Managing Late Pregnancy

Managing Late Pregnancy

Managing late pregnancy might be easier for some and harder for others. Most people have their eye on the prize that is maternity leave  – a time to relax and get ready when there’s no baby yet. We picture ourselves relaxing and enjoying the last few weeks on our own. You might think that you’d like to use this time to do some last-minute shopping or finish the babies room. Or, you might just want to take some time for yourself, to read books, have naps and get your hair done.

After those first few weeks of morning sickness and worry, you might long for the end of your pregnancy, when you don’t have to worry about getting up and going to work, and the excitement of having your baby is mounting. This was my plan for managing late pregnancy. The reality was somewhat different. 

Some people start to struggle toward the end of their pregnancy. They are tired all of the time, but they can’t sleep because of aches, pains and frequent trips to the toilet. Their hips, back and breasts hurt all of the time, and their ankles are swollen to the point that shoes no longer fit and walking is uncomfortable. Even if you have had a relatively straightforward pregnancy, you could find those last few weeks difficult. It’s different for everyone, of course. 

Waiting is never fun. While the rest of your pregnancy might have passed in a bit of a blur, the last week or so can seem to last forever. You might spend your days wondering if every ache is the start of labour. You are continually looking for signs that something is about to happen. This can lead to feelings of disappointment and frustration. This all starts to get worse if you go past your due date, and it’s perfectly normal to find yourself having to work harder at managing late pregnancy.

Know What to Watch Out for

In the last few weeks of pregnancy, there are a few things that you should be watching out for. Knowing about them can help to ease your worries and concerns. 

Firstly, there are the early signs of labour. From 37 weeks, your baby is full-term and could come at any time. Unless there has been a problem during your pregnancy, a baby born at 37 weeks should be perfectly healthy, and won’t need any special treatment, so make sure you are ready from then. Early signs of labour can include aches and pains, period type cramps, a show, your waters breaking and sharp pains. Speak to your midwife about what you should do when signs of labour present themselves. 

As your midwife will no doubt have mentioned there are things to look out for when managing late pregnancy, namely pre-eclampsia. Once a serious and life-threatening condition, pre-eclampsia is now very manageable, but only if you get help as soon as possible. Signs include extreme swelling and headaches. If you feel unwell, see your midwife or other appropriate care-giver.

Make Some Plans

In the last few weeks, movement can be difficult. But, sitting at home on your own might not feel like resting, it might feel more like stressful waiting. So, make some plans, but make sure they are easy to cancel or rearrange if you need to. Book a haircut or pregnancy massage. Plan a day shopping and a visit to the library. But, don’t plan too much for the same day, and schedule rest days when you need them. This is advice I wished I’d been given before my eldest was born!

Invite Friends Round

There might be times where you are too tired and achy to do much at all. But, sitting on your own waiting can be tedious, tiring and stressful. So, invite people round. Have dinner or just a drink. Even if they just sit next to you watching TV, the company can be comforting, relaxing and fun.

Be Prepared

Pack your hospital bag, plan childcare for any other children while you are in labour, or find someone to look after pets. Think about your birth plan and research pain relief in labour. Plan your route to the hospital and even make a practice journey. Being prepared will give you something to do, and it will make your life easier when the time comes. Managing late pregnancy was easier for me with my two once I knew that everything was organised.

Find Ways to Manage Your Aches

For most people, the worst part of late pregnancy is the strain that carrying a full-term baby puts on your body. Your hips, legs, lower back and groin might ache all of the time. You might find it hard to sleep, and if the baby is engaged, walking might become difficult. I struggled a lot with this.

There’s no quick fix or magic solution to managing your aches, but you should try things until you find what works. A warm bath, pain killers, a hot water bottle and massage are all popular options. You might find that trying to do a little pregnancy yoga, using a pregnancy pillow might help too. I had a maternity pillow we called Artificial Roy that I could drape myself on. 

Managing Late Pregnancy

I think the most important point here is that everyone is different and that no two pregnancies are the same. Be proactive in your planning so that however your late pregnancy develops you at least have the practical stuff sorted so that you can focus on you and your baby.