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Emotional Rollercoaster Third Trimester

With just a few weeks until your baby’s arrival, your second-trimester high sometimes turns into a third-trimester panic.

Remember, it’s absolutely normal to worry about what’s awaiting you – you’re in for something big you’ve never done before. There are easy ways to dispel your worries. However, if you feel overwhelmed and can hardly think of much else, talk to a therapist or a counsellor. If you’ve suffered from depression either before or during pregnancy, talk to your psychiatrist or therapist how to decrease the risk of postpartum depression. Here are some typical late-pregnancy worries.
-Now that my belly is showing everyone has advice for me
The more prominent your belly is, the more it seems your private life becomes public and unsolicited advice comes pouring in. Some might be worth considering (which doesn’t mean you have to take it as the absolute truth), but mostly the advice you’re getting tells you more about the person giving it than about you. Some ways of dealing with it are laughing it off, saying thank you and changing the subject or just leaving the conversation.
If the advice turns into telling horror stories, tell the person how you feel. “Stories like that make me feel anxious, can we change the subject” is a good phrase to have ready.
-I’m worried about all the superstitions I keep hearing
Every culture is filled with superstitions about pregnancy and childbirth and most of them are just that - superstitions. These are just stories that you don’t have to worry about, but if you are worried
turn the situation on its head and ask people to tell you the craziest superstition they know about pregnancy and childbirth, you’ll be surprised as to how far some of them go!
-I am finding it really hard to concentrate
This is normal at the end of pregnancy, and some might say it’s even desirable! The reason for this is that the part of your brain responsible for giving birth, the old mammalian part of your brain, has trouble doing its job when you are busy thinking complex thoughts and for this reason tends to quiet at the end of pregnancy. Think about how you have to clear your head of other thoughts in order to reach orgasm - the hormonal mechanism here is similar - you need to be able to “turn off” your thinking brain. So not being able to concentrate is really a good thing.
-I’m going to go into labour early and have a premature baby
You love your baby and want the best for him, which is why you are thinking about worst-case scenarios and how to deal with them. Worldwide, 90% of babies are born at term - the odds are
overwhelmingly in your favour that baby will be born when it is ready, and if that is before 37 weeks have faith that you will have the care you need to keep your baby healthy and to help him grow. Remember that it is normal for babies to be born long before your due date – anytime between 37-42 weeks is considered normal.
-My water is going to break in the grocery store
Pregnant film and television characters often begin their labour with a dramatic gush of water - in real life however, only a small number of labours begin with water and when they do it’s usually a small trickle as the baby’s head acts like a floating cork that keeps water from coming out more than a bit at a time. If you’re really worried you can wear a pad in your last weeks of pregnancy (which has the added bonus of catching any pee if you let some out when you sneeze or laugh).
-I won’t recognise the signs of labour and won’t make it to the hospital
There is a small number of women in this world who don’t even notice that they are in labour, and sorry to say this but you probably aren’t one of them. You might not recognise early labour, but once your labour waves come on more frequently, you’ll know this is the real thing. Learn more about the signs of labour
-Birth will be too painful and demanding to cope with
Giving birth is something you’ve never done before, and the idea of pushing a baby out through your vagina may seem absolutely surreal. Reading books like this one will make you feel more confident. Find a childbirth education course that tells you what different stages of birth feel like and how to cope with them using different strategies. Be careful though - birth coping strategies are not one-size-fits-all. A book of positive childbirth stories will also make you feel more confident.
Most importantly, trust your body – you’ve been doing great so far and giving birth is something that your body is made to do well.
-My mum had a caesarean (induction, episiotomy, whatever) and I’m doomed to repeat it
You are not your mum (or your sister, best friend, or anyone else) and this pregnancy is a different from anyone else’s. The chances that something that happened to someone you love will happen to you in exactly the same way are small. If you are making choices in pregnancy, birth and postpartum that are not usual in your family, you are in a way re-writing your family’s birthing history, which is not easy. Writing a birth plan and preparing affirmations about your own pregnancy and birth can be helpful, and so can talking about your fears with a therapist.
-I’m afraid of what will happen at the birth
Recognising your fears is the first step in working through them. Maybe you want to avoid an episiotomy or you don’t want to be separated from your baby after birth. The first step is to choose a
place of birth that will respect your wishes - talk to hospital staff about routine practices and look at their statistics. Alongside hospitals, consider birth centres and home birth. You can’t control birth and what will happen, but you can decide what is most important for you and emphasise that in a birth plan. Be open to making decisions during the process but know what things you don’t want to compromise on. This is easier if you have a well-prepared partner or doula with you.
-I’m going to do something totally gross during labour
Labour and birth are completely normal processes and the midwives and doctors that care for women and families have seen it all. You are not going to do anything they don’t see on a daily basis – and honestly, they don’t care.
-I’m afraid I won’t be able to breastfeed
This fear is most common in women who have breastfed before, but for some reason did not meet their breastfeeding goals or had a hard time. It also happens to women who really want to breastfeed but keep getting told that they won’t be able to. Breastfeeding is a skill that mother and baby both have to learn. Taking a breastfeeding class during pregnancy and having contact with breastfeeding counsellors for issues during postpartum are good ways of preparing.
-I won’t know how to take care of my baby
If you haven’t spent much time with newborns until now or if you are becoming a parent for the first time the idea that you will be responsible for a tiny human can be scary. But, thinking about it now
means that it’s important to you to be the best parent you can. Newborns cannot speak, and your baby won’t be able to tell you how to care for him. But his needs are very simple and over time, you will learn to understand his signals. Preparation through a good prenatal course can be very helpful.

Every female mammal is born with a mothering instinct. You are equipped for motherhood even when you have doubts about it.         Iva Podhorsky Storek, Croatian midwife

-My life is going to change forever
Shifting your identity as you become a parent is a huge change. Yes, your life is going to change - your relationships and priorities will change, your daily routines will change. Becoming a parent adds
another layer to the identities you carry in your life, but it doesn’t mean you lose yourself in the process. Soon enough you will learn how to find a happy middle between your old identity and your new one, making time for your family and for yourself.
-My body is never going to be the same
The pregnant body stretches and opens from the moment your uterus starts to expand, and in the weeks and months after you give birth it will start to get back to where it was before. Trust the process, have faith that your body will be your own again and that it will be what it was, and more, richer after the experience of pregnancy.
-Sex is never, ever going to be the same
Just like everything in your life during the third trimester, sex and libido change too. They will be different but enjoyable in their own way, you just have to be creative. If you’re not feeling comfortable with penetrative sex, know there are other ways to be intimate too and try out what feels good.

Take-away messages
• Identify what’s upsetting you, and articulate it into a single sentence. Acknowledge it, and think about ways you can adapt to it.
• How you’ll remember your childbirth is determined by several things: positive and realistic expectations, having supportive birth partners and caregivers and feeling in control of what’s
happening around you. You can increase your chances by finding a safe (for you) place to give birth, choosing who will be there with you and learning what’s happening during childbirth and finding
your personal strategy to cope with it.
• The third trimester is a time of preparation and change – embrace it and do your best to enjoy this time. And get as much sleep as you can!

Try this
Your baby is getting bigger and can clearly hear your voice and respond to movements. Here are some ways you and your partner can connect to him:
• As your belly grows and your baby’s movements become more obvious, try playing a game with him - when he kicks, tap or poke your belly in the same place a few times and see if he responds with
another kick or movement
• Tell your baby what is going on throughout the day and how you are feeling
• Read a story to your baby before bed
• Play your favourite music or sing your baby a song every day, repeating the same music or song so that baby learns to recognise it
• Tell your baby how excited you are to meet him and how much you love him
Do something for yourself, too
• Find a creative activity you like - painting, singing, playing an instrument, crafting, baking are all ways to get into the groove and flow.
•Help your stress and agility by doing stretching exercises every day - yoga is helpful but so are simple stretches and deep breathing
• Prepare and repeat some positive affirmations to yourself every day, like
• I am strong, I can do this.
• I love my body exactly the way it is
• My baby is healthy, beautiful and strong
• My baby and I are working together to make this pregnancy healthy and calm