It's been nearly nine months, and the glamour is officially gone. Your back hurts, your feet are tired, and it's been weeks since you've had a good night's sleep — time to get this show on the road!
Unfortunately, your baby's got her own agenda, and it might not be what you had in mind (your due date may sail on by with nary a contraction in sight, for instance!). In the meantime, you're probably getting more than a little tired of belly pats from strangers and the constant reminder that, "Woah, you're getting so BIG!"
It's definitely hard not to feel frustrated, uncomfortable and antsy in the final days of pregnancy. Hang in there, because we've got some tips on de-stressing before the big day. Kick back, put up those (swollen) feet and read on!
Work it, baby. Exercising might feel like the last thing you want to do, but with your doctor's permission, give it a shot. The right movements can increase your flexibility, strength, circulation, and help you prepare for labor. Try prenatal yoga, which has been known to reduce swelling, back and leg pain, and insomnia, in addition to being a calming practice (make sure you stick with a teacher who has a solid understanding of pregnancy and knows what poses should be avoided). If you're feeling particularly constricted in the diaphragm (all that belly crushing your lungs), spend a few minutes on your hands and knees, breathing deeply — the baby weight will drop low, giving you a nice break from the pressure.
Get a foot rub. Or a back rub, or a full-body treatment. Visit a local massage therapist trained in prenatal massage for a wonderfully relaxing experience. Done correctly, a massage can ease sore spots, relax tense muscles, and just make you feel good all over. Therapists often provide a special table with hollowed-out areas for your belly, or have you lie on your side with a body pillow for support.
Take care of yourself. You're probably past the point where you can reach your own toes for a DIY pedicure, so why not visit the salon for a professional paint job? If pedicures aren't really your thing, how about a fabulous new haircut (something spiffy but low-maintenance for the coming weeks, maybe?), or a pair of earrings that make you smile? If you're struggling with being positive about your appearance these days, treat yourself to some feel-good beauty indulgences.
Keep busy. Minimize your calendar-watching by keeping your schedule filled with manageable to-dos. Get involved in something you enjoy doing — whether it's a hobby, a work project or just lunch with friends — so you're focused on more than just the state of your belly!
Address fears. Take this time to learn as much as possible about labor and delivery, and talk to your support system about any fears you may have. Fear can actually slow labor and cause pain during the birth, so it's important to address your concerns head-on. Learn about your options, and helpful techniques to help with the parts of labor you are most worried about.
Prep the house. It may be hard to believe, but that brand-new baby is going to be mobile before you know it. In addition to the safety measures you've probably already put in place (such as no soft bedding, and crib slats no more than 2 3/8ths of an inch wide), consider taking some further steps to ensure your growing baby's safety. Child-safety experts suggest, among other things, removing hanging cords from blinds, locking up all household cleansers and medications, and installing safety plugs in outlets.
When to call the doctor
You should never hesitate to contact your healthcare provider if you notice anything out of the ordinary in these final days of pregnancy. Some signs that warrant an immediate call include:
- Any vaginal bleeding, especially bright red blood
- Headaches, blurred vision, swelling of arms, hands or face, or pain under your ribcage
- Sudden, unexplained weight gain or fever
- Decreased fetal movements
Of course, noticing signs that you're going into labor is usually a happy reason to call! Make sure you're well-informed on the indicators that labor is progressing, so you feel confident contacting your healthcare provider at the right time.
Keeping a positive attitude may be a challenge as you deal with all the late third-trimester discomforts and a growing desire to (finally!) meet your baby, but try and remind yourself that this is truly a temporary situation. Soon enough, your world will be turned upside down in all kinds of amazing, tiring, miraculous ways. Take these last days to breathe, connect with yourself, and enjoy the anticipation!