More than 3.6 million babies are born every year in the United States, according to the CDC, and that means there are lots of moms planning for labor and delivery. A lot of that planning takes place during the final weeks of pregnancy — the third trimester.
A trusted provider of pregnancy care for women in Santa Monica, California, Tristan E. Bickman, MD provides not only medical care, but important education, guidance, and support for women in their third trimesters. If you're in your final weeks of pregnancy, here are five ways to optimize your health before the big day.
1. Drink plenty of fluids
Our bodies are composed primarily of fluid, and drinking plenty of water helps replenish those fluids throughout the day. During your third trimester, your need for fluid is amplified, in part because you’re supporting two lives.
Fluid is necessary for making blood, both for you and for your baby. Fluid also supports regular replenishment of amniotic fluid, the protective fluid that surrounds your baby in the uterus.
Fluid also plays a big role in digestion, helping break food down so you and your baby get ample nutrition to support you and your baby during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. It also helps prevent constipation, a common problem during the later months of pregnancy.
To make sure you’re getting enough fluids, carry a water bottle with you, and focus on healthy drinks. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, and choose water or unsweetened fruit juices or herbal teas.
2. Stay active
Being active is important at every stage of pregnancy, but it’s especially important during the final weeks of pregnancy, when your growing belly can lead to lots of aches and pains. Regular physical activity helps lubricate joints, improve muscle strength, and relieve stiffness, and it also helps boost your mood.
Being active on a daily basis promotes healthy sleep, too, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. It also aids in digestion and promotes healthy circulation for you and your baby.
During your third trimester, it’s important to choose gentle activities that don’t put too much strain on your body. Walking and swimming are great choices, or look for prenatal yoga classes in your neighborhood or online.
Finally, don’t start any exercise program without consulting us first, and never engage in very strenuous activities.
3. Focus on pelvic floor exercises
Your larger muscle groups aren’t the only ones that can benefit from regular exercise. Pelvic floor muscles benefit, too. In fact, these muscles are under an exceptional amount of strain and stress during the final months of pregnancy as your growing belly presses down on them.
Incorporating Kegel exercises into your daily routine tones those muscles, potentially easing labor and delivery while supporting a healthy postpartum recovery, too. Plus, Kegels can be done anywhere — even at the office or while you’re waiting in traffic.
4. Make sleep a priority
As you enter your third trimester, it’s not uncommon to feel really tired. After all, your body is supporting two human beings, and your baby’s growth puts added demands on your body and your metabolism.
Prioritizing sleep gives your body the rest it needs to meet these demands without stressing you out. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule helps improve your mood, too, and it gives your body the rest it needs to prepare for labor and delivery.
Ideally, aim for 8-9 hours of sleep every night, and nap during the day if you can. Use a body pillow or a pillow designed specifically for pregnancy to support your belly while you sleep and relieve low back strain, too.
5. Keep those prenatal visits
Prenatal visits are vitally important throughout your entire pregnancy. During your third trimester, you can expect those visits to become more frequent.
While you might be tempted to skip an occasional visit, don’t. During these last weeks of your pregnancy journey, those additional visits play an important role in monitoring your baby’s development and ensuring you and your baby are all ready for labor and delivery.
This is also the time when we may order additional imaging or lab tests to look for potential issues that require special attention prior to the big day. Plus, it gives our team the opportunity to offer support and guidance that can help ease you into the postpartum period.
Preparing for a new baby’s arrival is a busy time, but it’s vitally important to make time for self-care, too. To learn more ways to stay healthy during every stage of pregnancy, call 310-587-9280 or book an appointment online with Dr. Bickman today.