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I hope you enjoy this 3rd trimester recap! I’m sharing the big moments, symptoms, lessons-learned, how my fitness plan kept evolving, what I’m eating, what I’m not eating, and a few pieces of the best + not-best advice I’ve received.
My 3rd Trimester Recap
Marked by week 27 to week 40 (and counting) of my pregnancy.
The Important Dates
Honestly, there were far fewer key dates in this trimester! These last couple months were marked by feeling the baby move more than ever (my favorite), doctors appointments that became weekly (in the last month), and a body that keeps making room for a growing girl.
How My Body is Changing
The photos in this post were taken towards the beginning of my 3rd trimester. Austin and I were visiting College Station, TX (where we have family and a family Texas A&M “football” home). We scheduled a family + maternity photo session with the wonderfully talented Heather of Writ Studio! If you’re ever in the area and looking for a wonderful photographer, I highly recommend scheduling with her.
This 3rd trimester, believe it or not, may be my favorite. YES I’m at my largest with a growing, healthy (praise) baby girl, but gosh darn it I LOVE feeling her move all day long. The start of this trimester was marked by (what seemed like) a rapidly growing belly. In fact, I vividly remember when I was at about 32 weeks …I was sitting at my parents’ table for Sunday Family Dinner and wide-eye’d remarked, “will she continue to grow at this rate for 2 more months?” I just couldn’t imagine my belly getting any bigger. I’m truly happy for her to take all the room she needs, of course. It just didn’t seem possible for me to get any bigger (ha!). Now that those two months have passed, I can say that *my* growth did slow down a bit, but she kept on with her healthy pace of staying on developmental track. Now here we are at the near end together!
Overall, my body changes in this 3rd trimester resulted in a larger frame (obviously), with some minor discomforts (I’ll go over those next), but a knowledge that the end is near and that I’d endure it all (+ SO MUCH more) for this little nugget.
Before I get into the weeds of what I experienced this trimester, I just want to go on record and say that I’ve been thoroughly vetted by my team of trusted medical professionals and all possible more-than-meets-the-eye conditions have been ruled out. Dr. Google is a scary place that, with a little digging, can quickly offer up worst-case-scenarios. I abided by the practice of “if in doubt, call the doctor and take a deep breath” philosophy. Short story is all was perfectly well.
SO, here are some of what I’ve experienced this trimester:
- Lower Back Pain – this one pops up if I’ve been on my feet and moving around for a little longer than I know best (a recurring theme, you’ll see below). For example, if I volunteer to cook Christmas Eve Dinner (happened), and spend approximately 6 hours on my feet chopping, stirring, setting the table, and chasing nieces + nephews (happened), I’ll end the day with some lower back pain. The pain isn’t acute, but rather a dull ache mostly brought on by the extra strain it takes to hold my front-loaded body upright.
- Swelling – this one surprised me a bit and I’ve heard that it can vary from pregnancy to pregnancy. My legs, ankles, feet, and face all slowly started to take on a bit of swelling. It’s only noticeable in my face when I look at photos (and it’s really only been towards the very end). My feet, ankles, and lower legs are more consistently swollen, but they’re made MUCH worse if (like above) I’m on my feet for too long. Now at 40 weeks while writing this, I’ve given up on most of my socks and shoes because they’re just too tight and uncomfortable. I’m living in Ugg boots, slippers, and (if I need them) my Hunter Rain Boots (which used to once rattle around my calves, but now fit pretty snug). Again, I’ve been assured that my version of swelling is perfectly fine and healthy. If you’re concerned, please ask your doctor.
- Itchy Skin – oh the itchy belly! Now, part of this is dry winter skin, part of it is that my skin is stretching now more than ever, and part of it may be related to a reaction I had to a random lotion …but goodness, that itch felt like it wouldn’t quit. I’m happy to say that I’m through the woods on the itchiest part once I realized that a lotion I started using may have contributed to the problem.
- Stretch Marks – note: I FULLY expected stretch marks with this pregnancy because I know my body is prone to them. I have stretch marks on my hips from when I gained weight in college, for example. That being said, my body is currently (at 40 weeks) new stretch mark-free. This truly surprises me. Though it’s not a symptom I’m experiencing, I wanted to list it out in case any are curious. What have I been doing that may have had an impact? Just two things: I’ve kept my belly very well moisturized (applying nightly and/or after a shower) with the Primally Pure Body Butter (the almond + vanilla scent, to be specific) AND I’ve been adding 1-2 scoops of skin/ligament healing collagen peptides to my one cup of coffee every morning. Note that collagen peptides (which you can read more about on my blog HERE) *are* a supplement and you should check with your baby professionals (doctor, midwife, etc.) to get their thoughts on whether it’s a healthy choice for you. When it comes to stretch marks, there’s no real way to know if you will or will not get them. Just sharing my experience here!
- Heartburn – next to headaches, this is the one symptom I’d be tempted to punch in the face. My little girl is hanging out pretty high up in my belly and, when she’s especially high, I’m also especially prone to heartburn. It’s less an issue of chemistry (I’ve never suffered from heartburn in my life) and more an issue of just not enough space. I’m also slightly more prone to the uncomfortable burn in my lower throat when I’m in a reclined position. Out of desperation, I did purchase THIS heartburn tea and THESE menthol lozenges. They may have helped to take the edge off of the heartburn a bit, but it was minor. The only thing that really helped was the baby shifting her position. Note: I didn’t suffer from heartburn much. Maybe 1 out of every 10 days …it was just incredibly awful on those days.
- Frequent Urination – this one was most definitely expected! All it really means is that the baby is larger and pushing on my bladder, making me have to use the restroom more often than before. It’s not a big deal, except I do have to get up in the middle of the night now (which I didn’t ever do before).
- Headaches – I’m putting this on here to report that these are even fewer and more far between than in my 2nd trimester! It likely has something to do with the fact that there’s more of the hormone relaxin floating around in my bodying, making my usual tension headaches less likely.
- Painful Feet – related to the too-much standing and swelling, the night of or day after I’ve been walking around a little too much end up feeling like the bottom of my feet are bruised.
- Difficulty Sleeping – this is due mostly to two things: having to go to the bathroom (an easy fix) and the baby waking me up (which isn’t upsetting at all). I’ve found that if I roll over during the night (which requires some effort), the baby starts to wiggle herself back into a comfortable position, too. Sometimes she wakes me up after I haven’t moved at all and we have ourselves a sweet little middle-of-the-night cuddle (where I just pat my belly).
- Still Lots of Energy – I’m thrilled to report that my energy levels are still nice and high! The only thing that really keeps me down is the swelling.
- Sweaty – sorry for the overshare, but I’d want to know! In pregnancy, most women retain a lot more water than usual. Then, in the days/weeks after we deliver, we actually wind up sweating out a lot of this excess water. Maybe my body is just getting a head start, but goodness my hands and feet are much sweatier than usual. I should also note that this is happened during the dead of winter, in case you’re wondering.
State of Emotions
- Motivated – I think I’m more motivated to do great things now than ever before in my life. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have always done my *best* …but that pure, undiluted motivation (or joy-like drive) to do REALLY GREAT WORK is pushing me more than routine, more than deadlines, and more than expectation. I’m feeling pulled to build a better business, be a better mentor, build a more welcoming home, really love on those important, and take extremely great care of myself. Earlier in my life, spurts like this would end in burnout …but this one is different. It feels like I’m settling into a divinely-carved grove. This is right. This family, this work, this life, it’s all exactly perfect and it’s time to swing for the fences.
- At Ease – this one surprises me a little, but in my heart of hearts, I’m truly (faithfully) at ease. We’re about to learn a LOT and experience a major life change …and I have no worries or anxieties about it at all. Again, by divine intervention, my heart is completely calm and my mind clear. I’m so ready for whatever is coming – the good, the tough, and the great.
- Thankful – I’m literally brought to tears even writing this right now. I’m so thankful for this incredible little soul we get to welcome to the world, thankful for the most amazing husband/best friend to partner with in this adventure, thankful for phenomenal parents (on both our sides) who can’t wait to help be a part of this little girl’s life, and so thankful for an easy, healthy journey for both baby and myself. I’m also incredibly thankful for YOU! Thank you for your prayers and well-wishes. They truly mean a lot. None of this is a given and is most definitely not taken for granted.
Baby Decisions (so far)
Aside from the baby decisions I shared in my 1st trimester and 2nd trimester updates, I shared the BIGGEST list of baby decisions ever via My Baby Registry! Check that post out for an extensive list of all the gadgets, gizmos, clothing, feeding, health, and other goodies (for mom even) that we sourced.
We have made a few other decisions as they pertain to our “birth wishes,” but I’m going to save those for another time (possibly baby girl’s birth story). We’ve made several right-for-us decisions, but I don’t quite feel ready to step into the outspoken public advocate role on many of the topics. I need a little more personal experience combined with more (there’s never enough) research, then I’ll slowly start to share some thoughts on the decisions we’ve made as they relate to the birth and early parenthood experience.
- Still lots of fruit! Though pomegranates reigned supreme in my 2nd trimester, I’ve moved onto pears, apples, and all the citrus in this one.
- Smoked oysters! Believe it or not, but I love them and the added health benefits (zinc and selenium, to name a few) are a bonus.
- Liver! This meatloaf recipe and this meatball recipe have been the two ways I’ve incorporated the incredible superfood (great source of Vitamin A) into my diet.
- Lots of coconut water! As my blood volume continued to increase, so did my need for the electrolytes potassium and sodium. High-quality coconut water is a great source of potassium and, with a pinch of salt, becomes a great electrolyte-replenishing drink. I downed about 32 ounces a week!
- Plenty of leafy greens! My favorite way to enjoy leafy greens is via my lemony kale recipe. Though you can find the recipe in my book, it’s a simple assembly of kale (curly or dino, doesn’t matter) lightly sautéed in cooking fat (butter is my favorite) until it’s wilted down. Sprinkle with sea salt and fresh lemon juice and enjoy.
- Dates! In the last month especially, I’ve been pretty diligent about getting in 5 to 6 dates a day (thanks to a tip by Mama Natural, Genevieve Howland). A study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology drew a correlation between date consumption and (essentially) smoother labors. I love dates, so bring it on! I’ve been enjoying them with a small glob of peanut butter (works better for me than almond butter), a drizzle of honey, and sprinkle of sea salt.
- I’ve maintained my daily collagen peptides diligence, too.
- Alcohol – again, I still don’t miss it.
- Excessive caffeine – I still have 1 cup of regular coffee a day and the occasional decaf cappuccino.
- Potentially questionable proteins – like sushi in a landlocked city or too-pink burgers at restaurants.
- High-mercury foods – think shark, swordfish, or an excessive amount of tuna.
- Gluten-containing foods – migraines? NO THANK YOU.
- Unhealthy fats – though vegetable oils (also trans fats) have been on my no-no list for YEARS, they’re near unavoidable if we eat out. In the past, it was a concession that I’d make in the name of balance …but I’ve found that with this pregnancy, these vegetable (or seed or other rancid) oils are often tied to my symptom of heartburn. This tiny observation alone has had me not eating out nearly as much in this trimester. If you’re looking for a little guidance, I’m avoiding fats like vegetable oil, canola oil, and other seed oils in exchange for pure olive oil, grass-fed butter, ghee, coconut oil, and avocado oil.
I need to divide my fitness gameplane up into to main chunks: the beginning and the end of this trimester.
At the beginning of the 3rd trimester, I did workout pretty regularly following the guidelines that I talked about in my 2nd trimester recap. Remember to check out episode #126 and #139 of my podcast where I interviewed Brianna Battles.
At the end of the trimester, I started to slow down a lot. I’m an extremely active person by nature (lots of walking and moving throughout the day), but I did dial back my intentional exercises quite a bit. This was for several reasons:
- The swelling and lower back pain worsened with too much activity.
- I couldn’t actually get into my tennis shoes anymore (despite having bought one pair, one size larger).
- I have nothing to prove right now and what’s most important is that I maintain my healthy body for a healthy baby + graceful recovery.
Brianna’s words, “pregnancy is temporary, postpartum is forever” rang so true for me during this phase. What did I prioritize? Simple movement …but not crushing it in a gym. Maybe it will be different for future pregnancies, but for this one, I needed to dial back. This is an individual decision for everyone and I encourage you to embrace it as such. If working out up until the end really WORKS for you (like it does for some mamas), go for it! Or, if getting a sweat on causes you to overextend and experience undue pain, consider fully embracing the “I can pick this up again when my body has fully recovered.” Either way is OKAY and it’s a decision only you can make.
Of course there were several along the way, but my mind goes to the most recent. As baby girl continues to grow, we continue to feel her movements more and more. I can actually make out her little feet, in fact. The other night, while we were falling sleep, she was having a P-A-R-T-Y in my belly. I asked my husband if he wanted to feel her sweet little feet and we both fell asleep, hands on my belly, feeling her dance. I woke up well over an hour later in the same position and it was just so, so special. I never ever want to forget that.
Least-Favorite Part of the Trimester
Outgrowing maternity clothes (mostly, the pants). At this very last stage of the pregnancy, I want baby girl to have as much room as possible to keep moving down. Unfortunately, most (almost all) of my maternity pants/leggings are apparently too small as they keep her pushed up high. Though I’m comfortable, I can tell towards the end of the day that she’s higher up. SO, I’ve been living in some oversized (crazy comfy) PJ bottoms from Target and these leggings! I also really don’t want to go buy more maternity clothes right now, so I’m just doing laundry all the time.
Again, I’m 40 weeks pregnant in the middle of winter, so the layers are important. I can absolutely see a full-term Summertime pregnancy being different with Mumu-type dresses on repeat.
Birthing ball – sounds obvious, but it wasn’t to me. In fact, I probably would’ve skipped grabbing one if it weren’t for my physical therapist explaining WHY they’re helpful. In addition to being tremendously helpful at (and just before) your actual labor, the use of a birthing ball has really helped me connect with my pelvic floor.
Again, overshare warning …proceed at your own risk.
You see, I’m one of those people on the opposite end of the pelvic floor spectrum from mainstream concern. Mine (possibly because of years of weight-lifting and “holding” my core tight) is extremely tight. My default is actually to have the pelvic floor muscles engaged, vs. relaxed. I can tighten them easily (and well), but releasing my pelvic floor muscles was not intuitive. I started seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist who worked with me to connect to the muscle group. It was helpful, but the birthing ball made all the difference. I won’t go into more detail here, but if you suspect that you too have an over-engaged pelvic floor, I recommend searching for a physical therapist and get some treatment. This is something you can start on BEFORE pregnancy!
Best Advice Received
Babies come on their birthday. If you’re reading this and you’re at the end of your pregnancy, you’re likely either feeling a little anxious about when your baby will make his/her appearance OR you’re not worried about it at all (this is me), but it seems everyone wants to worry for you. Without really explaining my state of mind, at about 38 weeks I started to receive a LOT of advice on when babies arrive. Most told me not to worry (which was weird, because I wasn’t worried), some told me to start guzzling Red Raspberry Tea (which is great for uterine tone, but they thought I needed an “eject the baby” button), and near everyone wanted to commiserate with “how miserable you must be feeling” (I felt fine). The only piece of advice I received during this time that wasn’t dripping with other’s worries or anxieties was, “babies come on their birthday.” This perspective is perfect and instantly makes the date about her, not me – which is exactly how my heart was aligned. We’re along for the ride! The illusion of control (maybe a first lesson in being a parent) can cause more stress than benefit. I’m sitting back, enjoying the ride, and ready for her to tell me what day on the calendar I’ll put a big heart around for celebrations, kisses, hugs, cakes, and songs from now until forevermore.
Most Unhelpful Advice (let’s go there)
“You’re doing/using ___ for your pregnancy/labor/baby?! It’s so bad, though!” Incredibly strong, anxiety-ridden, and (sometimes even) oppressive opinions are very easy to come by in this world of baby making. I want you to remember something: people who’ve been through this process (or who have made it their business to learn the process) will likely see your highly individualized, personal decisions through THEIR filter, not yours. Don’t take it personally and remember that what’s right for your body, your family, and your baby is your business. Whether it’s the clothing you choose to dress your little one in, the decisions you make on where to give birth, the type of electronics you keep/don’t keep around the house, the parenting methods you employ, or the million other decisions you have to make, remember they’re YOUR decisions to make. FEEL EMPOWERED, not shamed, into choosing what’s right for you (just like they did). Seek input and mentorship from those you trust, stay open to learning at every turn, but don’t ever FEEL BAD because someone else would’ve made a different decision. Again, they’re (almost certainly) seeing your choices through their filter, not yours.
I hope you enjoyed these trimester updates! I do currently plan on sharing baby girl’s birth story, a “what’s in my hospital bag” post, and possibly even a 4th trimester recap post in the future.