The final run. The last three months of pregnancy. The third trimester runs from 28 weeks until your baby is born, which is normally somewhere between 37 and 42 weeks, although many pregnancies last even longer.
This is the time where things start to really get real. Your partner’s bump is getting beautifully bigger and you’re likely to be able to feel your growing babe rolling and kicking through her belly. He or she can hear you, so talk to them and read them stories. Studies show that babies of Dads who do this recognise their Dad’s voice after birth and prefer it to the voices of other men!
What you can do to help your pregnant partner
Imagine that you have a 3 kilo basketball strapped to your belly and think about the physical limitations that you suddenly experience. Putting on your shoes, getting off the sofa, even finding a comfortable spot in bed all become serious challenges. Add in that your basketball will be squashing and kicking your bladder, plus compressing your stomach, and you can start to begin to get an idea of what late pregnancy feels like!
You have a whole host of essential, practical jobs. You’ll already know that you need to offer to massage her feet, bring her snacks and drinks, keep the house clean and empty the cat litter. However, she may also appreciate you offering to help her to do more personal care, such as shaving her legs (if she chooses to do so), or perineal massage.
Emotional support is going to be one of your key roles during this time. Tell her how beautiful she is, and how proud you are of her as she grows your family. Reassure her that you find her attractive. Sex will be safe for almost all couples (no, you won’t poke the baby’s head!) so, if you both feel up for it, enjoy! And if you don’t, that’s ok, too.
Your antenatal classes
Antenatal classes are designed for both parents to prepare for birth and parenthood so make sure you’re involved in both the choosing and the attending! What you’ll learn at your antenatal classes will be invaluable when it comes to birth and beyond – but, just as important, is what you’ll unlearn. Most people’s experience of birth is what they see in films and on soaps but the reality is far from how labour is portrayed on the screen. You can also learn about the safety of birthing outside the hospital, either at home or in a midwife led birth centre. For instance, did you know that for ‘low risk’ mothers and pregnant people birthing at home or in a midwife led unit, labour and birth is safer than giving birth in hospital?
Antenatal Classes: Preparing to be a birth partner
During labour, the birthing woman or person’s brain goes into a deeper state of consciousness. How people around her make her feel will make a huge difference to how her labour progresses. Your job is to make her feel safe and loved, to ensure that her decisions are supported and that the needs of her body are met.
You will learn about the importance of keeping her hydrated, and what sorts of foods are great for energy in labour. You may learn some massage techniques that could help her to cope with labour and discover details of the birth that you never knew. For instance, when a baby is born, up to a third of their blood is still in the placenta and cord, so waiting for that to transfer back to your baby before cutting the cord (which can take anything from a few minutes to an hour) can make a big difference to your baby’s health as they grow.
Sleep deprivation in the third trimester
If there’s one thing that almost every pregnant woman or person experiences in the third trimester of pregnancy, it’s sleep deprivation! And, while she’s struggling to get comfy, getting up and down to the bathroom or leaping out of bed with leg cramps, you may find that your nights are pretty disturbed, too. Even worse is when she’s just dropped off – finally - and then you wake her with your snoring or wriggling!
Sleep deprivation is utterly miserable for both of you. It’s too easy to end up blaming each other or getting grumpy for something that neither of you can actually help. Instead, look for practical solutions that help you both. In the end, getting sleep matters more than anything so if that means a separate sleep space for a while, go with it. Many couples do and it can be a positive solution to an especially exhausting problem.
The third trimester of pregnancy can bring fresh new challenges, from personal grooming issues to leg cramps. Your continued support is vital, both emotionally and practically. This is an exciting time as your baby becomes more and more “real”, with their kicks and movements, so get prepared at your antenatal classes and enjoy the final countdown together!