The Biggest Loser trainer and America’s favorite motivator, Jillian Michaels gives her tips and tricks for thriving through your final trimester
There’s nothing quite like the magical, mystical weeks of the third trimester. Afraid, exhausted, excited, with your due date just around the corner, you’re eager to hold that baby in your arms—and probably nervous about giving birth, being a good mom, and getting your figure back.
Let me start by saying this: I hear you. I validate you. Everything you are feeling is normal. No matter where your head goes during this time, give yourself permission to feel all your feelings—good, bad, or indifferent. Your emotions are your higher self trying to tell you something. Allow yourself to be who you are and where you are. To help you embrace the changes, I’ve put together some mental, nutritional, and physical pointers to get you feeling strong inside and out.
Mental fitness: Visualize and affirm
Sure, your imagination can be a source of fear, but it can also be the remedy. By harnessing the power of your thoughts and practicing visualization techniques, you can make your mind work for you, not against you.
It’s simple: Create a picture in your mind of your healthy, strong body moving effortlessly through your birth plan. Imagine yourself holding your baby in your arms for the first time. Spend five minutes each day concentrating on this image, truly believing in it as if it were already a reality. Be detailed and comprehensive, and be sure to include your emotional well-being in this vision as well. Visualization works because your brain can’t tell the difference between a real event and an imagined one. So by using your imagination, you can create positive experiences that improve your self-image and your skills, help you release worry, and realize your goals.
An affirmation is simply a statement, directed toward yourself and confirming what you want to happen. A daily affirmation is a powerful tool for a self-empowered and fulfilled life, directly affecting your conscious and subconscious mind and thereby helping you to transform negative belief systems into positive ones.
State your affirmations in the present tense, so that your mind knows what you want to achieve is already happening. Instead of saying, “I would like to be comfortable in my body” say, “I am comfortable in my body.” Your affirmations must also use positive words. If you say, “I will not suffer in during labor,” your mind registers the word suffer and will do its best to create situations of suffering. Instead say, “I am strong and powerful. My labor will go well.” By practicing these affirmations regularly you will create a climate ripe for positive outcomes.
Food: What your body needs
Your baby will gain around five pounds in this trimester, so be vigilant about maintaining proper nutrition. Protein is key at this time because it is the building block of every cell. This is also when your baby’s bones really grow, so make sure you get enough calcium through organic dairy products such as yogurt and milk. Folic acid is considered important during your entire pregnancy, but particularly in the third trimester because it aids in your baby’s neurological development. Make sure your prenatal vitamin gives you the folic acid you need (400 micrograms), and continue to eat foods loaded with it: leafy green vegetables, asparagus, whole grains, liver, beans, and peas.
You might also be experiencing nausea again due to hormonal changes, or heartburn from the pressure of the growing baby on your stomach. If that’s the case, try eating smaller meals more frequently, remain upright after you eat, and add papaya, organic milk, and honey into your diet, which help naturally alleviate irritation from heartburn.
Fitness: Strength for labor
Exercise is important throughout a woman’s life, and pregnancy is no different. Some women will disagree with me and God knows they have every right. I have not been through this personally, so it’s easy for me to have an opinion. But I promise you that exercise can give you energy, help you sleep, facilitate an easier labor, and speed your recovery time after the birth. Let’s be crystal clear about one thing, though—this is not the time for you try and lose weight or become obsessive-compulsive about your body. You are going to gain weight. Adding roughly a pound a week is considered healthy, so chill out and take it in stride.
The third trimester puts intense stress on your body. For one thing, your uterus is 100 times its normal size. And you’re carrying around an extra 20 to 40 pounds, making even the simplest activity a workout. So give yourself a major pat on the back for going through what would make even the toughest gym rat grunt and groan. Here are some basic rules for fitness in the third trimester:
- Before beginning any kind of exercise program, check with your doctor first.
- Drink lots of water to keep hydrated, and wear loose, comfortable clothing.
- Exercise two to three times a week. Walk, swim, or bike at a moderate to low intensity for up to 30 minutes.
- Abdominal and back exercises help with postural changes, stability, and keep your body strong after the baby’s born. But doing crunches on your back is not safe, so switch to standing pelvic tilts, lying on your side, or on your hands and knees.
- The third trimester is a perfect time to make stretching the focus of your fitness routine. Prenatal yoga keeps the blood flowing through your muscles, relieve tension, and keep your body supple.
Enjoy the journey
The confidence you’ll gain from mental, nutritional, and physical fitness will give you strength during labor, birth, and parenting. Remember to draw on these tools! Have faith in yourself and in the process as you welcome your child into the world.
Jillian Michaels is one of the leading health and fitness experts in the country. A New York Times best-selling author, radio host, and TV personality, Jillian helps people take steps to living a more healthy and balanced lifestyle. Check out her website, jillianmichaels.com.