Hello from our due date! Yep, I’m sitting here on baby girl’s due date reflecting back on the third trimester and patiently awaiting her arrival. The third trimester was pretty jam-packed and I’m looking forward to sharing lots of insight with you here. I’ll try to start from the beginning!
Tell me about the glucose test. This test is done around 28 weeks and tests your body’s reaction to sugar. Let’s start with the actual drink, which I was lucky enough to drink at home, but I think most people drink in their doctor’s office. Everyone seems to complain about how bad it tastes and how terrible they felt all day after. These people are a little dramatic in my opinion. The drink (I had lemon-lime) tasted like a flat sprite and the only icky part was really how fast you’re required to drink it. You are allowed to eat in the morning before-hand (during a certain window) but it should be protein only, so I had scrambled eggs (and I’m grateful I did, I’m sure it wouldn’t go well on an empty stomach). My reaction? I nearly passed out on the dang table by the time I got to the birth center for my appointment. My pulse was insanely high and I needed a minute to lie down. I passed the test with flying colors though! Super important note: I brought snacks for immediately after my blood was drawn and that helped a lot (cheese, carrots, and almonds).
The test did reveal that I’m ever so slightly anemic or low in iron, so I started taking 100 mg liquid chlorophyll per day. Chlorophyll helps your body absorb iron if you’re already supplementing with it (like in food or a prenatal!).
Did you interview a pediatrician? Yes! Because we’re moving to a smaller town and I’m looking for someone open to holistic medicine, my reference list wasn’t very long. We only interviewed one pediatrician (she was recommended in the birth center’s Facebook group by some other moms), but really loved her energy and decided to move forward with her. We spoke on the phone for about a half-hour, but she offered for us to come into the office for the interview as well. She offers interview time once a week after hours, so I had to schedule the time three weeks in advance but appreciated how I had her dedicated attention without any other appointments lined up. Here are the questions I had prepared to ask her, however instead, I initially just asked her to tell me about her practice and she answered most of them on her own, as I’m sure she’s used to these questions. The one I did prompt was around COVID regulations. I know some offices only allow one parent in for appointments, so I wanted to double-check their guidelines.
-Do you have any sub-specialties?
-From your website, it looks like a solo practice, who covers you when you’re gone? Do we typically see you for every appointment? Or an NP with a check-in from you?
-What is your childcare philosophy? What are your views on vaccines, antibiotics, alternative medicine, bottle feeding, circumcision, sleep training, etc.?
-Do you have a recommended slower-paced vaccine plan? Are you open to these in your care?
-Will we discuss my child’s emotional and social development?
-How far in advance do well baby appointments need to be scheduled? We are hoping to start appointments transitioning after the first 6 weeks of appointments at Origins unless necessary
-Do you offer same-day sick appointments? I noticed your hours are 8-5 weekdays, are you available for calls after hours? How are off-hour emergencies handled?
-Do you have any COVID restrictions in the office?
Car seat safety. Typically your local fire or police station offers free car seat checks, unfortunately, these aren’t available due to COVID. If you’re having a baby anytime soon, you’ll have to hire someone privately to check your car seat (in Dallas at least!). It’s recommended to have your car seat installed around 36-37 weeks.
What’s in your birth bag? So this is definitely going to be different than a hospital bag for a few reasons… we’re hoping for a water birth, we’ll only be at the birth center for 4-6 hours after birth and the birth center does provide a lot of other laboring items already (essential oils + diffuser, bluetooth speaker, peanut and exercise balls, etc.). Plus I read in the birth center’s Facebook group from other moms that they mostly just hung out naked underneath a towel for golden hour with their babies (when you soak in all the skin-to-skin time and they likely have their first feeding) so our bags are pretty minimal. I also separated the contents out into three gallon-sized ziploc bags to make things easier for Justin and the birth team to help- one is labeled ‘labor’ then ‘mom’ and ‘baby’ for post-birth. *this list has been updated since baby’s arrival to only reflect things I used!
Wallet & ID
Any paperwork necessary (like for SSN)
Health insurance card
What I’m wearing to the birth center: bralette, maternity comfy shirt, sweatpants, hoodie, sneakers (I’ve heard your temperature can change throughout, so it’s good to pack layers just in case!)
2 extra bras incase I want to get in and out of the water and don’t want to wear a wet top inbetween- I packed one sports bra and one of these stretchy bralettes from Target that I love.
Biofreeze for back pain
Tennis balls for back pain (massage)
Stroller fan for my face
Big cup *with straw
Post-birth bag for Mom
Loose-fitting, comfy tank
A sports bra
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Incontinence/postpartum underwear (I’ll share more about the other items I’ve prepared for home in a fourth trimester blog post, but if you’re antsy, feel free to reach out!)
Arnica gel for bruising/swelling
Travel size body and face wash
Travel size hairbrush
Baby bag – maybe this goes without saying, or maybe you never thought about it, but be sure to wash all of baby’s new clothes before they arrive!
Olive oil for their bum to help with their first bowel movement (meconium)
1 short sleeve onesie
1 long sleeve onesie or pajama (the birth center suggests layering a long sleeve atop the short sleeve to keep baby extra warm!)
Socks if your onesie doesnt have footies
A newborn beanie hat
A bow (more for pictures, the hat is realistic haha)
Swim trunks (if Dad wants to get in the tub!)
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Comfy change of clothes: joggers, hoodie and a t-shirt
Obviously not super detailed here, but don’t forget your pets! We have friends coming to pick Bentley up when I go into labor and we plan for him to stay with them for a day or two. I packed three days of food just in case, his travel water and food bowl, and extra treats – then texted a picture of the bag to our friends so they know what to look for!
Yes, our snacks have their own backpack. I packed an array of goodies because I wasn’t sure what I (or Justin) might want. We have trail mix, jerky, protein bars, dried mango, coconut water, apple juice, and Liquid IV hydration multipliers. It’s been stressed many many times to me how important hydration and electrolytes are during labor! The birth center suggests a special recipe for ‘labor aid’ that I made into ice cubes for my water- it’s 4c apple juice, 4c coconut water, 4 scoops collagen peptides, a pinch of pink Himalayan salt, and 2 tsp baking soda. I’m bringing a big cup with a straw. They also suggest freezing a hearty ‘labor soup’ for after birth that can be defrosted in the kitchen and sipped- it’s generally a combination of bone broth, sweet potatoes, some sort of protein (turkey or chicken), and baby kale. I used a silicone baggy with a flat bottom like these.
Do you have any recommendations to relieve back pain? At 30-something weeks I finally invested in an exercise ball. I initially bought one at Target that I did not trust to sit on, this heavy-duty one from Amazon felt a lot more reliable (be sure to read the directions and size up when using for pregnancy!). I sit on it to work during the day and it’s helped my posture and lessen back pain. You can look into a few exercises with your exercise ball too for opening the pelvis and pelvic floor. Aside from the exercise ball, epsom salt baths have also helped relieve back pain! The most effective relief though has definitely been prenatal yoga, you can find tons of free classes on YouTube by searching ‘prenatal yoga for back pain’.
What about constipation? Thankfully, this hasn’t been an issue for me, although it seems to be super popular for the third trimester. I chalk it up to five main things- hydration, a (mostly) healthy diet, the chlorophyll + magnesium combo I take before bed (really gets my digestive system moving in the morning), and if all else fails, pears- a great source of fiber.
Any suggestions for sleeping better at night? A few things have worked for me. I try not to eat sweets too late at night, avoid screen time an hour before bed, take magnesium before bed, and spray my pillow with lavender.
A note about cervical exams. Did you know these are totally optional? This is when your care provider checks dilation and effacement of your cervix. That’s the widening and thinness of your cervix. I’ve chosen not to have any so far. We plan to have one when I arrive at the birth center in labor or at 41 weeks if baby girl doesn’t arrive by then. I’ve heard they are super uncomfortable and some studies have proven that they can introduce bacteria and infection. They’re also not an exact science of when you will go into labor and can be disappointing or misleading!
What am I doing to prepare for labor? First I’ll back up to 28 weeks when I started doing 50 squats a day- they help open up the pelvis! At 36 weeks, I started eating 3-4 Medjool dates a day (70-75g). If you eat deglet noor dates they are a little smaller, so 6 are recommended to help soften your cervix. I like them with nut butter or cheese and recommend buying in bulk! Speaking of buying in bulk, I also bought red raspberry leaf tea in bulk on Amazon. It’s said to strengthen uterine muscles. I started at 28 weeks with 2 tea bags per day, upped to 3 tea bags at 36 weeks, and 4 tea bags at 38 weeks.
Now let’s talk supplements. It was recommended I stop taking fish oil at 36 weeks, as it is a blood thinner and carries a risk for excessive bleeding during birth and/or postpartum. I started taking borage oil to help soften the cervix and the homeopathic trio: cimicifuga, cauliphyllum, and arnica. The trio is switched off daily, day 1 cimicifuga, day 2 cauliphyllum, day 3 arnica, day 4 cimicifuga, etc. They aid in back pain and cramping!
Perineal massage. If you’re feeling pretty swollen and sensitive down there, try a few inversions a day to help move the blood flow before perineal massages. Nonetheless, we started massages at 36 weeks. The massage can be done yourself or by a partner and helps to prepare your body for baby’s birth and ideally minimize the risk of tearing. I also think it’s been great practice for calming myself. It’s one thing to mentally relax, but to physically relax your body under strain is a whole new ball game.
Some tips: You can use a few different types of oils like coconut or olive. Justin read a few different articles and watched YouTube videos to learn technique, there’s a lot of great info out there! I also highly recommend setting aside intentional time for perineal massages, if we wait until we’re ready for bed, we end up just going to bed. You’ll find tons of different recommendations for frequency and length of time, my midwife said it really just depends on your body and how much massaging you need. Makes sense to me.
Oh, and mental preparation! Lots of good vibes and relaxation. I went for mani-pedis with my best friend and had a prenatal massage at Vivian’s Spa, both were super relaxing. We’ve read a few additional books in the third trimester. Justin read the Bradley Method, Dr. Sears Vaccine Book, and started Wonder Weeks, which moreso focuses on newborns. I read the Happiest Baby on the Block, which was pretty repetitive of Taking Cara Babies, but a good refresher. I also borrowed Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn from a midwife, read the Fourth Trimester (highly recommend out of all of these), and ordered the Calm Birth Method… but by the time I got it I was pretty burnt out from all the reading.
*reflecting back on labor, the hypnobirthing book I read in the second trimester was most helpful, but overall being super educated helped build my confidence which is important too!