The third trimester of pregnancy is often the hardest, it feels the longest and is full of every emotion you can possibly experience consistently pushing and pulling you from every single side. The last week has been especially emotional for me and those third trimester hormones have really been put to their test. I am still feeling really positive about my pregnancy and I will continue to make decisions and choices based on what I feel is best for me and my baby, but, it is for sure a testing time where you do start doubting yourself, your abilities – and not just that of labour and birth but that of actually mothering. I think most of these emotions have come following my 36 week pregnancy check.
Third Trimester Hormones Make Me Feel Every Emotion
Remaining positive, upbeat and happy in pregnancy can be really hard especially if you’re suffering with all the horrible pregnancy symptoms. If sickness was a part of my pregnancy I can assure you I would not be feeling as positive at all and I would probably be dreading future pregnancies if that is something that happens later on. Third trimester hormones have made me feel every emotion possible and I wanted to share that with you to see if actually other mums feel the same too.
Going With It
The third trimester is a time when you can be easily wound up and something that really, really gripes me at the moment is being told to “go with the flow.” For those that know me, know I can’t just go with something. I have high functioning anxiety and the moment you give me some information, like some sort of super computer, I am processing every single positive and negative outcome. I am not a “go with it” kind of person – I am lead by my decisions which may to some seem very impulsive but I can assure you, they are not. I can’t even say how much this winds me up. I am a planner, an overthinker and I will stress out at every given opportunity regardless of what it is. Some might say I have been meticulous in preparing for a birth that has a variety of outcomes given my risk factors and yes, I have been, and that’s why I have a plan A, B and C. Almost like a flowchart of decisions has been processed through my mind of if this then that for every single possible outcome from home birth, water birth, hospital transfer, hospital birth, vbac, forceps, ventouse, c-section, third stage, feeding, hospital duration, hospital visitors – literally, everything you could possibly want to plan for at birth, I have done so.
None of that means that in the moment I won’t change my mind. I might do, and that’s completely fine because I have personally processed what that means but please, stop telling me to just go with it because at this moment in time I can not just go with something that isn’t happening to me at that moment in time. It is so against my personality to just “go with something.”
So, third trimester hormones, how am I feeling and is it normal?
The third trimester seems the longest because things you could do before are harder, you’re uncomfortable, your baby is putting on weight and you are literally looking for the first stage of early labour and have that feeling of ‘will it be today?’ especially as you approach Week 37 and are considered full term. Babies can arrive at any time from 37 weeks and are usually better prepared for newborn life. Often, if you’re a second time parent your first labour will indicate roughly when your second labour is likely to start. If you delivered at 39 weeks before it is more likely that you might deliver closer to that time again. If, however, like me you had an induction at 42 weeks then it is much more likely your second baby will also be passed your due date. I am anticipating that labour will not even start to feel close until I reach 41 weeks. I’m anticipating his arrival, how it will happen, when it will happen, how we will cope afterwards, how I will get Evie to and from school, how feeding will go…honestly, it’s all the anticipation of the questions you can’t answer just yet and they are constantly whirring around in my mind.
As someone that has anxiety, I am of course anxious during the third trimester of pregnancy but probably not for the reasons someone might think. I am not anxious about giving birth or how my labour will happen because I have done such meticulous planning for it. However, I am anxious about afterwards. I am anxious about unwanted visitors not calling beforehand, I am anxious about the possibility of being on a post natal ward and I am anxious about breastfeeding because it didn’t work very well for me before. This anxiety has lead to some sort of fierce determination and almost protectiveness of my unborn baby. I previously had a harder experience with my first which has fuelled a few of my decisions and I have to admit at times that has made Adam feel a bit out of control and distant from this. It’s something we’ve spoken about at great length because for me the experience and environment is different but I only have negativity to draw and compare. For Adam it’s all completely new to him and that makes him feel like I’ve shut him out.
Previously, with Evie, my in laws turned up days after I had returned home from a four night stay in hospital and first unplanned c-section to take the baby for a walk and “give me some peace.” I very much doubt that will happen this time but it is weighing on my mind. I just want friends and family to call and ask before they visit us and to only visit us when both Adam and I are here. There are two exceptions to this, one being my own mum who I literally couldn’t care less about breastfeeding in front of or entertaining because she is my mum and actually, after labour, sometimes you do just want to see your own mum. The other is my youngest sister who wouldn’t really be there for me, as such, but I know would happily entertain Evangeline in those early days if I asked her to. Other than that we are keeping visitors to an absolute minimum in those first two weeks because not only will I be trying to breastfeed, but we will be getting Evie to and from school, Adam will be a new University student and I will be recovering from birth. I am anxious because I do not want to come across as horrible when I am recovering and there is a very real risk that I might be recovering from major abdominal surgery if another c-section, planned or unplanned, happens.
I am anxious because sometimes I feel well meaning friends and family are caught up in the excitement of the new baby, new person in the family, and the mum then often feels neglected, disrespected, uncared for and like she should be bouncing back to play host when all she probably wants to do is wash the sick out of her hair and have a nap. So visitors, if you are going to come over, do not expect a brand new mum to do anything for you.
Being in the third trimester brings a lot of excitement for parents to be. I am actually feeling really excited about labour. I have much more confidence in my body and that it will ‘know what to do’ this time around. I am confident in my decisions that I’ve made and I’m kind of looking forward to using my hypnobirthing and testing myself to see how I cope. I know that sounds really quite strange but I am. I excited about welcoming the contractions, no matter how intense they get, and to actually experience pushing a baby out rather than laying back and feeling like labour was something that was being done “to me” rather than a natural process for my body and baby. I am excited about meeting my son, holding him for the first time and actually seeing his tiny face. Feeling the baby kicks are lovely but actually the excitement of him being here makes the waiting harder.
Mostly this is things that I would usually be able to do myself and now need a little help. Things you take for granted when you’re not pregnant like putting on your socks, putting clothes on standing on one leg, getting in and out of the bath and walking for longer than five minutes without backache or feeling like you’ve wet yourself. The third trimester of pregnancy is not glamorous and often makes you think that you’re losing your dignity. Ultimately I don’t really care what happens during labour and birth but this part where I need help I am struggling with. I do think it’s easier that Evie is older and able to do a lot of things independently because I can not keep up with her I don’t know how pregnant women manage having a toddler at the same time.
The guilt has been so bad this pregnancy, particularly in the third trimester, and has mostly stemmed from having a high BMI which is just completely detrimental to my mental health. Whilst this wasn’t the plan at all and I wanted to be much smaller and healthier before I got pregnant, it just didn’t happen that way and it has been one of the biggest things that have lead to decisions made during my pregnancy. I am not blameless with my weight however it is not and has not been an indication of poor health in this pregnancy because medically I am fit and well. I am mobile. I have been active throughout. My blood pressure and blood tests have all been absolutely fine, if not much, much better than expected. Yet BMI has been the restriction for most things. I understand that this means more risk but I am really tired of feeling guilty about something that I acknowledge but can’t actually do much about until after birth.
Love has been a part of my pregnancy, not just the third trimester, but obviously with the excitment increasing and the fact that he will be here soon, the love for my unborn baby has come on pretty strong. The love I have for my eldest child and how excited she is to be a big sister, the love for Adam and how excited he is to be a dad. The love we have for our little family. The love we have had from friends and family with their kind words, encouragement, emotional support and gifts. It’s all just been completely amazing.
I feel overwhelmed a lot of the time anyway but in the third trimester the feeling of being overwhelmed has become stronger. I am overwhelmed at all of the above emotions I have felt and how strongly I have felt them. I am overwhelmed at other peoples generosity and the general overwhelm feeling of having a baby and all the things that come with that. The overwhelm of all the information I have had to consider. The information overload from researching and writing a book during the pregnancy and to hopefully finish and publish just after birth. As well as the overwhelmed feeling that September brings of Evie starting junior school and Adam heading off to University. I’m drawing more into myself now at this late stage of my third trimester and maybe closing off from people. I’m also trying to avoid people that might make comments that frustrate, upset or stress me out easily because I really want to minimise that feeling of being so totally overwhelmed and that leading to something much more negative.