Pregnancy Tips: Surviving the Third Trimester

Time for the heavy lifting portion of the pregnancy. By Week 28 you'll be used to having a bump, but you'll see it grow exponentially during the next three months. Whilst the second trimester seemed to absolutely fly, the momentum only gets faster. I remember feeling that Week 30 was a momentous milestone and then all of a sudden, I've blinked and I'm Full-Term (that's from 37 weeks). If I was to go into labour at 37+1, it would be considered perfectly normal and Baby A wouldn't be considered premature. However, there's also the reality I could be pregnant for another five weeks until 42 weeks (but hopefully they'll have made their appearance spontaneously before then!) So, here is my toolkit for all expectant mothers in this more uncomfortable stage of pregnancy!

Tip 1: Pregnancy Pillows are a must.
Comfort is going to be the biggest challenge that creeps in the bigger and heavier your bump gets. Combined with the NHS recommendation to sleep on your left hand side from this point onwards, it really takes some getting used to. In my case, an avid back sleeper, sleeping on my left hand side became both a stress and a concern for me to the point that I was waking up in agony. I panic ordered this pillow from Amazon around Week 28 or 29 when my sleep quality fell off a cliff (God bless Amazon Prime!) but in actual fact it wasn't as much of a game-changer as I hoped. In the end, I found the best solution for me (and it really is case of trial and error) was to have two regular pillows under my head, a cheese-shaped pillow (like this) wedged under my bump for supporting the weight of the baby, and a third regular pillow between my hips and knees. So, basically, build a fort around you for maximum comfort to get maximum sleep. All was not lost with the Amazon pillow however which now lives on the sofa. It's perfect for keeping me comfortable whilst sitting in front of the TV and I know will be a great help when it comes to supporting baby's weight when breast-feeding.

Tip 2: Get a Belly Bandit.
In a similar vein to Tip 1, this bit of kit is designed to help support the weight of your baby as you go about your day. I found that as my bump got bigger, naturally the additional weight pulls your belly forward and arches your back, causing for some lower back ache. This Velcro support band feels a bit like a pair of Spanx (minus the gusset!) helping hold your bump and keeping your back as straight as possible. A bonus shorter band comes with this for post-delivery where it acts as compression to help your pelvis and hips return to their narrower starting point pre-pregnancy (I'll let you know how I get on with that... frankly I'll be grateful for the support holding my mum-tum in I'm sure!)

Tip 3: Back Up.
Talking of your back, and combined with hours sat at a computer screen, my employer bought me this posture brace to help ensure I wasn't hunching at my laptop; a result of both sitting at my dining table and not in my office chair due to COVID. It's uncomfortable, I have to confess, but it certainly does prohibit you from slouching and hunching over your laptop!

Tip 4: Keep Moving.
Walking has been an absolute mood-changer and I have found late-night walks during the summer evenings has been the highlight of my homebound days. Not only do I feel better for moving my body, but it's been a special time when Mr A and I get to connect, chat and talk about baby/the future. A definite silver lining I have to admit of lockdown; we are usually pretty braindead after a day in the office top of the commute and barely capable of stringing a sentence together between cooking dinner and monging on the sofa in front of Netflix. 

I have also remained such a fan of the Zoom pre-natal classes offered by Pilates PT. I feel in Hollie's very safe hands and can get a fix of cardio with the Bump Plan classes and strengthening exercises with the Pre-Natal Pilates classes. £10 a session - it's honestly the best money I spend on my wellbeing. I can't wait to try the Post-Natal classes once I'm back to exercise post-birth.

Tip 5: Microwave Heat Pack
I am very aware of how much these tips suggest 'discomfort' is a key concern. It has only really been that way in the last few weeks (from Week 33/34 onwards) and that really depends on your frame, the size and shape of your bump and comfort threshold. My lower back really was niggling away and, particularly in the evenings, I found that a source of heat was super soothing. For less than a fiver, this wheat and lavender filled bean-bag is super easy to warm in the microwave for 60 seconds and gives the perfect dose of warmth to the target area. 

Tip 6: Back on the Bananas
Trimester Two saw a hiatus from my early morning banana but it has returned! After a few occasions of waking and feeling a little queasy, I returned to the trusty habit of keeping a banana on my nightstand for an early morning snack. I was seriously lucky with my experience of morning sickness and know that eating - as much as it feels counter-intuitive when you're feeling sick - is the best cure. After a couple of mornings leaning over the kitchen sink feeling sick with that nervy hot/cold and rush of saliva, I figured eating before I got out of bed was the way to prevent this! (Plus, it means there's always the ingredients for banana bread when the baking bug strikes!)

Tip 7: Loose-Fitting Clothes & Shoes
As the bump grows, be prepared for other parts of you to swell too! Since Week 35/36, I noticed that my ankles were starting to look a little plumper than normal. It's important to keep an eye on swelling of the hands, feet and face and any/all changes should be mentioned to your Midwife so they can keep an eye on this (in some instances, it can be a signal of something more sinister afoot). I found that a cooling gel like Elemis Instant Refreshing Gel, the Dyson Air fan on full blast and, in times of heatwave, ice-cold wet flannels were fabulously cooling. 

Tip 8: Be Prepared to Pee. ALL. THE. TIME.
Bye bye bladder capacity. With a growing baby bearing down on your bladder, expect to "spend a penny" several times more than you usually would. It's important to stay hydrated and, with a childhood nickname of The Fish, there was no chance I wouldn't be downing blackcurrant squash by the pint. Given the lockdown, I just saw the benefit in the extra steps to and from the loo to add to my measly step count on a daily basis! The downside being there are no public loos on long walks so, if you have the glute muscles to allow it, take a packet of tissues in case you need to nip into the bushes!

Tip 9: Padding Out.
One of the lesser discussed topics around pregnancy is 'leaking'. Of course, you may have cause for concern regarding your pelvic floor and this certainly is an area to ensure you're doing regular exercises to strengthen and also, importantly, relax your pelvic floor if you're planning a vaginal delivery. But the 'leaking' I'm referring to here which surprised me the most is in the brassiere region. Leaky nipples anyone? I guess it should be expected that with our breasts preparing to become the most popular restaurant in town once Little One arrives, there will bound to be some preparations required. Bigger boobs? Yes. Swollen? Yes. Tender? At times. Darker nipples? Yep (did you know that's so your baby can see the bullseye?!) And yes, leaking colostrum. Some people like to harvest colostrum and freeze it in the days/weeks before baby's arrival (it's not recommended prior to 37 weeks as stimulating your breasts/nipples *could* initiate labour). Or you may just find you go through pyjamas and bras at a much faster rate than before, giving your washing machine a taste of what's to come! To save any embarrassment you can find reusable breast pads on Amazon - I ordered these on recommendation for a fellow new-mum. They're discreet and certainly save any awkward moments on Zoom calls!

Tip 10. Relax and Tune Out the Noise.
Be prepared for people to share their thoughts and opinions without invitation. Wow, look how big you are? Are you sure there aren't two in there? It's like shitting a bowling ball, dear! Just a few of the choice phrases I've heard over recent weeks. I swear I want to start a Positive Motherhood Movement just to try and educate people about how unhelpful hearing things like this are (it's not meant maliciously, it's just not what any heavily pregnant woman wants to hear!) Along with talk of how hard it's going to be be, sleep deprivation is awful and blah blah blah. It's funny that they don't mention these kinds of things when you're being asked, When will you two be starting a family? Pitter patter of tiny feet on the horizon? You can tell it's a sore point. My main advice here is:
  1. Tell people to piss off with their negative talk. In fact, my husband, on learning the importance of language via The Positive Birth Company's Hypnobirthing pack became the biggest advocate for this saving me from these conversations as and when they arose. 
  2. Find your solution for tuning out the negativity. For me, this is via a daily instalment of Headspace. I'm now on a roll of 62 days on the trot and am currently listening to their 30-session pregnancy programme for a third time!
  3. Relax. For me this is either a bath, an early night or lying on the sofa watching an oxytocin-inducing feel-good film. Ask your partner to cook the dinner, clean the bathroom or put on the washing (if they don't instinctively take on more of the household chores). You're doing your own heavy-lifting for the two of you!


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