Welcome to your third trimester! Kick your pain and discomfort to the curb with these simple steps. In just a few short weeks you get to meet your lovely bundle of joy, and I want you to be comfortable while you wait! I was SO miserable and uncomfortable during my first pregnancy. But I wised up and had a significantly better experience the second time around! These weeks will be the longest weeks of your life, but you are in the right place to learn the secrets of how to happily endure to the end! (And I am a big believer in waiting until your baby is good and ready to come, so you may perfectly normal and hit what I call the fourth trimester).
If you have not read the first and second trimester posts, you HAVE to go back and read them! What we talk about (food, posture, etc) still applies during trimester 3! I can act like a broken record and keep repeating myself, or you can just go back and read them 😉
*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that, at no added cost to you, I may receive compensation for products you purchase through links found on my blog. (Thank you, thank you!) This in no way affects the products I recommend (I only recommend the best)!*
*Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, so please consult your physician before attempting any of these suggestions. Use your best judgment. What worked for me may not work for you. Each body is different and unique. Do what you feel is best at your own risk. I am not liable for any consequences. I am a blogger. This is a blog meant to provide opinions, suggestions, experiences, and information. Not medical advice. I am human and make mistakes, so information may not be 100% complete or accurate. Thank you, and enjoy!*
How to Have Your Best Third Trimester (Pregnancy Weeks 27-40)
Everything I say in this section may sound excessive, but trust me. The pillow fort is worth it.
1. First stop: Your Mattress
If you want to get ANY sleep in your third trimester, you must have a good mattress. If your mattress is 5-10+ years old, get a new one. A good mattress lasts 9-10 years, but if you are having trouble sleeping after 5-7 years, just do the best thing for your health & sanity: Get a new one. I recommend the Purple (I own it. It was life changing- makes sex insanely more comfortable), but I have heard good things about other boxed mattresses, as well. (I am not sponsored or affiliated with any of these products!)
You are going to want a king. You will have a pillow fort, and your significant other will probably be happier and more comfortable if they can actually fit on the bed with you, too. Additionally, co-sleeping is safer and more comfortable with a King-sized bed.
2. Next: The Pillow Fort
Grab your couch cushions, your decorative bed pillows, your grandmas guest pillows (may or may not be what I did…), or just break down and buy some new ones! You are going to need them ALL! It is essential to have good posture during trimester 3, including while you sleep! Luckily, this also keeps your body in the most comfortable position, and provides optimal positioning of your belly and baby. I do not have one of those U shaped maternity pillows that wrap around your body. They seem bulky and cumbersome. Plus, they don’t look thin enough to comfortably slip under a pregnant belly while keeping it pointed downwards. (Learn about “Resting Smart”on Spinning Babies) Introducing the Third Trimester Pillow Fort!
Third Trimester Pillow Fort Materials:
What you need:
- A regular body pillow (can be substituted with 2-3 more normal pillows)
- 3 normal pillows (in addition to the regular pillow for my head; for a total of 4 average-sized pillows- or 7 if you are foregoing the body pillow)
- A rolled up bath towel.
All of these items, for me, were not new, so they were flatter than new ones. You may need a smaller number if your pillows are fluffier.
Third Trimester Pillow Fort Method:
My body pillow provided the first layer for my arms and legs to hug, in addition to providing my belly some support. This was sufficient for trimester #2. However, I needed more support during trimester 3. Two of the normal pillows added more to hug- one for my arms, one for my legs. I used the third pillow behind me to support my back. I read this suggestion somewhere on the internet (sorry, I can’t find it now!), and thought it was bizarre. But, I decided to give it a shot. I sincerely thought that I did not use it at all, so I slept without it for a few nights, and woke up sore and crabby. I tried sleeping with it behind me again, and amazingly it helped! For whatever reason: It works!
The exact same thing applied to sleeping with a rolled up towel under my neck. I thought for sure that I would wake up with a stiff neck, but I was desperate. Lo and behold, I had the best sleep ever! I thought it was a fluke, so I would alternate my nights sleeping with and without the towel, but I always slept better with a towel rolled under my neck! Use your regular head pillow, but add a rolled up towel under your neck. Try it out and let me know how it goes!
I know, it’s a lot of pillows and crap, it is quite cumbersome, and it gets in the way of spontaneous cuddles. But it is SO WORTH IT. (even if your SO doesn’t think so…)
3. Hypnosis/ Guided Meditations: The Final Step in Comfortable Third Trimester Slumber
Hypnosis is a beautiful thing. If you have not already looked into HypnoBirthing or HypnoBabies do it now!!! Find a certified practitioner in your area, and take the class. Even if it is 3 hours away, and costs an arm and a leg (usually they cost more or less $200-300). It is so worth it. But, it is only worth it if you listen to the guided meditations 1-3 times a day for at least one month (preferably 3), practice the relaxation techniques with your spouse, and implement what you learn (positions for labor, getting into deep relaxation, eating healthy, learning how to instantly go loose and limp, etc).
I would listen to a CD during my naps, and at night. My husband hated it (claimed they kept him awake), so I would play it on a CD player really softly on my side of the bed so he could not hear it. If I woke up in the middle of the night to comfort my son, or something, I would have to listen to the meditation again to go back to sleep. It was so magical.
4. Relieving Pain in Your Pubic Symphysis
The pubic symphysis is the cartilage keeping your hip bones together in front. It is a joint, so it was made to move (slightly, like your rib joints). When you are pregnant, a hormone called relaxin is secreted to turn that previously hard-ish cartilage into mush so your baby can wiggle its way out of your pelvis. This makes your pubic symphysis hurt. A lot.
The best way to relieve/prevent this pain is by doing daily stretches and going on daily walks. You should also visit a Chiropractor (specifically one trained with the Webster Technique), and massage therapist regularly.
I did all those things, and still had discomfort with my pubic symphysis. One technique I learned in my HypnoBirthing class was to POP my pubic symphysis! Like popping a finger! I explain how below:
Popping Your Pubic Symphysis in Your Third Trimester- Set Up:
- Lie on the ground flat on your back (You won’t be in this position for more than 5 minutes, so it is safe).
- Bend your knees until your feet are a few inches from your bum-cheeks.
- Have a partner kneel or stand in line with your body, next to your feet. (Your toes should be pointing directly to their feet or knees).
- Have partner place their hands on the outside of your knees.
Popping Your Pubic Symphysis in Your Third Trimester- Method:
- With your partner’s hands placed on the outside of your knees, partner gently but firmly squeezes hands inwards (pushing your knees together). You gently but firmly push your knees outwards (trying to spread knees apart). Do this for about 10 seconds, or as long as you wish.
- Have partner ball hands into fists, and place them side-by-side in between your knees. You squeeze their fists with your knees, while they gently push outwards with their fists (putting pressure in opposite directions). Do this for 10 seconds, or as long as you wish.
Your pelvis will feel instant relief. You are not trying to actually move your knees in any direction (it is not an arm wrestle). You just want to put gentle but firm pressure to pop your pubic symphysis.
Video of this coming soon!
5. Rebozo Sifting (and other uses)
Rebozo sifting is where you use fabric and a partner to hold some weight off your third trimester belly. It feels reeeeeally good. The simple method is that you rest on the ground on hands and knees, or rest your arms and head on an exercise ball (my preferred position), then wrap the fabric around your belly (making sure it extends above to your lower ribs and bellow to your pelvis). Your partner will then wrap the ends of the fabric around their wrists and hands, and gently pull upwards with alternating arms (right, then left, then right, then left) for about 5 minutes. This gives your partner a pretty good arm work-out, so do it until they get tired. This lifts your belly, reducing stress and pressure on your ligaments, and helps Baby sway into the optimal birth position (head down and facing your back).
There are other things you can do with a woven wrap to optimize comfort and to help with delivery of Baby, however I do not have personal experience with them, so here is a lovely post dedicated to it! It’s called “5 Ways to Use a Rebozo During Labor” by Jacki May on Modern Alternative Pregnancy
6. Knee Press- For Third Trimester Pelvic Pain
Another thing that feels lovely on your hips. Sit down straight on a kitchen chair pushed up against the wall. Have your partner bend down and lunge by sticking one leg faaaar back, with the knee on the ground, and the other leg bent up to his chest. Have him place his hands on the bump above your shins, but below your knees, and push directly parallel with the ground and your thighs. (your shins should make a right angle, perpendicular to the ground, with your thighs parallel to the ground). If the hands are placed correctly, your bottom should lift up off the seat, and you should feel pressure relieved from your pelvis. It would be best if you do this on carpet, or have your partner push off something with the foot straight out behind them, such as another wall, someone else’s hand or foot, or a sofa.
Video of this coming soon!
7. Prepare Your Mind for a Late baby
My mother had all EIGHT of her children born 2-4 weeks early. She went into spontaneous labor with 6 of them, and 2 were induced for medical reasons. She only had an epidural with her fifth baby, because it was “her last one” and the nurses insisted it would be her best experience (she hated it. It was her worst recovery). So I fully expected to meet my baby by week 38.
What actually happened:
Weeks 38… then 39… then 40… then 41… came and went. I was crushed. I thought my baby was never going to come, and that I was going to die pregnant. I was not getting ANY sleep (I had a crappy old mattress and was not using nearly enough pillows). My hips were killing me (I didn’t know about rebozos or hypnosis, or that my body doesn’t like yoga while it’s pregnant). And I was severely swollen and could not even fit into my dining room chairs (the doctor recommended I reduce my salt intake, which did not help, if not made it worse, because I stopped eating protein. Turns out I probably had undiagnosed gestational diabetes). In short: I was miserable.
Don’t think you will be the exception.
People “claimed” that most first time moms on average deliver at 41 weeks and 1 day, but I thought I would be an exception due to my mother’s experiences and my (what I considered) excellent health. Don’t fall into the same trap. Celebrate and rejoice if you go into labor between 38- 40 weeks, but expect to be pregnant for 42 weeks. I am very grateful my Obstetrician did not even plan inductions until week 42. I probably would have pounced on the opportunity if my OB had offered an induction sooner. When labor came by itself 10 days “late”, I knew that my baby was ready to live in the outside world.
When Baby #2 came, I had a different OB. I was the one who insisted I be “allowed” to go 42 weeks. I had gestational diabetes, and I was pursuing a VBAC, but they finally agreed that it was safe. When my labor started 9 days “late”, I was so happy, and felt at peace that my baby was telling me she was ready to be born.
8. Mentally Prepare Yourself For Bumps and Interventions
Know what to do when your child’s umbilical is wrapped around his neck, and when it is an actual danger. Learn and practice how to go into deep relaxation. Get comfortable being in a squatting position or on your hands and knees for an extended period of time. Get to know what your body needs to feel comfortable. Arm yourself with information on how to have the best, most comfortable, intervention-free birth. But keep in mind life almost never goes as planned.
Your midwife might be out of town the day you go into labor. Your baby might stubbornly choose to stay sunny-side up, or breech. The on-call OB might not be your regular OB. Your cervix (for some insane and unknowable reason!!) may not want to open up AT ALL, even after 36 hours of hard labor. Your baby might show intense signs of distress, and ingest meconium, compress their umbilical cord, or your placenta might start peeling off your uterus before you baby is even close to coming out. THAT IS OKAY. THAT is why you have seen a midwife or OB for the past 9 months. They care about your safety, and your baby’s safety as much as you do. They are equipped to handle it.
You DO need to think positively, block out horror stories, focus on the positive, and have a clear goal in mind. But you also need to realize that so many things are out of your control. When I first learned this, I hated it. I thought I could control the health of my baby, the efficiency of my uterus and cervix, and my body’s ability to handle labor. But I can’t. I can only control what I eat, and how I prepare.
If your body is telling you you need to lie down- LIE DOWN. If your spirit is telling you you might relax better with an epidural- GET THE EPIDURAL. When you need to get the peanut ball in between your legs- GET IT IN BETWEEN YOUR LEGS. If you feel like your baby’s safety is compromised, and it is looking like you will need a C-Section- BE AT PEACE. C-Sections are not the end of the world. They do not mean you are any less of a mother. If you stop fearing the worst, you can be at peace with whatever happens. And then, you actually need to be at peace with whatever happens. Don’t sit there and analyze what could have happened if things had been done differently. Learn from your births to see what you can change next time, but don’t fret about what could have been.
This is still difficult for me. I found peace before and after my second unplanned C-Section, and have no regrets there. But, I still struggle with my first C-Section. I have to remind myself that fretting about the past is not going to fix anything. This, however, fuels my passion to ensure other mothers do not have the same traumas, and to realize that all births are beautiful.
Enjoy Your Third Trimester!
Now you know how to have a comfortable third trimester! Kick your pain and discomfort to the curb with these simple tips. Remember to sleep on your comfy mattress with your nest of pillows, practice your guided meditations, exercise regularly, eat well, and use the pain relief methods we talked about! Be at peace with your baby’s timing, and focus on preparing your home and family for your new bundle of love!
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Do you have any pregnancy comfort tips to share? I would love to hear them! Email me, or pop a comment below! And don’t forget to subscribe!
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