Pregnancy Update | 3rd Trimester

The 3rd trimester hit like a wrecking ball. Well, it wasn't that bad. But my body felt noticeably different, especially when the 1st and 2nd trimester were an easy cruise. Time felt like it was flying by but also ticking slowly at the same time, because of the amount of preparation that still needed to be done, and also the countdown to the due date and finally meeting my son seems like forever. 

At 36 weeks, my son was still head up, butt down in breech position. So the doctor scheduled in for a C-Section at week 39. I'm relieved actually, because going through hours of labor was worrying me. I have pretty low pain tolerance, a small frame, and the baby's head size is 90th percentile. I was originally against a c-section because I didn't want that to affect my ability to do sports such as ice-skating and skiing, but the reality is, pregnancy itself has already affected the abdominal muscles. The c-section is a very low incision at the bikini line and the affect is minimal. Not to mention, if birthing naturally means pain each time you go to the toilet, no thank you. 

I also had this weird realization that you can literally dictate another human being's birthday. His due date was on March 31st, imagine if he decided to come out naturally on April fools day? The ability to control the date is also comforting as it's easy for expectations and arranging for the parents visiting. 

All that being said, my scheduled c-section at the end of the day is for medical reasons, and the safety of the baby and mom is the most important. I would've still tried natural birth if my boy wasn't so stubborn. 

Symptoms & How I'm feeling
Here are the major symptoms:

1. Back pain 
This was completely new, and the most annoying symptom of all. I get it whenever I stay in a single position for more than 30 minutes, whether it's sitting down, lying down, or walking .. etc. What I've found most useful are these Salonpas Muscle pain relief patches. They can be found in most pharmacies. The pink and orange packaging are softer on the skin, so they're not as intense as the regular sports patches. This offers immediate relief if the pain is really bad. 

I've also tried to buy electric heat pads, massagers, and this hard pressure point thingy (not sure what they're called, but you can actually just use tennis balls). These work great if you have to sit or lie in one position for a while. 

By far though, the most sustainable and effective way of relieving back pain is by doing yoga and going for a swim in the pool. I cannot stress this enough. At first I felt lazy and didn't really want to do it, but even just 10 minutes of yoga, followed by floating on your back and lightly kicking in the pool for another 10 minutes helps more than everything mentioned above. I try to go at least twice a week, which keeps my back pain in check. 

2. Heartburn
This is also something new. Heartburn is when your stomach acid shoots back up, you feel it in your throat as this acidy burn, and it's common in the 3rd trimester because hormones are instructing the muscles to relax to prepare for birth. 

There's a few ways to avoid this, drink lots of water, try not to eat overly sweet things just before bed, and if it gets bad, keep a hard mint candy in your mouth and wait for it to melt slowly. Gaviscon also helps as a last resort, but better to drink lots of water than medicate. 

I have this maybe once a week, when I'm stupid enough to eat chocolate or a pop tart right before bed.

3. Swollen feet 

This doesn't happen to me all the time, maybe once or twice a week. But it makes me look like I have hippo or elephant feet. More salt intake will cause this, so try not to over salt your food and drink lots of water. 

This is also a super easy one to solve though, all you need are a pair of airplane compression socks. It's tight around the leg, but like a normal sock at the feet. This helps with blood circulation, and you can absolutely wear it to sleep. There are no restrictions or bad side effects for wearing it for long durations of time.

4. Leg Cramps
I've had this twice, and they are the most horrid feelings you can imagine getting in your legs. It's like the calf muscle shrunk up and is squirming around like a dying worm. It lasts for less than a minute, but the pain is just really annoying. And on top of that it leaves me sore and limping for the next 24 hours (kind of like the sore if you haven't hiked for a year and you just did a 20km hike all in one go.) I'm still not clear on how this one happens, but it does tend to happen in the 3rd trimester. Certain positioning of the legs cause this, and the only fix I've found is to use those muscle pain relief patches after. 

5. Really crazy dreams
This is a weird one. It can be crazy good and crazy bad. I've dreamed things like someone is preventing me from seeing my baby, being chased and killed by a pack of hyenas in my own bedroom, finding my SO dying from glass cuts and a knife wound... but then I've also dreamed about the delivery of kid and bringing him home for the first time. 

As the day gets closer, the brain is probably going into overdrive, worrying and anticipating things. There is every fear that things will go wrong. But there is so much excitement and joy for the arrival. I only have one tip: don't have something high in sugar right before bed. 

6. And.. emotionally?
I wouldn't say that the 3rd trimester is a roller coaster ride. The first trimester was crazier with hormones. For the most part I've been really happy, excited, and calm during these last months. Occasionally there are some thoughts of fear and worries about the birth itself. Occasionally there's doubt on whether not I know how to mom after the arrival of my son. 

And of course there's also this feeling of despair when you've rolled yourself out of bed for the 5th time and it's 3am... the feet and hands are swollen, the belly tender from all the stretching... "sitting" on the toilet is an overstatement because the belly is in the way of everything, and then you get back to bed just to realize the baby has woken up from the pee session and is now nubbing your belly like crazy.. UGH. Still, I've never had any sort of resentment or negative feeling. I still love my son a million, and the next day I still play tiny high-5s with him on my bump. 

Doctor Checkups
Starting in the 3rd trimester at 28 weeks, the checkups are bi-weekly, and then near full-term at 36 weeks the checkups are weekly. These are very important as the doctor checks for the baby's health and positioning, and will also issue the admission letter indicating whether you are fit for natural birth or will have to go for a c-section. 

Some key things to note in 3rd trimester checkups:
  • You and your partner should get the Whooping cough vaccine if you haven't already. This is important for your baby's health. 
  • Glucose blood test (28 weeks): this absolutely sucks, but is also important. The purpose is to check how your body reacts and processes high intake of sugar, essentially if you have diabetes. You have to fast theh day before, and at the clinic they'll take your blood, give you a very disgustingly sweet orange drink, and take your blood twice in the next 2 hours. You can read more here.   
"Unmanaged diabetes can lead to having a larger-sized baby, which may cause complications during deliverypremature delivery, and other complications, like preeclampsia."
  • Group B Strep test (32 weeks): this is via a vaginal swab, for a bacteria commonly found in intestines, vagina, or rectum area. If you are going for a natural birth, this is an important test. 
"The main concern is passing it on to the baby before or during during a vaginal birth. While many babies who get infected stay healthy, a small proportion (about 1 in 200) become very sick within the first few days of life. They get serious infections such as pneumonia and blood poisoning, or meningitis, which is an infection around the brain." source
  • Positioning of baby at 36 weeks: this is the deciding week on whether you get to try natural or you need to schedule for a c-section. Although possible, it is unlikely that your baby will turn after this. 37 weeks is already full term, the baby is pretty big and running out of space to turn. The doctor will give you a date for a scheduled c-section, but will scan you on the day of, and you can cancel and opt for natural if the scan shows the baby has turned head down. There have been studies that even though 37 weeks is full term, babies born before 40 weeks can still have complications. So you should schedule the c-section as close to the due date as possible, sometime between 39 weeks - 40 weeks is best. 

Umbilical cord stem cell collection
This is also something to consider. There are 2 things being collected, the cord blood, and cord lining. Though very pricy (around $10,000 SGD), you can't put a price on your child's life. After evaluating the options, the best we thought was to go with Cord Life. They have one of the best standards, have a really good record, and also operate internationally - so you can ship the cord blood and lining to another country if you decide to move later.

The stem cells in the cord blood can treat over 80 diseases so far, from blood cancers such as Leukaemia, to tumours, blood disorders, and immune disorders etc. Research is also still ongoing, so there are clinical trials on using cord blood to treat heart attacks, HIV, Autism, Cerebral palsy, strokes, parkinson's, and many many more diseases. 

On top of that, the umbilical cord blood stored can not only save your child's life, it also has a 25-35% chance to save you and your spouse's lives.

You should sign up sometime in the 3rd trimester. The agent will meet with you to explain through the process, sign some documents, and give you the collection box to bring with you to the hospital when you give birth. 

Pre-registering at the hospital
Singapore's health care system is one of the world's best. And my doctor also delivers at one of the best private hospitals here, so I didn't hesitate to pre-register myself. There was no point checking other hospitals, especially when I'm lucky enough to be fully covered by insurance. 

Pre-registering just means that when you do show up, you don't need to wait for an hour in agony at the registration desk while you get checked in. All you need to do is to proceed straight to the labor ward. 

Documents you'll need to pre-register are:
  • Doctor's admission letter: indicates natural/c-section/blood work results
  • Doctor's financial counseling form: all costs associate with birth 
  • Letter of Guarantee from Insurance company: this means that you do not need to pay the hospital upfront for the room cost. 

If you wish to reserve a private suite, pre-registering is also good to make sure the hospital has that room available for you. 

Preparing for his arrival

Purchases for the baby and mother 
There were so many things to buy in preparation for a baby, things I've never heard of before. There are the obvious items such as the crib and diapers. But then there were thing like breast pads and bottle sterilizers that I didn't even though existed.  

As soon as the 3rd trimester arrived, we started purchasing items. I made a list in the categories of sleeping, transport, feeding, pooping, bath time, showering, play and others. All in we ended up spending around SG $8,000 on everything, which sounds excessive, but it's hard to hold back when it's your first baby. Plus when insurance covers all medical costs, it seemed like an excuse to splurge more on luxury items for the nursery. 

I'll cover costs in another blog, but some big ticket items were:
  • Stokke Crib, mattress, sheets, waterproof pad: SG $2,000
  • Stokke changing station, mattress, dresser: SG$1,400
  • Yoyo stroller (new born & 6 mo+) plus car seat: SG $1,600
  • Doona stroller: SG $600 
  • Medela Electric breast pump and starter kit: SG $800
  • Mothercare 2-in-1 swing rocker: SG $450 

Getting the Stokke Crib was an easy option. We looked at everything from low range IKEA crips to more high end ones. My main concern was that I'm short, and leaning over a crib (especially after c-section) is difficult. The Stokke Crib has 2 mattress heights, and is also expandable, so it can be used for several years even when the kid is a toddler. 

We got the Yoyo stroller from a friend who also travels with kids a lot, it's cabin approved so you can bring it as a carry on and not have to wait to collect it when you get off the plane. 

The doona stroller was also a recommendation from another friend, it is a car seat stroller, convertible so you don't need to attach and take off pieces, you just need to fold it. 
All of the other items include: 4 sizes of baby clothing (Newborn, up to 1 month, 1-3months, 3-6months), other baby clothing (hat/socks/mittens), baby towels and wash clothes, diapers and wet wipes, diaper rash cream, pacifier, teethers, swaddles and night gowns, breast milk storage bags, nipple wipes and breast pads (these go in the nursing bra to stop milk leakage onto your clothes), bottles, bottle sterilizers, diaper trashcan, feeding pillow, burp cloths, bibs, baby soap, gentle detergent, electric nail trimmer, play mat.. etc 


Washing Baby Clothes and all the sheets
This little dude isn't even born yet, and my god he has a lot of clothes, or it seems. It's hard to predict what size of clothing they need when they are born, so it's advised that you should bring several sizes. They also grow out of their clothes really quickly, so I only bought 3-4 pieces for each size for now. 

A lot of the washing was actually wash clothes, burp cloths, bibs, and towels which you'll go through super quickly.

Another round of washing was all of the mattress covers for the bed and changing station and towels. 

I washed the baby clothes around 35 weeks, and it took loads and 2 days to finish up because the drying took a while. A lot of the clothes said no drying in a machine. 


Preparing for breastfeeding - disinfect all the gear
Pumping breasts is a serious business, it takes 15min at least per boob, and if you are doing that every few hours, manually, one side at a time, your hands and arms will be so sore. That's why I went straight for the Medela Freestyle double electric breast pump. I also got the breastfeeding starter pack from Medela which will include nipple wipes, nipple cream, breastmilk storage bag, nursing pads etc. 

And while you can disinfect bottles with boiling water, imagine doing that every 2 hours, on top of changing diapers, feeding, and god-forbid if you have time - sleep. So a sterilizer machine helps a lot. We got the Haenim one for free by signing up with Cord Life, and this little machine is amazing. You can dry bottles, sterilize them, and store them where it auto sterilizes every 30 minutes. The machine is not only good for bottles, but you can also fit stuffed toys in. 

It connects via bluetooth on an app, so you can check the status of the bottles of activate the machine just from your phone. Linked here is a detailed guide. 


Reading Books 
I have to be honest.. I found the prenatal classes offered pretty useless. It was a free program from the hospital, a 1 day workshop, with a supposedly well-regarded and well-known doctor in Singapore. She was very disorganized and all over the place. There was a lot of non-essential things, like spending around 15-20 minutes going around letting women touch each other's bumps. And then there was a rush through really important stuff like labor and breast feeding. 

I personally prefer books, and "Guide to Your Baby's First Year" by Mayo Clinic is the best I've found. It's written by a group of doctors who are also parents themselves. It's a very comprehensive book with no airy-fairy bs, facts only, and very practical. 

It covers, honestly, everything you need to know:
  • Part 1 starts off with baby's first days, and then goes into feeding, diapers, bathing, clothing, sleeping, comforting a crying baby, and understanding a baby's temperament. 
  • Part 2 is all about baby's health and safety, including choosing a healthcare provider, checkups, vaccinations, child care (options/things to consider), traveling with a baby, home and outdoor safety, and very important emergency care, which I bookmarked in gold. 
  • Part 3 is month by month development, which I haven't read yet and will read monthly after the baby is born. 
  • Part 4 I also book marked in gold - Common illnesses and concerns. This part is really useful as it lists out not only symptoms, but also when you should go to the ER straight away. 
  • Part 5 is all about mom and dad, managing and enjoying parenthood. 
  • Part 6 covers special circumstances such as having multiples, adoptions, premature baby, delayed development etc. 

I've never read a 600 page book more quickly. I highlighted and took some important notes on my laptop in case I need to refer back to it. Most importantly, I feel ready to be a mom. 

Packing the hospital bag
The hospital will generally have almost everything you can think of, from diapers to formula, maxi pads and disposable undies. My doctor told me that all I needed to bring are: my going home outfit, baby's going home outfit, car seat, and documents (Hospital admission paperwork, and for the birth registration: passport/IDs/marriage certificate). 

I researched a lot on google and pinterest, asked around for advice from friends who's delivered recently, and decided on this list: 

For momNursing gown/robe (easy access to boobs and c-section scar), nursing bra, nursing pads, disposable panties, super soft toilet paper & peri-bottle (to rinse downstairs), fluffy socks/slippers, travel carry on bag essentials (makeup/remover, contact solution, dry shampoo (you won't want to full on shower after surgery), ear plugs, eye mask, body lotion, tooth brush, hair tie and hair clip), electronics (whatever makes sense, phone, kindle, headphones, laptop, and most importantly super long charging table, I'm talking about 1.5m)Coming home outfit, and Snacks (especially biltong and salami because for 9 months I couldn't eat these)

For baby: onesies (newborn, up to 1 month, and 1-3 month sizes), swaddle, hat, car seat, diapers, diaper cream

Important items: hospital/doctor's admission letter, paperwork for birth registration, cord blood collection kit 

All of this fits into my small plane carry on bag from Muji, and we'll be bringing the Doona stroller/car seat. The less to carry the better, it's easier to wheel around items. 

Counting down the weeks
The last few weeks as I start to work from home, each day feels long, but then you're constantly thinking about anything else that needs to be done. That means running a mental image of what the day of the scheduled c-section process will be like, writing out a step-by-step guide for the husband, checking the formula tin to make sure I know how to make a bottle of milk correctly.. etc 

But it's easy to fall 100% into the "mother" role, and forget that you're also a wife and you're also.. well, you! So around 1-2 weeks before the surgery, I booked to get my nails done (totally safe, ok'ed by my doctor), to get my hair re-bleached and colored (safe, also ok'ed by my doctor), and to get my lashes done. It's gonna be a while until I can leave the house, in peace, and get pampered so might as well get it in while you can. 

Wearing some rings I had pre-marriage.. because my fat fingers won't allow me to put my engagement and wedding ring on anymore! 

I also bought this baby journal by rylandpeters. This is the same journal I used for my pregnancy and it has some really great content. You can get the baby journal in blue, pink or yellow. It's available on amazon, or directly from the ryalndpeters website. The journal starts from when the parents found out about the pregnancy, to baby names considered, preparing for the nursery, the big day from mom's point of view, dad's point of view.. then it goes onto milestones within the first year of your baby's life, things like sleep, feeding, trying real food for the first time, favorite toys etc. 

The thing you didn't know you needed in life till you see it - baby head bump protector
I saw this while scrolling through 9gag, and had to find it immediately! This is too cute (and functional, a great excuse to buy it). It's available on amazon, but doesn't ship worldwide, so instead I found it on Loomrack. The site does seem slightly dodgy, but I had no trouble ordering from them, the shipping just took a while and it ships from China. The checkout is also safe via paypal so there's no worries there. 

Some more 3rd trimester bump photos


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