Now that we’re rounding out 30 weeks (and I mean that quite literally!) my focus has really shifted to the end game of this pregnancy. The third trimester is a time of both preparation and protection— I’ll explain further what these things mean to me in this series on my Third Trimester Plan.
This week, let’s discuss physical preparations. There are a few things I’ll be incorporating into my daily routine over the next few weeks that are considered helpful towards an improved birth experience. Not that these things guarantee me a “perfect” or uncomplicated birth, but that there is some research backing their use to prepare the body for labour and delivery.
Right now I’m loving this Earth Mama Angel Baby Organic Third Trimester Tea as a calming, nutritive tea that helps with restless leg syndrome at night.
Red Raspberry Leaf is thought to tone the uterine muscles to help prepare them to work effectively in labour. I drank this tea throughout the end of my previous pregnancy, and definitely did not experience any issues with labour slowing or stalling. I’ll start drinking the tea daily at around 32 weeks, as it takes some time to accumulate in the body in preparation for delivery.
One great option for these hot summer days is to prep a jug of RRL tea in the morning, add fruit slices and ice, and sip throughout the day.
Some new research suggests that women who consume dates in the last month of pregnancy have shorter labours— dates are nutritious and delicious, and I’m excited to test out this theory! Of course, the term “shorter” is totally relative— but anything that has the potential to help us meet this baby sooner is a win in my opinion! I’ll start eating about 5-6 dates per day at 36 weeks. My shortest labour so far was 7 hours from the first contraction to meeting my baby; we’ll see if the next one goes more quickly with the help of dates!
The Birth Ball
Around the 32-24 week mark I usually pull out my birth ball, and start using it as a substitute for sitting on the couch, at my computer, etc. Balancing on the ball is incredibly helpful for building core strength and hip flexibility, and the motion of the ball is often comforting to sore joints and muscles, especially at the end of the day.
At this point in pregnancy posture becomes more important, too, as my posture can affect my baby’s positioning. To help encourage baby to settle in a head-down, back to my belly (OA) position ideal for birth, I need to be aware of favouring active, forward-leaning positions, so that gravity will help the heaviest part of the baby (the head and neck) swing forward to the front of my belly. Balancing on the birth ball provides great positioning for me and baby!
The third trimester is a great time to start taking probiotics, and as I have not been taking them regularly already, I’ll be sure to start by the time I reach 32 weeks. Probiotics help build healthy gut bacteria that can be beneficial in helping avoid a positive GBS swab.
Water intake is important for maintaining overall health, as well as healthy amniotic fluid levels. Pregnancy makes me so thirsty, and it’s hard to balance the feeling of wanting to avoid drinking a ton of water so that I can avoid having to pee so much, but especially at this point when my body is working harder than ever before I’m making a point to stay well hydrated— and that habit will only be beneficial to me and baby throughout labour and while breastfeeding as well.
The third trimester is the most exciting time of the pregnancy, for me. It’s the time when I tend to stay up late making final preparations like washing baby clothes or setting up my birth space, thinking and talking about how I imagine the birth will unfold, and doing a few things I know will be harder to do once our sweet girl arrives— taking advantage of long evenings of “me” time that will soon be engulfed by the needs of a newborn. Sleep doesn’t seem that important to me every night (even though it’s about to become of paramount importance in just a short few weeks!), but I will be sure to focus on resting and getting at least 8 hours of sleep each night, especially in the last month of pregnancy.
Physical preparation for birth is helpful but doesn’t guarantee a certain outcome— birth is unpredictable and many variables contribute to the overall outcome. However, I find the ritual of physical preparation to be valuable in and of itself. Whether or not dates will shorten my labour, or tea will strengthen my uterus, or the birth ball will help my baby into a perfect position, as I approach so many unknowns in the final weeks of my pregnancy, I know that I will feel empowered by doing positive things for my body and baby.
How did you prepare for birth physically?