectionately named it Hospital Cup. Hospital Cup served my pregnant and postpartum ass for many years until it died tragically in a dishwasher incident. RIP Hospital Cup.)
3. Eat small snacks and mini-meals throughout the day instead of trying to sit down and fill up at full-sized meals. Kinda like how you might have handled morning sickness back in the first trimester — always keep a little something in your stomach, but avoid getting over-full in a single sitting. This’ll help you feel less hangry but also not bloated and heartburn-y.
4. This is also a good time to re-assess your maternity leave plans.
There’s this kind of dream/expectation that we will all continue to show up for work right up until our due date. And then we clock out at 5 p.m. and labor starts promptly over dinner and ta-daaaa, your first day of maternity leave is the day you gave birth, all neat and tidy-like. It’s okay if that doesn’t happen. It’s okay to take a couple days of leave BEFORE your due date to rest and emotionally (and physically!) prepare to give birth. Work from home, if you can, but even then I’d suggest a more part-time arrangement so you can catch up on sleep. You’re not exhausted for “seemingly no reason!” You’re exhausted for one (increasingly large and physically draining) very good reason! If four hours in a row isn’t happening at night, do what you can to get another few hours during the day, or whenever you sense the baby is sleeping and laying off the gymnastics.
(I mean, this will be your general sleep survival schedule after the baby anyway, so it makes sense to start accepting that all your sleep won’t be happening overnight anymore, and learning to function on one or two or even three different chunks.)
5. As for the rollercoaster of pregnancy emotions, well, they are indeed a ride.
I found that journaling (or in my case, it was technically blogging) really helped me work through the anxiety and worries. It helped to write them down and get them “out there” instead of ping-ponging around my brain, and also helped me realize when I was catastrophizing or dealing with something legitimate or actionable. Some women find meditating and writing letters to their babies are also helpful and mood-centering.
6. And definitely don’t discount the mental peace that comes with good old-fashioned pregnancy nesting. Clean a closet. Organize a cabinet. Magic Eraser all your baseboards. I don’t care. Be ridiculous if you want to. Even if your project has nothing to do with “The Baby” it might give you a small sense of environmental control and emotional regulation, even just for a couple of hours.
Good luck! I hope your little one receives their eviction notice right on time and exits with grace and ease.
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Photo source: Depositphotos/ BiancoBlue