Tips for Third Trimester from a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist

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naked pregnant woman overlooking ocean

I’m Jen, a pelvic floor physical therapist, and as I write this I am 7 weeks postpartum. I am finally getting the chance to look back on my third trimester experience and share some thoughts. I’m going to share a bit about what I loved, what I disliked, what I think helped, and my thoughts during weeks 40 and 41. I share all this in the hope of encouraging you to have a wonderful third trimester.

What I Loved About the Third Trimester:

  • Watching my belly grow. I was amazed at what my body was capable of.
  • Feeling the baby move – kick, punch, wiggle, dance and hiccup. It was weird and awesome at the same time. 
  • My ability to stay active. As an able-bodied woman who loves being active and outdoors, I was very thankful to still go on hikes and daily walks with my big belly bump without too much difficulty. 

What I Wasn’t Fond of in the Third Trimester:

  • Heartburn… ugh. I got this a lot and it seemed pretty unpredictable. Chewing gum and drinking lots of water helped me some.
  • Shortness of breath and slower walking speed.
  • Fatigue and tiredness. Lots of naps and early bedtimes. I was thankful lots of sleep was an option for me!
  • Sleeping positions got uncomfortable even with all the pillows for support. I missed being able to lie on my stomach.
  • Sciatica – (ie. back pain that would radiate down my legs) I only had a few brief experiences of this. Luckily I was able to self-treat and have a physical therapist coworker help me out. I used stretching, manual trigger point release with a ball and my hand, foam rolling and dry needling.

THINGS THAT HELPED ME ALONG THE WAY:

Being Proactive to Reduce Swelling

  • Compression socks. I wore Sockwell’s during my work days or days I was going to be on my feet and more active. 
  • Legs up the wall, legs elevated and ankle pumps.
  • Walking! 

Moving My Body in Ways That Felt Good

  • Cat/cow, Child’s pose and sitting on a physio ball doing pelvic tilts and circles.
  • I continued to walk a lot, usually still hitting 10,000+ steps a day as long as it felt good. This was usually walks outdoors, walks with my pups and walks with friends which equated to some mental self care too! 

Staying Hydrated

  • 8+ cups of water a day felt good to me.

Staying Positive

  • I listened to a pregnancy and birth affirmation CD while driving.
  • I journaled on what I envisioned and hoped for my labor and birth experience while still remaining open and calm about childbirth being variable. 

Pelvic Floor Exercises

  • I continued to do pelvic floor exercises (kegels, but more than that…) with breathing, in isolated positions, with movements and all sorts of variety.
  • I focused on contraction, relaxation, and lengthening with breathing to prepare for labor and pushing. **If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, check out my pelvic floor physical therapy book series, Your Best Pregnancy Ever or schedule an online session via the button below.

Closing Thoughts

If you find yourself nearing your due date and are feeling antsy, here were my thoughts during that time…

40 Weeks Pregnant

This was a time of gratitude and reflection. “I’m grateful… For the Big Lake, the Gitche Gumee, that called us to Chequamegon Bay. For the friends and healers that have shown me so many possibilities exist for pregnancy and birth. For the way I have felt confident in making this pregnancy journey my own: a mix of research, intuition and the support of others, especially my amazing husband. For allowing nature to teach me so much during this time: patience, presence, transitions, being open and flexible. I’m excited for what will come next. I’m excited to meet our little one. But today I’m grateful for what this experience has been so far.”

41 Weeks Pregnant

I’ve told many friends and clients over the years the stats, as well as, some version of the saying ‘baby will come when baby is ready.’ A ‘due date’ is simply an estimate of 40 weeks gestation, not necessarily when baby is expected to arrive. First time pregnant people average 41 weeks + 1-4 days before they go into labor naturally. Meaning the other half will go beyond that. Despite my knowledge, as well as, trust in my body and in my baby, there are moments in these last days of pregnancy that are challenging me physically and emotionally. But with challenge comes growth and so I lean into it. My midwives at the Ashland Birth Center are amazing and they have been a tremendous help to my mental health throughout this pregnancy. This week, they sent me a beautiful article describing this ‘place of in between’ and it’s truly been a help for me to read these words and continue to accept this unknown. Below is an excerpt.

“The last days of pregnancy — sometimes stretching to agonizing weeks — are a distinct place, time, event, stage. It is a time of in between. Neither here nor there. Your old self and your new self, balanced on the edge of a pregnancy. One foot in your old world, one foot in a new world.”

I made it through the 3rd trimester. If you enjoyed this, please check out my birth story (at home and outdoors with midwives!). If you’re pregnant and looking for ways to decrease or prevent pain (back, hips, pelvis, pubic bones, etc.), leakage, pelvic heaviness or have other questions about pregnancy and postpartum, reach out to us for an online consult.

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Are you currently pregnant or planning to conceive? If so, make sure to download my FREE resource — How to Prepare Your Pelvic Floor & Core for Childbirth + 8 Must-Dos for C-Section and Vaginal Deliveries.
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Jen Torborg, PT, DPT, CMTPT, is a pelvic floor physical therapist and author of three Amazon bestselling books: Your Best Pregnancy Ever, Your Best Body after Baby, and Your Pelvic Health. Jen treats clients in Ashland and Bayfield, Wisconsin through Orthopedic & Spine Therapy.

 

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