Home strrrrrretch! Wahhhoooooooooo! Yes, I think it’s totally okay if you turn into a woo girl at this point (minus the taking shots of vodka part, obvi.) I love the third trimester for lots of reasons not the least of which is that you probably actually look nice and pregnant at this point and not just … puffy. I was 32 weeks before a stranger (a nice check out guy at Trader Joe’s) confidently mentioned my baby bump. Why yes, kind stranger, I am growing a human – thanks for noticing. ;)
Sure, there is some discomfort sleeping/etc. when you get to the last couple weeks or so, but anticipation about meeting your gorgeous baby is mounting by the minute! Yay!
Looking for what to have on hand during the third trimester of pregnancy? Here are a few things I found that made my life during the last weeks of pregnancy much much better.
1. Body/mind relaxation.
This was the most important thing on this list by far for me, so I kind of wanted to make it numbers 1-5. When I say “relaxation,” I don’t mean sitting on the couch watching a movie with popcorn with a side of pickles and ice cream. Distractions and having fun are fabulous and also helpful during these last few weeks, but deep mind/body relaxation isn’t going to be found while staring at a sitcom.
Whatever your birth preferences, I highly recommend at least reading about hypnobirthing. In particular, the relaxation techniques are a huge help in alleviating anxiety that might be creeping into your brain during the second and third trimester. HypnoBabies offers a free download of two MP3s – one is an introduction to hypnobirthing and the other, “Relax Me,” is for anyone wishing to learn how to gain deep relaxation. No mention of birth is made during “Relax Me” so it can be used by anyone. Include your partner in the practice – he might just find he’s hooked on it, too. In less than 30 minutes, I found intense relaxation and felt like I had just been to a fancy spa. Increasing calm and decreasing stress can only be good for you and your baby.
While the “Relax Me” track was a great gateway for me, I mostly used the recordings by my hypnosis for birth instructor (Wellspring Hypnotherapy Center of Vermont) as well as the music she used “behind” her tracks – Fantasia by Dr. Harry Henshaw. For a few dollars on iTunes, I got his Fantasia album which includes a few (very similar) 30ish minute tracks.
Everyone is different so you may have a better experience with guided meditation (there are lots of CDs available on Amazon or iTunes or you might find classes locally) and/or gentile prenatal yoga with a relaxation component. The thing I recommend is making sure you 1) have the support and/or participation of your partner and 2) follow along with an expert’s guidance, at least at first. I found daily practice of hypnobirthing relaxation techniques (buy a book, find a class in your area) and prenatal yoga (I like this DVD) to be the most effective.
2. Actual maternity clothing.
If you’ve stayed away from actually-made-for-pregnant-ladies clothing, now is the time to invest in a few pieces to make your body more comfortable. You’ll probably wear a few of these items during the “4th trimester,” too. And if you really want to stay minimalist and eco-friendly, share with friends or sell when you’re done. I recommend at least one (loooong) t-shirt, one (looong) long-sleeve shirt and leggings with the full belly panel. I pretty much cried I was so comfy in my maternity leggings the first time I put them on. I probably should’ve gotten them sooner. Like, at 3 months pregnant. Why was I being so stoic? Silly! Learn from me. Don’t be stoic. Jump on that legging train! You will wear these items over and over …and over again to justify any price. If you’re trying to be minimalist and buy the least amount of items possible, choose a neutral color and wash them over and over again. I have black and olive green and they go with everything. My pick: Blanqi High Performance Maternity Leggings, $64. (Alternative: Preggers Light Support Leggings, $36.95. Also USA-made.)
3. Nursing bras and tanks.
If at all possible, try on bras in person instead of buying online. Most people recommend going later in your third trimester but if you’re feeling really smothered and want to go at 7 months on the dot, go for it girl. Just make sure to tell your sales associate how much longer you have. They’ll probably recommend you get a bra that’s roomier or adjustable so it can accommodate the milk supply that will come in after the baby is born.
I was so glad to have a professional size me and recommend a few brands/styles. Especially since the sizing isn’t consistent at all. I ended up with bras that were different sizes on the label (38DD, 40F, 42D) but all fit similarly. I definitely wouldn’t have been able to figure that out on my own! Get a variety including ones that you can wear around the house/sleep in and one for going out in public (possibly with more sturdy construction, but not necessarily an underwire if you’re trying to stay away from those.) A few months in to nursing your baby, you can purchase a duplicate of the one(s) you used most often.
4. (Red) Raspberry Leaf Tea.
I drank a cup or two of this almost every day during my last trimester. There are several brands but my favorite for taste was Traditional Medicinals. It tasted like a mild black tea with a tiny hint of sweetness. The Yogi Tea one might be easier to find but I found it to be quite bitter. There are also a few tea blends that have raspberry leaf and other ingredients to help with pregnancy. Those are typically called “Pregnancy Tea” or “Third Trimester Tea” etc. Here are a few resources with more information on why this can be an effective way to help prepare your body for birth:
- From AmericanPregnancy.org: “Medical studies have shown that red raspberry leaf can be consumed safely during pregnancy and can decrease the length of labor and decrease the number of interventions.
- From Wellness Mama: “Raspberry Leaf is probably my favorite herb and definitely my most consumed herb. It has an amazing nutrient profile and a gentle taste similar to regular black tea but without the caffeine.”
5. Argan Oil
During pregnancy, I’m all “Argan oil errywhere, on errything!” I like the brand Arzoyi* because it’s high quality (Triple Extra Virgin Argan oil) and is Organic certified by ECOCERT ICO and displays the USDA Organic seal. I also like that it comes in a glass dropper bottle. It’s really easy to use. I don’t think anyone can fully prevent stretch marks but stretching skin can make pregnant women feel really itchy so keeping that skin hydrated keeps everything comfy. I use it on my body, face and hair. I like using Argan oil on it’s own or mixed with another lotion/potion. But most of the time I’m using it straight up. Straight up! On the rocks! With a twist! Uh yes … I might have cocktails on the brain. It’s been more than 9 months, folks! NINE. MONTHS.
6. Exercise (aka Birth/Birthing) Ball
I’m sitting on my exercise ball right now and it’s oh so comfortable. It takes a bit of getting used to but it’s a back/hip/sanity saver in the end, trust me. Mine is 65cm and it’s the perfect size for me. I’m only 5′ 2″ but I think this size would work for taller women, too.
7. Sayonara Couch
This is a weird “essential” but an important one. In the third trimester it’s good to try and avoid sitting in bucket seats (like in your car) or super soft chairs or couches since it can cause pretty nasty back pain and might encourage your baby to settle in a less-than-optimal position for labor. That isn’t to say you have to avoid the car or couch at all costs for the last 12 weeks but just try to cut down if possible. I used the exercises outlined in this post by Mama Natural, as well as consulting Spinning Babies and my hypnosis for birth instructor. My hypnosis for birth instructor was probably the most helpful since she was watching me in person. You may also want to talk to your midwife or doctor about sitting/sleeping to get more info on optimal baby/mama positioning. Also, take walks. It’s great for your hips, baby position and it just makes you feel good to get fresh air. Listen to podcasts or audio books.
8. Lots and lots of hydration
Just like the other trimesters, staying hydrated is paramount to your comfort (yes, even though you’ll have to pee even more) and health. Because getting up and down to refill can get cumbersome towards the end, upgrade to a giant bottle/cup or have a collection of 2-3 at your desk/wherever you’re parked for the day/night. If straight-up water is getting too boring, switch it up with coconut water, sparkling water, or add a bit of juice. You probably don’t need all the sugar in Gatorade but if it’ll make you happy, go for it :)
Keep a pen and notebook nearby – you’ll have lots of lists to make and thoughts to get out. I decided it might be fun to see everything side by side – from to-do lists and reminders to emotional poems about anticipation of being a mom.
(Photo from Etsy seller NikkiCrossApplesauce)
10. Food Prep
Grab your favorite cookbook or blogs and head to the kitchen. I loved cranking out meals with my husband – it made us feel a little bit more prepared even though we know there’s no way to prepare for the giant changes that come with bringing a tiny human home. I recommend having some meals in the freezer even if you know friends and family will come through with food in your first few weeks. (Lucky you!) Quick breads, crock-pot meals, stews and soups, burritos, casseroles, etc. are your best bets for easy freezing and easy thawing/eating when you’re a half-asleep new parent. Do you want details of what we made? Let me know and I’ll do a separate post on it.
Leave questions (and your 3rd trimester essentials) in the comments!
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