Read more about my third trimester pregnancy update. This post includes pregnancy symptoms, cravings and nutrition, exercise, product recommendations and mindset mantras that helped me through weeks 29+ of pregnancy.
I can’t believe how quickly the second trimester flew by. I’ve said this with each trimester but it truly feels like I was just seeing those two pink lines on the pregnancy test. Now I know why people say to enjoy your pregnancy while you can! It’s gone before you know it.
The best part of the third trimester is by far seeing baby move. The jabs and punches of the second trimester now look like waves moving across my belly. He moves constantly, but especially starting around 6pm every night. I love sitting on the couch watching and waiting for the next set of waves. I know I’m going to miss this!
While I started feeling more uncomfortable this last trimester, I’ve truly enjoyed being pregnant. I felt good and prioritized staying active, eating well, and adding in extra self-care. While I consider these things essential pregnant or not, I know these areas played a huge role in my pregnancy, labor and birth, and postpartum recovery.But let’s dive into some of the third trimester specifics!
If you’re new here or haven’t already, be sure to also check out my Pregnancy Announcement, First Trimester Update, and Second Trimester Update.
Third TRIMESTER PREGNANCY SYMPTOMS
Some of my second trimester symptoms stuck around into the third trimester. These included dry skin and bleeding gums. I also started getting heartburn again which I had during the first trimester. Below are the new symptoms I experienced in the third trimester leading up to birth.
- Restless sleep – while I’m sleeping better than I was in the second trimester, my sleep consists of frequent wake ups. Surprisingly not to get up and go to the bathroom, but just to resituate myself and the pillows. It’s hard to get comfortable with a big belly. Thankfully, I’m able to fall back asleep. Oh and I’m still getting up insanely early. I guess this is just preparing me for life with a newborn!
- Slowed weight gain – My weight gain has started to slow approaching my due date, despite my belly looking like it grows bigger overnight. Slowed weight gain in the late third trimester is completely normal for some women. Since there’s not much room for larger meals, I’m focusing on small frequent meals and nutrient-dense foods. I trust that my body it’s doing exactly what it’s supposed to.
- Clearer skin – the second trimester did not give me that clear, glowing skin that you hear comes with pregnancy. Thankfully, my breakouts decreased during the third trimester. I’m not sure if it’s the shift on hormone levels or my skin care routine, but I’ll take it. I recently decided to forgo using a face oil and my skin seems so much happier. I’ve tried so many face oils over the years practically begging my skin to love them. But I’m finding my skin does so much better with a lightweight moisturizer, especially in there warmer months.
- Pelvic pressure – since around 36 weeks I’ve consistent pelvic pressure. Basically it feels like baby’s head is sitting between my legs. We did get confirmation that baby is head down and in good position at our prenatal appointment so it only makes sense that his head is pushing down on my pelvic floor. With only a few weeks to go, I haven’t invested in a belly ban (although looking back at it I probably will next time). Simply wearing my leggings below my belly or holding up my belly with my hand helped ease the pressure.
- Frequent trips to the bathroom – I always feel like I need to pee! I know this is due to baby sitting so low and putting so much pressure on my bladder. I’ll run (okay, waddle) to the bathroom only to let our a trickle, which is honestly getting annoying. Thankfully, some of the downward pressure on my platter releases laying down so I’m not waking up all night to pee.
- Lighting crotch – but actually lighting butt! Lighting crotch is a term that describes a “zap” or shock from pressure on your nerves that run down your leg from your pelvis. Many women experience this pressure and shock running into their crotch, hence the name. I felt this zap running from my butt down through my leg in the second half of my third trimester. It would happen periodically without any notice and would last only a split second just like a shock. Yes, it was uncomfortable but not unbearable as it only lasted a second.
- Braxton-Hicks – at 37 weeks I noticed menstrual-like cramping in my lower abdomen and occasionally across my belly. I now realize these were very mild contractions or Braxton Hicks contractions. They’re never painful, just slightly uncomfortable.
- Leaking – this one was surprising to me! I’m writing this in hindsight because it’s what started my labor and delivery. The weekend before my 39th week, I noticed leaking when I stood up. Since I read that sometime pregnant women will trickle urine because of so much pressure, I didn’t think much of it. But the following week it happen a few more times. I finally decided to go to the triage at the hospital on Thursday May 14th to get checked after reading if it was amniotic fluid leaking I would need to have the baby to decrease the risk of infection.
Third TRIMESTER CRAVINGS
- Club soda – This craving still here and stronger than ever. It could be 6 am, it didn’t matter. Just give me all the bubbles! I needed the carbonation. I was going through a liter, sometimes two, a day. Good thing Trader Joe’s has liters of sparkling water for $0.79. I think I was their best sparkling water customer for four months straight.
- Peanut Butter + Banana – Yup, still here with the peanut butter cravings! But during the third trimester, this cravings turned into peanut butter and banana cravings. I couldn’t get enough of the sweet and salt, creamy combo. I’d go through so many bananas and an entire jar of peanut butter each week just by myself.
- Oatmeal bowls – Towards the end of the third trimester, not a lot sounded good. Plus, there wasn’t a lot of room for large meals. I gravitated towards my go-to oatmeal bowls for snacks and frequently for dinner. I call them oatmeal bowls because I always mix oats with either frozen riced cauliflower or grated zucchini. This adds volume but also sneaks in a veggie and extra nutrients. I’d add protein powder and cinnamon and then top with tons of peanut butter and frozen raspberries or cherries. It’s cozy, comforting, but also nourishing. Plus, it hit the spot every time!
- Citrus – this craving was unexpected but came in full force. Oranges and lemons were daily staples and tasted beyond refreshing! I loved simple peeling and eating oranges and squeezing fresh lemon in my club coda or on my meals. Coincidentally, I partnered up with Sunkist Circus during my third trimester. I was in citrus heaven. Some of my favorite citrus recipes I made over and over again included this Moroccan Chickpea Quinoa Salad, Orange Almond Ricotta Toast, Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins, Lemon Poppyseed Muffins, and these Grain-Free Lemon Bars.
- Frozen mango – Oh my gosh, the frozen cubes taste like mango sorbet. They’re sweet and addicting! The perfect after dinner treat. Ben and I wind down in the evening sharing a bag of frozen mango and throwing it back like they’re popcorn.
Third TRIMESTER NUTRITION
Similar to the second trimester, calorie and protein needs stay elevated during the third trimester. The average woman only needs about 250-300 extra calories during her third trimester (same as the second trimester). This was easy to do by adding extra healthy fats throughout the day or having a slightly bigger meal and an additional snack. I typically eat 5-6 times per day so just slightly increasing the portion size worked best for me.
Hunger during the third trimester started to dissipate, especially closer to my due date. There wasn’t much room to eat large meals and most foods didn’t sound great. Luckily, I didn’t have food aversions like I did in the first trimester. I listened to my hunger cues and focused on easy, comforting food. For me this meant lots of peanut butter toast and oatmeal. Breakfast foods, carbs and of course peanut butter just sounded 100x better than most meals these days. That being said, I still prioritized eating well-balanced meals that included protein, healthy fats, fiber-rich carbohydrates, and veggies daily.
EXERCISING WHILE PREGNANT: Third TRIMESTER
I incorporated daily movement and exercise until the day I went to the hospital for delivery. Exercising and moving in general still felt good. Plus, my doctor encouraged me to keep moving as it would help with labor and delivery as well as recovery. And she was right! Staying active during pregnancy, along with eating well, made for easy labor and delivery and quick recovery after birth.
My third trimester exercise routine consisted of cycling 3x per week with bodyweight or light weights 2-3x per week. I focused on squats, glute bridges, kegels, pelvic tilts, and stretching, which I believe helped me carry the weight of my belly without too much pelvic pain and pressure. I did have some, but I would consider it noticeable or slightly uncomfortable rather than unbearable.
On the days I didn’t cycle, I walked in the morning. I also made an effort to take a short afternoon walk with my pups. It felt good to get out in the afternoon when the days felt long. Plus, staying active and walking closer to your due date is supposed to help get labor going and by 38 weeks, I was definitely ready to get things going.
My supplement routine is the same as the second trimester. I took a prenatal, probiotics, omega-3, and vitamin D consistently throughout my entire pregnancy. These are foundational supplements for pregnancy and cannot recommend them enough.
- Prenatal: I’ve still been loving Ritual’s prenatal and highly recommend it! I love their transparency and that they have choline (which is important for baby’s brain development).
- Probiotic: Gut health is so important, especially during pregnancy. I highly recommend taking a probiotic. Seed is the probiotic I used throughout my pregnancy. The research that went into making this unique pre- and probiotic is unlike any other probiotic formula I’ve researched. I cannot recommend it enough.
- Omega-3: I opted to continue with Nordic Natural’s Ultimate Omega over their prenatal DHA because it has more DHA and EPA than the prenatal. It’s recommended getting at least 200mg of DHA from an omega while pregnant but to help reduce inflammation and get the other benefits of omega-3s I recommend at least 450 mg of DHA and 1000 mg of total omega-3s.
- Vitamin D: Most people are deficient in vitamin D. The only way to know it to get tested to know your levels tested and I highly recommend it. Taking at least 2000 IUs per day can help maintain your levels, but if you’re deficient or on the low end, you’ll need more. I take Throne 5000 IU vitamin D daily, even in the summer but especially in the winter months.
Third TRIMESTER PREGNANCY MUST-HAVES
There are so many blogs with lists of “must-haves” for each trimester. Honestly, I didn’t purchase too many extras to get me through pregnancy. Maybe I’m just a exception to the norm. But in case you feel overwhelmed with what to buy vs. what not to buy, especially with all the postpartum and baby purchases, my advice is to just keep it simple.
In addition to extra pillows and the book Nurture: A Modern Guide to Pregnancy, Birth, Early Motherhood and Trusting Yourself and Your Body that I shared in my second trimester post, I recommend getting an exercise ball to bounce on (more on this below!). From there, invest in what’s important to you like preparing for labor and delivery, food/nourishment, comfort, etc.
Preparing for labor + delivery
Truthfully, I haven’t done a lot of preparation for labor and delivery. My “birth plan” or rather preference is to have a vaginal, unmedicated birth. However, this isn’t set in stone for me. I’m open to an epidural and interventions if truly needed. Here are a few things that I’m focusing on to prepare for labor and delivery, along with other suggestions you may find helpful.
- Invest in a doula. This was one of the best investments I made to prepare for labor and delivery. If you’re in the St. Louis area, I cannot recommend Christa enough. Having a baby during COVID put restrictions on how we met and allowing more than one person in the hospital at birth.
- Bounce on the exercise ball. This was my seat of choice end of my second trimester and throughout my third trimester. It’s extremely comfortable and helps relieve pelvic pressure. Bouncing also helps move baby into proper position. I ordered my exercise ball on Amazon. I ordered the 65cm since I’m 5’5″.
- Red raspberry leaf + Nettle leaf tea. Aside from club soda this red raspberry and nettle infusion been my pregnancy drink of choice starting in the third trimester. Red raspberry leaf help tone the uterine muscles and contains vitamins and minerals especially calcium, iron, phosphorus, and potassium. Nettle has more chlorophyll than any other herb and is extremely rich in calcium, iron and other minerals. It can help fight fatigue and acts as a diuretic, reducing swelling.Here’s the link to the organic nettle leaf and red raspberry leaf I ordered! They’e 1 lb bag which makes over 200 cups of tea so it’s a lot!! But it’s also a great boost of nutrients, especially iron and calcium, so you can continue to enjoy postpartum.How to make: I make a red raspberry leaf and nettle leaf tonic at night and let it steep in the fridge over night. That way it’s ready for me to drink the next day. Add 1/4 cup packed nettle leaf and red raspberry leaf to a jar. Add 4 cups of boiling water. Let steep for at least 2-4 hours or overnight. Strain and refrigerate. Drink hot or cold.
- Eating dates. This is one of the top recommendations I actually didn’t follow. Some research suggests eating 70-75 grams of dates (about 6 deglet noor dates or 3 medjool dates) around 36 weeks. Small studies that suggest eating dates can help to ripen the cervix for labor and even decrease labor time (1) (2). I didn’t crave dates and preferred getting my sugar fix from mango, banana, raspberries or other fruits. But this may be an option for you!
These mindset mantras are phrases I’ve been saying throughout the third trimester. The third trimester felt like a mental game, especially as I approached my due date. Every day was filled with excitement, with a touch of anxiousness, thinking this could be the day we meet our sweet boy! I relied on these phrases heavily as I approached my due date. These mantras helped keep me calm and grounded.
- “I trust my body. It was made to do this.”
- “Baby boy will come when he’s ready.”
- “I let go of what I can’t control.”
In addition to these mantra I also listened to a meditation recorded by my doula, calming/birthing playlists on Spotify, and Higher Love by James Vincent McMorrow on repeat. My plan was to listen to these during labor and delivery having a natural, unmedicated birth. While that plan didn’t happen (read more about that in Charlie’s birth story, coming soon!), I enjoyed the sense of calm it brought me when I listened to it during my pregnancy.
That wraps it up for this third trimester pregnancy update. You can head on over to Instagram for our birth announcement and my labor and delivery story. As always, please share in the comments below if you found this helpful or if you have any questions. I’d love to hear from you!
The “lightening butt ” you describe is sacroiliac joint pain or SIJ. True “lightening crotch” is symphysis pubic disorder or SPD. After having both, rest assured the pain in the butt is easier but they do both suck. Congrats on your baby and I love your website!