The third trimester is exciting, as we prepare to meet our little ones. Unfortunately, it can also feel like the planet that is now your belly is throwing you off orbit. Heartburn, constipation, backaches, difficulty sleeping, and a constant need to pee are some of the most common complaints during the third trimester. Fortunately, I have found some things to be helpful in mitigating them to enjoy the third trimester as comfortable as possible.
Here are my top tips for the third trimester:
1. Diet: Focus on alkaline foods. Heartburn is very common during the third trimester as your baby pushes up on your stomach and hormones are going a little crazy. This is further aggravated by the fact that the standard American diet and most “comfort foods” are acid-forming, Alkaline foods help neutralize acidity in our body, and prevent heartburn.
What to eat/drink:
- Fruits and veggies. This one is a no-brainer, fruits and vegetables are a rich source of antioxidants, fiber (to keep you regular), and minerals (needed for detoxification and reducing acidity).
- Homemade vegetable juices. My favorite is a mix of kale, cabbage, and green apple. You can drink daily and mix it with some aloe.
- Aloe vera juice or gel. I try to have about 4 oz a mix of aloe and water before bedtime to help mitigate acidity before I lay down.
- Vegetable broth. This is one of my favorite beverages as it is super beneficial to health. It contains lots of easy to digest minerals, and minerals are essential in eliminating acid compounds in the body. My favorite is Rebecca Katz Magic Mineral Broth.
- Apple Cider Vinegar. I take about a spoonful straight up but you can mix it with a few ozs of water. You can do this before a meal to help stimulate digestion.
What to avoid:
- Fried foods
- Foods that are high in fats and sugar content
- Tomatoes and tomato sauces
- Although citrus can have alkalizing effects once consumed I have found them to contribute to my heartburn symptoms so I stir clear for the most part.
- Spicy foods
- Chocolate and caffeinated beverages
- Drinking liquids with your meals. This can interfere with digestion.
2. Exercise: Morning and evening stretch. Gentle workouts like walking, yoga, and swimming, help with circulation, strength, endurance, and relaxation. These are all great but I have found especially useful brief stretching flows in the morning and evenings. They greatly reduce back and hip pain. Doing daily stretches has been a lifesaver for me. As a bonus they help create space between the belly and ribcage, making it easier to breathe and function throughout the day. The evening stretch flow can also help you get better sleep, which is a huge plus on this stage.
3. Topical Remedies and Tools: Magnesium oil and salts. Magnesium is a know muscle relaxer and it comes in very handy during pregnancy. Aside from consuming mineral-rich foods like veggies and broths, I have used magnesium as a topical remedy to reduce/avoid cramps, muscle pain, and support relaxation. I take Epsom Salt baths every week and always have a magnesium oil roll-on handy.
- Compression socks. Leg cramps are very common during pregnancy and I must confess I am a little freaked out by them. Because of this, I have been extra careful trying to avoid them and I have had great success with that, even in the third trimester. My cramp busters are: mineral-rich foods, magnesium oil, salt baths, mindful movement and compression socks. All these help stimulate circulation. I admit that compression socks are a lot harder to put on in the third trimester. So, if my belly just won’t cooperate I will ask my partner for assistance. I do not use them for sleep but for the day, especially if I am being very active.
- Tools for keeping the body aligned. My two favorite tools to support postures that help me feel comfortable at bedtime and during the day are a bolster and a knee pillow. I love using the bolster for sitting as it helps me lift my pelvis and have better spine alignment. The knee pillow has been the only pillow I have used consistently throughout pregnancy. It is my favorite by far as it helps keep my hips aligned with my legs throughout the night and avoid morning backache.
4. Meditation: As the pregnancy progresses and I get closer to meeting my baby my levels of anxiety have been rising. This is a bad combo for overall mood, getting sleep, and prepping for birthing. Fortunately, I have been able to maintain meditation practices that support a positive mindset and reduce stress. My method of choice is self-hypnosis as it was amazing for my previous birthing. Every night I put on a set of earbuds ( I prefer these because they allow me to rest on my side and I can fall asleep with them on) and use a guided self-hypnosis meditation. I use Hypno-Babies but you can try any relaxation or fear/anxiety release meditation.
These go-to’s have helped me thrive during the third trimester and they are also great tools to prepare your body for postpartum. But, when everything fails my best piece of advice is to stay open and go with it. For example, if I am having a particularly difficult night and I can’t get to sleep no matter what I try, I just get up, walk to the nursery, put on my ear pods and listen to some music as I think of the miracle that is the baby in my womb.
We can not control everything but we can manage our thoughts and outlook, that part is a choice. Your mindset is always, in the end, a choice. Staying open will allow you to enjoy this pregnancy and roll with the punches when they come. Being pregnant during a pandemic is not ideal and it brings with it lots of unexpected challenges. Being rigid just makes it harder. Take it easy on yourself, be kind, be gentle, make sure you are supported, speak your truth, and go with the flow whenever possible.