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Perspectives on Pregnancy: Third Trimester

By: Dr. Jessi Gradin, DC

Third Trimester – Weeks 27 – 40

Before we get started I want to address something. It has been brought to my attention that not every birthing person identifies as, nor do they want to be called, mom. Mom is a title I have used quite a bit in my previous blog posts to address all persons carrying a baby. I’m grateful to this person informing me that my words might have been perceived as non-inclusive. It is my intention to always be inclusive and supportive of all people, birthing or not. If you are expecting and don’t identify as mom and my words made you feel left out of the conversation, I sincerely apologize. I will be much more thoughtful going forward. Please reach out to me directly if you would like to discuss this any further. 

As a reminder…

My name is Dr. Jessi Gradin, I am one of the chiropractors at our Multnomah Village clinic and, four months ago (at age 35), I had my first baby. The journey of every expecting parent is different and I am not here to say my experience is “normal,” or “abnormal.” My hope in writing this blog is that you will find things that resonate with you. Use my experience and recommendations to have a more informed, confident and comfortable time navigating your unique pregnancy. If your pregnancy is at high risk please contact your OB prior to making any changes. If you haven’t already, please check out my other blog posts on the first trimester and second trimester of pregnancy.

YOU’RE ALMOST THERE!

These final months can be a little rough. Your growing body may present challenges with regard to how you feel and how you move. Good news is there are modifications for almost everything and if you can’t modify a particular exercise you can substitute something in its place. If you need help with coming up with modifications or substitutions please reach out to your chiropractor, they would love to help you! 

Don’t be afraid to continue some form of your exercise routine as it continues to be beneficial for you and the baby to stay moving. According to a study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2016, “Moderate intensity aerobic exercise throughout pregnancy is known to result in lower caesarean delivery rates, lower incidence of gestational diabetes and hypertensive disorders, decreased maternal weight gain, and improvements in antenatal and postnatal depression, and has not been found to negatively affect birth weight.”  I would, however, encourage a mindset shift now. Try thinking about exercise during this trimester as movement for enjoyment and birth prep as opposed to gaining strength or endurance. One example of an exercise that you can perform now is the squat. To accomodate for your belly, you can try using a wider stance squat. Remember this is not about maximum weight but rather quality of movement. P.S. Squats are great for birth prep! Follow along with Craig!

Things for me really started changing around week 30; the baby really started popping and I was increasingly less comfortable with heavy lifting, bending and exercises that required much core stability. During these final months of pregnancy I relied heavily on my chiropractic and massage therapist co-workers to help me maintain maximum comfortability. You may not be aware but all massage tables here at Hosmer have removable cutouts for belly and breasts. This means that you can LAY FACE DOWN during massage! Yes, laying on your stomach for the first time in several months is as glorious as you imagine it might be. Make yourself a priority and do it! If you’ve never had a massage at Hosmer before it is possible that this service may be covered by insurance. Give the front desk at either location a call and they will find out your specific coverage. 

Final Thoughts & Recommendations

Let’s talk about a few things that I had difficulty with during the third trimester, and ways to work around them. 

Lunges and step ups: For me, just trying to put my socks on while standing required a concerted effort in core bracing for stabilization, and lunges were really uncomfortable. Try reducing the range of motion or just performing single leg stands as an option. 

Shortness of breath: At some point in the third trimester your baby will “drop” until then it may feel like you can’t take a full deep breath. Include rest breaks between sets of exercises and if you feel dizzy or lightheaded take a pause and get a drink of water. Continue with your diaphragmatic breathing exercises they will help you through labor and during postpartum recovery.

Running/burpees/jumping: Towards the end of pregnancy I just eliminated all of these movements. You may or may not need to do so too. Here are a few ideas for ways to get your heart rate elevated without the added pressure of these more intense movements: spinning, walking up hill, rowing machine, squat and press, swimming. 

Hip/low back/pelvis pain: As your baby grows in size and your ligaments relax in preparation for birth you will feel more pressure in these regions. This is where massage therapy and chiropractic care can be very helpful in reducing discomfort. Chiropractic care is safe and effective throughout pregnancy and can be a lifesaver during the later stages. 

Fatigue: I get it, you’re feeling heavy, maybe your feet are swollen and you aren’t sleeping that great anymore. Your body is doing amazing things give yourself permission to rest. If you can sneak in a mid day 20 minute nap, those saved me!

Remember these recommendations are general and your best best is to come into the clinic for a full evaluation and individualized treatment. Chiropractic care and massage are a great addition to any pregnancy. We would love to help make your journey to parenthood as comfortable as possible. 

Remember you are strong and resilient. The reward of your baby is just around the corner. 

Tune in next month for an article about, “Things I wish I knew about postpartum.”