"4th trimester" survival tips.

12:05 PM

   We've all heard pregnancy tips for combating morning sickness and fatigue in that trying 1st trimester,  fashion tips for "dressing the bump" in that glorious 2nd trimester, and tips on nesting and preparing for baby in that stretching 3rd trimester, but where's all the advice for surviving the 4th trimester?!  For some of us it's a very real thing.

   I have now gone overdue with all of my babies, Jocelyn being "barely overdue" at 3 days over, Charlotte was induced at 7 days over, William coming on his own on the morning of the 11th day, and currently 3 days over with baby #4.  So needless to say, I was fully intending to go overdue with this one as well, and I think that has helped me, overall.  So far, I have definitely felt the best this time, mentally and emotionally. Not to say that it isn't still hard, but it's been better than my others.

   First of all, if you haven't experienced it, you truly can't understand, so please don't try.  I'm sure it kind of seems like what's the big deal? Baby is coming soon and so that should be exciting and glorious, and you're almost done, and what's the whining about.  But when you begin to stretch further and further into that overdue zone, you start to worry about meconium and complications and HUGE babies, and being induced, and it feels like it starts to creep out of your control.  Not to mention the fact that you feel completely alone and unseen and your body is so DONE it isn't even funny anymore.  Maternity clothes are barely cutting it anymore, your weight just keeps creeping up, and let's be honest, your body was done at 35 weeks, much less 41 or 42.  And so it is no walk in the park.  But neither is infertility!  Or miscarriage! Or preemie babies who need intensive care!  So who's complaining.

   Thankfully, I've been able to have all of my babies naturally and without interventions, except for being induced with Charlotte. I am so grateful for how my births have gone, and I have had very positive experiences with the two that were in a hospital.  Whenever I hear extreme anti-hospital propaganda I always wonder why the person seems so angry and afraid of hospitals.  In my experience, if you know what you want and you voice your decisions, they will respect that and let you have the birth experience you want.  I had a water birth with a midwife in a hospital with William, and everyone was so amazing!  It was literally a home birth away from home.  And with room service. :)

   This time around, we are planning a home birth, and I am excited, although to be honest, it doesn't really feel any different to me than preparing for my other births.  For my other births, I walked/moved all over the birthing room, got into the water, wore what I felt like wearing, dimmed the lights, played music, and birthed naturally, assisted by midwives.  So really, this home birth is just a change in location, and that's about it.

  But back to the 4th trimester.  I feel like I have gone about it in a few different ways, and I am FINALLY learning by my 4th pregnancy, what works and what doesn't.  So here's what DOESN'T WORK:

1. Worrying.  Worrying about when baby will come.  Will it come when your mother-in-law has to help at that wedding or when your husband is stuck in traffic far away or when you're 3 hours away from home up in the mountains with no cell phone service? (which we were over William's due date) It just doesn't really help.  Or matter.  It really honestly seems like whenever and wherever baby decides to come (even in the car!!) things work out ok.

2.  Trying to "get the baby out".  I know that EVERYONE thinks they have things that help start labor, and maybe some of them are true.  Maybe.  Or maybe you just happened to eat spicy food the night that baby was going to come out anyway.  Or maybe you just happened to go on a long walk hours before baby was going to come anyway, and baby would've come if you had spent that time on the couch, too.  Trust me, I have heard it all, and I think I've tried it all too.  Baby comes when baby wants to come.  *note* I haven't tried castor oil before.  I know some people swear by this, but I am concerned about causing more pain and discomfort in labor than there already is, (who needs that???) and causing meconium for the baby.  That's why I haven't tried it.

3.  Sitting around and waiting.  Everyone is different and so if you choose to wait it out that last week or two post-due, that is fine!  But it doesn't work for me at all.  I just get anxious and discouraged and grumpy.  I need to keep moving, keep doing life, keep busy.  And guess what?  Baby will come.

And so now that we know what DOESN'T work, here's some things that do work well for me:

1.  Keep that calendar full.  I realize that some people want to schedule their haircut or pedicure or massage for the weeks BEFORE baby so that they're prepared and ready.  It totally makes sense.  But if you already know you tend to go overdue with your babies like me, than save that stuff for the 41st week!  It makes a huge difference.  I have had such a fun, full week planned, I almost didn't notice my due date was 3 days ago.  ALMOST. :p

2.  Specifically do something/plan something fun for your actual due date.  If you have to cancel it, great! And if not, you have something to look forward to.  I have spent my due dates at a Christmas play, baseball game, family reunion at Drift Creek camp, and getting a pedicure.  It makes for a fun memory instead of just remembering how depressed and discouraged you were sitting at home, huge and pregnant.

3. Tackle that before-baby list.  For me, extra motivation for nesting and preparing for baby always builds in that 41st/42nd week!  Probably because I know that now, for sure, baby's arrival is imminent.  And so keep plugging away at it.  There are always freezer meals to be made or something to clean or organize.  It keeps you busy and feeling productive, and that is a GOOD THING.

4.  Relax.  This may seem in stark contrast to my last suggestion, but seriously, pace yourself. If you aren't feeling good, don't make yourself do much at all! Or if you have energy in the morning,  cross something off that to-do list, and then sit down all afternoon with a magazine and an iced coffee. (If you don't have a house full of other busy little kids, that is) :p  Because seriously, when in your entire life are you going to deserve it more??!  Soak it up.  Try and actually enjoy it.  Read those books you've been wanting to get to.  Catch up on that show on Netflix.  I think baby senses when things are more peaceful and relaxed and "safe" to make their appearance, and that spurs on labor a lot quicker than frantic desperation and extreme activity trying to MAKE baby come.  But that's just my humble opinion.

So now I'd love to hear from you!  What have some of your pregnancy experiences been, and if you've gone overdue, how have you passed the time and battled discouragement?  Let me know in a comment or email, I love, love hearing from you!

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