What to Expect in the 3rd Trimester
Hello & Happy Saturday!!
Welp, I can’t believe we’re finally here, that dreaded 3rd trimester! Today we are 37 weeks and will be welcoming our baby O any day now. I’ll be honest, whenever you tell someone you’re pregnant, or even if you don’t lol, the floodgates naturally open with people dispensing advice left and right. However, at the end of the day it’s imperative to emphasize that every woman and pregnancy is different.
Knowing this, you shouldn’t internalize any woman’s experience, because it may not be your own. Also, if pregnancy throws you unpleasant moments, as it will, try your best to embrace it. I had various hurdles throughout, but there are countless women who experience nausea/vomiting throughout the entire pregnancy, swelling of extremities so bad it’s an obstacle to exercise and the list goes on.
However, when it came to the 3rd trimester, I noticed the overall theme with feedback was, “it’s not going to be pretty lol.” Some of your 1str trimester symptoms may creep back and it just simply gets uncomfortable. I honestly had an effortless second trimester and I like to gravitate towards the idea that again, my journey could be different than others. However, it was fairly accurate. Ironically I said to myself a week prior to the 3rd trimester that I loved being pregnant, I still do, but the 3rd wasn’t as smooth as the 2nd!
Below is a recap of everything from the workshops we took to diet, cravings, exercise and more for that last 3rd trimester!
Curious about our labor and delivery story?!
Be sure to check back in a few weeks!
Pregnancy: Right at the beginning of the 3rd trimester we started a 4wk pregnancy course (met 1x wk 3hrs) at the hospital, which encompassed lectures, videos, and elements of the common breathing techniques and massage. Truthfully, it was nothing like you see on the movies, and more lecture style. While many skip the workshop option, it’s a wonderful opportunity to get the most current information on everything from labor to delivery and post care. As a FTM and one who loves to be prepared, I firmly believe that knowledge is power. The course provided us with comfort for when the delivery day arrives and caring for our babe. Many insurance companies will also reimburse you for the courses and you can choose different day/time structures. I of course just chose the most in depth option, because well, I wanted to know it all lol. I highly recommend them and also recommend bringing a medicine ball to sit on during and or pillows for your chair as you can get uncomfortable after a while.
CPR: The most valuable class out of them all, is CPR. The approach is different than with adults, making it even more imperative. The class was about 2hrs+, and had you physically doing the technique over and over until it’s burned into your brain. You can choose Red Cross classes the provide a certification or there are other classes facilitated by a licensed instructor that are more affordable. In either case, take the course!
Breastfeeding: Since many women have access to a lactation nurse at the hospital they skip this class. However, I always believe that knowledge is power and so we took the nursing workshop that was about 2 1/2 to 3hrs. While the real learning will take place when you physically begin nursing, I still found the course to informative, hands on, and recommend. Whichever you choose, be sure that you’re comfortable with nursing before you leave the hospital so you don’t get overwhelmed when you return home.
I’m testing the Spectra S1 and the Elvie breast pump so that I can get a regular flow established and store frozen milk to use later when we incorporate bottle feedings. Breast milk can be frozen for upwards of 6 months so I plan to start reserving mine. Be sure to check back for a full review on both these pumps come this fall.
Medicine Ball: At first I didn’t understand the use of the medicine ball, but it can help remedy countless things. Bouncing on it or stretching over it can alleviate pregnancy discomfort, help you breathe if babe is pushing up on your diaphragm, get the baby head down for delivery, and can even soothe the baby during hiccup episodes. I found that I used the ball more with the 3rd trimester and plant to use it for L&D. The hospital may have a few on hand, but they are first come first serve, and you’re better off bringing your own. Highly recommend!
Energy: As a whole my energy in the first trimester was at an all time low due to all my hormones amping up. Once by body adjusted at about 11 weeks, my energy returned, I started to hit the gym, and it was smooth sailing onward. However, once week 29/30 rolled around I felt as though I got hit with a wave of exhaustion. I had no energy for the gym and felt tired throughout the day even after increasing my hours of sleep. Since I had roughly 1 cup coffee per day throughout pregnancy, I noticed that even in the 3rd trimester that 1 cup still didn’t shake me of the exhaustion lol.
As someone who likes to keep busy I struggled to just let my body rest. However, it served as a reminder that I need to show myself some self care and continue to listen to my body, it knows what it needs. I slowed down even more, skipped the gym, overslept, and incorporated naps. I also took on a housekeeper and it was the best money I ever spent. It’s hard to realize that you can’t do it all as I like to take that approach, but having a helping hand and a clean home alleviated much of my stress.
My energy finally returned at about 3-4 weeks later and I was back to my usual routine. As of 36ish weeks, my energy has come in waves to prepare for the babe. However, it can still all be overwhelming even with that ample nesting energy lol. Find a friend to help you get things moving or hire someone off of Task Rabbit!
Diet: My diet honestly never truly had a significant shift throughout the entire pregnancy. The first trimester I craved random foods due to the nausea and everything I usually enjoyed being off-putting. Once that dissipated I was back to my normal routine of lots of plants, but had more of a preference for cold oranges, pomegranate, and raspberries. My didn’t drastically increase either. Again, pregnancy is different for everyone, but I only noticed that I had to have breakfast, while prior my hunger may not hit some days until 2pm.
The 3rd trimester I started to crave watermelon (predictable), but it was for many reasons! It’s in season during the summer, it’s sweet, hydrating being largely comprised of water, and environmentally friendly as I could simply cut it in half and enjoy without even needing a bowl lol. I had watermelon daily, going through a 1/2 of one every 2-3 days. If you struggle with getting enough hydration with pregnancy or dread doing the dishes, watermelon is your friend! lol. Something to keep in mind though is that over consumption of watermelon can cause heartburn. Since heartburn is common in pregnancy, just be vigilant of how much you do consume.
While I focus on vegan cuisine, I define myself as plant based and more importantly advocate for listening to your body. There is no single diet that works for everyone, but no matter what your approach is I believe in making the base of your diets, plants.
With pregnancy, you need to listen to your body even more as it’s not just about you anymore. I made sure to incorporate my standard fresh fruits and veggies, but also various protein. Whether it be an egg here and there (1x week or sometimes none at a all), full fat yogurt in the morning with fresh fruit/chia seeds, or wild caught seafood. While I’ve never been heavy on the animal products, with pregnancy I wanted to ensure that the baby is receiving everything it needs, so I consumed perhaps 1 more additional serving per week. Prior to pregnancy there were animal products I had not had in upwards of 10 years. If you have fear that you may gravitate more towards animal products by incorporating them with pregnancy, rest assure that I still prefer my plants!
Just be sure to choose the highest quality meat you can find so that it’s better for you and the environment.
Other random things I craved were Pellegrino Blood Orange soda lol. I rarely drank soda prior to pregnancy, but it was a nice splurge during the summer heat. Given the sugar content and that it has caffeine, be vigilant of how much you’re consuming. I would do 1/2 can or 1 at most. Other things I craved were Oat Waffles! You can literally throw oats and bananas together and boom, you have a fab waffle. I’m obsessed!
I also noticed that I had to increase my servings of snacks and reduce the portion size of meals. I would get fuller faster given the increasing size of the baby and less space for my stomach. If I ate too much I’d feel nauseous or almost as if I couldn’t breathe. The baby had yet to drop early in the third so he was pushing up on my diaphragm after meals. Given the decreasing space for everything, your bowels are also effected. Many women typically experience more frequent bowel movements late in the 3rd. However, this mama bird experienced the opposite even with a high plant based diet. Again, results may vary for every woman.
Wrapping up those last few weeks of pregnancy I have loosened my grip a lil more on eating perfectly, indulged a lil more in sweets, had fries paired with lots of veggies as the baby is just gaining a lil weight before delivery. At this time, with just a few weeks left, I believe I gained a total of 25lbs, which is good! Normal recommendations depending on your BMI are 25-35lbs. In terms of the babies weight, I was told at 33 weeks he was 5 1/2lbs already, so by delivery he will 7 1/2 to 8lbs, which is also good!
Since there are a handful of credible studies that conclude dates have beneficial effects with delivery, I’m going to be incorporating them starting this week. Dates provide many nutritional benefits so at the end of the day, it’s something to explore. Be sure to check back for my labor and delivery recap!
Exercise: My exercise routine was solid throughout the second trimester, but slowed a little during the beginning of the 3rd trimester. I typically hit the gym for cardio/weights 2-3x a week, but focused mostly on the weekends. Once the exhaustion hit I struggled to get work done, make dinner, and absolutely had no energy for the gym. After it finally faded I was able to adhere to my normal routine. At about 33 weeks following maternity pictures, I took a much needed 2 week break. However, now at almost 37 weeks I returned and didn’t struggle with it. Exercise as whole truly gave me energy and reduced my stress levels.
While I benefited so much from exercise, I made sure again to always listen to my body. I stuck with the elliptical as a warm up then would move to the machines and use light weights but with a lot of reps. I do believe they recommend nothing more 30lbs with pregnancy to use as a guideline. If I ever questioned if weights were too heavy, my body would immediately let me know, because I could feel pressure in my uterus when lifting. If any movement caused me to experience that, I would try something else. I also always hydrated throughout my work out and embraced breaks.
As a whole I did a lot of cardio, adduction/abduction machines, various arm machines as I found the more inside of my arms to become less toned, pushups, sit-ups, and tons of squats with light weights. The combination of all of the above worked for me so I stuck with that versus the group classes. While I love group exercise, I didn’t want to disrupt the class if something became too challenging and I couldn’t keep up. I also could see myself sticking with a exercise in a class because of the energy of the group and end up hurting myself.
We become so consumed with our pregnancy, to do lists, etc, that the time at the gym was therapeutic and enabled me to just zone out, which we all need. I can’t imagine the pregnancy without exercising, but understand that for many women with children it’s not feasible. That being said, I’d recommend watching exercise videos online or getting a bike or treadmill at home so that you’re still moving. If I don’t have a Peloton (heard great things) during baby #2, we’ll just be switching off on who can hit the gym first lol. I promise you, the gym makes a huge difference, stick with it!
Aches and Pains: I didn’t have too many aches and pains in the second trimester, except for Charlie Horses. Prior to pregnancy I think I had perhaps just a handful in my entire life. A midst the 2nd trimester I recall having 4 in a single night that were just paralyzing, and lingered into the following day. Whether I hydrated, took magnesium, had my legs massaged, they still would come. For the 3rd trimester they slowed down, perhaps due to the all the watermelon I inhaled lol. My best advice is to hydrate, take magnesium, enjoy potassium rich foods, massage your legs before bed and most importantly..
If you feel one coming on, angle your foot upwards to stretch out your achilles. If you do the opposite and point downward it may trigger an episode. I’m not sure why that is, but it just works!
Outside of Charlie Horses I felt more of a heaviness with my stomach and sometimes had to support my stomach with my hands while walking, because it was that uncomfortable. During our hospital tour, I did it the entire time. This is in part due to the the baby beginning to drop resulting in added pressure on your lower half. I highly recommend wearing the belly bands at this time as it not only takes the pressure off of you, but could help with preventing stretch marks, which also take place about this time.. I would wear mine for hours at a time and remove them if they felt too constricting after a while. I never slept in them and don’t advise that.
Sleeping: My sleeping routine remained solid in that I didn’t have restless nights like many women do. However I noticed something as soon as the 3rd trimester hit…
Your days of sleeping through the night without having to use the restroom are over lol. I thankfully don’t struggle with returning back to sleep, but there are some nights where you feel the restroom calling your name 4x in a single night.
The baby is growing and taking up so much space that it puts pressure on your bladder causing frequent trips to the restroom. In addition to the frequent trips you’ll find it takes the work of your entire body to get out of bed and you naturally groan from the discomfort. I made sure just to always take it slow to prevent falls for those middle of the night bathroom breaks.
I found that I had to sleep with a pillow between my legs or I couldn’t get comfortable. Any slight tilting towards sleeping on my stomach the baby would kick, because he’s probably crammed. Like many babies, when you get in bed, they commonly become more alert as the movement has ceased and it’s less comforting. If you’re babe has this routine, try and avoid any food late at night, but especially anything sweet as that only makes them even more alert.
Those once sweet and innocent baby kicks are now replaced by aggressive punches and kicks by the 3rd trimester. Picture the movie Alien where you fear the baby may pop out of your stomach, I wish I was kidding lol. As a whole whether it was sleeping or just sitting, I had to frequently adjust just to get comfortable.
Braxton Hicks Contractions: BHC’s are mild contractions that prepare your body for the real deal contractions. They can range from painful to so mild that you don’t even know you’re experiencing them. It can be described as a tightening of the uterus where everything becomes engaged at random times. At first I thought it was perhaps the baby just moving which causes a feeling of discomfort, but you’ll realize the difference by late in the 3rd trimester. I sampled the Bloom device to help monitor them and count contractions when active labor initiates.
While I love tech based products and anything that makes something more seamless, I did struggle with using this device. You can’t move while you wear it, thus I prefer to wear it at night. However, a light flashes while it’s monitoring, which can aggravate the baby or at least.. my baby lol. He would kick non stop so I had to keep the monitoring to a minimum. I’m still working out the kinks with the Bloom, but be sure to check back in the fall with a full recap on the product and how it worked for us and timing contractions.
Maternity Shoot: at about 34/35 weeks we did our maternity shoot. I was still working out even the day of the shoot, but if I had to go back, I would recommend aiming for 30-32 week. Just in that small little window my energy levels had diminished so I struggled towards the end of the shoot. Funny enough, my photographer who is a mom herself advised me to do it earlier. Low and behold, she was right lol.
While it isn’t a requirement with pregnancy, I highly recommend capturing your pregnancy even with just a few shots as you want to capture this time. I’m actually going to also do a Belly Cast even though my husband thinks its ridiculous. If it’s a complete mess, I’ll pass on it the second time around lol.