Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Third Trimester Pregnancy Advice

Now that I'm officially one day overdue, I figure I'm qualified to share my advice for the third trimester of pregnancy...

  1. Don's Assume Others' Experiences Will Be Your Own: Honestly, I was dreading the third trimester because of everything I had ever read or heard about it. I thought my back would ache, I couldn't sleep, I would be tired of being pregnant--yada, yada, yada. For me, none of that is true (probably because of everything I did in the first trimester and second trimester). I am still happy to carry my little boy around with me wherever I go. I cherish each passing day that I get to spend with Matt alone. I am thankful for a little more time to get things ready for our little coconut.
  2. Savor Each Stage: One of the ways to have a positive third trimester is to maintain a positive attitude about it--which might be easier said than done, depending on your experience! Of course there are negative things to focus on. For example, I wake up every 1-2 hours throughout the night to use the restroom and then I have to roll my entire belly across to the other side and reposition the pillows that I use between my legs and along my torso. Yes, it's an inconvenience, but it pales in comparison to the amazingness of growing a new life. I could also choose to focus on how much I miss the ease of my pre-pregnancy body. But I don't because I realize that this stage is my life is so relatively short. It will be over before I know it, and I should enjoy it while I'm in it. Case in point: When I was going for a walk one afternoon, I ran into two different women along two different spots on the trail who both used to be in my prenatal yoga class. I asked both of them for some advice, and both of them said, "Enjoy being pregnant!" Both of them had been eager to "get it over with" and they later regretted it because they missed being pregnant.
  3. Be Particularly Conscious with Your Nutrition: Nutrition matters a lot throughout your pregnancy (both for the baby and for you), but it matters a whole lot during the third trimester. Your baby is putting on weight rapidly, and you want to eat as healthily as possible to keep your total weight gain reasonable. The recommended total weight gain for pregnancy is 25-35 pounds. I have gained 27 pounds, and I think keeping it on the low end of the spectrum has really helped me have a positive experience. It's not hard to carry this baby around! I can still work full-time, walk for an hour several times a week, and go to yoga (taking daily naps helps a lot!). I also don't have any stretch marks (which are partly genetic, but my mom does have them).
  4. Stay Hydrated: I think I add this to every list I make about being healthy. Water helps do so much. During pregnancy, it helps reduce swelling, and does a whole bunch of other stuff. I think it's easy to neglect hydration because it takes effort. You've got to keep your water bottle around at all times, and it means that you have to set aside an inordinate amount of time to make trips to the restroom. But it's worth it!
  5. Maintain Your Healthy Habits: I am a little more tired during the third trimester, and for the first part of this last trimester, I felt like I had a gazillion things to do to get ready for the baby. However, it's still important to maintain all your healthy habits from the first and second trimesters. For me, that looks like frequent walks, a weekly prenatal yoga class, a daily nap, no refined sugar, a green smoothie every morning, protein with every meal and snack, daily relaxation, etc.
  6. Work from a Prioritized To-Do List: It's very possible that you won't get everything done that you want to get done before the baby arrives (especially since a baby is considered full-term a couple weeks before your due date). When you might not get everything done, it is absolutely critical to do the most important things first. It's often difficult to do the most important things first because they are generally not as fun as some of the other items. But you'll thank yourself later if your list doesn't get done but the most important things are.
  7. Remember that a "Due Range" Makes More Sense than a "Due Date": The vast majority of people do not deliver their babies on their due dates. Instead, the healthy, normal range is two weeks before and two weeks after (assuming your due date was even configured accurately in the first place!). Don't think you have until your due date to get everything done, and don't start getting panicky and impatient once your due date passes. It is what it is. Your baby will come when s/he is ready.
  8. Adequately Prepare for Your Birth: Giving birth is a big deal. You are not only bringing a new life into the world, you are also giving birth to yourself as a mother and to your expanded family. To prepare, I have read lots of books about the experience, attended a childbirth class, watched lots of videos, written letters to myself, journaled about my fear, visualized the experience, and done guided relaxations. Each of us needs to figure out what kind of preparation we need to do for ourselves and then do it!
  9. Take Care of the Safety Stuff: Matt and I attended an infant CPR class and had our car seat professionally installed (for free). I highly recommend both of these to-do items!
  10. Continue Bonding with Your Baby: Your baby is aware of its surroundings even more than ever. Continue talking to your baby, reading to him/her, dancing, singing, massaging your belly, etc.
  11. Get Your Support System in Place: You'll likely want help after the baby arrives. Try to anticipate what kind of help you're going to want/need and get it lined up! I asked my mom to come for the first week, and then sent out a survey request to neighbors and friends.
  12. Plan to Give Yourself "Cocoon Time": It can be easy to focus so much on the birth that you forget to think about what happens afterward! You and your new family will need to rest, heal, and have lots of quiet time to bond. Take care of absolutely everything that can be done in advance, so you can carve out this time and space for yourselves. I am taking 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave from my job (which meant months of saving up money in anticipation of the serious drop in our income), I asked readers to write six weeks of posts for 2000 Dollar Wedding, and I wrote six weeks of posts for Feeding the Soil to run in my absence. I set up an automated e-mail message to let people know I will not be responding to e-mail for a while. I stocked up on frozen meals and all sorts of non-perishable snacks.
  13. Learn Everything You Can About Breastfeeding: If you plan to breastfeed, it pays to learn everything you can in advance. I recommend going to a class or watching a video and reading books. I also attended a La Leche League meeting. It also helps to watch mothers breastfeed their babies. Breastfeeding can be very difficult (though it isn't for everyone), and it helps to learn about different ways to hold the baby and what a proper latch looks like.
  14. Continue the Conversations About How to Baby-Proof Your Partnership: Carrying for a newborn puts tremendous stress on marriages./partnerships Start anticipating what kinds of issues are going to arise, and figure out how to work through them with your partner.

I never feel like these lists are exhaustive! I really should be jotting notes down throughout the entire trimester. Alas. I'll just have to keep adding to it as I think of more stuff! Please feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments section!

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Mindy said...

This is a pretty random question but I always wondered: How do you deal with having to use the bathroom frequently (because your pregnant) when your a teacher? I used to work in a school and in my experience teachers tend to be dehydrated most of the time so that they don't need to use the bathroom too much. So if you are trying to stay healthily hydrated, plus your pregnant, don't you spend most of your time in the bathroom? Just curious :) Congrats on feeling healthy and non-achy so late in your pregnancy. That is what I aim for when the time comes along to expand our family!

Urban Environmentalist said...

Good for you saving up to take 12 weeks off. Do you get any portion of paid leave? In Canada we get 52-weeks of paid (55% of our regular income) with the opportunity to have our employer top it up.

Jennie said...

Sara, your advice is so timely! I am definitely working on the part where I need to focus more on enjoying the pregnancy and less on the small inconveniences. It helps to be reminded! This will all be over before I know it!

Also, in response to the previous comment, Canadians only get 52 weeks of paid leave if they worked a certain number of hours in the year leading up to their leave. Sadly, because I was obviously pregnant when my seasonal employment ended, I couldn't find work and will not be getting paid leave. But we all do what we can to plan and make things work :)

cecile said...

ahhh... I am very impatient about your coconut arrival !!!! wish you all the best & send you positive vibes :)

Carrie said...

I'm with Cecile. I need to not have to check this blog compulsively a dozen times a day!

Sara E. Cotner said...

@ Urban Environmentalist: I have ten days of sick leave every year, so I will have ten days of my 60 days paid. I'm so jealous of your situation!

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, Mindy: Over the years, I've worked hard to cultivate pretty strong classroom management, so my kids don't often try to get away with stuff when I'm gone. They know that another kid will tell on them (I teach 6-9 year-olds and they still want the teacher's approval). My main way to build that kind of community is through daily community meetings (which I learned about in the book _Positive Discipline_). Our class values are LEADERS: Live with integrity, Eagerly learn, Act Courageously, Don't give up, Excel, and Respect and help others and the environment, so that you can Shape the world. We also talk about Kohlberg's theory of moral development (although I simplify it to three levels: the first level you do the right thing because you're afraid of punishment; the second level you do the right thing because you want a reward; the third level you do the right thing because you know it's the right thing).

So, with that solid foundation, I simply ask the teacher next door to keep an eye on both our classrooms while I run to the bathroom. Now that I'm in a Montessori classroom, I have an assistant, so it's even easier (especially because all the kids are just working on their independent work). But when my assistant is absent, I ask the teacher next door just to keep any eye on them.

I hope that makes sense!

Christine Lindop said...

Exciting times! All the best for the coming days for all of you. When I was pregnant I had a race with some sweet peas we'd planted in the front yard - which flower would emerge first? (I won, just!) Your wedding story is being recorded as part of our Weddings book on the 25th. I wonder if your coconut will emerge first?!The story continues.

stef said...

I'm silently seething for you that the US has joined the rest of the modern world (outside of Australia) and doesn't offer paid parental leave. 14 weeks here in Kiwi land, the top amount isn't much but $400 is better than nothing!

Jill said...

As always, I love reading your reflections on pregnancy and getting ready for the baby. I am due May 15th, so it's been great to follow your progress online to see what to expect in the months to come. I hope you'll find time in the months after the baby comes to keep writing (at least occasionally!). I am keeping you and your family in my thoughts this week!

Michelle said...

I loved being pregnant so much I was not prepared at all for our son to be born. I was so sure my doc would send me home, all I had in my bag was a book (in case I got bored!) and a sucker (sour grape). My son's crib was in pieces in his room. We'd told our neighbors we'd be back that night, most likely with doughnuts. Our son was born 12 hours later, and the only thing I really regretted not having packed was shampoo.

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