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Home Stretch: Your Third Trimester and You

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

Yes, it’s true, your in the final stretch (no pun intended) of your pregnancy, and, according to experts, this last three months is likely to be your most “conflicting”. On one hand you’re eager and ready for baby to arrive, and on the other your “fear” and “perhaps” dread the responsibility, “agonizing” over what kind of mom/parents you’ll be. And, in this final phase, say experts, it becomes increasingly important to pamper your body and your mind.

Here’s what you can look forward to:

1. Tired all the time: While your second trimester gave you hope with waning nausea and more energy, the additional 20 to 30 pounds you’ve gained by this point will begin, note experts, to slow you sown. And, an expanding uterus rearranging your organs doesn’t help. Keep up your energy and your mood by:

· Moving in spurts: alter your workout routine to accommodate doing a few exercises at a time. Try swimming and prenatal yoga and if you find yourself fatiguing, slow down.

· Take a few “time-outs: Squeeze in a few extra breaks during the day. And, don’t hesitate to put your feet up, and if possible shutting and relaxing your eyes.

· Eat more: Well sort of. Experts suggest eating smaller meals and snacks more frequently to keep your iron count and your energy up. They recommend healthy snacks of fruit and nuts such as raw almonds or walnuts.

2. A Pain In The Back: Back pain is quite common among pregnant women, especially since your baby bump can mess with your posture and the hormone relaxin, known for loosening joints in expectations of delivery can add stress to your body. Ease the pain by:

· Engaging in pelvic tilts: This requires rocking your mid-section (pelvis) back and forth while kneeling on all fours and making sure to keep your back straight.

· Invest in an underbelly support garment (experts suggest the Bellybra and maternity hose)

· At night, support your back and abdomen by using extra padding under your back when you sleep. Side sleepers should place a pillow between their legs to foster equilibrium for the hips. Another option is investing in a maternity pillow, especially recommended if you have an older mattress.

· Don’t try to do everything on your own. Ask for help when you need it, and accept help when it’s offered.

3. Added Pressure: As your uterus expands it puts added pressure on your bladder, especially in your third trimester, which likely means more potty runs. And, that includes sudden, almost uncontrollable urges to urinate, commonly known as urge incontinence, a phenomenon that over 40 percent of expectant moms experience.

Experts suggest trying to set up a schedule where you make a bathroom run every hour or two so that you can “go” before you just can’t “hold it” any more. Also, after about a week or so, experts recommend increasing the time between your potty runs until you are “going” every three hours (or your achieve the goal determined by you and your doctor).

Note, its imperative to stay hydrated and that means getting in eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. And, you need to make sure to eat plenty of high fiber foods to prevent constipation. Try to steer clear of caffeine; it’s a diuretic that can make a “bad” situation even worse.

4. Stomach Troubles: Many expectant ladies experience heartburn during this phase of pregnancy, primarily because of the influx of hormones making their way through the body. Experts note that it’s the muscle at the top of you stomach that typically halts acids from seeping into your esophagus, but during pregnancy, it tends to relax, opening a gateway for those harsh juices. And, it’s likely your uterus can account for most of your abdominal cavity by the third trimester, and that results in pushing your stomach up toward your throat, making the discomfort more noticeable. Ease the burn by:

· Avoid foods that bring on the heartburn such as spicy, highly seasoned or acidic foods (such as chili), fried foods, greasy foods, fatty foods and caffeine. You may also want to proceed with caution when it comes to bubbly drinks, citrus and some diary products, including milk and ice cream.

· Eat more frequently. Rather than three square meals opt for six, smaller, easier to digest meals. And, experts suggest eating upright and refraining from lying down afterwards or eating too close to bedtime.

· Consult with your physician and ask him or her about taking antacids when the heartburn gets bad.

5. Edema: The technical term given to swelling of the ankles, feet and legs, caused by fluid retention in the lower part of your body. Plus, it’s likely you’ll start to see some varicose veins too. These are the result of blood valves softening and causing blood to gather and form sometimes, painful bulges. Experts say that you can look forward to a reduction in swelling once your baby arrives, but as far as some of the veins are concerned, they may be permanent. Surgery however is an option for removing them. In the meantime experts suggest:

· Keeping feet elevated and switching your stance or sitting position often. Also refrain from crossing your legs and try to lie down, preferably on your side, as often as possible.

· Invest in support hose. These “specialty” pantyhose can help ease aches, pains and discomfort, as well as diminish the appearance of varicose veins. However, experts caution against any garment or item that may cut of circulation such as knee-high hose.

· Drink plenty of fluids. Cutting them out to minimize water retention will only result in doing the opposite.

· Give your feet a good soak in the tub. It helps reduce the pressure.

6. Practice Contractions: Also known as Braxton-Hicks these precontractions help prep your body for the official arrival of baby. However, unlike REAL contractions, which typically start in the back and make their way up front, moving from top to bottom, “falsies” are generally felt in the front of the abdomen. Note that REAL contractions also get more intense with movement, so moving around can give you a good idea whether you’re officially in labor or not. And, if there’s any doubt, experts suggest calling your doctor.

7. “Dreary” Dreams: Again, as “the time” nears so do fears and anxieties about your baby and parenthood, which may explain whey many moms-to-be have vivid and bizarre dreams. And, say experts, it’s also more likely you’ll remember these dreams since it’s also likely you are waking up more often in the middle of the night to use the bathroom or because you can feel the baby move or kick. According to experts the most typically dreams include:

· Anxiety about losing the baby

· Labor pain

· Anxiety about parenthood and being a good mother.

· Loss of control

And, while many of these dreams can be quite disturbing, experts note that they are all part of pregnancy and parenthood; and perhaps a healthy outlet for your feelings. Try your best not to let them get to you or stress you out; that will only do more damage than good. Instead, try to talk about your dreams and your feelings with your spouse or someone trusted and close to you.

Long Island Family Life & Parenting Articles > Home Stretch: Your Third Trimester and You

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