When it comes to the third trimester, you are tired and uncomfortable. You’re desperately ready for the baby to make his or her debut. But this final stretch of pregnancy symbolizes a whole lot more than fatigue followed by labor and delivery whilst you continue to work your 9-5.In the third trimester you’ll start experiencing things like big feet, blotchy skin, constipation, incontinence blurry vision, bleeding gums, lacking sleep, more sickness and leaking breasts!Cheers miracle making – we can’t wait, but this is about survival. Working in the third trimester could be tough for moms, but here’s how to not just survive but thrive through your third trimester at work.
The physiology during the third trimester
The third trimester, starting at 28 weeks, comes along with a whole host of new changes in your body. The size and weight of your bundle of joy grows, consequently you’ll be kicked internally, experience lower back pain and/or pelvic pain due to the change in your centre of gravity and have a tiny person using your bladder as a cushion.Accompanying that you’ll experience swelling in your ankles, feet and hands as well as delightful disruptions in your sleep. Emotions run high and stress can elevate as you await, somewhat anxiously, the inevitable upturn of your life.You may feel as if time is running out to get everything ready, you’re not performing at your best at work and that you’re constantly tired.All of this is compounded by the physiological changes listed above and you’re guaranteed to be searching for gaining energy, vitality and maximise the rest of your time in work.It’s time to thrive at work – not just survive the third trimester.
Common obstacles at work in your third trimester
- Clumsiness – That kind from disrupted sleep and leaves you feeling less than your best.
- Difficulty concentrating and getting stuff done – Partly hormonal, partly lack of sleep, partly stress. All of this adds up to your mind jumping all over the place whilst at work and concentration lacking.
- Discomfort at your desk or standing all day – Because as the weight at the front of your body increases it changes the positioning of your pelvis. The front dips forward to accommodate your bundle of joy which consequently puts pressure through your lumbar spine.
- Frequent bathroom breaks – To pee and to try and poop as you experience constipation from a tiny person pressing on your bladder and intestines.
- High stress levels with emotional outbursts – Because hormones and the (potential self imposed) expectations of what you’ve got to finish and do.
- Forgetfulness – Baby brain is real. Combine the stress, the lack of sleep and any would become forgetful.
- Pressure to complete tasks before you leave for maternity – Because you want to leave feeling accomplished and beneficial to your company.
How to survive and thrive
This really comes down to three parts: food, movement and mindfulness. There are several tools which I’ll discuss now.
Whilst you’re growing a person, it’s important to realise that you needn’t ‘eat for two’. Simply adding an extra 300kCal per day is all that’s required.The most important thing to bear in mind is food quality – so enjoying a whole foods, varied diet with plenty of green vegetables, fish, smart carbohydrates and fibre.Washing this down with plenty of water. Having reached the third trimester I know you’ll be conscious of what you’re eating to provide the best for your unborn.You can use the following adjustments to make the best of your nutrition during this time.
- Eat small and frequent meals to allow for the compressed size of your stomach. This will reduce symptoms of heart burn and constipation.
- ‘Drink your food, chew your water’. Chew your food thoroughly so that it is completely combined with saliva beginning the digestion process. A good rule to use is to chew each mouthful 30 times. Chewing your water similarly combines the water with salvia so that it can be more easily absorbed by your body reducing swelling.
- Take time to eat away from your desk, which is something I recommend to everyone. This practice helps to lower stress, become more mindful of your meal and a mental break from your day to reduce stress.
- Drink so much water, which even though it means you’ll be nipping to the loo more frequently aids lymphatic flow. The lymphatic system is throughout the body and carries fluid, removes toxins and when blocked causes swollen joints. By drinking more you are turning the lymphatic system from a swamp like condition to a flowing river. This means your aching swollen joints will reduce.
- Focus on high nutrient dense foods which are high in volume to assist your satiety, concentration and fuel your baby’s growth. Because when you are fuelling right you feel right on the inside and out.
Regardless of whether your pregnant or not sitting OR standing ALL day isn’t good for your health. According to British Journal of Sports Medicine:((British Journal of Sports Medicine: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis))
“Every hour of television watched may reduce our lifespan by an average of 21.8 minutes. Smoking a cigarette, on the other hand, reduces our lifespan by about 11 minutes.”
The pain, clumsiness, foggy headedness, difficulty concentrating and stress of the third trimester can all be combated by movement.These movement tweaks can accompany your day whilst you’re working to thrive through your third trimester at work:
- Practicing breath work which will help in part to release the diaphragm which contributes to postural imbalances and has a further benefit of reducing stress. 3 to 5 times per day hug yourself wrapping your arms around your rib cage, breath into your hands so that your rib cage expands whilst keeping the shoulders down and relaxed. Breathe in for a count of 2 to 3 and out for a count of 4 to 5.
- Request an ergonomically suited chair to give you the utmost support taking pressure off leaning into uncomfortable positions to get closer to your computer screen to concentrate. Not only will this make your working environment more productive but it will also relieve pressure.
- Get up and move frequently either using a smart watch for movement tracking or setting reminders on your phone at least once per hour. Stand whilst you’re on the phone rather than remaining seated. By doing so you will improve circulation to reduce swelling as well as taking pressure off your joints.
- Stretch your hip flexors, the muscle at the front of your thighs. As your posture changes from the new weight distribution in your body, your quads become tight and consequently cause back pain. This is a big key hitter when it comes to removing back pain and boosting recovery post birth.
- Use a foam roller at your desk focusing on rolling your calves, quads, hips and chest. These areas are areas which, due to the postural changes, become very tight throughout pregnancy and beyond. Beginning foam rolling these areas now will reduce tension through your neck, shoulders and lower back whilst assisting drainage through your feet and ankles.
Whatever type of birth plan you’re creating you’ll have spent and be spending time thinking of all you need to for the big day and time after. This energy that you’re putting out is essential for your peace of mind now and moving forwards.As your date comes nearer and closer by the day its more than likely your thoughts are ahead in that future. Being mindful to remain in the present is essential to remaining calm, thriving and surviving your last weeks of pregnancy.Here are four ways to remain mindful and present:
- Ask for help. Designate projects to people if you go into labour early. Reach out to your co-workers and delegate away things that add to your stress levels. Whilst asking for help can sometimes be uncomfortable and stressful, this habit will leave you feeling less stressed and comfortable in your role.
- Don’t overextend yourself as it’s ok to not promise the world. Slow down to get more done. By being realistic, you will not exhaust yourself aiming to reach unrealistic expectations leading up to your due date.
- Take mental health days especially if you already have kids at home. The need to get all the things done and look after the kids at the weekend can mean that you don’t have down days over the weekend. Taking time through the week will enable you to really rest and take time for yourself whilst you can.
- Dress comfortably in all the dresses, supportive shoes and layers. Because there is nothing more irritating than seams digging into you, tired feet and being too hot or too cold. When you’re comfortable, you’re less stressed and more calm. All good for bump and YOU.
- Don’t set a defined maternity leave date. Have a ball park but you may find that you become more fatigued sooner than you thought or if you start too soon that you’ll become too restless. Play by ear and listen to your body having open communication with your boss. This can massively reduce your stress and expectations enabling you to go with the flow more easily.
Because this is the time that you have with yourself for the last time. You’ll have a tiny person to consume your time moving forwards. Using these three tips for each area can really help you be your best you throughout your life and work during your third trimester. It really is a time not only just to survive but to thrive.Look at each area and start with one tip to focus on for a week or two and see how it impacts your life. So for example picking to ‘drink your food, chew your water’, ‘practicing breath work’ and ‘asking for help’ are small steps that will make a huge difference.And the great thing about them is that they won’t ADD time to your day, they will actually take time and energy away. You already have to eat so eat with more consciousness. You already have to breathe so do it with awareness. You already have to do work, so ask for someone to help with what you’ve got.The third trimester is a time of anticipation and excitement for the baby’s arrival. Fear and worry about childbirth and caring for the baby after birth are common but needn’t interrupt your time at work. Using these techniques all good ways to prepare for childbirth and decrease anxiety.Some women may feel less attractive due to body changes, partner support and reassurance is very important during this time. Father’s may also feel anxious about their role in the childbirth process and question their ability to parent and provide for a larger family.Everyone may begin to feel impatient for the baby’s birth. Remember to enjoy your baby’s kicks inside you for these last few weeks and be sure to spend special time with your partner and other children- life is about to change!So, commit to yourself and do these practices and techniques for you, for now. By doing them, you’re alleviating pressure, removing pain and thriving your last trimester.