The third trimester is when reality of baby's impending arrival sets in and your body is getting more uncomfortable to inhabit. This stage is hallmarked by swelling, shortness of breath, aches and pains, and abrupt temperature fluctuations. Sleeping is definitely more of a problem, and you'll find you waddle now more than walk. It is a time of both thinking ahead about the big day but also one of taking it day-by-day.
In this article, we will first run through some helpful comfort aids for mom during her third trimester. Then, we'll run through a few topics to help prepare you for the big day and beyond.
As your body expands, you may find that a little extra support both above and below is very welcome. There are surprisingly a plethora of aids to help with last trimester discomfort; below are some well-regarded ones.
- Maternity Support Belts — The basic orthopedic maternity belt like the adjustable Gabrialla Elastic Maternity Support Belt by ITA-MED is one that positions around the lower back and just below the belly and straps around the pelvis usually with Velcro. By giving the lower belly extra support, these types of belts can help relieve some of the load transferred to the lower back. The Gabrialla is a very popular one among mothers who run during pregnancy. From here, more complex support systems have been born. It's You Babe Best Cradle is an adjustable strap system with hook and eye closures that eases both abdominal and back strain by lifting weight off the pelvis, improving posture, and reducing leg and ankle swelling. It is soft and flexible lying flat against skin with an open abdominal design for comfort and ventilation. This company also has a great pelvic floor support system called the It's You Babe V2 Supporter which can help reduce swelling of vulvar varicose veins, perineal edema, and incontinence during pregnancy.
- Panty Liners — It may be something no wants to talk about, but its something almost every mother-to-be experiences so lets not be coy. As baby gets bigger, bladder gets smaller, and the muscles in your pelvic floor relax in anticipation of giving birth you might find yourself getting a little leaky. If urine leakage is a problem you should invest in some nice panty liners specifically for this purpose such as Poise Maximum Absorbency Incontinence Pads. Avoid using liners intended for periods as they don't absorb as quickly and aren't equipped to neutralize odor-causing ammonia. If embarrassment has you reluctant to buy them, you can order them online and no one is the wiser!
- Breast Pads — Nothing says you've joined the ranks of motherhood quite like leaking boobs. As you get closer to your due date and possibly as you rage with hormones those nipples might start leaking colostrum even before baby arrives. Using washable and reusable breast pads inside your bra such as our favorite Bamboobies Washable Nursing Pads can help prevent unsightly and embarrassing stains to your clothing. Take it from us, it happens and it is embarrassing no matter how chill you are.
- Big Blue Disposable Underpads — This sounds silly, but right before you are about to pop, it's not a bad idea to line your bed under the sheets with massive blue pads (known as Chux) that are frequently used in medical clinics and hospitals. This way, if your water breaks while you are sleeping, you won't ruin your bed or have a mess to clean up. NorthShore Premium Blue Disposable Underpads are a nice easy to use product that can give you peace of mind and protect your mattress.
Educational Forums for Learning How to Birth and Parent a New Baby
For the first time parent, taking a childbirth preparation class or series can be a very important piece of readiness for the big day. A good class will cover the stages of labor and delivery and relaxation techniques during labor as well as appropriate postpartum and newborn care.
Newborn Care Class
Since babies are neither born with instruction tags nor do you need a license to have one, there is a lot of information to know about how to care for your new baby that may not come second nature the first time around. From feeding baby to changing diapers to bathing to swaddling and sleep to infant car seats and immunizations, a newborn care class will get you on your way being prepared with the next steps once you are holding your sweet little one in your arms for the first time.
Infant and Child Basic First Aid and CPR Class
It is very important for both parents and baby's care providers to know the basics of infant and child first aid and CPR, cardiopulmonary resuscitation. BabyGearLab highly recommends this as a class to attend prior to having baby so in the event of an emergency, appropriate care can be provided in those critical moments prior to the arrival of 911 medical personnel.
While nurses and lactation consultants are available within the hospital to aid you through your first days of breastfeeding your new precious baby, there is a lot to know apart from the technique of latching baby onto the breast. From pumping and storing expressed breastmilk to the basics of establishing and maintaining an adequate supply to what to do when problems arise, a good breastfeeding class can be the key to a successful mother-baby nursing pair as well as an appropriate introduction to a certified lactation consultant.
Choosing Your Baby's Doctor
If this is your first baby, who your baby's doctor will be is an important decision best decided before labor kicks in. We have compiled a list of helpful questions to aid you during this sometimes daunting process. The first two questions can easily be answered by calling the office's reception. If answers to both are "Yes," then we recommend scheduling an appointment to get to know a particular pediatrician to see if they might be the right fit for you.
It is common in this meeting to ask the doctor where they did their training and what certifications he/she holds. In addition, this is a good opportunity to ask specific questions such as those related to in-hospital care once your baby is born and child vaccinations. It is likely that the pediatrician will offer you great anticipatory guidance and perhaps literature, as well as address other topics or concerns you may have.
- Accepting New Patients — If you have a particular physician you'd like your baby to see, this is the first question to ask. If they are not available, they can most likely recommend one. If the doctor is not accepting new patients, but you really want to see them, you can ask to get on a waiting list. However, you will need to continue calling doctors until you find someone who is accepting new patients.
- Insurance Participation-- Second, it is important to find out if the clinic or particular physician participates in your insurance plan.
- Basics — You want to ask about when they are open and what their after hours care is like. Being able to make appointments that are convenient for your schedule is a must and baby is likely to need after hours are at some point so you want to make sure you know what that will look like should you need it.
- Education, Training, and Certifications — You might want to ask perspective doctors about which medical school they attended, where they did their residency and fellowship, any board certification and FAAP (Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics) membership. While it might not be that important where they accomplished everything it opens the dialogue of truly understanding what their background and experience entails.
- Hospital Privileges — Not all doctors work with all hospitals. If hospitals matter to you, double check that the doctor works with the hospital you are closest to or plan to use.
- In Hospital Care of Baby — Let the pediatrician you are interviewing know who your obstetrician is and at what hospital you will be delivering your baby. Your baby should be examined immediately after birth as well as every day he/she is in the hospital by a physician. Would this be the baby's pediatrician or someone else?
- In Hospital Procedures for Baby — This is the opportune time to review the important preventive care procedures that your baby will have once he/she is born. During the interview, the doctor can explain each one to you and why each of the following is important: Vitamin K injection, ophthalmic ointment, hepatitis B vaccine, 24 hour bilirubin level, newborn screen, hearing screen, and pulse oximeter reading.
It is important that your baby has an appointment with his/her doctor 2-3 days after discharge from the hospital. This is considered routine newborn care and it is important to check on baby's weight, feeding, and screen for potential jaundice. If there are concerns or issues related to breastfeeding, this is a good time to bring them up and the doctor can decide whether or not a visit with a lactation consultant would be beneficial.
Cord Blood Banking
Many parents pursue banking their newborn's umbilical cord blood at birth. Why? Because your newborn's umbilical cord blood, which used to just be thrown away, contains stem cells that can play a vital role in the treatment of cancer, and may even hold the key to an eventual cure. As a result, there exist today several different ways of saving cord blood.
We recommend discussing cord blood banking with your obstetrician between weeks 28 to 34 of gestation as arrangements must be made well in advance of your baby's due date. If you are going to bank cord blood, you'll need to work through the process with your OB, and be sure to remind your labor and delivery nurse of your wishes.
This video provides a high-level overview of one method, called public cord banking, which we recommend you consider. You can learn more here on the Be The Match website:
If you are interested in learning more, you might consider reading this in-depth article written by a pediatrician or take a look at the United State's National Marrow Donor Program called Be the Match. And, if you need to find out the hospital where you will deliver participates in collection of public cord blood, visit Parents Guide to Cord Blood Foundation.
If you have a boy, you will be asked in the hospital about your decision whether or not you would like to have him circumcised. This procedure surgically removes the foreskin from the penis to expose the "head" or glans, typically done with local anesthetic (1% lidocaine without epinephrine) via a dorsal penile nerve block. Some practitioners choose to give baby a pacifier dipped in glucose water during the nerve block. Alternatively, a topical numbing agent may be placed upon the skin about 1 hour prior to the procedure, but this is not as commonly practiced.
The 2012 American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) policy acknowledges that the health benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks of the procedure. However, the benefits aren't so great as to make a universal recommendation. Thus, parents must decide what is best for their infant.
What are the benefits? Improved hygiene and decreased risk of urinary tract infection and penile cancer as well as reduction in sexually transmitted diseases including HIV and HPV. Subsequently, this also contributes to decreased incidence of cervical cancer in women.
Any surgical procedure carries risks, but with circumcision they are rare and typically minor. However, they include bleeding (1:3,000), infection (1:1000), penile adhesions, and hidden penis. Some opponents of circumcision express concern about possible reduced sexual pleasure due to removal of sensitive nerve fibers contained in the foreskin. However, data based on men who were circumcised as adults remains conflicting.
Packing Your Hospital Bag
For in-depth advice, tips, and specific product recommendations for packing your hospital bag, we invite you to take a look at BabyGearLab's Baby Essentials, specifically the In Hospital With Baby article. In its entirety, Baby Essentials focuses on providing parents and caregivers both gear recommendations as well as valuable parenting pearls that seek to aid parents from labor to all the way throughout baby's entire first year, dividing all of the stuff into both must have and nice-to-have sections.