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Oh the waiting game! I’m writing this while 38 weeks pregnant–not dilated, not effaced, no contractions, nothing. This is my third baby. The first two had to be evicted or they might have stayed in there forever (at least that’s how it felt at the time). I know not all women go all the way to the due date or beyond, but for those who do, we share this in common: the last month of pregnancy is tough!
You feel huge, uncomfortable, and probably a little (or a lot) impatient. Time seems to move in slow motion. The aches increase by the day. It feels impossible to make plans. You’re more than eager to meet your little kicker on the outside.
I’m experiencing this “waiting game” that is the last month of pregnancy for the third time right now. I can’t wait to meet my little girl! Her two big brothers can’t wait to meet her (at least that’s what I’m telling myself). But after doing this a couple times, I have to say that it’s a little easier this time around. Here are some tips that can hopefully help you make the most of the last month.
10 Tips for Surviving the Last Month of Pregnancy
#1. Enjoy sleep while you can
This is for those of you who are actually sleeping. I wish I could enjoy sleep, but that is not happening. I’m pretty sure I did the first two pregnancies, though. I don’t really remember. But let’s be honest—any sleep is better than newborn stage sleep. Take advantage of it while you can. And if you don’t have this magical pillow, GO BUY IT NOW. Even though you only have a month (give or take) to go, it’s worth every penny for however many nights you get to cuddle with this thing.
#2. Stay away from forums
Related post: 10 Tips for Surviving the 1st Trimester of Pregnancy
Especially if you’re due toward the end of the month, these things can be brutal! I’ve been due on 12/21, 7/24, and now I’m due 1/21. With each pregnancy I’ve been a visitor on a forum where EVERYONE (it feels like) has already had their baby about a month before I’m even due—or they’re having it today—right now. Or they’re having contractions or losing their mucus plug or their water is breaking—RIGHT NOW. If those things are not happening to you, it is just not encouraging to read about it!
#3. Relax as much as possible
Put your feet up and relax! Enjoy it while you can. Really!
#4. Be open
Making a birthing plan is certainly a good thing to do (or even just thinking through how you’d like it to go), but prepare yourself for it not going exactly like you plan. Maybe it will, which would be awesome! But in case things don’t go exactly how you picture, it’s best to keep an open mind as you keep your eye on the prize–delivering your baby!
#5. Try not to obsess over signs and symptoms
Oh this is so hard! Listen to your body and call your doctor if you’re ever unsure. But try not to obsess about every possible sign. This is definitely easier said than done.
#6. Do some cleaning or freezer cooking
The last month of pregnancy is a great month for stocking your freezer with food and/or giving your house one more good cleaning. You can read about the best newborn freezer meals to make here. You don’t want to overdo it, so be mindful of your swollen feet and aching back and REST. I’m preaching to the choir right now because my to-do list can very easily make me keep going when I shouldn’t. It’s hard but at this stage it’s really important to rest when you need to.
#7. Expect the unplanned
Maybe your water will break–maybe contractions will start–maybe you’ll go late and be induced–maybe you’ll need a c-section. There are so many ways labor and delivery can unfold. I think it’s kind of exciting. Both of my labors so far have included very unexpected details. In hindsight I wish I had “rolled with it” a little better than I did. You can read about my birth stories here and here. Update: You can read about all 4 of my birth stories here.
#8. Don’t compare yourself to others
We’ve all heard of that woman whose water broke at 38 weeks, progressed from 0 cm to 10 cm in 1 hour with no epidural, and after 2 pushes-out popped their little one. As hard as it is, it just doesn’t help to compare symptoms or how things unfold. Your story is your story. It will be unique and special, whatever the details might be.
#9. Stay busy but not too busy
When I was pregnant with my first son, I stopped working 10 days before my due date and had absolutely nothing to do during those 10 days (which turned into 19 days). Oh wow did time stand still. The days dragged on forever. In hindsight, I should have had some non-urgent projects or tasks to keep me busy, like doing a thorough house cleaning, freezer cooking, visit with friends, shopping/stocking up, finishing the nursery, etc. And make sure not to overdo it and relax when you need to!
#10. Consider your due date as an estimate
If your day comes and goes and your doctor is ok with it, you are just fine. That date really is just an estimate. Baby will come when he or she is ready (or when your doctor says it’s time).
Update: Yup, these are still true. Now that I’ve had four babies–two after being induced and two on their due dates–I’d still recommend these 10 tips for surviving the last month of pregnancy to any expecting mama–along with a resounding You Got This, Mama!
I’d love to hear from you! Do you have experience with the home stretch? How do you cope?