Pregnancy Weeks 34-37
I hope you enjoy this recap. In this one, I’ll be recapping weeks 34, 35, 36, and 37 of this pregnancy. This will probably be my last pregnancy recap until the baby arrives – and then I will, of course, share the baby’s birth story! I love reading birth stories, and I can’t wait to share my own.
The last weeks of my third trimester have basically been a whirlwind. We’ve been trying to get everything ready for the baby, and I’m still working, even from home, so I’ve felt very stressed and busy! When I’m not working, I’ve been devoting to getting us ready for the baby—making endless lists, packing our hospital bags, reading all the manuals for our baby gear (aka carseat) and make sure everything is stocked and ready to go. Just two weeks until our due date, so this is definitely the home stretch, and time feels like it is moving VERY slowly.
The Important Dates
The biggest milestone we hit is that we are now able to tell that the baby is head down. Because I now go to a midwifery practice and not a traditional OBGYN, they don’t do ultrasounds. The midwives are very skilled in being able to feel from the outside where the baby is.
How My Body is Changing
My belly grew a LOT at the beginning of this trimester and I loved it. While it’s the most unwieldy, I really love the way I look and feel really feminine! The belly growth seems to have slowed down in the past few weeks, but it looks lower if that makes sense. The bump was RIGHT under my ribcage, and now seems to be more centrally located. Now here we are at the near end together!
Here are some of what I've experienced this trimester:
· STRONG baby kicks- as the baby grows and there is less room for her, she isn’t kicking so much as just moving. She is just stronger – and sometimes surprise me/catch me off guard.
· Lower Back Pain – this one pops up if I've been on my feet and moving around for a little longer than I know best (a recurring theme, you'll see below). For example, if I volunteer to host 12 people at our house for dinner (happened), and spend approximately 6 hours on my feet cleaning the house, chopping, stirring, and setting the table, I'll end the day with some lower back pain. The pain isn't acute, but rather a dull ache mostly brought on by the extra strain it takes to hold my front-loaded body upright.
· Swelling – I’ve been really lucky in this department, and again really only experience some foot puffiness when I’ve been on my feet a lot. Luckily I’m now working from home so it’s been totally acceptable to put my feet up whenever I need to.
· Stretch Marks – note: I FULLY expected stretch marks with this pregnancy because I know my body is prone to them. I have stretch marks on my inner thighs from when I gained weight in college, for example. That being said, my body is currently (at 38 weeks) new stretch mark-free. This truly surprises me. Though it's not a symptom I'm experiencing, I wanted to list it out in case any are curious. What have I been doing that may have had an impact? Just two things: I've kept my belly very well moisturized (applying nightly and/or after a shower) with the Beautycounter Body Butter, and Primally Pure Body Oil (the jasmine scent) I've been adding 1-2 scoops of skin/ligament healing collagen peptides to my one cup of coffee every morning. Note that collagen peptides *are* a supplement and you should check with your baby professionals (doctor, midwife, etc.) to get their thoughts on whether it's a healthy choice for you. When it comes to stretch marks, there's no real way to know if you will or will not get them. Just sharing my experience here!
· Heartburn – next to nosebleeds, this is the one symptom I'd be tempted to punch in the face. My little girl is hanging out pretty high up in my belly and, when she's especially high, I'm also especially prone to heartburn. It's less an issue of chemistry (I've never suffered from heartburn in my life) and more an issue of just not enough space. I'm also slightly more prone to the uncomfortable feeling in my stomach when I'm in a reclined position.
· Frequent Urination – this one was most definitely expected! All it really means is that the baby is larger and pushing on my bladder, making me have to use the restroom more often than before. It's not a big deal, except I do have to get up in the middle of the night now (which I didn't ever do before).
· Difficulty Sleeping – this is due mostly to two things: having to go to the bathroom (an easy fix) and the baby waking me up (which isn't upsetting at all). I've found that if I roll over during the night (which requires some effort), the baby starts to wiggle back into a comfortable position, too. Sometimes she wakes me up after I haven't moved at all and we have ourselves a sweet little middle-of-the-night cuddle (where I just pat my belly).
· Still lots of fruit! I’m digging pairs, clementines and grapefruits
· Protein! I’m finding that sweet foods are giving me worse heartburn than savory ones, so I’m loading up on animal protein sources. Secondly, my stored iron levels were really high (great news!) throughout this pregnancy, but have recently dropped. In some ways this is good because it means baby girl is taking what she needs, but I’ve noticed an uptick in my craving for red meat and eggs.
· Lots of coconut water! As my blood volume continued to increase, so did my need for the electrolytes potassium and sodium. High-quality coconut water is a great source of potassium and, with a pinch of salt, becomes a great electrolyte-replenishing drink. I’ve been downing coconut water and watermelon water on the reg.
· Still nomming my lemony kale pretty much every single day.
· Dates! In the last month especially, I’ve been pretty diligent about getting in 5 to 6 dates a day (thanks to a tip by Mama Natural, Genevieve Howland). A study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology drew a correlation between date consumption and (essentially) smoother labors. I love dates, so bring it on! I’ve been enjoying them with a small glob of sunflower seed butter, or made in to little date cookies combined with nuts and chia seeds.
· Red Raspberry Leaf Tea: my doula recommended 1 cup a day starting at 30 weeks, and upping it to 6 cups a day at 36 weeks. It helps tone your uterus and encourage contractions, so I’ve been brewing a huge pot of tea and keeping it in the fridge for iced tea every day!
· I've maintained my daily collagen peptides diligence, too.
So now that I’m towards the end of this trimester, I’ve started to slow down a lot. I’m an extremely active person by nature—I can’t sit still for long very well—but I did dial back on my intentional exercise quite a bit.
I made this choice because my lower back pain tends to get worse with more activity and things like riding a spin bike or doing a HIIT workout just required too much modification or were becoming plain uncomfortable. Also, I have NOTHING to prove right now other than maintaining a healthy body for a healthy baby and gentle recovery.
Someone I follow in Instagra, Brianna Battles, says “pregnancy is temporary, postpartum is forever” and I’ve been letting those words guide me. I’ve been prioritizing smaller movements like walking and barre classes, not crushing it in the gym. This is such an individual choice—I really would LOVE to be that woman doing weights on her due date, but I’m listening to my body, and my body says dial it back.
If working out up until the end really WORKS for you (like it does for some mamas), go for it! Or, if getting a sweat on causes you to overextend and experience undue pain, consider fully embracing the “I can pick this up again when my body has fully recovered.” Either way is OKAY and it’s a decision only you can make.
Birthing ball – sounds obvious, but it wasn’t to me. In fact, I probably would’ve skipped grabbing one if it weren’t for my physical therapist explaining WHY they’re helpful. In addition to being tremendously helpful at (and just before) your actual labor, the use of a birthing ball has really helped me connect with my pelvic floor.
Again, overshare warning …proceed at your own risk.
You see, I’m one of those people who falls in to the very common group of women who experience some pelvic floor concerns during pregnancy. My under-engaged pelvic floor was causing some not so fun issues, so I started seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist who worked with me to connect to the muscle group. It was helpful, and the birthing ball made all the difference in practicing. I won’t go into more detail here, but if you suspect that you too have an under-engaged pelvic floor, I recommend searching for a physical therapist and get some treatment. This is something you can start on BEFORE pregnancy!
I hope you enjoyed these trimester updates! I do currently plan on sharing baby girl’s birth story, a “what’s in my hospital bag” post, and possibly even a 4th trimester recap post in the future.