Navigating the Third Trimester

In this trimester, you are getting bigger and bigger as your baby approaches viability outside the womb. By this time, you are seeing your doctor or midwife more frequently, you are attending (or have attended) Lamaze childbirth education classes, and you are putting the final touches on your baby’s nursery.  You might be huge, swollen and exhausted, but you are excited to meet the new member of your family.

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Patiently waiting for my second to arrive

Preparing for birth and the postpartum

At this point, if you haven’t gone to a birth class, GO.  Preparation is half the battle, and birth is more a mental battle than anything else.  If you want a natural birth especially, you need to know about the process so you are prepared for what is coming.

Another great resource?  Hire a doula!  What is a doula?  A doula is a trained support person to help you get through labor and birth, no matter what kind of labor or birth you have.  Doulas know how to make epidural labors go faster, and can help you with breastfeeding after a C-section!  Doulas stay with you from the beginning of labor at least until breastfeeding has been initiated so that you can have someone with you every step of the way.  Most doulas will want you to hire them early in the third trimester so that you can set up some prenatal appointments that will help her get acquainted with you and your birth plan.

If you know you are going to breastfeed after birth, you need to set up your support system now.  Breastfeeding is not impossible, but it is a lot easier if you know who to call when a hiccup arises.  Attend a La Leche League or Breastfeeding USA meeting a few weeks before your due date to get to know some other women who can lend a hand when the baby comes.  Also, find the number of a good, Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).  Some doctors have good knowledge about breastfeeding, but most don’t.  If you are having trouble, an IBCLC has very specialized training that can pinpoint and correct a problem before you ever need to supplement.

Tips, tricks, and favorite products:

Books and resources

If you have done your class and read the books, but you are still nervous about birth, I strongly recommend the book “An Easier Childbirth” by Gail Peterson.  Also, take a minute to check out spinningbabies.com to learn a little bit about fetal positioning and labor.  The success of your labor can depend on your baby’s position.  Some positioning can be improved early in labor if you practice belly mapping and know how your baby is positioned at the beginning of labor.

If you want to breastfeed, now is the time to buy your breastfeeding resources.  I prefer two books: “Breasfeeding Made Simple” by Nancy Mohrbacher and “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” by Weissinger, et al. You can also check out Kellymom.com for some great breastfeeding tips and tricks.  I love this website because it is written using evidence-based information to help all mothers have success at breastfeeding.  If you would like to know a little more about breastfeeding, check out my breastfeeding page to get started.

Now is also a good time to stock up on baby books.  I personally own “The Baby Book” by Dr. Sears and LOVE it.  It’s seriously like an owner’s manual for parents (or the closest you will ever get to one).

Your body

At this point, you may be feeling some extreme discomfort from time to time.  Your baby is karate chopping you in the ribs, your toes are swollen, and the heartburn is constant.  Listen to your body.  If you need a rest, take one.  And drink water by the gallon.  The water will help with the swelling, as well as your aches and pains.  Another way to help keep your body fit is to blow up an exercise ball (also called a birth ball by labor and birth professionals) and sit on it or roll around on it every night.  This helps to work your core and open up your pelvic area in anticipation of labor.

Additionally, now may be a good time for your partner to start doing some regular massage on your perineum.  By now, you are probably familiar with the concept of tearing or an episiotomy in the delivery room.  One way to help avoid either of these situations is to have your partner massage the perineum with a natural oil, like coconut oil, once a day.  If you need instructions, there are many good tutorials on the web.

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Just for fun

Early in the third trimester (before you are the size of a small whale), get some gorgeous maternity photos.  You may not feel beautiful right now, but you are truly gorgeous and you will treasure those intimate photos of you and your growing family for years to come.  Another fun thing to do near the end of your third trimester is to decorate that belly!  Some women choose to paint, while others choose to get henna art or do a belly casting in the final weeks.  It is a fun way to enjoy your new shape and welcome your baby into the world!

See also:

Navigating the First Trimester

Navigating the Second Trimester

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