Your third trimester is finally here! Here’s a helpful checklist to help you prep for baby’s arrival:
Attend childbirth classes
- Babyproof your house
- Put together your hospital bag
- Have a baby shower and send thank-you notes
- Cook and freeze meals to make the transition into parenthood a little easier
- Select a pediatrician
- Buy and install your infant car seat
- Finish decorating and setting up the nursery
- Create your birth plan
- Enjoy your last few months of pregnancy!
You want to do everything you can to protect your little one. Choosing eco-friendly nursery items can help give you peace of mind and can be better for the environment. Here are some helpful pointers:
- Use no- or low-VOC paint on the walls and furniture
- Repurpose older furniture to reduce off-gassing, which can occur when chemicals are released from newer items
- Opt for biodegradable materials for your nursing chair, sheets and blankets
- Shop for organic or locally made baby toys and accessories
- Purchase non-toxic, paraben-free shampoo, lotion and ointments
- Use an air purifier
- Select accessories and furniture made of eco-friendly, sustainable materials that are free of formaldehyde
Your birth plan is highly personal and unique to your circumstances and wishes. Developing a birth plan well before delivery can give you time to prepare, determine plan B if you have unforeseen complications and help you have an empowering, satisfying birth experience. Remember, though, that much of your delivery is beyond your control and things may need to change if you or the baby are at risk.
Here are some things to include when creating your birth plan:
- Your name and partner’s name
- The date (fill this in when you go into labor)
- Your due date or induction date
- Your OB/GYN’s name
- Your hospital name
- Your delivery
- The delivery you plan to have (vaginal, C-section or VBAC)
- Who you’d like present during labor
- Your preferences during labor (think music, lighting, noise level, minimal interruptions and vaginal exams, limited hospital staff in the room, etc.)
- How you’d like to spend the early stages of labor, such as lying down, standing or walking, or in a laboring tub
- What type of fetal monitoring you’d like
- The type of pain relief you’d like to use, if any
- The position you’d like to take during delivery
- Any equipment you’ll bring with you, such as a birthing stool or chair
- Your preference on receiving an episiotomy
- If a C-section is required, your preferences during the procedure, such as getting a second opinion, exhausting all other options, an explanation during surgery, etc.
- After the baby is born
- Your preferences immediately after delivery (your partner cutting the umbilical cord, donating your cord blood, etc.)
- At what point you’d like to hold your baby
- When you’d like to breastfeed
- If/when you want other family members to join you
- Your preferences regarding your baby’s medical exam, procedures, medications, first bath, first meal and circumcision (if it’s a boy)
Write down or type and print your plan, and pack it in your hospital bag. Be sure to share your birth plan with your partner and OB/GYN a few months before baby’s due date.
After week 20 of pregnancy, it isn’t a good idea to sleep on your back. By the third trimester, the weight of your uterus can compress the vena cava, a major blood vessel in the body. This can deprive you and baby of blood flow and leave you feeling short of breath, dizzy and nauseated.
Sleeping on your side is safest for you and baby. If you wake up on your back, don’t stress. If you or the baby were in danger, your body would become very uncomfortable, encouraging you to change sleep positions anyway.
During pregnancy, you may encounter an inappropriate or rude comment or two from well-meaning loved ones or even strangers. Here’s how to navigate them with grace.
Faux pas: Someone wants to touch your belly and it makes you uncomfortable.
Solution: Step away or cover your bump with your hand, and make a joke about your baby needing space.
Faux pas: People sharing pregnancy and labor horror stories.
Solution: Politely change the subject by saying something like, “You know, I’ve heard every pregnancy is different and I’m trying to avoid setting any expectations.”
Faux pas: Probing questions about whether you plan to breastfeed, how you’ll raise your baby, your birth plan, etc.
Solution: Turn the question back on them with, “Why do you ask?” or say, “No offense, but that’s pretty personal” or “My partner and I will figure it out.”
Faux pas: Someone comments on your size or asks about your weight.
Solution: Again, be polite, but firm. You can say something like, “Wow, that’s personal!” or “Both the baby and I are healthy and feeling good,” or “I have no idea how much weight I’ve gained.”
During pregnancy, you may find yourself more overheated than ever before. This is likely because your blood volume has doubled and your body is hard at work growing a baby. Try these tips to get more comfortable:
- Stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
- Keep a fan on your desk at work or by your bed.
- Avoid spending too much time outdoors if it’s very hot outside.
- Wear light layers and clothing made of breathable material, like cotton.
After you deliver baby, your blood volume will return to normal and so will your internal temperature.
Whether you plan to have a scheduled cesarean section or view the procedure as a plan B, there are some things you may not know to expect. A C-section is a major abdominal surgery and can have surprising (though completely normal!) side effects. Here are some things to expect:
- You may experience involuntary shaking from the anesthesia.
- You may feel very cold during the procedure—most operating rooms are kept cool. Feel free to request a blanket.
- You won’t be in pain during the surgery, but you may feel movement or pulling as the surgeon removes your baby from your abdomen.
- Your doctor may use sequential compression devices (SCDs), which are like boots that massage your legs, to get blood moving after surgery.
- Your nurse may wash your vaginal area to clean up any blood from surgery.
- You may need stool softeners after the procedure.
- Exercise is important, so don’t worry when your nurse wants you to get up and walk around soon after surgery. It may hurt the first time you get out of bed, but movement will help your body heal (provided you have your doctor’s approval).
- It may hurt when you sneeze or cough.
- You may have gas pains. Ask your nurse for anti-gas medicine and be sure to walk around when your doctor gives you the okay.
- You won’t be allowed to lift anything heavier than your baby for eight weeks.
Talking about having sex with your partner during pregnancy may make you blush, but being intimate, even during this awkward stage, can encourage bonding between you and your partner. Here are a few positions that may be more comfortable during pregnancy:
- You on top
- Lying side by side, facing each other
- Lying on the edge of the bed, while your partner kneels on the ground in front of you
- Oral sex
Your bump is bigger than ever and you’re ready to meet your new son or daughter, but sleep can be hard to come by at this point in pregnancy. Here are a few tips for getting better ZZZs before baby arrives:
- Sleep on your left side if possible—this increases blood and nutrient flow to baby.
- Place pillows between your knees or use a large body pillow to support your bump.
- Get some rest in a recliner, which can alleviate heartburn.
- Avoid drinking too much water two to three hours before bed.
- Eat smaller meals throughout the day to help your digestion and reduce acid reflux.
- Wear a bellyband to support your growing bump and reduce pressure on your ligaments and muscles.
- Follow a bedtime routine with low lights, soft music or light reading before bed. Avoid using electronic devices, which can disrupt your rest.
- Prevent racing thoughts by keeping a to-do list and delegating tasks when you can.
Packing your hospital bag a few weeks in advance can help you feel prepared and ready for whenever baby decides to make his or her debut. Here are some items you may find helpful for your hospital stay:
- Copies of your birth plan
- Your ID
- Your health insurance info
- Hospital registration forms
- Cash for the gift shop and vending machine
- Phone charger
- Flip flops to wear in the shower and on the ride home
- An extra bag to hold items you receive at the hospital, like diapers, gifts and blankets
- Several cotton nighties, pairs of socks and pairs of undies
- A bathrobe
- A nursing bra
- An outfit to wear home (think loose and comfy, since you’ll still have a bump)
- Any relaxation items you may need, such as massage lotion, a squeeze ball or back massager
- Your favorite pillow
- Dry shampoo and a hair brush
- Toiletries and makeup
- Entertainment, such as movies, music, books or magazines
At the end of your pregnancy, every little symptom may cause you to think you’re in labor. Here are some signs baby is on the way:
Signs labor may occur soon:
- An increase in pinkish or brownish vaginal discharge
- Feeling the baby drop lower into your pelvis
- Pressure or cramping in your pelvic area
- Loose, frequent bowel movements accompanied by cramping
- Increased energy
Signs you could be in active labor:
- Strong, consistent and painful contractions that are about five to seven minutes apart
- Your water breaks (this could be a big gush or trickle of fluid)
Call your doctor if you think you may be labor. He or she can give you appropriate instructions.
Labor and delivery can be unpredictable, but you can handle it! Your doctor, nurses and healthcare team are pros who deliver babies every day. Here’s the real deal about some common labor and delivery fears.
- That you can’t handle the pain. The truth is, labor is one of the most natural things your body does and you are equipped to handle it. That said, there are many pain-reducing techniques, from epidurals to breathing exercises to laboring in the shower, that can help
- That you won’t get to the hospital in time. Most labors last several hours and you’ll have plenty of warning signs ahead of time, like strong contractions, cramping and back pain. Prepare yourself by knowing the signs of labor and calling your OB/GYN if you think it’s time for baby’s arrival.
- Undergoing a C-section. Labor can be unpredictable and you may need a C-section for your or baby’s safety. If you want a C-section to be an absolute last-resort, be sure your doctor knows that ahead of time. If you do need a C-section, know that it’s a common procedure and your healthcare team is equipped to handle it.
- Having a bowel movement during delivery. While this isn’t uncommon and may happen to you, know that your nurses and doctor have seen everything. You are doing the demanding work of delivering a baby and sometimes your body has a mind of its own. That’s okay! Focus on delivering your healthy baby and you’ll forget all about the temporary embarrassment.
- The epidural needle. If you choose to have an epidural, know that the sting of the needle is temporary, and afterward you will likely experience great relief from birthing pains. If you are scared, talk to your doctor and he or she can address your concerns.
- Not sticking to your birth plan. Keep an open mind—labor and delivery are notoriously unpredictable. Communicate with your doctor about your birth plan, but know that you may need to deviate from it for your and baby’s safety.
- Tearing during birth. Tearing during vaginal delivery is common, but most tears only require a few stiches. Perineal massage can help reduce your risk of tearing since it can gently stretch the area between your vagina and rectum.
- Enduring a lengthy labor. Most labors last about eight hours. Taking childbirth classes and practicing relaxation techniques can help you get through the process more easily.