If you’ve been following along lately, you may have figured out that I’ve been having a rough third trimester (and you probably figured that out because I told you ha!)
You can get on Pinterest and find a ton of posts about preparing for baby during the third trimester, or even how to handle mentally preparing for the babies arrival… but I only saw a couple of posts that talked about tips for mentally surviving your third trimester SYMPTOMS.
For me, the part where the baby comes is the part I look forward to. I’m even one of those weirdo moms who loves labor.
And you know why? Because labor means I’m going to be DONE with pregnancy in the near future. It’s exciting, and it’s relieving.
For me, the actual BEING pregnant is what causes anxiety and depression. I’ve had the hardest time admitting/saying this because I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining, but I have really hard pregnancies. One of my friends joked that I always do things to the extreme, and when I’m pregnant that means my symptoms are… extreme.
It’s hard to really explain how hard things are to other people who have been pregnant, because I can see them thinking “oh okay Karin, we’ve all been pregnant, no need to exaggerate.”
It can feel very isolating to go through something that not a lot of other people get or understand… or to feel like people don’t believe you when you try to explain what’s going on.
But the piece of it that is REALLY hard for people to understand is that even if you’re not having any physical symptoms at all, if your MIND is telling you that you just. can’t. do. this anymore it’s extremely difficult to believe anything other than those thoughts.
And that’s really what I want to focus on today, because that has been my struggle.
My experience has been that I DO have hard physical symptoms, AND my mind tells me that I won’t be able to handle it.
So I go through my day feeling sad, and anxious, and truly believing that this is how I’ll always feel.
But there is hope my friends!
Around 32 weeks, after these feelings hit a peak, I decided to share how I was feeling with my OB and together we created a few things that I can do that will help me get through this last stretch… and they have actually been REALLY helping, so I thought I would share them with you:
- Keep a journal/note in your phone and write down every moment in your day where you find yourself thinking “oh! I don’t feel sick at this moment.” My biggest issue is extreme acid reflux, and when I think of my day in an abstract way I FEEL as if it’s constant. BUT when I actually take the time to notice moments where I’m feeling good (or at the very least better), I realize that it’s not actually constant. So whatever it is for you, try to be more intentional about noticing when you’re NOT having that symptom.
- Have a list of things that are encouraging to you handy so that when you really feel yourself spiraling, you can pull them out quickly and read through them. For me, I have a note on my phone of scriptures that remind me of God’s goodness and that He is walking through this with me. Remember my verse of the year? “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me, and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me, and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. Matthew 11:28-30 MSG. When I wrote that post, I didn’t realize yet I was pregnant, or JUST how much I would need to be reminded of that truth, but OH! Those words are so incredibly healing to my soul. Whatever it is for you, find that truth and cling to it.
- Get enough sleep. This seems simple, but as a mom of three with a lot of things on my plate, I don’t often get to bed when I should. BUT, I need sleep more than ever right now, and the more I get the better I feel… not only physically, but emotionally. I’ve had to really learn to prioritize and get rid of anything that’s not absolutely necessary right now so that I can get at LEAST 9 hours of sleep at night (although I’ve noticed I do best when I get 10). Trust me, this doesn’t always happen but I notice how much better I feel on the days I get this.
- Take baths with epsom salts. First of all, you’ll be relaxing, which is already putting you a step ahead. But many pregnant women are deficient in magnesium, and an epsom salt bath is an excellent way to help replenish that supply. Magnesium deficiencies can cause a whole host of symptoms that you don’t want to experience when you’re already feeling so ill. I find that a daily 20 minute epsom salt bath really helps with sore muscles, leg cramps, restless legs, etc.
- Watch what you’re eating. For many of us, pregnancy feels like this amazing time to eat whatever we want and just go for it with any craving or whim that we may have. But guess what? Food is powerful, and it has the power to make you feel good… or bad (EVEN when you’re pregnant). So if you’re indulging a little too much in sugary foods, fried foods, or foods loaded with unhealthy preservatives your physical, and mental health is going to suffer. If your diet is balanced, and you’re getting the vitamins and minerals you need you’ll feel SO much better. This is TRUE my friends. I speak from experience. And it’s especially important for maintaining your mental health.
- Finally, and this is related to the above point, try to eat foods that are high in B Vitamins such as whole grains, meat, eggs, legumes, seeds and nuts, and dark, leafy vegetables. Not only do B vitamins give you more energy, but B vitamin deficiencies may be linked to symptoms of depression. Anecdotally, I do notice a difference in my mood when I’m eating these foods.
Working through this list has really, really helped me. I still have bad days, but I also have been having a lot of good days.
Two last things before I go:
First: this list may be super helpful to you (I hope it is!), but if you’re feeling anxious or depressed even just a tiny bit, please talk to your Dr. about it. Mental health is not something to take lightly. It can escalate quickly, and you may find yourself thinking and doing things that you would NEVER do normally. There is no shame in getting the help that you need so please don’t feel like you have to suffer in silence. And there’s no such thing as it being JUST prenatal depression or postnatal depression/anxiety. Depression is depression, and it should be addressed with the seriousness you would treat other major illnesses.
Second: If you have a friend going through this, be mindful of what you say to her. Things like, “but it will all be worth it in the end!” or “it’ll be over soon.” are not helpful. These are things that your friend already knows and saying those things minimizes the pain she is going through now. What you can say is “I’m so sorry you’re going through this.” or “what can I do to help?” Don’t force her to talk about it, but be available in case she wants to. But the most powerful thing you can do is to legitimize her experience, and not make her feel dramatic just because “you went through pregnancy too, and you got through it.” If you haven’t experienced anxiety or depression, you can’t possibly understand how much it skews reality and the most powerful thing you can do for someone is to simply believe what they are telling you.