You’re in your third trimester! Can you believe it? Hopefully, everything has been going smoothly so far. Now, you’re finally at the point where you’re preparing for the last few months of pregnancy and getting ready for labor. It’s so exciting! Many women describe the third trimester as the longest trimester. This is because you are getting more uncomfortable by the day, and you are beyond ready to meet your baby. You’re almost there, though! Below are my third trimester must-haves that every expecting mama should have to help her have the best and most enjoyable third trimester and prepare for birth. They may not be glamorous items, but I promise you will thank me later!
15 Third Trimester Must-Haves
Here are my must-haves for mamas in their third trimester of pregnancy:
It might sound ridiculous, but did you know that eating dates in your third trimester can help you have a better birth? It’s true! Research has shown that if you eat 75 grams of dates per day starting at 36 weeks from your baby’s due date, you can have an easier, shorter, and healthier labor and delivery.1 Some of the benefits include:1,2
- Being more likely to go into spontaneous labor
- Having a shorter first stage of labor
- Being more likely to have intact membranes
- Being less likely to use Pitocin to induce labor
- Having a lower rate of cesarean section
- Having a lower rate of needing vacuum or forceps during delivery
So, how many dates is 75 grams? It depends on the type of date you eat. If you eat Deglet Noor dates, you will need to eat approximately six dates per day since they are smaller. Medjool dates are about double the size, so you only need to eat three daily. And because they can help you have a better labor and delivery, they had to be on my third trimester must-haves list. Be sure to add these to your next grocery order!
2. Comfy Slip-On Shoes
With each passing day, your baby is getting bigger. Before you know it, it will feel like you are carrying a watermelon with you everywhere you go. At this point in pregnancy, the extra weight is getting harder on your feet, so getting some comfortable shoes during pregnancy is an absolute MUST! You’ll want to get a pair of flats, sandals, or comfortable sneakers (or all of them) that you can easily slip on and off to make standing and walking throughout the day a bit more bearable.
These sneakers from Rothy’s are easy to slip on, supportive, well-cushioned, and super cute. Plus, you can throw them in the washing machine if they get dirty — mom win! You can also never go wrong with a pair of Tory Burch flip-flops. A good ballet flat is also a must to elevate any outfit when you’re ready to leave the house.
3. Compression Socks
With baby getting bigger with each week of pregnancy, they can begin blocking some of your circulation. This causes swelling and water retention in your lower legs and feet, which are normal to experience during the third trimester but can be pretty uncomfortable.12,13 This is why I recommend getting compression socks. They help with excess swelling, better circulation, less pain, and fewer varicose veins.3 The gentle hug around your legs can provide the support your tired, swollen feet and legs need. Your lower legs and feet will be grateful!
4. Squatty Potty
To help make pooping easier on you during pregnancy (or anytime), I highly recommend a squatty potty. Squatty potties keep your knees above your hips as you sit, putting your pelvic floor in an optimal position to relax and release. Posture-changing products like the squatty potty can help you go faster and empty your bowels more completely. By straining less, it helps with constipation and can help prevent hemorrhoids.6
5. Gentle Birth
Something my doula clients have taken, and I took during both of my pregnancies in the third trimester, is the Gentle Birth tincture without blue cohosh. If you read the reviews of this magical tincture, you will be shocked! So many women have reported having fast births after taking this formula. I can say this is true because I experienced it myself! My first birth was only eight hours long (three of those hours were pushing), and my second labor was only two hours long. I can’t recommend it enough, but of course, always consult with your primary healthcare provider before taking any new supplements.
6. Birth Ball
A birth ball is terrific to have during the third trimester because it can help with your posture and relieve pressure, which helps decrease the aches and pains in your back, pelvis, and tailbone. By sitting on the ball and moving your hips from front to back, side to side, and in circular motions, you keep your hips and lower back mobile. More mobility usually means less discomfort.6 I also have my doula clients use the birth ball during their third trimester because it has been shown to help increase their chances of having a vaginal delivery and reduce the likeliness of having an episiotomy.7
What’s also great about a birth ball is that you can use it during labor and after you give birth to your baby. You can use it to help support you in different laboring positions, which I found helpful when I was in labor with both of my kids. My doula clients would agree that it helped them stay more comfortable and gave them more position options when laboring in a hospital room. And during postpartum, you can bounce on the birth ball to soothe your crying baby. This saves your joints as you provide movement and comfort to your little one.
7. The Business of Being Born
If you’re pregnant (which I’m assuming you are if you are reading this article), then another third trimester must-have is to watch the documentary “The Business of Being Born.” This video was released in 2008 and shows how the American healthcare system approaches childbirth, examining hospital births, home births, obstetricians, and midwives. They interviewed parents and medical experts and showed the realities of the maternity care system. It even followed a few women during their pregnancies and birth experiences, including the director, Abby Epstein, who discovered she was pregnant while filming this documentary. I love learning about the producer Ricki Lake’s experiences and all the storytelling of what traditional birth in the hospital is really like in the U.S. If you want to know what’s going on behind the (hospital) curtain, watch this documentary.
Watch It Here
8. Prenatal Massage
In this article, we’ve discussed how you might be experiencing swollen feet and lower back pain. Growing a baby is hard work! However, another thing on my third trimester must-haves list that can help with these two discomforts (and more) is to get prenatal massages.
Husbands/partners, take note: in the third trimester, a prenatal massage is one of the best gifts you can give your wife/partner. There are so many benefits of prenatal massage:7
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Decreased symptoms of depression
- Relieved muscle aches and joint pains
- Improved labor outcomes
- Improved lymphatic and blood circulation
- Mood and hormone regulation
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Reduction of swelling and edema
- Improvement of nerve pain (like sciatic nerve pain)
- Reduced back pain
- Reduced headaches
- Improved oxygenation of soft tissues and muscles
- Better sleep
The benefits alone speak for themselves. Also, the evidence strongly suggests there are not only maternal health benefits but also newborn health benefits when therapeutic massage is incorporated into regular prenatal care.7
Just make sure to discuss it with your doctor or midwife beforehand. Also, check that the massage therapist you work with is licensed and certified in prenatal massage. You can ask to see documentation to confirm they have received the proper training and have the experience to safely massage you during pregnancy.
9. Chiropractic Care
Establishing pelvic balance and alignment is a huge reason to obtain chiropractic care during pregnancy. Why, you ask? When the pelvis is misaligned, it may reduce the amount of room available for your baby. A misaligned pelvis may also make it difficult for your baby to get into the best possible position for delivery. Suppose the baby is not in an optimal position for birth. In that case, it can potentially lengthen your labor and affect your ability to have a vaginal, non-invasive birth (no forceps or vacuum).8,9 Keeping the spine aligned helps the entire body work more effectively.
Having worked with so many women during their pregnancies and labors, I can tell you that I have seen a real difference (for the better) in the women who have received chiropractic care compared to those who haven’t. (A chiropractor shares her third-trimester tips here). When looking for a chiropractor, look for one certified in the Webster Technique before you schedule an appointment.17
10. Heating Pad
It’s common for your back and hips to be more achy and sore toward the end of your pregnancy. Heat is your friend when you can’t get a massage or see a chiropractor. You can heat a rice bag or use a heating pad before you go to bed to help give you relief and relax your muscles.14
NOTE: Turn off the heating pad before you sleep to avoid overheating and burning your skin. Also, heat is a wonderful tool to help you during labor. Make sure to bring these things in your hospital bag!
11. Water Bottle
I know this is listed on my first trimester must-haves and should also be in my second trimester must-haves list. But it’s imperative to stress how essential it is to stay hydrated throughout your entire pregnancy. Staying hydrated is paramount to your comfort and health and your baby’s health.15 Invest in a giant water bottle or cup so that you don’t have to keep getting up to refill it. If plain water is getting too boring, remember to switch it up with coconut water or sparkling water or add electrolytes.
12. Raspberry Leaf Tea
Something else I recommend women in their third trimester to drink, if they aren’t already, is raspberry leaf tea. It’s a uterine toner, and there are some excellent benefits to drinking raspberry leaf tea during pregnancy. For instance, it may ease labor pains, make labor less strenuous and painful, and shorten your labor and pushing time.10,11 What pregnant woman doesn’t want those things?!
Drink 2-3 cups daily during your third trimester to help prepare your uterus for labor and delivery. It’s great for uterine health and may even help prevent post-delivery hemorrhaging.10,16 Read 10 ways to enjoy raspberry leaf tea during pregnancy.
13. Food Prep/Freezer Meals
Grab your favorite cookbook, visit your go-to food blogs, and head to the kitchen. It’s time to start cranking out some freezer meals to store away for when you have baby! I recommend having some meals in the freezer, even if you know friends and family will come by with food in your first few weeks postpartum. Quick bread, crock-pot meals, stews and soups, burritos, casseroles, etc., are your best bet for easy freezing and thawing/eating when you’re a half-asleep new parent.
14. Birth Class and Books
It’s time to move on from the pregnancy/delivery books and look at parenting resources to care for your soon-to-arrive newborn baby. “The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems” is a great book with valuable tips and advice for baby’s feeding, sleeping, and overall scheduling. Another great resource is “The Happiest Baby on the Block.” This video shows how to soothe your baby with the 5 S’s — every new parent needs to know those tricks! Finally, if you need more details and research on sleep, I recommend the book “Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child.” They talk about the science behind it all.
Helpful newborn care articles to check out on Baby Chick:
Watch It Here
15. Postpartum Doula
Many expecting couples are focusing on the labor and birth of their baby (and rightfully so; it’s important). But they forget to think about what happens after giving birth — taking care of the baby. Make sure you enlist some support to help you those first few weeks and months after delivery. If you don’t have anyone close by who can help, start looking into postpartum doulas in your area. They are knowledgable, are trained, and can help you with breastfeeding, pumping, bottle-feeding, showing you how to soothe your baby, learning how to swaddle, newborn care, and much more.
Whether you want help during the day or at night, a postpartum doula is a fantastic support person and resource for families. To find a postpartum doula in your area, look at DONA International and DoulaMatch.net.
This is my ultimate list of third-trimester must-haves for pregnancy! What have been/were your third-trimester must-haves that you loved?
Read Next: The “Fourth Trimester” Survival Guide: How to Survive the First Weeks and Postpartum Essentials