Well, here I am in the final weeks of my pregnancy with Baby Sweet Potato and I am caught in that place of feeling simultaneously overwhelmed at already being so close to the finish line and so incredibly ready to be done. The third trimester feels like it has been the longest of the trimesters for me. I am not good at being patient, so every day feels longer than the next as I anticipate all of the things to come. However, overall the third trimester has gone very smoothly.
The baby has been growing well and staying very active. I have had a fair amount of trouble going back to sleep in the middle of the night for most of the third trimester but some weeks are better than others, I did develop a few stretch marks on the lower part of my belly and on my hips but I am confident that they will fade. The only big complaint I have had is that around 28 weeks I developed fairly severe pelvic girdle pain or SPD that was caused by my body producing too much of the hormone relaxin in too short a period of time causing my ligaments to loosen and my pelvis to become unstable. This lasted for about six weeks and then just as suddenly as it came on, it disappeared. I went to the chiropractor regularly in those six weeks, I stretched and did exercises to try to strengthen my pelvic muscles and I had to be really intentional about not moving too fast or doing anything that would pull my pelvis out of alignment. It was royally uncomfortable and I am very glad that it didn’t last the entire length of the third trimester.
My diet has remained mostly the same in the third trimester. I did have to switch to eating more frequent, smaller meals throughout the day to keep my heartburn at bay and my blood sugar stabilized. I found that my acid reflux and heartburn improved when I started supplementing with calcium so I made the personal choice to reintroduce a small amount of aged, low lactose, dairy on a once a week or less basis just as I finish out the remainder of the pregnancy. This isn’t something that I would recommend to everyone it was just something that I felt comfortable doing and it has worked fine for me. Around 34/35 weeks I started eating 6 dates per day since some research has shown that there is a component in dates that mimics the effects of oxytocin and that women who consumed 6 dates per day in the last month or so of their pregnancy has higher rates of spontaneous labor, spontaneous rupture of membranes and greater cervical dilation upon arrival at the hospital. Plus dates are yummy, so why not? I also continued to drink this pregnancy tea daily.
Physical Self Care:
The amount of physical self care that I required definitely increased in this trimester. I started going to the chiropractor weekly, as opposed to every two to three weeks, to help with aches and pains as well as optimal fetal positioning for birth. I continued taking Epsom salt baths most nights to help with sleep, aches, and keeping any swelling away. My bedtime routine became very important and very extensive. I found that in order to get the best quality of sleep possible I had to start my bedtime routine an hour earlier so that I could spend more time away from blue light and more time decompressing before actually needing to fall asleep. I couldn’t do a lot of exercise during the six weeks where I was experiencing the SPD pain. I did some basic exercises at home each day and tried to stretch and remained active at work and about once a week I took a short walk but too much movement was very painful and took me a long time to recover from. As soon as it cleared up though I went back to walking about 3 miles every other day and doing some occasional yoga. Paying attention to optimal fetal positioning is important to me because I have seen a lot of unnecessarily difficult labors that have resulted from babies being in a posterior position so I have made sure to be particularly mindful of my posture and making sure to spend some time each day sitting on the exercise ball and resting on all fours to keep baby in a good anterior position. (if you’re interested in this check out this website and this article) I also really became intentional about trying to cut back on my level of busyness. We still had plenty of things going on, but I didn’t travel and I tried to keep things to a minimum so that I could stay at home and rest or work on preparing for the baby when possible.
I have been extremely happy with the care providers I switched to in my second trimester. They have been very accommodating and have a naturally minded, evidenced based, but minimalistic approach when working with low risk patients. The two big tests this trimester were the gestational diabetes test and the group b strep test. The gestational diabetes test typically involves drinking a very sweet, very processed glucose drink and then having your blood sugar checked. I was not about to do that because I doubt I’ve had that much sugar and dye in my system in at least 5 years. Instead, I got my blood drawn at a fasting level at one appointment and then scheduled my next appointment for two hours after breakfast and got my blood sugar levels checked with the finger stick reader. It was all very easy and my levels all came back great. In regards to the group b strep test, the test itself is very easy but I wanted to try to do everything I could to minimize my risk of testing positive so that I could avoid the need for antibiotics in labor. I want this baby to get as much good bacteria from me as possible during birth and I want to be in optimal health postpartum and antibiotics are a big trigger for my ulcerative colitis. I knew I was going to be tested at 35 weeks so around 28 weeks I began a regimen of taking 2,000 mg of vitamin C in divided doses, two of these probiotics each day, and 500mg of garlic oil each day. Then at 33 weeks I also used this same probiotic vaginally every other night. My goal was to optimize my gut and vaginal flora, not cheat the test, so I didn’t want to do anything to target and kill bacteria only strengthen my immune system and introduce lots of healthy bacteria. My results came back negative, so that was a huge relief! I did not have any routine third trimester ultrasounds and since I was measuring on track there was really no need for one and I have declined any routine cervical checks at my weekly appointments.
We took a tour of the maternity hospital where I will be delivering, got baby’s closet organized with all of the wonderful gifts people gave us at our showers, prepped our cloth diapers and packed our hospital bags. When I write my post about the birth and the hospital stay I will talk about what I included in my hospital bag. I also started prepping for birth by intentionally practicing my relaxation techniques and getting my heart and mind in the right place. This phase of my life has been filled with a lot of stress, separate from the pregnancy, so one of the biggest ways I have been preparing for the baby is by trying to do as much healing and praying and mindfulness as I can so that that stress doesn’t get in the way during birth and my early postpartum days.
Stay tuned for the final update on my birth experience and to meet Baby Sweet Potato!