We are officially under 4 weeks until our due date and while people loveeeee to tell a pregnant woman that her pregnancy “has just flown by!” I can assure you that I’ve been with child for at least 97 weeks 🙂 Last August, when we found out, feels like an eternity ago.
As of Friday, I was 1cm dilated which was very exciting news. I was 1cm with Amalia for weeks before she was born so I’m not expecting any real movement right now, but it’s good to know that my body is moving things along. I’ve been doing a lot to prep for labor (see below) and having contractions every day or two so it was nice to see that those were doing something productive down there.
For some reason hearing that I was dilated, even just a little, made the end seem much closer. I’m at the point where I have to go to the OB weekly so there is a lot of talk about labor and planning and it’s just feeling really real and really close! It’s beyond my comprehension that there will be another human in our family in a few weeks. TBH, my emotions and feelings are all over the place. Some days I’m so excited that I shake, and other days, I get so nervous about being a new mom all over again that I cry.
Hormones are real, my friends…
This trimester has kicked my ass in so many ways. From low iron counts and exhaustion to all of the body aches and pains to anxiety and every emotion in between, I realized last week that I need to take a beat and slow down before our lives are turned upside down.
I keep trying to play it off like I’m ok but I’m just not right now. And I’m accepting that admitting that is ok. I decided that this will be my last week of blog posts before I head off on maternity leave and just making that decision made me feel 100x better.
With Amalia, I was only able to financially take off a few shorts weeks and it was not nearly enough for my mental and physical health. This time around, we really planned ahead so that Anel could take two full weeks home from work and I’ll be taking at least 6 weeks postpartum to care for my newborn, adjust to a new family dynamic, and physically heal.
Until then, I’ll stay active on Instagram and finish out all of my paid sponsorships, but will put less pressure on myself both there and here. That will give me time to focus on tying up a bunch of loose ends that I need to tie up before he arrives, spend some extra time with my daughter, and rest my body, something that I’m notoriously very bad at.
I also have lots of guest blog posts lined up so it won’t be radio silence around here! Stay tuned…
PREPARING FOR LABOR
This is going to sound weird but I’m oddly excited for physical labor… I had a really great experience with Amalia and although it’s obviously very intense and, at times, brutal, it is such a powerful experience. I fully realize that in the middle of a contraction I’m going to kick myself for saying this…
Last time I went into it with no birth plan and an open mind and we’re doing the same this time around. But I figure I might as well do as many things as I can to help prepare for the best possible scenario. Here are some of them…
Eating dates: Eating six dates/day in the last month of pregnancy has actually been proven with scientific studies to help with a smoother labor experience. I ate them religiously with my last pregnancy and had a great labor experience so am doing it again now.
Why are dates helpful for labor?
- They have an oxytocin-like effect on the body, leading to increased sensitivity of the uterus.
- Dates stimulate uterine contractions.
- Dates reduce postpartum hemorrhage the way oxytocin does. (source)
Also, “researchers discovered that the women who ate six dates a day for 4 weeks had a shorter first stage of labor, a higher mean cervical dilatation, and more had intact membranes upon arrival at the hospital. (In other words, their cervix was riper for giving birth.)” (source)
Drinking red raspberry leaf tea: Similar to dates, red raspberry leaf tea has been proven to help shorten labor. My doula tells me that it boosts blood flow to my uterus and is good for uterine health in general. I make 3 cups every morning and drink it iced in the afternoon. I don’t love the taste when it’s hot but don’t mind it cold for whatever reason.
Eating pineapple: I don’ think there are actually any scientific studies on the pineapple front but anecdotally, bromelain (an enzyme found in pineapple) is believed to soften the cervix. I love and crave pineapple so have been eating it more often too. I figure it can’t hurt, right?
Acupressure points: My friend Sarah showed me some acupressure points for cervical softening. They’re all listed in this article. I press on each point and rub it once a day, usually before bed.
Exercise ball: I bounce for one minute morning and night on my exercise ball and do hip exercises (front to back, side to side, and figure 8s) 3-4x/day to loosen my hips.
Squats: I have been doing 50 squats/day to prep my lower half for labor. Squats are helpful in preparing for labor because they “allow gravity to open your pelvis, giving your baby more room to descend further into the birth canal (source).
Per a reader’s suggestion, I do 25 when I brush my teeth in the morning and 25 when I brush my teeth in the evening. I had started with 100 squats/day but my PT thought that might be too much!
EMOTIONS & ANXIETY
All of the fears I have around growing our family are still there and, on particularly rough days, grow tenfold. On other days, Amalia will say the sweetest things about meeting her brother that I just can’t wait for her to have him in her life.
My biggest emotion right now is guilt. I feel like I’m failing at all areas of my life because I can’t be as productive as I want to. Some days Amalia wakes up and asks me if I’m going to feel sick today and it breaks my heart. I want to run around with her and do what we usually do but my body just can’t. To counter that, we’ve found other bonding activities like lots of coloring and reading and crafts that I’m able to do, but the mom guilt is real and it never feels like enough.
I feel guilty about work because my mind is mush and it’s hard for me to write or be productive. And I feel guilt that I’ve been a bad wife and friend.
Comparison is 100% the thief of joy but I see other people doing it all while pregnant and just want to scream because here I am stuck on the couch again and quite literally can’t get up without help.
3RD TRIMESTER CRAVINGS
I haven’t really been craving much lately except for fresh fruits as well as licorice which you can’t eat too much of when pregnant. Raw fennel with olive oil and salt has been up there too. Very niche and random, I realize.
My stomach is so squished that I can’t eat a lot in any sitting. I’ll sometimes have 3-4 bites of a meal and then not be able to eat again for an hour or two. I try to consume as many nutrients as possible in my tiny meals so lots of smoothies and veggies when possible.
I ended up going on a prescription for heartburn because I was throwing up pretty much daily from the heartburn which was no fun. It got to the point where even one piece of dry toast in the morning would make me sick.
I had weird mom guilt about going on the medication but my doctor explained that it’s actually much worse for the baby if I’m throwing up the nutrients I consume than taking the medication which is totally safe for him. So that eased my worries and now I’m so glad that I did it. I haven’t thrown up once since I started.
The old wives ‘ tale says that heartburn means your baby will have lots of hair so we’ll see soon on that front. It was certainly true for Amalia who was basically born with a full wig and my heartburn was off the charts.
BODY CHANGES & WEIGHT GAIN
I mentioned this in my 2nd-trimester recap but it’s been a real whirlwind of weight-gain this pregnancy. I’m already more than 10 pounds over my 41-week weight with Amalia but have been working to just accept it and not worry too much. I’m eating well, walking every day, and my doctor ensures me that my weight is completely healthy.
It’s been admittedly hard to see my body change so much and it’s frustrating to not be able to fit into clothing, even a lot of my maternity clothes. But at the end of the day, my baby and I are both healthy and whenever I start to feel down on myself, I remind myself of that.
Not happening… lol. No but in all seriousness, sleep is tough because it’s uncomfortable. But some nights are better than others.
All I want to do all day every day is nest. When I’m up at night (not sleeping, ofc), I have fantasies of going through every drawer and closet in our house and organizing them meticulously. However, I’m so physically incapable of doing much that I can’t nest all that much at the end of the day. But hey, a girl can still dream! Every weekend, Anel helps me with at least one project and I love crossing them off our list.
The car seat is officially installed, the baby’s clothes are all washed and put away, and the hospital bags are packed. I consider those our wins.
EXERCISE & PT
I stopped working out at Countdown because it was just getting too hard. After my workouts, I would be depleted for hours and couldn’t get anything done. It just didn’t feel worth it anymore. I still walk 20-30 minutes/day and leave it at that. Plus my 50 squats! That feels like the right amount of exercise for now. Listening to your body at the end of pregnancy is so important.
There is no way to really prepare her (or us!) for the change coming, but we talk about it often and explain that she’ll need to be more patient than usual. When she’s patient and helpful now, we praise her and tell her what a great big sister she’ll be soon.
The other day she asked me where the baby will come out of my body and I decided to go for it and tell her the truth. Her eyes were the size of dinner plates and her response was, “But he’s too big!” Yes… yes he is haha. After explaining (kind of) how it works, she told me she doesn’t want to be there for it and doesn’t want to see any pictures. That made me laugh.
We bought her a baby doll with a carrier and a diaper bag that will be a gift from her brother when he comes home from the hospital. My parents did that for me and I would sit next to my mom and “nurse” my baby while she nursed my sister and I hope Amalia will do the same!
Night sweats: No update from last trimester. What I wrote before stands true: The sweat isn’t sticky or gross, it just feels like I jumped in a swimming pool, and I have to change my shirt at least once a night. Super fun! I also have to change our sheets almost daily which, if it weren’t so annoying, would actually be funny.
Braxton Hicks: I thought that the contractions I had at the end of my last pregnancy were BH but it turns out it’s a totally different thing than what I was experiencing (which was early labor contractions). BH contractions just feel like a tightening in the belly and if I push myself too hard during the day or don’t drink enough water, I get them for about 20-30 minutes until I rest with my feet up.
Uterine contractions: I’m now having regular contractions at night which I had with Amalia for about a month before I went into labor as well. As I mentioned above, I’m a cm dilated so it’s good to know they’re doing something! They’re not terrible or too painful. They feel like really strong period cramps.
Good hair & skin: My favorite physical symptom of pregnancy is the glowing skin and thick, shiny hair, both of which have stayed strong in these last few months.
That’s all she wrote, folks. 9 months down, 1 to go. I got this!
Photos by Julia Dags.