Your 3rd trimester brings so much anticipation. Just when you thought you should feel “glowing” you may experience the many physical effects from your growing baby. Not to mention the emotional hormonal effects that facilitate the miracle of pregnancy and birth! It’s important to remember that the discomforts, aches and pains, mood swings and worries are very real and normal.
Here are a few practical suggestions for some of the most common physical discomforts you may experience:
Backache- the biggest culprit!
Posture- This isn’t the typical “stand up straight” posture. This posture will help your core, pelvic floor and promote an optimal fetal position for your baby: Mentally draw a line starting from your back, through your body and out through your belly button. Try to consistently sit and stand in a position where that line would be completely level or pointing downward slightly toward the ground. Try to avoid sitting in a reclined position or with your legs crossed.
Pelvic Tilts– Pregnancy puts new demands on your body. The muscles of your back, abdomen & pelvic floor need special attention. Pelvic Tilts are designed to strengthen, and prevent discomfort and fatigue in these areas and to help relieve backache, improve posture, gently tones abdominal muscles, and assist baby to move into optimal fetal position. Here’s a great video to get you started.
Pregnancy Support Bands- A study in Spine Journal investigated the prevalence of back and pelvic pain during pregnancy. They found that 71 percent of women report low back pain and 65 percent report pelvic girdle pain. Belly bands can be worn during pregnancy to help support your lower back and baby bump during activities, which may result in decreased pain overall.
Massage- Studies indicate that massage therapy performed during pregnancy can reduce anxiety, decrease symptoms of depression, relieve muscle aches and joint pains, and improve labor outcomes and newborn health. Check with your practitioner before receiving a prenatal massage if you have diabetes, have morning sickness or are vomiting regularly, have been diagnosed with preeclampsia or high blood pressure, have a fever or a contagious virus, or have abdominal pain or bleeding.
If you are in the second half of your pregnancy, don’t lie on your back during your massage; the weight of your baby and uterus can reduce circulation to your placenta and create more problems than any massage can cure. The good news is that prenatal massage has become so popular that many therapists and spas provide specialized services just for moms-to-be (always tell your therapist you’re pregnant). Plus, there are prenatal massage tables and pillows that can make the experience safer and more comfortable.
Chiropractic Adjustments – Your pelvis supports your growing uterus with specific ligaments that connect to the pelvic bones. When the pelvic bones are balanced, the uterus can enlarge symmetrically with your growing baby. Chiropractic care can assist with pelvic alignment. Some chiropractors take a specific interest in prenatal and postnatal care and seek additional training. Be sure to discuss chiropractic care options with your provider an seek out a chiropractor with special training in prenatal care.
Swelling- The heat of summer and the 3rd trimester is a guaranteed recipe for swelling.
Water- Make sure that you are drinking plenty of water daily. My chiropractor shared a good rule of thumb to follow for how much water to drink daily. Divide your current weight in half and the answer is how many ounces of water you should be drinking daily. The actual amount of water recommended to drink in pregnancy varies, based on what research or source you reference and preference. It can be hard to slug all that water down, but be encouraged, knowing that water also helps with hemorrhoids, constipation, headaches, fatigue, and Braxton Hicks contractions, which are likely other discomforts you may be experiencing.
Natural Diuretics- Natural diuretics found in whole foods also help with swelling. Try adding foods like watermelon, cucumber, asparagus, celery, lemon and ginger. Try this infused water recipe: a win-win for water intake and swelling.
Constipation & Hemorrhoids- They go together like peanut butter and jelly, just not as appealing!
Diet– Water to the rescue again, but also be sure to incorporate high fiber foods into your diet. It doesn’t have to be oat bran! Some you may not have considered are avocado, berries, artichokes, nuts and chickpea hummus.
Epsom Salt Baths- Epsom salt baths help to pull swelling out of tissue and relax muscles. Twenty minutes in a comfortable temp bath will help with the swelling of hemorrhoids, and any swelling in your legs or feet! The magnesium, an ingredient in Epsom salt, can also help with constipation. The magnesium absorbs into your gut, causing it’s muscles to relax, resulting in a bowl movement. Another win-win!
Witch Hazel – This incredibly inexpensive astringent helps to heal abrasions, reduce swelling, itching and pain. Apply the astringe to surgical cotton and press it gently against the hemorrhoids. You can also find sprays that include witch hazel to use after going to the bathroom or as needed.
Epsom salt baths and witch hazel are also very useful to help heal your bottom (perineum) after birth, especially if you have experienced tearing, an episiotomy or swelling from the pushing phase.
Moodiness- It’s ok. It’s normal.
You probably have days when you don’t quite feel like yourself. This is a result of normal hormonal changes. It is important to communicate with your partner how you are feeling and what you need. Don’t expect your partner to read your mind: be specific. Don’t just say “I need you to be more supportive,” you must tell them what supportive behaviors look like to you.
Extend yourself grace and treat yourself! Once baby arrives you won’t have your “alone time” anymore. Slow down, nap, go on a date, go to a movie all by yourself, take time off work before baby comes if you’re able, most importantly, surround yourself with loving and supportive people and remember, it’s ok to “cut loose!”
Becky Orchard is a retired Doula and Childbirth Educator who has helped nearly 200 families with their pregnancies and births. She is the owner of Mother’s Haven, the sister shop to Mama Nook.