You may be experiencing an array of emotions during your third trimester, which begins in week 28 of your pregnancy. While you probably aren’t feeling nauseous in the third trimester, you’re likely feeling pretty fatigued and uncomfortable from all of the changes your body has gone through over the last several months. The good news? You’ll get to meet your baby oh so soon, and you’ll be head over heels in love. How do I know, you ask? Well, I’ve been there a few times. As a mom of three, an IBCLC, and an RN, I’ve pulled together some of my favorite tips for how to prepare for your baby during the third trimester.
1. Get a pedicure and a haircut.
If this is your first child, you may not be prepared for how little downtime you’ll have once your baby arrives. A couple of weeks before my due date, I get a pedicure to pamper my swollen feet (who doesn’t love a good foot massage?). I also get my hair trimmed because I know it won’t happen once my little nugget arrives. As a first-time mom, I was terrified of the fumes and chemicals potentially in the air at salons, but by my third baby, I wasn’t as nervous. Although there isn’t evidence that the brief exposure to fumes in salons is harmful to your baby, the smells may make you nauseous. Look for a salon that uses best hygiene practices and is well ventilated, and don’t get any service that makes you uncomfortable. If you’re anxious about potential fumes or chemicals used in services, talk to your doctor.
2. Get a prenatal massage.
I’ve never had a prenatal massage, but if I’m ever pregnant again, I’ll definitely be investing in at least one. Do yourself a favor and add one to your baby registry. Due to the skeletal and muscular changes that occur in a woman’s body during pregnancy, you may have sore muscles, sleepless nights, or back pain. A prenatal massage can help relieve pressure and reduce anxiety, depression, and swelling; it may even improve overall labor outcomes. When scheduling your massage, talk to the therapist about their certifications and what to expect. Also, talk to your doctor or midwife about whether a massage is right for you or if you have any contraindications. If a prenatal massage isn’t in your budget, ask your partner for foot and back massages. Prenatal massages benefit both partners: they can decrease prenatal depression and improve your relationship. I love to curl up on the couch with my husband and talk about the day while he lightly massages my feet and calves. A good lotion or oil will help your partner’s hands glide and keep your skin hydrated.
3. Find an IBCLC.
If you’d like to breastfeed, I highly recommend seeking out an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). A lactation consultant will encourage and empower you every step of your breastfeeding journey. They can provide breastfeeding education before delivery, answer any questions you may have, and assist you after the arrival of your baby. Talk to your IBCLC about any medications you are taking, history of breast surgeries, infertility struggles, and previous breastfeeding experiences. This will help you and your lactation consultant work together to set realistic goals and be prepared for any possible bumps in the road. Every woman’s breastfeeding journey is unique, and an IBCLC will encourage you whether your journey lasts two days or two years.
4. Take a bath.
Unless my bathroom feels like the Mojave Desert in the middle of a hot summer day, a warm evening bath is almost always on my to-do list. I love to add Epsom salt (the package should list appropriate ratios) for pain relief and a spoonful of coconut oil to help keep my skin soft. Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about the water temperature. If it’s hot outside, instead of drawing a full bath, I melt some Epsom salt in a little hot water, turn the water to cold, and soak my feet to relax, decrease swelling, and cool myself off a bit. Baths and warm showers are also known to help women cope during labor and are generally safe for both mom and baby.
5. Read childbirth and breastfeeding books.
If you haven’t attended a childbirth or breastfeeding class, then I highly recommend reading some prep books. Even if you were able to attend a class, books can provide additional information or reiterate what you’ve already learned, helping you feel more confident. I love Childbirth Without Fear, Breastfeeding Made Simple, and The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.
6. Go on extra dates.
Quality time with your partner without interruptions may soon be a thing of the past, so be sure to squeeze in some extra time together before the arrival of your little one. Don’t get me wrong: you can still go on dates after your baby arrives, but your family dynamic will definitely change. This was a hard transition for me as I’m a quality-time person, and I love one-on-one time with my husband. After the kids go to bed, my husband and I often play a game, watch a show, listen to an audiobook, or just chat. If you have other children, plan some extra family time as well. When I was pregnant with my third, I took both of my older children on their own “dates” with just me. We did whatever activity they wanted to do. It was a great way to reinforce my bond with them before the new baby arrived.
7. Organize your baby’s items.
Organizing your baby’s essentials and nursery (or their area in your room) will help relieve that nesting desire that may be hitting you hard right about now. I have this cart to organize diapers, wipes, and other changing necessities. I keep sleepers, onesies, rompers, and other clothing items separated neatly in the drawers of my dresser using shoe boxes. Wash, fold, and put away baby clothes. Keep clothes that will be too big for a newborn organized in the closet or neatly stored in a tote. This will make switching clothes in and out a breeze when your baby outgrows their current size. Some babies will fit in newborn clothes for a while, while others will quickly move on to 0-3 month sizes. Pack your diaper bag and hospital bag.
8. Install your car seat.
Install your baby’s car seat by 36 weeks. This will ensure you’re prepared should your baby arrive a little early. It also gives you plenty of time if you want to have your installation checked by a car seat safety technician. If you have questions about car seats or car seat safety, this blog and Safe Kids Worldwide both have great tips about buying, installing, finding the right fit, and changing car seats.
9. Plan care for your other children or pets.
When you have older children or pets, you’ll need to determine who is going to care for them while you’re in labor or at the hospital. Talk to friends, family members, and neighbors, and set up a plan and a couple of back-up plans just in case the first one (or two) falls through.
10. Stock up on postpartum essentials.
When I returned home from the hospital, I was so thankful that I had already stocked up on postpartum supplies so I didn’t have to leave the house at only a few days postpartum to grab anything! Some things I had on hand were postpartum panties, hemorrhoid pads, perineal spray, ice packs, perineal spray bottle, comfortable pajamas, nursing bras, disposable underwear, panty liners, and pads.
With every pregnancy, I’ve gained a little more knowledge about how to prepare for my baby’s arrival and what can help me to feel my best. I know how tough weeks 28 – 40 of pregnancy can be – and how slow they can feel – and I hope some of these tips help keep your cup full during the last weeks of your pregnancy. Have tips of your own to share? Comment below!