Now that I’m a few months away from pregnancy, I realize that the specific tools I used throughout each trimester were key to feeling and looking great until the end. I shared with you my must-haves for a healthy holistic 1st trimester and 2nd trimester, both of which set the stage for the final stretch, the 3rd trimester and subsequent delivery. Keeping yourself comfortable, energized, toned, and preparing your body for birth are the name of the game in the third trimester. These holistic tools, resources and remedies worked wonders for me, and I hope they help you feel awesome as well!
1. Organic Dates
A study in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that women who ate 6 dates a day throughout their third trimester experienced shorter labor and were more dilated upon arrival at the hospital. Dates have a compound that mimics oxytocin in the body, which is the hormone that promotes contractions and labor. This, of course, isn’t foolproof (as you may have read in my birth story, my labor did not progress as it should have, and I diligently ate dates daily), but the numbers don’t lie — this works for more women than not! Make sure to get organic, unsulphured dates — your local farmer’s market is a great bet! I found mejool dates to be way too sweet, so I enjoyed the deglet door variety.
Red raspberry leaf tea is the most important thing you can drink during your third trimester (other than water, of course!). It strengthens and tones uterine muscles and the pelvic floor in preparation for labor, and studies show that women who drink it regularly in pregnancy experience shorter second stage of labor than women who don’t! Plus, it’s loaded with B vitamins and crucial minerals. Drink at least 2-3 cups a day throughout your whole third trimester. If you need to sweeten it, use stevia to avoid getting too much sugar in your bloodstream.
3. Natural hemorrhoid remedies
Probably the least glamorous part of the third trimester is hemorrhoids. Listen ladies, they happen. Most of us get them. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. But slathering parabens and other toxic ingredients on your delicate bum is something to be ashamed of, especially in pregnancy! These three natural remedies work great and won’t expose you, and your precious little bun, to toxic chemicals: Thayer’s Witch Hazel Pads cool and clean and are a safer alternative to Tucks; Weleda Calendula Diaper Creme soothes and shrinks; and Chinese Musk Ointment relieves pain, itching, and discomfort — both are much better options than Preparation H.
Perineal massage is a gentle way to prepare your perineum for labor and reduce the incidence of tearing or necessitating an episiotomy. This formula softens and elasticizes the perineum with almond oil and wheat germ, which is rich in vitamin E. It’s recommended to start performing perineal massage daily from the 34th week of pregnancy to the end. I’ll be the first to admit it’s not the most pleasant sensation at first, but the more you do it, the more the tissue softens and the less uncomfortable it is. It makes a pretty big difference in the discomfort of pushing out your baby as well!
This beauty is definitely a late pregnancy must-have. It serves a few purposes. First, sitting can become really uncomfortable in late pregnancy — I replaced my desk chair with an exercise ball that made a huge difference in my comfort. Second, this puppy is awesome for birth preparation and exercise in pregnancy. Check out these great ball workouts: 1, 2, and 3. Lastly, the exercise ball is awesome for labor. Bouncing, stretching, squatting.. this is an amazing tool for an unmedicated birth.
6. Borage Oil
This is a midwifery and holistic birth secret that really delivers. Borage oil, taken both internally and orally in the weeks leading up to birth, serves to “ripen” the cervix, to prepare it for birth. Borage oil contains gamma linoleic acid, a fatty acid which the body converts to prostaglandins, which serve to shorten and soften the cervix, making labor shorter and less painful. The standard dosage is 500mg 1-2 times a day, though I took 1000 mg orally in the morning, and 1000 mg internally (vaginally) at night (wear a panty liner to prevent leakage). An awesome bonus is the great effect that GLA has on the skin, really solidifying that pregnancy glow ; )
7. Snazzy Maxi Dresses (like this one)
Feeling beautiful and sexy can definitely be a challenge when you’re carrying a rapidly growing human and none of your cute clothes fit. I basically lived in form-fitting elastic waisted mini skirts, flown tank tops and t’s, and maxi dresses in my third trimester, and they really did help me to feel great about how I looked! I definitely recommend investing in some versatile and beautiful maxi dresses that will serve you during your third trimester, and well into the postpartum period as your body gradually returns to it’s previous shape (more on how to make that happen coming soon in an upcoming post!). ASOS Maternity has some beautiful dresses to choose from, but I also picked up several non-maternity maxi’s in a stretchy fabric that I knew would last me well beyond my pregnancy. It felt great to embrace my curves and growing belly, and they are serving as awesome transitional wardrobe staples now that I’ve had my little bundle.
8. Natural Birthing Books: Hypnobirthing and Childbirth Without Fear
These two books are invaluable companions in feeling more confident, prepared, and free of fear for your birthing experience. Childbirth Without Fear is a classic book that helps to dispel the fear and insecurity that most women tend to feel around childbirth. Fear and anxiety have actually been shown to prolong labor and increase pain, while trusting in your body and the miraculous process of childbirth helps you to relax into your labor, promoting more rapid dilation and a more empowered experience. For the actual birthing technique, I chose hypnobirthing, and recommend it to all moms looking for a natural, relaxed childbirth experience. Basically, hypnobirthing teaches you deep relaxation and breathing methods that help you get into a super relaxed hypnotic state during childbirth to help manage pain. The book details all the specifics and methods of promoting a relaxed birth, but is also an awesome educational text on the stages of labor, planning your birth, and more. I absolutely loved it. Even though we ended up needing to transfer to a hospital for a medicalized birth after 18 hours of natural laboring (check out our birth story here), using the hypnobirthing techniques during those 18 hours was a life saver.
Did I miss anything?? Natural mamas, what are your must-haves for a healthy, holistic third trimester? Share in the comments!