**If you missed my first two Dear New Mommy letters, you can find them here and here. **
Dear New Mommy,
You've made it to the home-stretch, so to speak. You survived the fatigue and nausea of the first trimester and the honeymoon period of the second trimester is now a distant memory too...
The sight of your toes may also be a memory. Or maybe not. Your belly button may have popped like a turkey timer (though this in no way means your baby is fully cooked yet!) or it may remain a nice, neat innie. Have you sensed a trend yet in what I've been telling you? Every single pregnancy is unique. If you can't tie your own shoes anymore? No worries. Wear slip-ons for a few months. Maybe you can still polish your own toenails? Enjoy it! I painted mine up with leopard spots a week before giving birth to my son (at 41 weeks). You just never know.
You will likely have some new aches and pains to deal with as these months move on. Your back will feel the strain sometimes and you may notice your ankles getting swollen. You will also likely start to feel a bit more tired again. Rest when you can and change positions often. If your job has you standing on your feet for eight hours straight, try to find some pockets of time when you can sit. Also try to find some times when you can WALK. Walking is easier on your back than standing. Don't assume that lying down is always the best medicine for what ails you. A little movement is STILL good for you, even as your belly expands...
Whoa- what was THAT??? Did you just feel a contraction??? You very well may have, but it was likely a Braxton-Hicks contraction. These can be pesky and, occasionally, painful things. Changing positions frequently will help. So will staying hydrated. Drink, drink, drink that water. Flavor it up or go for the fizzy variety if you have to, but drink that water. Having a "water accountability" buddy is super helpful. If you don't have one of those? Set a timer for every half hour or so and down a glass of water.
Between drinking all that water and carrying an ever-growing life inside of you, you may find that your appetite just isn't the same. Ladies who ate like truckers through their second trimesters may find they suddenly pick at their meals. That's normal. You just don't have the ROOM in there for as much food anymore. And that's fine. And not harmful to the baby. Whatever you do, don't cut out water to make room for food. Aim for several small, nutritionally dense meals throughout your day and don't lose sleep over it. Your doctor will let you know if he is concerned, but it is rare for a small weight gain to be cause for concern in the third trimester...
But back to those contractions for a minute. It can be really hard to tell sometimes if what you're experiencing is just "practice" contractions (those Braxton-Hicks I mentioned) or the real deal. We been-there-done-that mommies will all tell you the same thing- "you'll know when it's the real deal". And it's true. You will. The trouble is this-- right now, you don't know how you'll know. It's okay. You may well call your doctor or show up at the hospital for a false alarm or two. Tons of women do. The medical people are all used to it. No harm done. But, trust me, once you've actually been in labor? You'll know why we say what we say. You'll see that you do, in fact, know when it's the real thing.
Stop worrying about your water breaking. Seriously. Do not envision a sudden gush at the grocery store or soaking your work pants at the office. The reality is that only 1 in 10 women has her water break before she's in very active labor. Of that 10%, it only makes sense that a good bit of time it happens at home. The likelihood of having a huge public display is rather slim. Here's what else you should remember-- everyone can tell you're pregnant by now. If your water breaks, they'll want to help you. There's no shame in it.
If you are one of the ten percent whose water breaks spontaneously, you should be aware of this- they may ask you at the hospital if you're sure you didn't just "wet yourself". Don't be shocked by this. Also don't be surprised if you find yourself suddenly questioning yourself and wondering, "Oh, dear heavens, what if I did just wet myself? What if I came to the hospital because I wet my pants??" It's all good. They'll test the fluid either way. Urine is acidic. Amniotic fluid is basic. The litmus paper will tell the tale. If it's blue? You've earned yourself a ticket to get checked in.
Here's some awesome news for you- if your baby arrives at any time from this point on, the odds are very much in her favor. Babies born at 28 weeks and beyond tend to do quite well. That is not to say anyone wants to see that baby of yours before she's completely ready to be born. But it's a comfort to know that you've made it past the riskiest stretch..
Your doctor's appointments are getting interesting- and frequent- now! You probably go every week or at least every two weeks. As you move into the last month, your doctor or midwife may want to "check you". This is not particularly painful or particularly dangerous. It's also not particularly helpful. It can seem really interesting at the time but the simple fact is- especially with your first baby- you can walk around 90% effaced and 3 cm dilated for a good month or so... ask me how I know. Do what you want with that one. Just don't go getting all excited and thinking that a baby is right around the corner the moment your cervix starts to do anything. It can take your body a little while to get all set and ready. It'll get there. Knowing how close or how far you are won't change things but, if you enjoy the knowing, then go for it.
The big day is getting SO close now! Congrats to you! This last month will feel very long, most likely, and it won't help that everyone else will talk about how your pregnancy has "flown by!"
Pretty soon, I'll write to you all about your due date... and maybe even beyond.
Take good care of yourself, New Mommy. You're doing great. You're doing God's work, growing this precious new life inside of you, and that's a blessing to be sure. Enjoy all those kicks and somersaults-- there is little in this world as joyful as that feeling.
Wishing you all the best,
Your been-there-done-that Mommy friend,