A Bump in the Road - Third Trimester

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So here it is, the final chapter! The last three years of my pregnancy….

No, you didn’t misread that, I said years because by the time the third trimester rolled around it truly felt like I’d been pregnant for years.

I have a theory that the last trimester is the longest and hardest so that by the time you get to labour you’ll do pretty much anything to get that kid out. Birth had previously always terrified me but by the time I hit the third trimester I was praying for the delivery day to come, and soon!

Before I get into things, I’d like to point out that I wrote this recap between the 37th week of my pregnancy and 10 weeks postpartum. Time, fatigue and motivation where all critical factors here… Oh and a tiny human taking up all my available time. I mention this as a kind of formal “disclaimer” as there’s a strong possibility it could be more “emotional” (aka “Hormonal”) than my previous recaps.

This was a tough time for me but as always I’ve done my best to try and keep this diary as real as possible and give a genuine account of how I felt at the time.

So, let’s get into this…


THE STRUGGLES

Might need to get comfy for this one. I’m afraid when it came to the struggles of the third trimester there was a lot to whinge.. I mean “talk” about.

I started my third trimester so well and I was feeling really good. My energy levels were returning to normal and I found it easier to get through the day and stay motivated to do things without the necessary afternoon nap. I even stupidly (and prematurely) boasted to my other pregnant friends about how easy things had been… “The first trimester was so much harder!” - Insert head slap emoji here.

What an idiot! My friends should have slapped me then. I suspect however they were sitting in wait for the full force of the last months to hit me (Touché ladies, touché).

All the struggles from the first two trimesters were only compounded and I was more uncomfortable than ever.

The Big Ol Bump

Pretty obvious I know but that cute baby bump I was sporting from the second trimester only got bigger and with increased size came increased pain, awkwardness, clumsiness and restlessness.

  • Taking up space

Even though I was quite comfortable with my baby bump at this stage somehow my spacial awareness was seriously lacking. I don’t know how many times I tried to squeeze past people in shopping centres or even at home because I thought I could fit. Most of the time it only resulted in a game of “belly bumper cars”…. At least I would win having the biggest bumper.

Driving also became incredibly uncomfortable because the extra weight I was carrying put pressure on my coxis and sciatic nerve. Adding to this was the logistical nightmare of trying to find an appropriate car park with enough space to open the door wide enough so I could get in and out of the car.

I really think the “Parents with Prams” parking needs to be extended to pregnant ladies in their third trimester. After all…. they’re not too far away from having the pram anyway. I was seriously tempted to drive around with our car seat in the car so I could take advantage of these spaces.

  • Bending in the middle

When you have a watermelon growing in your belly it’s pretty much impossible to bend over. I stopped being able to tie my shoelaces in the second trimester but in my third I could barely even see my feet. Trying to pick anything up off the floor with a 30+ week pregnant belly is nothing but a scene from a b grade comedy. You drop that snack on the floor… it’s staying there mate. Or in my case… the dogs will get it. Come to think of it, this could be why they started following me around in the last few months.

Slide on shoes also became my best friend. Trying to do my shoes up without assistance or a sideways manoeuvre that would give an experienced Yogi a run for their money was impossible.

  • No rest for the preggo

There is NO, I repeat, NO truly comfortable position when you get this far along, I just had to find one that was bearable and live with it.

Falling asleep was easy for me because I was so exhausted but between the constant need to get up and pee and not being able to find a comfortable position true rest and recuperation was hard to come by. Thankfully I’d given up work by this stage so I didn't have to worry about getting up in the morning. I have so much respect for any ladies who keep working right up to their due dates or close to. You are superwomen!

  • Dressing the bump

You know you’re screwed when even your maternity clothes stop fitting. I found I needed an extra layer of clothing just to stop from flashing the bottom of my bump (neither charming nor cute). On more than one occasion I got home from being out all day only to realise the bottom of my belly had been showing (who knows how long). Because the skin was so stretched in that area I couldn’t feel it was exposed… that was the end of under the bump pants.

In the last few months of my pregnancy I was almost exclusively wearing over the bump maternity tights and long singlets. It was all about the stretch material and honestly by this stage I was so uncomfortable I didn’t even care what I wore as long as it didn’t feel restrictive. Safe to say you start to forget about looking nice at this point and just roll with what’s easy… probably another little bit of training for those early weeks with a newborn.

Irritable Uterus

Not, a joke. This is in fact a real thing and resulted in a 3 day stay at “Casa Di Maternità” (The Maternity ward of the Hospital).

Irritable Uterus is a condition where you have regular contractions however they don’t produce any change in the cervix. They are similar to Braxton-Hicks, but stronger and occur more frequently.

It’s unknown exactly what causes irritable uterus and while there has been little research done into the condition there are a lot of reported cases. For me, it started with sharp pains in my abdomen that would peak and then drop off, similar to contractions. It felt like the same pains I’d had at 20 weeks pregnant that was, at the time diagnosed as round ligament pain (Refer to A Bump in the Road - The Second Trimester).

The first day it occurred I just assumed I had overdone it at the gym the day before and although quite painful I was able to get through with a heat pack and some Panadol. The pains finally subsided after a few hours and I felt completely fine. The following morning however they came back and weren't subsiding so we went to the hospital. This time I was able to go straight through to the maternity ward rather than be placed in ED so I was placed on a foetal monitor in one of the birthing suites. This showed my uterus was having contractions, which was what was causing the pain. Thankfully I wasn’t going into pre-term labour and after observation and several tests I was diagnosed with irritable uterus.

Rest was the only thing that helped the pain go away. It also forced me to say goodbye to any exercise other than walking as this seemed to be a trigger.

If nothing else, the condition gave me a little taster of what labour would be like. Eeeeeek!

Reflux

Reflux was something that actually kicked in during my second trimester but got increasingly worse in my third. It meant that eating a normal meal after 5pm would come with consequences.

Thankfully my appetite had decreased significantly by this point so a small snack around dinner like some fruit and yogurt was enough to satisfy me but sometimes despite a small meal I would still get a burning feeling in my throat and the feeling I would be sick. Most nights I had to sleep sitting up in bed and any recommended reflux medications did little to help for very long.

Once the baby had dropped in my pelvis though (ready for birth) the reflux reduced and I barely noticed it. This was also one of the hints my body gave me to tell me he had dropped. Unfortunately it came with a trade off though, I lost the reflux but gained increased pelvis pain.

Intimacy

I’m just gonna say it… Sex was pretty much off the table in the last months of pregnancy. Sorry John! I joke but John was actually very supportive and understanding.

When you can’t even see your vagina anymore and feel swollen and bruised like you’ve been kicked in the privates it doesn’t exactly inspire much desire to have anything but an icepack down there.

Feeling attractive when I was waddling around, grunting every time I moved and sweating from carrying all that extra weight was a hard task, and don’t even get me started on the physical logistics of the act itself.

I felt tired and sore and completely unattractive. I know there are plenty of women who happily continue having sex through their pregnancies, I just wasn’t one of them.

Sciatic Pain

This is a common pregnancy ailment because the weight of the uterus puts pressure on the sciatic nerve which runs from your lower back and down the leg.

For me this presented as sharp pain in my buttock and hip. Most days, even though it made walking and sitting painful it was bearable. Some days however it was excruciating and was bad enough to wake me up in the middle of the night. On one occasion it even brought me to tears.

Unfortunately nothing I did was able to fix the problem entirely. It only subsided when the baby dropped in my pelvis as this must have taken pressure off the nerve when he moved.

I did get some relief from massage however this only lasted a day or two. John also kindly researched stretches for sciatic pain for me which I would do daily but this also only offered temporary relief.

Overall Irritability

Physically the third trimester was definitely the hardest for me. There was so much pressure and pain throughout my whole body that it made day to day activities seem so much harder than they were.

Dealing with pain on a daily basis and feeling debilitated was a strain emotionally and I’ll be the first one to put my hand up and say I probably wasn’t the most inspiring pregnant woman during this time. I was pretty miserable in the last month and couldn't wait for it all to be over.

I’m very thankful for my amazing husband and family for their support as well as having my sister and good friend going through the same struggles as me (being pregnant at the same time). It was a life saver having someone to unload on and who truly understood what I was going through because honestly being pregnant sucked!

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THE HIGHLIGHTS

To be honest, when I first sat down to write this recap I really struggled to come up with any highlights. I don’t mean to be negative, I was just so consumed with how miserable and uncomfortable I was during this time it overshadowed some of the great things I experienced in the last few months.

We always have better perspective with hindsight though and after the birth of my son I was able to look back and appreciate the great things from my third trimester later.

Baby Shower

There are few special milestones we get to make a fuss over in life and I was actually quite excited to celebrate the birth of my first baby. I’ll admit there were a few points prior to the shower that I was ready to throw the whole thing in and just have a simple BBQ because the planning was exhausting. When it all came together though I had such a lovely day with my friends and family. If I could do things over though I would have accepted more help with the planning. No matter how much I liked to think I was just as capable as I was pre-pregnancy, I really wasn’t.

If you’re interested you can find pics and details from the day on my Lil Baby Ill post, here.

Building the Nursery

If my giant baby bump didn’t do it, having the nursery setup really started to make things feel real for me. I spent many nights staring at the room (once it was finished) imagining our life with our little man.

John and I had so much fun putting it together. It was also something special we could do together…. in fact it was pretty much the LAST big thing we did together when it was just the two of us.

Belly Buddies

Referring to the little “unofficial” mothers group that was formed by myself, my sister and good friend Steph. The three of us all fell pregnant within weeks of each other (completely unplanned, just a happy accident) and I honestly don’t know how I would have survived without their support and empathy.

I found it hard to discuss my pregnancy with other people who were not currently pregnant. That’s not an attack on the people in my life either because they were all very supportive but I was conscious of not being that person who can only talk about their pregnancy.

I also relate it to trying to talk about work to someone who doesn’t work with you? They listen and try to understand and empathise but it’s hard to be genuinely interested or understand completely.

Having our little group was like discussing work problems with work colleagues… They just got it!

There were late night text messages, tears, candid body discussions and shared fears. Having these ladies to talk to about such a significant and challenging time in all our lives made the whole experience bearable. Our camaraderie was one of the biggest highlights of my entire pregnancy.

End Game

The most obvious highlight of my third trimester was the fact the journey was finally coming to an end.

This meant not only saying “goodbye” to all those pregnancy aches and pains but saying “hello” to that new life I’d been busy creating.

Sure, as a first time mum this excitement was slightly tainted by a small amount of anxiety surrounding the birth but for the most part I couldn't wait to meet my son and start a new chapter in my life.

Independence

Ok, so i didn’t really appreciate this at the time because all I was thinking about was rushing through to the finish line. So many people told me to enjoy those last months and I really wish I hadn’t been so distracted by how uncomfortable I was to appreciate the last moments of my independence.

Those last months allowed me to sleep in, relax on the couch, leave the house on time, shower when I wanted, eat when I wanted and pee when I wanted! It was a much simpler time.


BEST BUYS & MUST HAVES

Most of my “must haves” from the previous trimesters also carried me through until the last. I found the third trimester incredibly uncomfortable but there were a couple of things that made my life a little easier.

Belly Band

A supportive belly band was essential for giving my pelvis some relief as it held some of the weight of my belly. I also found it useful when going on long walks to stop any pain afterwards.

Pregnancy Massage

With my sciatic pain at it’s worst in the third trimester the only relief I got, although short was from getting regular remedial massage. I wouldn't call it a particularly relaxing massage but it definitely helped with pain for a day or two.

There are lots of places you can go in Perth but I went to:

Reflux Medication

Unfortunately none of the medications I took fixed the problem completely however they did give some temporary relief in the middle of the night when I struggled with reflux the most.

There are only a few that are safe to take while pregnant and of course always discuss this with your dr or pharmacist first.


HELLO, GOODBYE

I’m very conscious of the fact that through my Bump in the Road series I have spent a lot of time, lets say… “Venting” about the challenges of pregnancy. My intention was never to be negative or ungrateful but to provide an upfront and honest account of how I felt through my pregnancy. Through my own experience and talking to friends and family about their experiences pregnancy isn’t all starlight and rainbows… pregnancy is hard! And why shouldn’t it be, I mean you are literally growing a person…. skin, hair, nails, organs. The process takes it’s toll. I think it’s really important, for the sake of mental health and to set realistic expectations for women to be real about how hard pregnancy is and to take time to discuss it.

That being said, as challenging as it was for me pregnancy was also the most amazing thing I have ever done in my life. I’m truly grateful to have experienced it. Watching my body change and feeling my baby move inside me gave me a connection to my body I never knew was possible. It’s given me an appreciation not only for what my own body is capable of but for what all mothers go through to grow a life.