The end of pregnancy is a time for slowing down, for turning inward, and preparing yourself for the transformation that awaits you in childbirth.
But what if slowing down is not in your nature?
The end of the third trimester is such a strange and profound time. It is a time when you are shedding the layers of the person you have been and laying the deepest and truest parts of yourself bare without new layers to take their place, new layers that can only take form once you have settled into the rhythm of parenthood. It is an incredibly vulnerable time that sometimes feels like you are in a completely foreign headspace. Your primal instincts are awakening, your body is softening and opening, your mind is unwinding from there here and now. You are both strong and delicate at the same time. The sense of something big hangs on every moment, and yet there is a stillness that settles in as your body works to complete the remaining steps before issuing your perfect offspring.
This stillness can feel strange and unfamiliar, especially if you are someone who is usually high energy and used to being in control. But it has a purpose. Birth will take you a realm where time takes on new meaning, and you have to be able to let go of your hold on reality to get there. So as you approach the end of your third trimester, when the physical exhaustion and mental fatigue just seems to hang over you, I invite you to see this your body’s way of creating a space for you to begin letting go, to really ground in and investigate those those naked parts of yourself that are now so accessible. Not only will this help prepare you for the mental and emotional trials of childbirth, it will also serve you extremely well as your evolve and re-birth yourself in parenthood.
This intuitive slowing also serves as an opportunity to really listen to the messages your body is sending, and supporting your body's needs. One thing I talk about all the time with my birth clients is that our bodies are constantly communicating with us, telling us what they need. And if you are working to establish trust in your body, it is in your best interest to learn to receive these messages, and to respond to them, so that your body can learn to trust you back.
I say all this as a proud card carrying member of the Always Busy Club, and slowing down is something I really struggled with in my pregnancies. I know how hard it can be to shift gears when your body is wanting rest but your mind is programmed to keep churning. But there is a reason that your body is telling you to rest, and ignoring these messages can make your labor, birth and postpartum that much more challenging.
So what are the risks of resisting your body’s need to slow down?
I see folks sliding into their last few weeks of pregnancy, and sometimes into labor, feeling tense and anxious. Anxiety is one of the biggest roadblocks I see families struggle with, especially in the weeks leading up to labor, and it can absolutely prevent labor from starting or progressing. And in many cases, this anxiety leads to unnecessary inductions, either because the family is feeling uneasy with the waiting, or because their provider has planted seeds of doubt in their minds about their abilities or about their safety. Being in this unique vulnerable state, it can be easy to lose sight of what your body is telling you is right.
So here are a couple of ways you can embrace the slowing if you are having trouble relaxing into the transitional time:
#1 Start Seeing Rest as Productive
This is such an important mindset shift, pregnant or not, and especially in the later stages of pregnancy! Instead of seeing rest as merely “doing nothing”, try to think of your rest periods as a time you are allowing your body to be more efficient. By sitting down, allowing your body and mind to relax, you are allowing that energy to transfer to the other important work your body is doing (like growing your baby). While you are resting, imagine another perfect hair forming on your baby’s perfect head. Imagine another layer of development happening in their lungs and heart. You are not "doing nothing", you are doing everything and giving your body a chance to do that work well.
#2 Tap into your Breath
Simply sitting with your breath is a wonderful way to embrace moments of stillness while still being incredibly productive. Your breath is your most powerful tool in labor (and in parenthood, too!) for staying grounded and connected to your body while also remaining relaxed through the intensity of your surges, but it is something that takes practice. This stage in late pregnancy is a wonderful time to explore your own personal connection to your breath Spend time feeling your breath move through your body. Examine the feelings that flow through with it. Your breath moves energy, what is that energy on any given day? Play with the cadence and rhythm of your inhale and your exhale. Practice holding space in between. Build this into a practice and make time for it daily.
"Rest is a beautiful interruption in a world that has no pause button" – The Nap Ministry
#3 Program your Downtime
I know this sounds kind of contradictory to what I am saying about resting, but hear me out! If you are someone who needs to be busy all the time, give yourself a passive project, something you can do while sitting or reclining, where your body can relax and your mind doesn’t have to work so hard. Think of this like white noise keeping the surface parts of your mind and body busy so the deeper parts can be working through whatever is necessary to be prepared for birth and parenthood. Paint a picture or make a belly cast and decorate it! Start a new book or television series! Or start a baby book! Find a task that lets you feel accomplished, but that also can help you relax, and set aside time everyday to work on it.
#4 Build a Self Care Routine
Finding a way to pour love back into yourself is a critical part of making sure your cup is full. It is also a great way to build up your oxytocin stores for labor. Make it decadent! Organic face masks in the morning, bubble baths with candles and your favorite tea in the evenings. This is your time! Enjoy it! If you are experiencing discomfort, schedule a visit with a chiropractor or a massage therapist. Even acupuncture is a great way to care for your body that will simultaneously force you to be still and relaxed for a period of time. It is also a great habit to get into while you are waiting for your baby so that it is available to you once your baby has arrived. Self care is the little talked about part of parenthood that easily falls by the wayside but can have a profound impact on your experience and how well you are able to show up for your kids.
#5 Personalize your Birth Space
Spend some time thinking about your birth and what things would make you feel comfortable and at home in your labor space and then gather those things! Things like making affirmation cards, building a birth altar, or compiling songs for your birth playlist are a great way to get your head in the game and can make a big difference in your labor experience. A lot of times, these things will fall by the wayside, but the end of pregnancy is a great time to clear your schedule and turn all of your energy
So don't fight it!
Take that nap! Draw yourself that bubblebath! Turn your phone on silent and ignore the world! Close the page on your to-do list and instead invest in stocking your mental, physical, and emotional stores with rest and serenity. I promise, you will not regret that you did!
If you found the tips above helpful and are looking for more ways to ground yourself in stillness as you prepare for birth, you may want to check out my free Daily Practices Workbook!
Download yours today and get ready to take your birth preparation game to the next level!