My Pregnancy Journal / Third Trimester
What life looks like in my third trimester:
- Getting breathless walking up stairs
- Struggling to get comfortable lying in bed every night
- The immediate onset of needing to pee becoming much stronger
- Peeing like every half hour
- Can no longer see ‘downstairs’ thanks to bump
- No longer able to eat a decent sized meal without feeling STUFFED literally!
- Experiencing ‘lightning crotch’ (that’s a fun one)
- Hearing the regular “wow you’re SO big already!” (from about 32 weeks)
I’m seeing how easy it would be to focus on many of the changes in a negative way, BUT thankfully I haven’t done this for the most part. Instead, I’ve been enjoying:
- Feeling this little man moving more and more each day
- Watching my body transform and expand and being amazed at this process
- Guilt-free naps in the afternoon
- Eating smaller meals a little more often
- Practicing pelvic floor control with an online pregnancy pelvic floor program
- Easing off my exercise intensity and feeling good about it
- Taking time most evenings to relax, and read empowering & educational books and information about birth and parenting
- Receiving gifts from beautiful friends and family
- Nesting! Getting things ready for when baby arrives
- Special treatment when lining up for bathrooms or being at the shops
- Being told “I’m glowing” a lot
- Having chats with my husband about how we’re going to tackle parenting and the new life we’re about to enter
Even just writing this list down makes me recognise how undeniably blessed I am, and how awesome this journey to motherhood is, even with its les fun parts.
So what have I been doing during this last few months to prepare for birth and motherhood?
As the 9-month mark looms closer and closer, I’ve been making a determined effort to read several books to better understand the amazing process of labour, birth, breastfeeding and motherhood.
Birth with Confidence by Rhea Dempsey has been awesome. It’s given me a great understanding of what to expect when birthing in the Australian system, how to have a healthy, empowered perspective of pain during labour and birth (seeing it as functional, understanding how it is working to bring the baby into the world, and embracing/working with it rather than working against it), and also the huge importance of having the right support system around you for the birth, who will respect and uphold your choices.
Another book I’m currently reading that is so practical and helpful is Birth Skills by Juju Sundin. Just from reading the first couple of chapters I already feel equipped with practical techniques I can use to work through labour without freaking out.
I've also started reading midwife guru Ina May Gaskin's work (I got 3 of her books - Spiritual Midwifery, Guide to Childbirth, and Guide to Breastfeeding) and WOW! I am loving it!!
The two main skills I’ve learnt will be helpful are: calm breathing, and movement to work with the contractions (I’ve decided to reframe them as waves or surges to ride rather than pain to avoid). I’m looking forward to the challenge of riding them as well as I can!
For the most part I’ve continued to eat mostly a plant-based diet, however lately I’ve noticed a stronger pull towards sourdoughs and breads, and haven’t totally given up diary (organic yoghurt and butter mainly). Being gluten intolerant, I’ve interestingly found during pregnancy that I’m not noticing the normal gluten reactions in my body. This could be good or bad, I’m not sure? I think the answer will come post-birth when my body gets back to normal.
I’ve been diligent in taking my personalised supplements (prenatal multivitamin, iron, zinc and omegas), however around the 28 week mark my blood test revealed that my iron levels had dropped really low. So I got to work looking into how I could boost it naturally without an iron infusion or the typical Ferrograd C (Side note on Ferrograd C is not the most bio-available iron supplement on the market despite being pushed by the medical system, plus can cause constipation and other digestive issues). A friend said a supplement called Iron Picolinate (especially for boosting ferritin/iron store levels in pregnant women) had worked for her so I got my hands on this. Then I also began adding as many plant-based sources of iron to my daily meals: spirulina powder, fresh parsely, organic dark grape juice, prunes, diatemacous earth, molasses, dark leafy greens, and eggs. The result? My test at 32 weeks showed an increase across ALL iron levels! Iron went from 13 to 54, ferritin (iron stores) went from <5 to 16, and Haemoglobin went from 116 to 120! So the plan is to continue everything I’m doing for the duration of the pregnancy and beyond.
I’ve also been nourishing my skin most nights before bed I’ve been using either coconut oil or this particular mix I got from a local market to rub all over my belly and perenium. So far so good!
Mentally Preparing Myself
The more I read and research natural birth, the more I’ve realised that the prevailing mentality in Australia/the West is a view of birth as a risky, labour/pain-to-be-avoided, medically-driven event. Choosing to plan and prepare for a gentle, pain-embracing, natural physiological birth has not been as supported as I hoped. My conclusion is that at the end of the day, my support team (husband and doula) and I are the ones who decide how to approach the birth of our son, and I can’t rely on anyone else to share my views or support me in the way I wish. I must choose to be strong and confident even in the face of adversity.
It really is a mental game. And I’ve decided to adopt a fearless, confident, trust-my-body mindset as the special day comes closer.
Now don’t get me wrong – I have researched all the common types of scenarios that could play out, as I absolutely know anything can happen on the day. I know what my options are when it comes to posterior, breach, footling breach, long labour, no ‘progression’ in labour, 42+ weeks birth and so on. I’ve researched ways to work through each scenario with different techniques, movements, tools and approaches so I can exhaust every avenue before medical intervention is necessary. And if it is necessary, I will totally be ok knowing I did everything possible to give my baby the best chance of entering the world without intervention as possible. I’m planning for the best, but prepared for the ‘worst’ case scenario.
Planning For Labour
Here’s a few things that I’ve been doing or plan to do over the final weeks in preparation for a beautiful labour & birth:
- Listen to calming, relaxation music most evenings when I go to bed
- Swim at least once a week
- Completing a pelvic floor exercise program
- Eating 3-4 medjool dates a day (from 32 weeks)
- See a pregnancy chiro to iron out any pelvis and body alignment issues
- Organise a food roster & recipes for the first few weeks of the fourth trimester
- Organise my hospital bag & bits & pieces
- Go over positive affirmation mantras daily
- Book in placenta encapsulation for postpartum
- Finalise baby items that will be immediately necessary
- Create a playlist of calming & uplifting music to listen to during labour
- Slowing down from work & making preparations to have no major commitments for the first 3 months post-birth (the fourth trimester)
How I am feeling today? I am more and more excited to meet this little human and begin this new chapter of life!