Surviving the Third Trimester

surviving the third trimester | diary of a bewildered mother

In just a matter of days, I’ll be full term with Baby Lion (full term is 37 weeks to 42 weeks). I was “lucky” enough to have Champ right at 37 weeks, so I haven’t shared the misery of some ladies that go to 41+ weeks, but I’ve still had my share of late-pregnancy woes.

And I’ve been in my third trimester in the South during the summer, and in the North during the winter, so I’ve experienced a range of annoyances. Thankfully for you, I’ve also found some relief for these annoyances. (“Some” being the key word.) Here are the four unfortunate symptoms I’m most familiar with, along with a list of home remedies to relieve them.

Note: I’m not a doctor or midwife, and my only license is a driver’s one. So be sure to check with your healthcare provider before making any changes. These remedies worked for me, but I can’t be held responsible if they don’t work for you . . . sorry.

surviving the third trimester | diary of a bewildered mother

Swelling / Carpal Tunnel

Both swelling and Carpal Tunnel are caused by water retention. Carpal Tunnel, for those of you who don’t know, is when the swelling pinches a nerve in your wrist, numbing your thumb and first couple of fingers. It may or may not be painful, but it will likely keep you up at night.

I’m listing these roughly in order from what works the most to what sometimes / maybe works.

  • Drink a TON of water—at least a gallon each day. More if you are in a hot or humid climate. The less you drink, the more your body decides it needs to hoard water in case of emergencies. Like a camel. Camels have skinny calves, sure, but they’ve also got those gigantic humps on their back.
  • Stay cool—keep indoors in the A/C if it’s warm outside.
  • Elevate above the heart—for carpal tunnel, this is your wrists. For foot swelling, that’s probably your feet. Yes, it’s a bit ridiculous feeling to raise your feet above your heart, but that’s how to decrease swelling. If I’m trying to sleep, it only takes about 90 seconds for my fingers to go numb if my arm isn’t elevated. Use pillows. Sometimes I awkwardly drape my arms over by body, above my head, or on the Captain to keep my wrist elevated. He’s a good man.
  • Wear a wrist brace for Carpal Tunnel—I can’t sleep in these. The idea is to keep your wrist straight when you sleep. A straight wrist means your thumb aligns with your arm, not your palm. Your palm should angle up. If you don’t know what I mean, then put on a brace to see what position your wrist should be in. Also, don’t sleep with your hands under your head.
  • Limit sodium—Salt contributes to water retention. But sodium and salt (including table salt, which has iodide in it) are important, so talk about your diet with a health professional before making any changes.
  • ExerciseApparently this is supposed to help, especially if you sweat. The only exercise I get is chasing a toddler around the house, trying to get him into his underpants, and hauling him onto and off the potty and into his crib. That’s enough cardio right there.
  • Take a bath—I think this is psychological, but I feel like when I take a shower or bath, my body realizes it doesn’t have to hoard all the water itself, because there is plenty water accessible to me at any given time. So be grateful, body, because many parts of the world don’t have running or clean water.
  • Cold / hot compresses—these may give relief to your wrists or feet.
  • Vitamin B6, Calcium/Magnesium supplements—these could help, too. I already take these supplements (as you will see), so I can’t tell if they are making my carpal tunnel better. It could be much worse without them, I don’t know.
  • Hazelwood and/or Baltic Amber jewelry—I wear these primarily for heartburn (see below), but have been wearing my Baltic Amber necklace tripled up around my wrist lately.
  • Nutritional Yeast / Brewer’s Yeast—My midwives are awesome. Saw one today and she said I should get Brewer’s Yeast for my carpal tunnel, that it’s an anti-inflammatory, and that I can sprinkle it on cereal or yogurt, and that some people put it on popcorn (apparently it tastes like cheese!). Picked some up, but haven’t tried it yet.

surviving the third trimester | diary of a bewildered mother

Dry Skin / Itchy feet

I’ve been so itchy with this pregnancy, and I blame the cold weather that just sucks the moisture out of me. Now that I’m retaining water, I’m not as itchy all over (hooray?), but it could become unbearable/ here’s what worked for me:

  • Warm, not hot, showers—hot showers will actually dry out your skin more, I’ve been told.
  • Lotion or baby oil—some people don’t want to put baby oil (mineral oil) on their bodies, or Vaseline, because they contain petroleum. You can decide what you want to avoid in your lotions or oils and find products on the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. I’m fine with Vaseline and baby oil, but I’m not okay with parabens. I use Palmer’s Cocoa Butter for Stretch Marks (note, its current, paraben-free formula is not on the database). Whatever you choose, put it on your body while it’s still damp from the shower to seal in the moisture.
  • Ice water—when my feet WOULD NOT STOP ITCHING, I got a bit desperate. I ran ice-cold water from the tap over my feet until they were thoroughly chilled and I couldn’t feel the itching sensation anymore. Then slathered baby oil over them, and put on socks over that. It seemed to work, because after two nights of doing this, I haven’t had to do it again, and that was about a month ago. Desperate times call for frozen feet. (Er…don’t give yourself frostbite or anything)

surviving the third trimester | diary of a bewildered mother

Restless Legs

If you’ve ever been in bed and had your legs FREAK OUT like all of a sudden you were James Brown singing “Sex Machine,” then you know what restless legs are. Sometimes restless legs cramp up, and you get Charlie Horses, too! Fun fun, especially for anyone who gets to share a bed with you, and finds himself being forcibly kicked at random in the night. Here’s some remedies—start at the top and work your way down.

  • Eat a banana every day—this could be the only change you have to make to find relief. I know other moms that swear by it. Worked for me in my first pregnancy.
  • Take magnesium supplements—I’m going to reference magnesium supplements over and over again. See how much I take at the bottom of this post. And talk to your provider about how much you should / can take.
  • Keep feet raised—if your feet are swollen, you should already be doing this. Keep them elevated above the heart while sleeping.
  • Stretch your calves—One of my midwives showed me a stretch that can give relief. One foot at a time, press the pad of your foot against a wall, keeping your heel on the floor, and pull yourself closer to the wall, pushing your foot into the wall and stretching your calves out. I just walked on the pads of my feet, doing lunges, on the way to and from the bathroom during my mid-night pee runs. Yes, it felt like I was part of the Ministry of Silly Walks.
  • Grab some Vicks VapoRub—This was another one of those dire moments, drastic measure things. Pretty sure Vicks VapoRub is perfectly safe during pregnancy, but since I couldn’t find a definitive answer, you should probably ask your provider if it’s okay. Anyway, my solution? I dabbed a bit on the backs of my knees, right in the crease of the skin. Tingly? Yes. But it somehow draws the tingles out of the rest of your legs, like sucking out snake poison. Pretty awesome and worth a try if you (or your spouse) are miserable. I’m no scientist, I have no idea why it worked or how I thought it might. But believing it will work is half the battle, right?

surviving the third trimester | diary of a bewildered mother

Heartburn / Reflux

I got heartburn the first time when I was 8 years old, and have had it ever since. When you’re pregnant, the relaxin hormone that allows your hips to stretch out—you know, so you can actually push a human being the size of a melon out of your body—also wreaks havoc on your esophageal sphincter, that one-way door that is supposed to keep food in your stomach. That door “relaxes” so that the acid party in your stomach spills out, into your throat. Fun, fun. Oh, and then your baby gets bigger and bigger and pushes up on your stomach, squeezing everything out of it like a squirty bath toy.

I have a very large list for this one, so don’t expect too much organization here.

  • Eat small mealsthe less and more frequently you eat, the less of a chance your tummy will be filled to overcapacity. You can still eat a ton of whatever you’re craving, just split those meals in half and break between them.
  • Don’t drink during meals or after meals—drinking before or between meals is better, so you don’t fill up your stomach as quickly. You could try drinking a glass of water 15 minutes to half an hour before a meal to try and wash away any acid, but that could backfire, making your stomach overcompensate.
  • Watch how you sleep—sleep upright, at an incline, or on your left side. You’re more likely to wake up with vomit in your throat if you sleep on your right side. Isn’t pregnancy super glamorous?
  • Fight the acid—take TUMS (but don’t take too many!), drink water with lemon, or sip apple cider vinegar. Lemons and apple cider vinegar seem very acidic, but when they hit your stomach, they balance out your Ph. Lemon water is the tastier option; apple cider vinegar can be more effective.
  • Take a calcium/magnesium supplement—Are you seeing a pattern here? This stuff works for swelling, restless legs, and heartburn. Talk to your provider about how much you can take, and be sure to include how many TUMs you are taking so you don’t overdose on calcium.
  • Increase fiber—constipation is common in pregnancy because your digestion slows WAY DOWN to ensure your baby can take as many nutrients from your food as possible. If your plumbing is plugged up down south, expect that traffic jam to back up into your stomach, giving you heartburn. Lots of fruit and veggies, and complex carbs. Note: read the comments at the end of this blog to see a discussion about how Papaya and other P fruits can aid digestion!
  • Wear hazelwood and/or Baltic amber jewelry—Hazelwood neutralizes acid and Baltic amber works as a natural, safe anti-inflammatory and pain reliever. I order my jewelry from Hazelaid.com (some styles are also available on Amazon.)

If you get heartburn on an empty stomach:

  • Eat absorbent foods—Again, I think this is a psychological thing, but if you get heartburn on an empty stomach, eat something that will absorb that acid, like rice or bread. I’ve even tried marshmallows. They’re spongy, right?

Sometimes, in an effort for your body to close that esophageal sphincter, it tries a bit too hard, and your whole abdomen might cramp up to stop the acid. Definitely talk to your provider if you have abdominal pain! If it’s caused by heartburn, though, here’s what you can try:

  • Drink peppermint tea—Warm drinks soothe and relax, and peppermint does the same. Drink warm peppermint tea to soothe your tummy. DON’T suck on peppermint candies or chew peppermint gum, because those will just relax your esophageal sphincter further.
  • Try tummy massage and warm compresses—Warm compresses can offer relief from muscles cramping. Pair this with the peppermint tea, and you’ll warm and soothe inside and out. For tummy massage, I use the “I love you” massage I used on Champ when he had baby reflux, but do it on myself. Start on your left side, where your stomach is, and smooth down towards the pubic bone. The “L” starts under your right breast. The “U” starts at your pubic bone on the right side and ends on the left side.

massage

If you still have heartburn, don’t give up hope yet.

  • Reduce or eliminate acidic foods from your diet—I had a cheeseburger each day with Champ. No wonder my heartburn was so awful! I’ve blogged about acidity before, so you can check that out.
  • Keep a food journal—You’ll be able to reintroduce some of those acidic foods if you 1) eat mostly alkaline and 2) figure out what your triggers are. For example, I can eat sausage pizza but not pepperoni. I can’t eat nuts on an empty stomach.
  • Eat ice cream—I saved this one for last because it’s my favorite. If I know I’m going to eat red meat, I eat a small portion and eat it early, pairing it with some greens. Then an hour or so later, I reward myself with ice cream. Maybe it’s just because I love it so much, but ice cream seems to be the only dairy product that reduces, rather than increases, acid in my stomach (milk and cheese are acidic!).

Be Patient

Just remember as you are dealing with pregnancy woes what joy awaits you! Soon you’ll have that precious child in your arms, and your mommy brain will make you forget most of what you had to put up with in pregnancy. You might even be so crazy to want to endure it all over again, to add to your family. I’m one of the crazy ones.

Note: this post may include Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase from these Amazon links, a very small portion of the profit will be returned to me. If I ever make money off these links, I’ll buy more cloth diapers with them.

Diet is Everything: How to Eliminate and Prevent Illness and Disease by the Foods you Eat.

Note: All blogs, and all for-profit companies, are biased. My blog is biased because I have opinions. Companies are biased because they are trying to sell you something. Any websites I link to, unless they are Bible verses given in context, should not be taken as gospel. I ask that you read them with an open mind and a critical one, to make balanced decisions for yourself.

Millions of people have been cured of illnesses and diseases—yes, including cancer—by changing the way they eat food. If you are trying to cure yourself of disease, then I think by all means you should look to God and his natural medicine, using natural and organic, homeopathic methods than put your trust in man and “modern medicine.” Do we really think that we can do it better than God?

scroll down to avoid the rant.

If you know me, you’ll know that I am extremely skeptical of our nation’s Food and Drug Administration. Do I believe drugs are sometimes necessary? Maybe. But I believe wholeheartedly that modern medicine is a business, and that it not only pushes drugs because drugs make money, but it also focuses on alleviating symptoms rather than curing the person. I’ve already been up on a soapbox about why donating to cancer research is not a good use of your money. Think I’m heartless? I’ve lost loved ones to cancer. I know that money should be given to prevention and education, not screening (which yields false positives and can GENERATE cancer) and CEOs.

Okay, rant over.

Give all your money to cancer research if you want, but any research they actually end up doing all comes back down to this:

Eating healthy foods like vegetables and fruits and exercising is the way to stay healthy and AVOID sickness, illness, diseases, and cancer, and to CURE it.

There's a better way.

Millions of people have found relief and been cured of illnesses by going on the “Hallelujah diet”—but it isn’t a diet you just go on for a while and then stop. It’s a total lifestyle change.

Basically the Hallelujah diet is a strict vegan diet that depends on juicing vegetables. You can read about it here. It’s based on Genesis 1:29, when God directed Adam and Eve to eat fruit and vegetables before the Fall.

If you want something a bit less strict, like us, then you can still eat meat and dairy, but in limited quantities. Meat and dairy aren’t particularly good for our bodies because our digestive systems are made to be vegetarian (click to read Hallelujah Acre’s opinion). If we eat too much meat and dairy, it gets stuck in our digestive system and the acid from those foods creates the toxicity in our bodies that causes sickness.
But we’d still like to own a dairy cow some day.
Deuteronomy specifically allows the eating of meat, and Paul saw the vision that all foods were now clean. So the problem isn’t really what we eat as much as what and how much we eat. The most simplified answer is to eat more alkaline foods than acidic foods. 
Once I ate more alkaline foods than acidic, my asthma and heartburn disappeared, and now instead of wanting to run to the ER every week, I am off all of my prescriptions. The heartburn comes back on occasion, but only if I haven’t been eating vegetables and fruit.
Click the image below or go here for a guide that shows which foods are alkaline and which ones are acidic. Did you know that lemons are alkaline?? I add lemon juice to my water if I’m going to eat a big meal or have red meat so I don’t get bloated or have heartburn. Don’t forget a salad or smoothie at the beginning of the meal!

Note that all meats are acidic.

Some other tips:
  • Eat fruit and vegetables before the rest of your meal so it goes directly to your bloodstream. Otherwise it gets stuck in the stomach behind all the other foods and ferments while your stomach tries to digest everything else.
  • Don’t eat fiber before 10 am or after supper time, since your metabolism won’t be able to clear it out of your system as easily. Fiber itself is like a sponge—it has no nutritional value, it serves as a carrier for nutrients. It helps clear out your digestive system because it collects things that are hanging out in your intestines and pulls them out with it. Drinking 100%, pulp free juice (no sweeteners) gives you all the nutrition without the pulp. Smoothies have fiber and are the next best thing.
  • If you don’t have a juicer, Odwalla and Naked Juices are AMAZING but can be a bit expensive, so I buy them in bulk. For 100% fruit juices, Simply Apple juice is my favorite. Simple Orange With Pineapple is really, really good, as is Simply Raspberry Lemonade. Yum!
    (P.S. If you have a safety filter on your computer, you might not be able to access the Naked Juice site because it has the word “naked” in it… It’s safe, really!)
  • READ FOOD LABELS. Specifically the ingredients. I don’t really care how much fat is in something if it is 100% good for me. Avocados are much healthier for you than fat-free snacks that are full of artificial ingredients, sweeteners, and preservatives.
  • A good rule of thumb is to only buy things with 5 listed ingredients or fewer. You’ll be surprised how many foods have 20+ ingredients.
  • Frozen foods don’t have as much preservatives as shelved foods. LT and I bought a pie from the supermarket bakery once. Never again! That thing was chock full of preservatives, and tasted awful. We’ll make from scratch or buy frozen from now on.
  • Try to avoid buying foods that sneak in sweeteners or soy (people put High Fructose Corn Syrup and soy into everything these days). A very small amount is okay, but when everything you eat has these in them, you are asking for a heap of trouble.
My favorite foods are ice cream, cookies, steak, and potatoes. They are a standard part of the Standard American Diet (SAD)—and I know why, because they taste so good! But now, rather than eating red meat at every meal, we eat it once a week, tops. I have steak once a month—which I actually prefer, because it makes it special!—and we eat meat-free or lean meats for the other days. I have cookies and ice cream on occasion, but that’s okay because I eat lots of fruit and vegetables. I buy Breyer’s ice cream because it is all natural ingredients, and it’s not that expensive. I’ve heard frozen bananas taste just like ice cream when they are blended—I’m going to try that out when I get through my Breyer’s.

Bottom line

If you are trying to prevent sickness, then eat lots of vegetables (make at LEAST half of your diet alkaline). If you are trying to cure your body of an infection or disease, then avoid acidic foods, meat, dairy, soy, and other foods listed here.
What are your thoughts on eating healthy? Are you a radical? Have you considered becoming vegetarian or vegan? What are your favorite healthy recipes? I’ll start posting healthy (easy!) recipes more frequently on my blog as I come to them. To see recipes I’ve already posted, go here.