Professor Hannah Dahlen (Midwife and midwifery scholar, University of Western Sydney): So in the last trimester women will often, again, feel a bit more tired. They’ll be more likely to get things like aching back, indigestion is more common in the last trimester, cramps in the calves, for example, are more common, and generally women will be moving slower and needing a little bit more rest.
Finikias and Ellen (parents of Austin, 11 months)
Ellen: The reflux started and the shortness of breath started, and the fatigue came back a little bit and the night wakings, you know, changed; I was up a lot needing to go to the bathroom and those sorts of things.
Tenisha (mother of Ray, 18 months): I was planning on working up until 4 weeks before my due date, and I think I stopped at around 8 weeks before my due date, just because I was so big I was finding myself to be really, really uncomfortable. Also, during that time, I was quite insecure about the way I was feeling; just being so big and also being so young, like I didn’t feel like a 21 year old should feel at that time.
Finikias: I really liked the third trimester. She was not throwing up; she was definitely bigger but actually I thought she looked … she was glowing, she was really beautiful at that time.
Skye (mother of Mary, 7 months): Your appointments at the hospital start to increase, so you go from monthly to fortnightly to weekly. They start to do more tests, so you may have a diabetes check, you may have more blood tests, you may have what’s called a group strep B test, and that’s normally in the last couple of weeks.
Professor Hannah Dahlen: The movement of the baby is really important, and we now know that the mother’s the best judge of that. So if your baby has been moving fantastically and then suddenly it’s moving a lot less and you’re worried, never ignore it; always ask a health professional, because your baby’s movements are the best indicator that baby is well.
Emotional and thinking changes
Professor Hannah Dahlen: A lot of the thoughts in the third trimester around the birth, winding up work; you’ve been a working woman perhaps all your life and now suddenly that identity is changing, that can be very confronting for some women and they really go through a sense of grief and what will their identity be in the future?
Tenisha: It was that whole me comparing myself to other people and like my pregnancy compared to other people’s pregnancies that I really, really struggled with.
Professor Hannah Dahlen: The other thing women often do in the last trimester, which is very sweet, is nest; and if you don’t nest don’t get anxious either, because some women go through it all and don’t give it another thought.
Skye: It’s kind of the wind-up phase before you’ve got to really look after someone else, so … it’s a hard time, because whilst you think you’re ready you’re never going to really be ready until it’s there.
Tenisha: It was very, very draining during the last trimester. It was organising the baby shower, making sure we had cots, prams, wraps; it was all of that and your mind is just continuously going at a thousand miles an hour.
Ellen: I had some good friends that have had babies previously, and a friend that had a baby a few months before I had Austin, and so they were really good because they were able to understand those feelings that I was having, just being ready for the baby to come … and understanding how uncomfortable it is, and also about some of the expectations and apprehensions, I guess, about looking after a newborn.
Skye: Family and friends are really, really important when you’re pregnant – especially emotionally – because you can share feelings. It’s also a good time when a lot of girls will have the baby shower or you can catch up with friends.
Tenisha: I found it incredible to have that support, not only off my family but off a lot of my friends, and even some of Eric’s friends as well.
Professor Hannah Dahlen: I’ll often say that the largest organ involving childbirth is the brain, so we have to address it a lot and we have to support women a lot.
Ellen: I found at the end of the pregnancy it’s like the body just kicks into something and you don’t even care. Well, for me I was like I don’t even care, I just want this baby out. That was actually a really good shift because then I stopped becoming scared, I guess, of the birth and more excited that yep, he was coming out and I was going to get to meet him at the end.