8 Tips for Surviving the Last Month of Pregnancy
by Quinn KellyLicensed Marriage and Family Therapist
So you’ve made it through to the last month of pregnancy. And now you are finally in the final stretch. You see the light at the end of the tunnel. In this last month, you may find yourself starting to lose patience. And heart.
Your pregnant belly is causing strain on your back. Your swollen feet are making it hard to walk. You have heartburn every day. You are hot all day, every day. And you are sick of waiting for this baby! You are just ready to hold them! (Then magnify this feeling by 1,000 if you are past your due date!) And false alarms just create false hope!
I’ll never forget thinking I was in labor with my first son at 38 weeks. Then waking up the next day to realize labor was not happening and feeling DEPRESSED. I specifically remember walking through the aisles of Hobby Lobby the following week (at 39 weeks, one day), and telling my mom I couldn’t do it anymore. I just wanted to lay down on the floor of the store. (I may have been feeling slightly dramatic.) Little did I know, I would actually go into labor the following day.
Mental strength in the last month of pregnancy can be just as crucial as physical strength. Maybe more. So here are some of my favorite tips for staying happy and strong during the last month of pregnancy.
Surviving Your Last Month of Pregnancy
1. Prepare to carry your baby till it’s due date. (If not longer!)
Yes, you will hear countless women tell you they went into labor at 37 weeks. And this is great. It might end up being you, too! But if it isn’t, you don’t want to assume every day on from 37 weeks that this might be the day. Assume your due date will be the day. Even though a tiny percentage of women deliver on their due date—around 5 percent—it is better to overshoot rather than undershoot. And it is very common for first-time mothers to go beyond their due date. (However, do have a hospital bag packed and baby stuff ready at home from 36 weeks should you be surprised.)
2. Meditate daily on the fact that the longer your baby stays in the oven, the healthier he or she will be.
I am always so focused on being done with pregnancy and wanting to hold my baby that I often forget to focus on how much healthier it is for baby to stay in me until they decide they are ready to come out! Babies born before 39 weeks have more trouble regulating body temp, have less-developed brains, and are more likely to be readmitted to the hospital for other reasons than a baby born at term! So it is not hurting baby to remain in you. It’s helping them! You may just have a few extra stretch marks to show for it!
3. Do not put your life on pause.
Toward the end of pregnancy, many women stop planning events or committing to things with the assumption they may have a baby. They will decline an invitation to a girl’s night, cancel their weekly dinner with family, etc. But don’t do this. I encourage you to do the opposite. Plan all the usual stuff you usually shoot for, maybe even more. This way, you do not feel like the only thing you have to do is focus on when baby is coming! Because it can be like watching grass grow. And if baby does come, people will understand what kept you from showing up!
4. Focus on growth and bonding activities with your existing children.
Since it is obvious that once baby comes, your ability to focus on your existing child will be harder at first, use the final stretch of pregnancy to focus on them! You will long for those days when you’re trying to be with them and breastfeed a newborn. Finish their baby book. Teach them to ride a bike. Do a project in their room. Try and read all the books in the house together. Do whatever sounds fun and allows you to savor this special time!
5. Make a list of odds and ends around the house that you never get to (or just fun projects). And see how many you can cross off. Make it a contest with yourself!
Notoriously, my husband and I nest like crazy before the births of our children. And we love house projects. So our favorite thing is to make a list of all the little things we both want to finish while we’re in the final weeks of pregnancy. Little things like, organize the pantry or put up curtains in this room, or clean out our storage and sell stuff on our neighborhood classifieds. But “little things” is key, because you don’t want to have a wall torn down when baby arrives. All projects should have the ability to wrap up quickly.
6. Pamper yourself.
The last month of pregnancy is a great time to get yourself as pretty as possible because it’s a little harder to focus on beauty once baby comes. (Okay, a lot harder!) So use that time to get your nails done, have your hair newly cut and colored, wax your eyebrows, etc. This will not only make you look great for delivery but will give you a head start for the next few months when you just do not care. I’ll never forget having my toes freshly done with my third son, and while I was pushing, my OB said, “Your toes look great!”
Related: To Wax (Or Not) Before Giving Birth
If you do not have other children — or have an opportunity to do so — take naps. Go to bed early. Sleep as much as possible. It is factual that you will be entering a sleep-deprived state of life for the next few months to 10 years. So use your waiting period to rest up as much as possible! I cannot tell you how much I dream of sleeping once I have a newborn!
8. Prepare freezer meals. Do bulk shopping.
Do some practical things that will help make life go more smoothly once baby comes home. This is a great time to build up a stockpile of freezer meals. Or go to Target and get toilet paper and other toiletries that you might need in the coming months when it is more challenging to get those items! I’ve never had so much toilet paper stored up in my house as I do before the birth of a new baby—all thanks to my nesting husband!!