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The Third Trimester: Preparing Your Body for Birth

Updated: Dec 2, 2023

Your complete to-do list for the end of pregnancy!

Third trimester of pregnancy

Hey there, mama-to-be! The final trimester is an exciting and crucial time as you prepare to welcome your little one into the world. This guide will get you through the final trimester smoothly. Let's get items checked off your to-do list and prepare your body for birth!

Pack Your Hospital Bag Just in case your baby decides to make an early arrival, you should try to pack your hospital bag around week 36 of pregnancy. For what to pack, you can reference my Hospital Bag Must-Haves article.

Write Your Birth Plan At the start of your final trimester, you should start thinking about and creating your birth plan. Think about your preferences for labor, pain management, and delivery. Having a plan in place will help you feel more prepared for the big day. Plus, you can print a couple extra copies for your husband, doula, and the nurses at the hospital so that everyone knows what your preferences are during labor. You can download our birth plan template, and then print and fill it out. To learn more about birth plans, visit our What is a Birth Plan? post.

Prepare Your Home (and Car) Get your home ready for your newborn's arrival and install the carseat in your car, too. You won't be allowed to leave the hospital without an approved carseat properly installed. My favorite newborn carseat for a decent price is the Graco SnugRide 35 Lite. You can even visit a local medical care center to have them double-check that it's installed properly before baby's first ride. Meanwhile, at home, make sure you wash all the baby clothes with baby safe laundry detergent, assemble the crib and changing table, and stock up on essentials like diapers, wipes, and baby-safe cleaning supplies. For a full list of items to stock up on, read my Newborn Essentials List post.

Prep for Postpartum Think about your postpartum needs. Stock up on postpartum pads, comfy underwear, nursing bras, perineal foam for sure. I also highly recommend the XL size Silverettes, nipple cream, a comfy robe, and slippers. You'll also receive quite a few items from the hospital.

Prepare your body: Exercise & Eat Right Okay, now that the to-do list items are checked off, it's time to get your body ready for birth! Even in your final trimester, exercise can help you stay fit and manage stress. Consult your healthcare provider and then consider activities like swimming, walking, or prenatal yoga. I personally tried to walk 1-2 miles every day. Staying active is crucial and can definitely help with the aches and pains during the final trimester too. Prenatal exercise can also help boost your stamina, flexibility, and strength, making labor more manageable.

  • Curb Walking: I highly recommend starting daily curb-walking around week 36 of pregnancy, or once your doctor has confirmed that baby is head-down. To do this, just go on your normal walk but keep one foot up on the curb while you're walking and then switch back and forth throughout the walk. Theoretically, the uneven walking with one legged propped up on the curb will allow your baby to get better positioned in the pelvis and add more pressure to your cervix, causing dilation and effacement to move more quickly.

  • Eat Dates: Studies suggest that eating dates in the final weeks of pregnancy can actually lead to a shorter labor! You want to try to eat around 5 dates per day for the final month of your pregnancy. My favorite ways to eat dates are with peanut butter or blended in fruit smoothies. For plenty of ideas, read through my Recipes with Dates post.

  • Drink Red Raspberry Leaf Tea: Red raspberry leaf tea is known for its uterine-toning properties. It's believed to make contractions more efficient during labor, so why not give it a try? I personally drank one tea bag a night with honey and magnesium powder in it beginning in the third trimester, and then used two tea bags a night after week 37.

  • Stay Hydrated & Maintain a Balanced Diet: A well-balanced diet is essential during pregnancy. In the third trimester, focus on nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. These foods provide the energy and nutrients needed for a smooth labor. Additionally, it's so important to stay hydrated. Keep sipping water throughout the day, and consider drinking a Liquid IV pack each day for extra hydration and electrolytes.

  • Consider Evening Primrose Oil: Some moms-to-be swear by using evening primrose oil in the final weeks of pregnancy. It's believed to help ripen the cervix, but it's essential to consult your healthcare provider before trying any supplements like this.

  • Work on Strengthening and Stretching Your Pelvic Floor: Your pelvic floor muscles play a vital role in labor and postpartum recovery. Try to stretch daily and use the time to relax and deep breathe. In addition to stretching, most pelvic floor exercises are easy to do and can be performed discreetly throughout the day. Here's a helpful YouTube video to guide you through these exercises.

Collect Colostrum (optional):

Collecting colostrum during pregnancy

To start collecting colostrum, you'll want to get a colostrum collection kit. This kit is the go-to for many moms. It's great, but I found that using these smaller syringes was more cost-effective for me because in the beginning you will not get much colostrum, so you will most likely not fill the larger tubes. Around 36-37 weeks of pregnancy, you can start collecting daily and putting it in the freezer. This can be really beneficial for a few reasons: 1) It can naturally get your body ready for labor, and although extremely unlikely to trigger labor, some studies show it can gradually induce labor. 2) It's helpful for getting more familiar with breastfeeding. Getting the hang of hand-expressing colostrum can help you know your body better and have more success with breastfeeding. For example, if those first few days of breastfeeding end up being a bit painful, you can hand-express to your baby to take breaks from latching. Knowing how to do this ahead of time can make that decision much easier. 3) The most beneficial part of collecting colostrum is to have it on-hand for your baby after birth. There are many reasons why your baby might need extra colostrum when they are first born such as if they are born early, if they are in the NICU, or if your milk takes longer than expected to come in. Okay, if you've decided that you want to collect your colostrum at the end of pregnancy, just take around 20-minutes per day to hand-express into your syringe and store them in the freezer.

As you prepare your body for birth, remember that every pregnancy is unique. What worked for one mom may not be the best fit for another. Always consult your healthcare provider before making any significant changes to your routine. Trust your body, listen to your instincts, and know that you're fully capable of embracing the beautiful journey of childbirth. You've got this!

If you're ready to start adding any of these items to a baby registry, using this list as a guide is a great place to start. I found that the Amazon Baby Registry was really easy to use, and you get a 15% completion discount if all of the items on your registry didn't end up getting purchased.

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