The last few weeks of pregnancy can be tough, you may even hate it. You are re-thinking all your life’s choices and plans, and that’s OK. It doesn’t mean you’ll be a horrible mother, it means that growing another human inside your body is horrible — and frankly, that sounds horrible — so what can you do?
Before we get started in helping you, let me introduce myself! Hi, I’m Hilary — The Pregnancy Nurse®. I’ve been a nurse since 1997 and I have 20 years of labor and delivery experience. I’ve seen thousands. of miserable patients at the end of their pregnancy and I can guarantee you that you’re not alone in hating those last few weeks. I’ve also got some helpful tips to help you feel better.
AND if even if you’re at the last few weeks, let me come join you and share some of my best tips to making the best of it for what you have left:
You’re not alone.
Let me be the one to testify that almost everyone (there are a few magical unicorns still feeling great, but they are rare — very rare and almost extinct if you’re over 35) feels miserable towards the end of pregnancy.
You’re not MEANT to feel great. When people say they felt great during pregnancy they meant weeks 15-30’ish, and then the rest was crappy.
I mean, you’re creating another human inside your body, bless your heart. It’s TOUGH work. So give yourself credit!
I’m saying this help you realize that it’s normal, not unusual. I think a lot of people think they have it worse than someone else — and while that line of thinking is never helpful, it’s likely not true at this end point. It’s just crap. So, knowing that might just help!
Be Specific & Ask for Help From Your Provider
As a health care professional, when a patient ask a question you’re not sure if:
- They’re just asking if it’s normal, and if it is they’re good.
- They’re wondering when it could become an issue
- They are wanting it fixed.
So, when you say “my hips are sore” we often may say man, that sucks and is so normal.
- Some people are relieved it’s not an issue and move on with their life.
- Some are wondering if it’s going to get worse and would like to talk about the usual progress of the pain
- Some are wanting it fixed.
So, once you’re provider says “it’s normal” (and by gosh, a LOT of very normal things are SUPER annoying during pregnancy, I’m with you there) you can ask a follow-up question like:
- “Ok, when should I start to worry if this gets worse?”
- “It is really affecting my day-to-day activity, what can I do about it?” (bonus points if you’re specific about what it’s affecting — you can’t get out of the car, or put on pants, or climb stairs)
From there they can tailor that answer to what you need.
Often providers will start with “it’s normal” because it’s the easiest to answer and it does answer a question most people have “is this bad?” BUT it doesn’t answer YOUR question so I would recommend:
- Asking for help with the issue
- Being as specific as possible about how it feels (is it sharp, tearing, achy)
- Be as specific as possible about when it’s an issue
Although you may feel silly saying “it feels like my leg is tearing away from my body when I get out of the car” it helps us know more of what’s likely the issue and to help you!
While providers should search for ways to help your problem, I want to be really clear that some of the aches and pains of pregnancy aren’t going to go away. Some of them can be helped but likely won’t be eliminated and may progress as you get closer to your due date. Your provider should take your concerns seriously and should give you some options, but once you’ve used those, they aren’t miracle workers.
Communicating with providers can be tricky. I noticed it’s a big problem which is why I have a provider communication bonus video in here that’s so helpful in starting these types of conversations (and understanding where they are coming from).
Create Healthy Habits
The thing is, healthy habits are going to look different for each person based on their needs and their lifestyle. A stay at home mom with toddler’s habits are going to be different from someone who works a corporate job. That isn’t to say that one job is harder than another, it’s just the truth.
Some habits important for everyone:
Drink more water — You hear that you’re eating for two when you’re pregnant, but more importantly you’re drinking water for two! Make SURE you’re getting in TONS of water. And yes, I know this means frequent trips to the restroom, but you really will feel so awesome!
Balance carbs & proteins — When you’re eating your body is using those fuel differently than it was before you were pregnant. Making sure your meals include carbs AND proteins is so important for pregnancy. We talk about this in my pregnancy nutrition bonus video in here.
Stretching — Now how you stretch may differ, but moving your body and stretching out tired muscles is SO important. You are carrying your body in new ways that test your limits of your skeletal system — so be kind to it with some stretching that feels good!
Not sure what stretches to do? I usually tried YouTube videos, but you can also just visit a physical therapist who can recommend some for you in just one visit. Could be super helpful if you have specific areas you’d like to stretch! Be sure to ask your provider if there are specific things you should NOT be doing with your body!
Gratitude — It can be REALLY easy to wallow in those last few weeks of pregnancy (so been there) but trying to practice gratitude of what IS going well, and the tiny things in your life that are just miracles will help you out a lot!
A few other habits that have helped a lot of people (especially with aches/pains):
Seeing a physical therapist — while I saw one that was not helpful, there are ones out there who are well-trained about maternity/postpartum physical therapy that can help a lot
Using a heating pad for a bit — make sure you’re following their guidelines as to where and how long to use it!
Considering your work — is it too much? Is it time to stop working ? It’s so hard to say (and it varies person to person so much).
If it’s your hips — I have a few tips here:
Most people feel some anxiety about their birth. Like any big life event that’s totally normal.
However, the vast majority feel way more than they need to.
A little preparation goes a long way.
Yes, you can follow people on social media, watch their videos and read their articles (👋) — but I’ve often heard it said:
You really only need about 10% of what you learn in a childbirth class, but you never know what 10% that’s going to be, and it is different for everyone.Get 100% prepared here.
I have actually studied pregnant couples. On average, they rank their anxiety about birth at about a 7/10. After a birth class they actually report that they feel 55% less nervous then they did before (and rank themselves 3/10 for birth anxiety).
Now, you may be saying Hilary — my problem is pain, not anxiety. But I’m here to tell you that anxiety heightens any pain.
I actually have a guarantee that if you don’t feel better after taking my class you get your money back. And I will also guarantee your doctor, or physical therapist will not have that guarantee.
You may also be saying, Hilary — it’s my second+ baby — I’m a pro. But I’m here to say that if you carry any regrets, trauma, or anxiety over your last birth a birth class can help you too (you’re a great one to take my smaller class that is just $89). I have a whole post on why a birth class can still be helpful on a 2+ baby.
Ok, my final tip:
Don’t Lie To Yourself.
I see so many people who are around 35 weeks saying they are so miserable and they’re just sure they’ll have the baby soon, or are wondering if they can do anything to induce labor.
First off, it is consensus that we’d prefer your baby not be born before 37 weeks. In fact, if you came into the hospital prior to 36 weeks we will try to stop you going into labor because we believe baby is best inside for a bit longer.
Secondly, most people go 40 weeks. That’s how we came-up with it. Yes, that is an average and you may go less (or more) but to pretend that you’ll likely have your baby soon isn’t doing yourself any favors.
Yes, you can ask your provider to induce you, and you may actually have a medical indication for an induction (I have a post on if pain is a reason to be induced). But you’ve got a few more weeks of this, and planning on how to cope with that is your best bet.
Do you need a sitter for your other kids, do you need to stop working, or cut your hours so you can get a nap in? What can you do to make those last few weeks more bearable. What can you do to make your life more tolerable. It’s OK to ask for help or tell your partner what you need and ask them to help you find solutions.
Your partner should be doing much more at this point in your pregnancy. You need to account that you’re growing a full-grown human that could live outside you at this point. Yes, they should make dinner, and get the kids bathed! If you don’t have a partner, see you who can enlist to help you!
At no point in this article am I going to say that you should just suck it up and deal with it. I think keep trying things. But be mindful, that nothing is going to make those last few weeks a delight, and you will likely not have your baby too early.
If you’re struggling those last few months or weeks of pregnancy, hopefully this article gave you some tips to make it better.
Come join me in The Online Prenatal Class for Couples — it truly is the easy way to get prepared for birth. It’s not JUST about breathing (although that can help with those final weeks of pregnancy more bearable too), it’s really about making the best choices with your team based on you and your circumstances. I hope I see you in there with me!
And, if you’re not quite sure you’re ready for that whole thing (although, seriously, what are you waiting for), check out the free lesson from it. It’s your first step toward getting in the driver’s seat of your birth.
- About the Author
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A nurse since 1997, she has worked in various fields including pediatrics, geriatrics & hospice. She has 20 years of labor and delivery experience in the San Jose, CA and Phoenix, AZ areas.
As an evidence-based prenatal educator Hilary has delivered thousands of babies and has educated hundreds of thousands of parents from a diverse patient population to help them have a confident birth.