Well it’s here. We made it to the third trimester. Now the real labor prep begins.
I’m feeling generally pretty good. I’m still struggling with some intense rib pain that will probably hang on at least a few more weeks until baby drops but I’ve at least been able to identify what seems to exacerbate it so I’m working to avoid those. My energy levels never really reached “2nd trimester swing” levels but I have some days where I feel pretty normal. And walking seems to make me feel pretty great so now that the weather has warmed up I’m taking advantage of an energetic almost three-year-old and having a park within walking distance.
The first time around, Husband and I took a six-week natural birthing class. It was a great way to connect with other couples expecting babies and wanting a natural birth and a fantastic wealth of resources. We decided against a refresher class so now that we’re only two months or less away from labor and birth #2, we’re starting to look back at everything we learned in class, from our own research and from our experience with V’s labor and birth. Here are 8 ways you can prepare for labor and childbirth in the third trimester.
Renewed focus on your diet.
I struggled a lot more with food aversions and nausea this time around and my diet has definitely slipped a bit because of it. During the third trimester, it’s important to focus on eating a well-rounded diet high in protein, fats and nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables. If you have a history of dairy intolerances or sensitivities you may notice they flare up in the third trimester (they have for me) and some research suggests dairy in a mother’s diet may cause colic, gas or reflux in breastfeeding babies. Because V was super colicky and I have a history of dairy issues, I’ve decided to begin more strictly limiting dairy and plan to cut it out completely about one month from my due date. Dairy can take up to two weeks to completely leave your system so you do have to plan ahead a little if you feel you need to cut it out. It’s important to remember, however, that baby’s having an issue with something in the mom’s diet is actually not common so cutting dairy may not be the best option for everyone, especially if that’s a key source of protein in your diet. As I work to reduce my dairy intake I plan to up my low-sugar smoothie intake. I’m personally comfortable with (and my body responds well to) whole-milk cow or goat kefir. It’s a great way for me to up my protein and probiotic intake. I don’t mind veggie-heavy smoothies so I usually stick to low-sugar fruits and try to double the veggies – spinach, kale, beet tops, carrots, celery, cucumbers, frozen berries and pineapple, etc. For liquid I use kefir, coconut water or filtered water (this is the filter we love and use for our house). It’s a great way to up your veggie intake and I like to make one to start the day off well. Plus V loves them and I love how nutrient-dense they are for us both. Other third trimester diet staples are pastured eggs and other pastured grass-fed/finished animal products, whole grains (we stick to this bread), sardines and anchovies, lots of leafy green and fermented veggies, and lots of filtered water.
If you are familiar with the natural childbirth world, you are probably familiar with uterine tonics and labor-shortening superfoods like red raspberry leaf and dates. Research suggests eating six dates each day in the month leading up to birth may increase your chances of not having your water break early, avoid an induction and have a shorter labor. Delicious and totally easy to give a try. I like to stock up on the non-chocolatey Larabars (I stick to cashew cookie, coconut cream pie or carrot cake) whenever they are on sale for $1 at Meijer. Depending on what flavor you pick, you can sometimes buy a 16-pk on Amazon for less than $1/ea. I’m planning to buy some dates in bulk and make some granola bites since my organs are all getting so squeezed I can’t eat much at one sitting anymore – there are lots of recipes on Pinterest, I’ve saved this, this and this one. I also drink at least one cup of a homemade pregnancy tea blend I make. It’s similar to this one but I switched out the chamomile for oatstraw. If you can’t afford that many loose leaf teas at once, even just buying a bulk bag of red raspberry leaf tea can help. I find the flavor refreshing and mild but you could certainly add some raw honey once it has cooled a little. I will try to get 2-3 cups each day once I hit 34 weeks. It’s an easy way to help tone your uterus and prep for birth. And if you go with a pregnancy blend (you can buy this or this premade one, too) you get extra doses of vitamins c and k, iron, calcium and magnesium.
Down with the sugar and up with the bacteria.
This is definitely easier said than done but watching your sugar intake is important throughout your pregnancy, especially during your third trimester. A diet high in sugar can increase your odds of testing GBS positive, can lead to blood sugar issues in you and baby and can speed up your weight gain. It’s also important to focus on quality sources of good bacteria via fermented foods and probiotic supplements. My favorite food sources are fermented sauerkraut and pickles, whole-milk kefir, and yogurt. I also up my raw garlic intake in hopes of getting a negative GBS test like last time.
Pelvis-prepping and position-optimizing exercises.
Throughout this pregnancy I’ve been struggling with some pretty intense rib and low back pain especially near my sacrum. I’ve been seeing a chiropractor but can only afford so many appointments so they’re kind of spread out. I got this pregnancy pillow and we moved V to her own bed (mostly) to help give me the support and positioning I need during the night, but gentle stretching and exercises were also recommended to me. If you take a birthing class, you probably were told a few stretches as well. I’ve focused mainly on walking and squats (trying to squat instead of bend over through the entire pregnancy) up until now and I’ve been trying to do some sort of prenatal yoga or stretching routine at least every other night. My favorite stretches are cat and cow, leaning on the couch or birthing ball, butterfly, lunges and squats. MamaNatural has a great video I watched with my last pregnancy on stretches to help your pelvis and baby be in the best position possible. Spinning Babies is also a great resource. My chiropractor loaned me one of their dvds and V and I enjoy doing the daily sequence together.
Decide on your birth plan.
Having a birth plan is really important for me, partly because I’m a huge planner and partly because I like having something on hand Husband can use to remember all the things I wanted and help communicate them to our birth team (this would also be a great thing for a doula to help with!). Rule of thumb: stick to one page and make it as easy to read as possible. With our first, our birth team changed while I was pushing and everything was really chaotic and no one was on the same page as us about our birth plan. It was really frustrating and one of the newly-arrived nurses ended up exclaiming that we had a girl before I had gotten a chance to even put her on my chest which was really deflating after waiting nine months to have that moment with Husband. This time, making sure everyone in the room knows what our plan is will be a top priority, as well as trying to keep as few people in the room as possible. Be sure you go over your birth plan with your spouse and any birth helpers you plan to have (more than once, if possible) and discuss ways you think you may want them to help you cope with labor. Want a natural birth but aren’t sure where to get started? Check out my birth plan template freebies by signing up for my newsletter to receive the password to my free resource library. They come with a mock-up plan similar to ours to help you have an idea of where to start as well as a blank plan for you to fill in yourself.
Talk baby names.
This is, unfortunately, one of the hardest parts of the end of pregnancy for us. Husband won’t agree on a name if he has ever known or heard of someone with said name, said name sounds like another word or name, said name is gender neutral (or the nickname is like with Alexander/ra) or doesn’t have a nickname he likes. So basically no names. We don’t find out the gender of our babies which makes it a little more difficult since we can’t narrow it down at all, and we also try not to narrow it down to just one name unless we absolutely can’t agree on another. We like to wait until we meet baby and see what seems to fit after the first few hours together. With V, we literally had no boy names we could agree on. We had two that were in the running but neither of us loved them and I know we would have regretted using them. They didn’t even make the long list this time around. This time I thought we were good with two for both genders but apparently we’re back to square one (so please send suggestions!!!). My favorite baby naming resource is Sancta Nomina so check her out!
Research – read, watch, reflect.
In our birthing class last time, we talked about birth affirmations and meditations and the power of your mind in labor and I honestly wasn’t buying it. After going through it once, though, I can definitely see how having a set of birth affirmations and prayers you’ve practiced and developed ahead of time can be a huge help. I’m working on some birth affirmations now and have a rosary Spotify playlist I plan to play while I’m in early labor. I’m working through this book now and plan to skim through my favorite resources from last time and will rewatch this with Husband. Plus, I’m a sucker for birth videos and birth stories so I will spend a few hours during this last trimester reveling in the beauty that is childbirth. It’s also important to spend some time reflecting on any previous births and discuss with your spouse what worked and what didn’t, etc. if you haven’t already, and to work through any lingering fears or doubts you may have. This is a great time to spend connecting with your spouse and baby and go over the way you see your partnership interacting through birth, common ways he can help you labor, etc.
Finish up prepping for baby
Since this will be our second baby and they will only be slightly shy of three years apart, a large part of the prep involves going through V’s old things and deciding what we will keep and what we will donate. With the exception of clothes, anything I don’t want to bring out for this baby is getting donated. We don’t separate our toys based on gender so other than not putting baby in dresses, everything we keep we will use regardless of if #2 is a boy or girl. I recently went through our NB-3mos clothes and pulled out all of our gender neutral stuff (one nice thing about not finding out the first time either is that almost all our NB clothes are gender netural with the exception of a few girly outfits people bought us after V arrived). We have a dresser in our basement that needs to be cleaned and brought upstairs and I need to wash the baby clothes. I just bought a new set of organic cotton bed sheets for my bed that I’m putting off washing so I don’t ruin them inadvertently before baby arrives (because even on sale and with a gift card they are expensive!). I’ll probably wash them around 35wks and just leave them in my closet so my water doesn’t break on them (it didn’t last time but ya never know). We’ve been slowly converting our cloth diaper stash from pockets to fitteds and flats with cloth. I’ve gotten a little over half our stash in so far and have been prepping with our towel/bed laundry so next for me is to pre-fold our flats. I’d love to hear if you have a favorite fold! I haven’t decided yet what to start with but I’m leaning toward modified kite. We’re using a mix of Truly Charis flats and fitteds, GMD Workhorse fitteds and Truly Charis wool covers. This is a great review of TC if you are curious. Their quality is insane and I love supporting Christian WAHMs. I plan to do a long review of them once #2 arrives and we’ve used them for a few weeks. We used their heavy wetter nighttime fitted and wool soakers with V for about two weeks before we decided to give up cloth but I loved them, it just didn’t make sense to wash one diaper a day. We also need to do the basics – bring up the pack n play (or not, we haven’t decided), inspect the infant seat, bring up any other baby items we want, pack hospital bag, prep some freezer food, etc.
Spend some one-on-one time with your spouse and with any older children.
We have been trying to schedule one date night a month for each month of the third trimester. So far we’ve failed miserably but it’s still our goal. Ideally we’d be able to do it more than that but it is what it is. Once a week or so, we both try to spend some time together after V has gone to bed. I actually think we’ve only done this once but it is always on our radar and hopefully as the reality of the chaos that is about to descend on us hits, we’ll work harder to make it happen. To bond with V, we’ve been talking a lot about the baby and about how she can help with the baby (Daniel Tiger and Little Critter have been our go-to resources, lol). We took her to the zoo and also have a blueberry festival and a museum trip on the schedule for August. I’m trying to come up with a great mommy-daughter date (any ideas?!) and Husband plans to take her on a daddy-daughter date sometime shortly after the baby comes, though he will be deep in the throes of his final year of nursing school so it may have to wait a few weeks.
How do you prep for the arrival of a new baby once you hit the third trimester? Drop a comment below or pop over to Facebook and join the conversation!