Getting through the final weeks of pregnancy can be a real tough slog. From week 28 the third trimester kicks in and it is far from over. Another 12 weeks, that's 3 months, until the 40th week of full term and it can seem like an eternity.
Week 33 onwards I found particularly hard-going. I remember the heaviness; it was a feeling similar to what I imagine it to be like carrying a bowling ball inside my pelvis, with the weight pushing down on my bladder and groin.
The shooting aches and pains in that region, the constant needing to pee, the relentless heartburn that would be kept at bay only for short periods by the frequent swigs from the Gaviscon bottle. Not forgetting the low back pain, constant sweating armpits, achy boobs, aching puffy 'cankles,' and getting a night sleep (let alone a solid night sleep) was wishful thinking.
All of these discomforts brought about some touch mental battles at times too... Wishing the due date would hurry up, wishing I could be 'unpregnant' just for a day and night so I could sleep, feel light on my feet and live in my fit pre-pregnancy body 24 hours.
I’d then snap to, reminded myself that all of these pains and grips were the beautiful ‘symptoms’ of a precious brand new life growing inside me. They were sensations to be grateful for.
I'd fix my focus on loving and cherishing the feeling of my baby boy moving around inside me. Smile at the kicks and wriggles of his little feet in my diaphragm, every time it took my breath away. I had fun painting a mental picture of how he may have inside me with his little body curled up resting one moment, then suddenly waking; squatting and punching the next. "Right little bruiser" I thought.
I envisioned how his adorable face might look, whether he had hair or not. I would dwell my thoughts on all of the good my body was doing for his, keeping him safe, nourished and warm.
The battles with the physical discomforts can be hardcore, they are relentless in the final weeks and there is no break from them. So the mind has to be channeled on all these positives and looking for the blessings. Pregnancy is after all, such a short period of a woman's life and at the end of it; life as a mother with a baby to love.
My TOP 10 TIPS for surviving the Third Trimester:
1. Breathing exercises every day, several times a day. Slow, controlled deep breath in, slowly exhale, 10 times. This brings about a calming effect.
2. Ankle rotations sitting in a comfy chair. Rotate each ankle clockwise 10 times, then anti-clockwise 10 times. Do this daily, it helps with the swelling and aches in the calf muscles.
3. Sit with feet elevated, especially in the evenings, to help keep calf swelling and discomfort to a minimum.
4. Short walks in a relaxing environment for example in a park, by a river, by the beach, wherever the traffic is minimal and the air is most fresh. Daily if possible.
5. Gentle stretching including standing calf stretch, standing hamstring stretch, standing hamstring stretch, standing full body stretch. Holding onto a stable surface for support, 30 seconds each side, taking care not to over-stretch.
6. Seated meditation taking advantage of the great guided meditation videos and relaxing sleep-inducing music on You Tube. Try some out sitting in a comfy chair or laying back with head and chest elevated on pillows. Search for 'relaxation music,' 'guided meditation,' 'pregnancy meditation.'
7. Invite female friends over for a girly chat to keep the spirits up. Even better if it's females who've been through pregnancies and are perfectly placed to listen, empathise and restore some positive vibes.
8. Raise any concerns with the Doctor or Midwife. Certain pregnancy ailments can be improved with safe medication or professional guidance in order to make the remaining weeks as comfortable as possible.
9. Enjoy spending time researching fun things to join in with baby in a few months' time; for example mother and baby groups, local mum support groups on social media.
10. Do something indulgent and uplifting once a day to bring about the 'happy hormones.' A relaxing bath, reading a book, watching a favourite movie, baking, sewing, painting, playing the piano; whatever you love. Free time is scarce once a new baby arrives so the weeks leading up is the time to enjoy any favourite past-times.