The pregnancy diaries: The final countdown

And here we are. Not long from giving birth. Not far from holding my first child. Where has the time gone? Am I ready? Will I take to motherhood well? What will my baby look like? What will their personality be like? So many questions… so many emotions!

The final trimester of pregnancy has been extremely kind to me.

I was expecting insomnia, pelvic pain, exhaustion, haemorrhoids, incontinence, leaky breasts and all the other fun symptoms that women tell you about!

Instead I am still feeling relatively energetic, sleeping fairly well, only suffering with mild reflux, no pelvic pain, still staying active, no incontinence, no haemorrhoids and no leaky breasts!

Trying to stay active despite the heat!

Woo-hoo… I think I’ve won the lottery.

I’ve always wanted a large family… maybe this is the universe encouraging me to have lots of babies?!

To round up this pregnancy, here is how my final trimester has looked and all of my hot tips to pass on to other expectant mothers!

First hot tip: Don’t bother trying to shave your own legs. You’ll be way too puffed out or you’ll need a million bandaids to fix up your botchy job!

Finishing work and starting maternity leave

I finished up at work at 35 weeks. Initially I thought this was 1-2 weeks earlier than I would have liked but given that it was Christmas and the holiday period it felt like a great natural ending.

Thankfully I did decide to finish up then because I don’t know if I had the energy to do another 1-2 weeks of full time work.

Hats off to those mums who work right up until their due date!

I do credit work to keeping me energetic and lively. Many mornings I just wanted to stay in bed all day and do nothing, but by forcing myself to get up for work I often felt much more energetic and alive by the end of my shift.

Hot tip: Once you start maternity leave midday naps will become your best friend!

I am so fortunate to work in the field of women’s health because going to work involved talking about pregnancy and motherhood all day long! My patients were always so helpful in giving me advice and helping to set my expectations around motherhood.

Since being on maternity leave the time has flown by!

Granted it has been Christmas and New Year and we are now on our planned beach holiday… but I thought I was going to have alllll thissss timeeee… jokes on me hey!

It is only in the last few days, after having enjoyed a few days of R&R at the beach and ticking off most of my pre-baby to-do list, that I feel ready for bubs to enter into the world any day now.

Birth preparation

This has been a really interesting journey for me thus far. In the early days of my pregnancy I listened to hundreds of podcasts about natural birthing, physiological birth and avoiding interventions.

Given the work that I do, I think I subconsciously had some fear around certain interventions and the effect that they could have on the pelvic floor muscles.

The rational part of my brain knew that I only see a very small proportion of the population, and that not every woman suffers from birth trauma. However it was still hard to shake this thought.

A lot of the information I was consuming was positive and empowering in regards to how capable our bodies are when it comes to labour and birth. However I also found it fear-inducing when it came to medical interventions, making it out like intervention was to blame for many traumatic births.

Early in my pregnancy I decided that I was most comfortable in the care of a private obstetrician. I did my research and found an obstetrician who seemed to have a nice balance of understanding the importance of letting women birth as they were designed to, but also not taking unnecessary risks. So far I have found him incredible at communicating with me, informing me of the pros and cons of any decision I’ve had to make and ultimately allowing me to make well informed decisions about my own pregnancy and birth care.

My suggestion to all women is to research the different options for obstetric care in your area and choose what feels most comfortable to you. There are pros and cons of each type of care and just because your family or friends chose a certain option, doesn’t mean it will be the right fit for you.

Anyhow back to birth preparation…

I realised in the last 2 months of my pregnancy that I was still holding on to fear around interventions in birth. I didn’t want to be upset or disappointed if I ended up having anything other than a straight-forward vaginal birth so I got to work on letting go of my fears and beliefs around birth.

I started listening to real life birth stories, as opposed to just people discussing what birth “should” look like.

I started asking more women around me to describe their birth experiences.

I started to develop a more well-rounded approach to what birth looks like in this day and age, rather than what it should look like if everything were to go according to natures plan.

I now feel so much more comfortable with all possible birth outcomes provided baby is healthy and I’m healthy.

More on birth prep…

I have also been using the Epi-No to help prepare my perineum for birth.

The Epi-No is a balloon type device which you insert into the vagina and inflate to help stretch the perineum.

The theory is that by stretching the perineum in the last 3 weeks of pregnancy it can help you to mentally prepare for the sensation of the “ring of fire” when pushing your baby out.

It is also thought to reduce the risk of perineal tearing.

Now to my knowledge the jury is still out as to whether the Epi-No is effective just yet, however my obstetrician reported that anecdotally he believes they make a big difference with keeping perineums intact.

Personally I would rather try everything I can to have great birth outcomes then to wonder “what if?”.

Hot tip: Inflating a balloon in your vagina every night for 3 weeks is not as much fun as it may sound!

Birth plan?

I don’t really believe in making rigid birth plans as I think it sets women up to fail and be disappointed.

You can never predict exactly how a birth is going to go.

Instead I believe in birth guidelines and birth principles.

I am planning on using the TENS machine for pain relief and to remain active throughout stage 1 of labour.

I imagine I will also employ breathing and mindfulness techniques but other than that I am remaining flexible and open-minded!

Hot tip: Women aren’t joking when they say that sometimes it can be hard to tell if your waters have actually broken or whether you’ve just pee’d yourself!

Parenting preparation

Now I know that you can never prepare exactly for parenting and that no textbook is going to be perfect for a highly unique and individual baby BUT I have found reading and preparing is great for setting the foundation for parenting and helping us to work out how we want to parent.

So many of my patients tell me that they spent so much time focusing on the labour and birth but then were shell-shocked when they had a newborn.

I am choosing to take the advice of these wise women and start to think about the “afterwards”.

What to expect with a newborn. What is normal. What is not normal.

I read the other day that it is unlikely your child will “sleep-through” until at least 6 months of age! How great is it to know this?! Otherwise we hear stories of other women’s babies who sleep through at 6 weeks and we start wondering why our children are so troublesome!

Two books I’ve loved so far have been:

-Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp

-The Whole Brain Child by Dan Siegel

The pregnant female body never ceases to amaze me!

Pre-baby bucket list

With the impending arrival of a new baby and a total change to our lifestyle and routine, I have tried to make the most of the activities that might be hard to do post-baby.

Since finishing work I have been ticking off a bucket list and I am pleased to say I have completed it!

On my list was

  • Watch a movie at the cinemas
  • Read a book
  • Have a pedicure
  • Get a massage
  • Finalise any work/life admin/paperwork
  • Make the most of sleep-ins

I posed this idea to my beautiful Physio Laura followers and they gave me some great ideas… here are some more if you’re interested!

  • Enjoy HOT cups of tea and coffee
  • Enjoy a night out with your partner
  • Make the most of playing your favourite music loudly in the car
  • Enjoy lonngggg showers

It’s the simple things in life hey!

Final hot tips for the third trimester:

  • Just laugh (don’t slap!) when people ask you for the millionth time if you’re sure you’re not having twins
  • Don’t be surprised if you have a gigantic diva meltdown because your husband asked you if you want an omelette for breakfast
  • Getting dressed whilst pregnant is actually really easy because there is often only 5 things in your wardrobe that actually fit anymore (yes… including maternity wear!)
  • Every single activity will make you feel puffed out
  • Your belly is a fabulous cup holder
  • You may occasionally feel like you are being stabbed in the vagina as your baby tries to get snug in your pelvis
  • Even if you can’t be bothered exercising anymore, keep doing your pelvic floor exercises! Daily!

I am currently finishing this blog whilst staring at the beach views we have from our apartment and soaking up these last few days/weeks before life becomes even more magical.

I can’t wait to meet you little bubba and find out who you are.

Stay tuned for the too much information, over-sharing, detailed birth blog!

xo Physio Laura

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