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Working in the Third Trimester (The Complete Survival Guide)

Working in the Third Trimester (The Complete Survival Guide)

When it comes to the third trimester, you are tired and uncomfortable. You’re desperately ready for the baby to make his or her debut. But this final stretch of pregnancy symbolizes a whole lot more than fatigue followed by labor and delivery whilst you continue to work your 9-5.

In the third trimester you’ll start experiencing things like big feet, blotchy skin, constipation, incontinence blurry vision, bleeding gums, lacking sleep, more sickness and leaking breasts!

Cheers miracle making – we can’t wait, but this is about survival. Working in the third trimester could be tough for moms, but here’s how to not just survive but thrive through your third trimester at work.

The physiology during the third trimester

The third trimester, starting at 28 weeks, comes along with a whole host of new changes in your body. The size and weight of your bundle of joy grows, consequently you’ll be kicked internally, experience lower back pain and/or pelvic pain due to the change in your centre of gravity and have a tiny person using your bladder as a cushion.

Accompanying that you’ll experience swelling in your ankles, feet and hands as well as delightful disruptions in your sleep. Emotions run high and stress can elevate as you await, somewhat anxiously, the inevitable upturn of your life.

You may feel as if time is running out to get everything ready, you’re not performing at your best at work and that you’re constantly tired.

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All of this is compounded by the physiological changes listed above and you’re guaranteed to be searching for gaining energy, vitality and maximise the rest of your time in work.

It’s time to thrive at work – not just survive the third trimester.

Common obstacles at work in your third trimester

  • Clumsiness – That kind from disrupted sleep and leaves you feeling less than your best.
  • Difficulty concentrating and getting stuff done – Partly hormonal, partly lack of sleep, partly stress. All of this adds up to your mind jumping all over the place whilst at work and concentration lacking.
  • Discomfort at your desk or standing all day – Because as the weight at the front of your body increases it changes the positioning of your pelvis. The front dips forward to accommodate your bundle of joy which consequently puts pressure through your lumbar spine.
  • Frequent bathroom breaks – To pee and to try and poop as you experience constipation from a tiny person pressing on your bladder and intestines.
  • High stress levels with emotional outbursts – Because hormones and the (potential self imposed) expectations of what you’ve got to finish and do.
  • Forgetfulness – Baby brain is real. Combine the stress, the lack of sleep and any would become forgetful.
  • Pressure to complete tasks before you leave for maternity – Because you want to leave feeling accomplished and beneficial to your company.

How to survive and thrive

This really comes down to three parts: food, movement and mindfulness. There are several tools which I’ll discuss now.

Food

Whilst you’re growing a person, it’s important to realise that you needn’t ‘eat for two’. Simply adding an extra 300kCal per day is all that’s required.

The most important thing to bear in mind is food quality – so enjoying a whole foods, varied diet with plenty of green vegetables, fish, smart carbohydrates and fibre.

Washing this down with plenty of water. Having reached the third trimester I know you’ll be conscious of what you’re eating to provide the best for your unborn.

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You can use the following adjustments to make the best of your nutrition during this time.

  1. Eat small and frequent meals to allow for the compressed size of your stomach. This will reduce symptoms of heart burn and constipation.
  2. ‘Drink your food, chew your water’. Chew your food thoroughly so that it is completely combined with saliva beginning the digestion process. A good rule to use is to chew each mouthful 30 times. Chewing your water similarly combines the water with salvia so that it can be more easily absorbed by your body reducing swelling.
  3. Take time to eat away from your desk, which is something I recommend to everyone. This practice helps to lower stress, become more mindful of your meal and a mental break from your day to reduce stress.
  4. Drink so much water, which even though it means you’ll be nipping to the loo more frequently aids lymphatic flow. The lymphatic system is throughout the body and carries fluid, removes toxins and when blocked causes swollen joints. By drinking more you are turning the lymphatic system from a swamp like condition to a flowing river. This means your aching swollen joints will reduce.
  5. Focus on high nutrient dense foods which are high in volume to assist your satiety, concentration and fuel your baby’s growth. Because when you are fuelling right you feel right on the inside and out.

Movement

Regardless of whether your pregnant or not sitting OR standing ALL day isn’t good for your health. According to British Journal of Sports Medicine:[1]

“Every hour of television watched may reduce our lifespan by an average of 21.8 minutes. Smoking a cigarette, on the other hand, reduces our lifespan by about 11 minutes.”

The pain, clumsiness, foggy headedness, difficulty concentrating and stress of the third trimester can all be combated by movement.

These movement tweaks can accompany your day whilst you’re working to thrive through your third trimester at work:

  1. Practicing breath work which will help in part to release the diaphragm which contributes to postural imbalances and has a further benefit of reducing stress. 3 to 5 times per day hug yourself wrapping your arms around your rib cage, breath into your hands so that your rib cage expands whilst keeping the shoulders down and relaxed. Breathe in for a count of 2 to 3 and out for a count of 4 to 5.
  2. Request an ergonomically suited chair to give you the utmost support taking pressure off leaning into uncomfortable positions to get closer to your computer screen to concentrate. Not only will this make your working environment more productive but it will also relieve pressure.
  3. Get up and move frequently either using a smart watch for movement tracking or setting reminders on your phone at least once per hour. Stand whilst you’re on the phone rather than remaining seated. By doing so you will improve circulation to reduce swelling as well as taking pressure off your joints.
  4. Stretch your hip flexors, the muscle at the front of your thighs. As your posture changes from the new weight distribution in your body, your quads become tight and consequently cause back pain. This is a big key hitter when it comes to removing back pain and boosting recovery post birth.
  5. Use a foam roller at your desk focusing on rolling your calves, quads, hips and chest. These areas are areas which, due to the postural changes, become very tight throughout pregnancy and beyond. Beginning foam rolling these areas now will reduce tension through your neck, shoulders and lower back whilst assisting drainage through your feet and ankles.

Mindfulness

Whatever type of birth plan you’re creating you’ll have spent and be spending time thinking of all you need to for the big day and time after. This energy that you’re putting out is essential for your peace of mind now and moving forwards.

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As your date comes nearer and closer by the day its more than likely your thoughts are ahead in that future. Being mindful to remain in the present is essential to remaining calm, thriving and surviving your last weeks of pregnancy.

Here are four ways to remain mindful and present:

  1. Ask for help. Designate projects to people if you go into labour early. Reach out to your co-workers and delegate away things that add to your stress levels. Whilst asking for help can sometimes be uncomfortable and stressful, this habit will leave you feeling less stressed and comfortable in your role.
  2. Don’t overextend yourself as it’s ok to not promise the world. Slow down to get more done. By being realistic, you will not exhaust yourself aiming to reach unrealistic expectations leading up to your due date.
  3. Take mental health days especially if you already have kids at home. The need to get all the things done and look after the kids at the weekend can mean that you don’t have down days over the weekend. Taking time through the week will enable you to really rest and take time for yourself whilst you can.
  4. Dress comfortably in all the dresses, supportive shoes and layers. Because there is nothing more irritating than seams digging into you, tired feet and being too hot or too cold. When you’re comfortable, you’re less stressed and more calm. All good for bump and YOU.
  5. Don’t set a defined maternity leave date. Have a ball park but you may find that you become more fatigued sooner than you thought or if you start too soon that you’ll become too restless. Play by ear and listen to your body having open communication with your boss. This can massively reduce your stress and expectations enabling you to go with the flow more easily.

Final thoughts

Because this is the time that you have with yourself for the last time. You’ll have a tiny person to consume your time moving forwards. Using these three tips for each area can really help you be your best you throughout your life and work during your third trimester. It really is a time not only just to survive but to thrive.

Look at each area and start with one tip to focus on for a week or two and see how it impacts your life. So for example picking to ‘drink your food, chew your water’, ‘practicing breath work’ and ‘asking for help’ are small steps that will make a huge difference.

And the great thing about them is that they won’t ADD time to your day, they will actually take time and energy away. You already have to eat so eat with more consciousness. You already have to breathe so do it with awareness. You already have to do work, so ask for someone to help with what you’ve got.

The third trimester is a time of anticipation and excitement for the baby’s arrival. Fear and worry about childbirth and caring for the baby after birth are common but needn’t interrupt your time at work. Using these techniques all good ways to prepare for childbirth and decrease anxiety.

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Some women may feel less attractive due to body changes, partner support and reassurance is very important during this time. Father’s may also feel anxious about their role in the childbirth process and question their ability to parent and provide for a larger family.

Everyone may begin to feel impatient for the baby’s birth. Remember to enjoy your baby’s kicks inside you for these last few weeks and be sure to spend special time with your partner and other children- life is about to change!

So, commit to yourself and do these practices and techniques for you, for now. By doing them, you’re alleviating pressure, removing pain and thriving your last trimester.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Camilla Dempster

A prenatal/postnatal and health expert who teaches women to ditch the binge/restrict/guilt cycle around their body, food and exercise.

The Leading Causes of Prenatal Depression and How to Manage it Best The Most Critical Do’s and Don’ts of Working Out While Pregnant Working in the Third Trimester (The Complete Survival Guide)

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Published on March 5, 2020

How to Help Your Child to Develop the 7 Executive Functioning Skills

How to Help Your Child to Develop the 7 Executive Functioning Skills

Tommy wants his toy back. His brother is playing with his favorite toy and he wants it back. Tommy starts to scream and is hitting his brother uncontrollably. He is three and these fits of rage and lack of self-control rear their ugly head daily. Their parents rush into the room and diffuse the situation. They are at a loss as to why Tommy has little to no self-control.

Is it just the terrible twos that are stretching beyond the twos? Or is there something else that can better explain his behavior?

Actually, Tommy, like many little tots, is still developing his executive functioning skills. These skills are imperative in helping us regulate our behaviors and exhibit self-control. Parents need to understand the role of executive functioning skills and how they can help their child develop these skills.

I will provide an explanation of these skills and tips in this article to help parents with this understanding.

What Are Executive Functioning Skills?

Executive function is processes in the brain that help us function. Executive function helps with the execution of the variety of skills. These are a top 10 list of the skills associated with executive functioning:

  • Paying attention
  • Completion of a task from start to finish
  • Self-motivation
  • Self control, impulse control, and inhibition (the ability to control one’s actions and behaviors)
  • Organize and make decisions
  • Manage time properly for completion of tasks
  • Mental flexibility (being able to change directions with a task when needed)
  • Accurate self-assessment (able to look at one’s abilities and achievements objectively)
  • Memory and recall (ability to keep information and retrieve it when needed)
  • Task initiation (ability to dive into a project and get started)

People with low executive functioning skills have a harder time socializing, getting tasks completed, and controlling their basic impulses. There are a variety of problems and even diagnosable disorders associated with executive dysfunction.

For example, when a first grader with poor executive functioning skills wants the pink ball at recess, and another littler girl has the only pink ball, the little girl who wants the ball may hit the other child because her impulse is to do whatever it takes to get that ball.

She has not developed the skills to process the situation logically nor the ability to develop a plan to ask politely to share the ball. Her executive functioning skills are not developed enough so she reacts without thinking about the consequences. Her impulses take over.

The Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University explains the role of executive function as follows:[1]

Executive function and self-regulation skills are the mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully. Just as an air traffic control system at a busy airport safely manages the arrivals and departures of many aircraft on multiple runways, the brain needs this skill set to filter distractions, prioritize tasks, set and achieve goals, and control impulses.

We are not born with executive functioning skills. These skills are something we develop.

Good parenting methods can help with the development of these skills. They are important because the benefits of learning these skills can last for a lifetime. These skills are those we begin building early in life and we can continue building upon in childhood and into adulthood.

This building upon skills is called scaffolding. It is never too late to develop executive functioning skills, but the earlier they can begin developing the better off a person will be in handling life, as the skills build upon themselves.

The Importance of Executive Functioning Skills

Executive functioning skills affect us in every area of life. Here are some examples.

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Health

If a teenager doesn’t have good impulse control skills, then that individual may be more likely to succumb to peer pressure. Their lack of self control can affect their decision making and lead to drug addiction, alcohol abuse, or addiction to pornography.

The executive functioning skill of self-control has an effect on our food choices. If we lack self control with food, we are more likely to make poor food choices, based on impulses. Junk food can easily become the go-to food for an individual who lacks self-control with food.

Academic Success

Memory is one of the primary areas of executive functioning. If an individual has not developed good memory and recall skills, they will likely do poor in school.

Studying for exams, learning how to memorize and recall information are imperative to success in school. Planning skills and task management skills (i.e. completion of assignments) is also imperative to academic success.

Career Success

If someone has poor executive functioning skills in the area of planning and task execution, then career success will be limited.

When assigned a work project, the individual with poor planning skills may wait until the last minute to prepare their presentation. Their poor time management and planning skills can lead to workplace failures.

Social Relationships

When a child doesn’t have good executive functioning skills which includes self-control, they may fail to see the feelings of others in the moment.

When they lose at a game, they may sulk or cry. They may also yell at their playmates when they don’t get their way. Worse yet, they can act out violently, such as hitting and biting when someone has a toy that they want. Their ability to control their impulses is poor when they have not developed good executive functioning skills.

Romantic Relationships

The man who doesn’t know how to take no for an answer when it comes to physical romantic interactions may be someone who lacks impulse control. He may know right from wrong, but he has not learned how to control his impulses. This can obviously lead to major problems in any romantic relationship.

If you don’t want a son who rapes girls (or vice versa, because that happens too), then you need to instill more than a sense of right and wrong. They must also be taught self-control and to navigate their impulses to make good decisions in heated situations.

Ways to Help Your Child Develop Executive Functioning Skills

A great deal of executive functioning skill development occurs during childhood. How a child is raised will have a big impact on whether or not they have developed good executive functioning skills by adulthood.

1. Routines

Daily routines can help establish order and predictability. Children (and adults) benefit from routines that establish good daily habits. For example, in the morning some good habits to establish and expect from children are getting dressed, brushing their teeth, putting on their shoes, combing their hair and preparing their backpack.

Making their bed, picking up their room, and other chores are also good daily tasks to add to the routine if your child isn’t doing them already. If you wonder what kind of chores are age appropriate for your child, you can check out this posting from Focus on the Family. They have provided examples of age appropriate charts along with a free printable chore chart.

If your child has difficulty getting things done in the morning, then create a chart for them to check off their tasks as they complete them each morning. You can find charts online for purchase, such as major creative websites like Etsy. They have magnet boards that can be customized for tasks you want your child to do each morning. Amazon has a variety of these premade boards for sale.

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Just use the search terms “daily routine charts” or “morning routine charts” and you will find lots of options. If you are crafty you can easily make one yourself. Below is chart of one such product found on Amazon using the search terms I mentioned above.

    2. After School Homework Time

    Most kids do not come home from school and decide to get started on their homework. It would be great if they did! If your child does this, then you need to realize you have a unicorn. Most children need reminding about homework, especially in the early days when they first start receiving homework.

    It is helpful to set aside a specific time period after school when homework is to be completed. For example, you can set a rule that they must do it immediately after school, and they cannot use electronics or play until it is finished.

    Getting your child in the habit of doing their homework sooner than later helps with planning skills. Having a teenager who waits until 11pm on a Sunday night to start a book report that they have known about for a week is a bad habit.

    Don’t let your child become an out of control procrastinator. Start teaching them time management and planning skills early in life. You will reap the benefits too.

    Start helping them plan on getting homework done before they can play is a good policy. It also helps with developing self control, as they must get the work done before they can do something enjoyable. They learn to appreciate their electronics and free time more when they have accomplished a task (i.e. homework) to earn the right to play.

    3. Calendar/Agenda

    Get your child in the habit of using a calendar or agenda book at an early age. When I was in 6th grade, our school issued an agenda book to each student. I have since been using the organizational habits I learned from that time in my life. I will still record writing deadlines among other appointments in my book.

    Have your child record their assignments in their own agenda book. Putting major assignments on a calendar is also helpful.

    Using a calendar or agenda book can help with establishing planning skills. If they look at their calendar in the morning and see that they have their term project due and basketball practice after school, they can go out the door with the completed project in hand along with clothes for practice. Helping your child prepare for their day, week, and month becomes easier when it is visible on a calendar.

    Do digital calendars work? Yes, but not as well as paper calendars. There is always a risk of losing things that are digital or having a dead phone. Having it on paper can also allow for a quick “month at a glace” viewing (if they have calendar that shows month to month like I do). Such a glace can provide quick reminders of what needs to get done in the near future or appointments that need preparation.

    4. Set Rules

    Rules are the backbone of the household function. If kids don’t know what time they are supposed to be home, what chores are expected, and when they should be going to bed, then they are not learning planning skills in the home.

    Kids need clearly defined rules. It doesn’t mean that they have to be strict or over the top rules. However, they need to be clearly conveyed to each member of the household. Putting them in writing will definitely make it clear.

    Setting clear rules such as no shoes in the house, no yelling indoors, no eating in the living room, etc. can help kids understand the parameters for their behavior inside the home. This helps them to develop self-control as they learn what is expected.

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    Broken rules should result in consequences (for example in our home it is usually loss of technology time or a time-out). Setting rules is setting expectations. This helps with children and their development of a variety of executive functioning skills including planning, organization, time management, paying attention, and self control.

    5. Consequences

    Consequences definitely help with the development of self-control. If your toddler learns that temper tantrums always lead to time outs, then they eventually stop with the tantrums because they realize they aren’t worth it.

    Consequences should be reasonable and age appropriate. For more details on this topic, you can check out my previously published article: How to Discipline a Child.

    6. Break Down Big Tasks

    Kids that have a hard time getting started on large projects or tasks simply feel overwhelmed and they freeze up. Help your child out by breaking down a larger task.

    For example, if they have a book report due next month then help them examine the steps involved. First would be writing the book, next writing the report, and finally turning in the report before the deadline. You can help them set the dates to get each of the tasks completed in a timely fashion. You can even go as far as helping them assign themselves specific chapters to read by certain dates. It helps them to see their big task as a series of small tasks that they can complete more easily and build upon.

    Breaking down big tasks can help with a child who has problems getting started on projects. It can also help them develop their planning, organization, and follow-through skills. These are all executive functioning skills that are wonderful to develop earlier in life than later.

    7. Memory Games and Play

    Playing games and allowing your child to play can help with the development of executive functioning skills. Memory is one of the top ten executive functioning skills.

    To help a child develop their memory, you can play matching games, such as the one actually called Memory. You can also play sorting games, hide and seek, and matching games. These types of activities can help with memory, recall, and the development of other executive function skills too (i.e. planning, organization, motivation).

    Teaching your child to sing songs from memory and play an instrument are also very helpful in developing executive functioning skills. Harvard’s Center for the Developing Child provides a resource list of fun activities you can do with your child to help them develop their executive functioning skills.[2]

    8. Motivate

    Internal motivation

    does not come automatically for all kids. Sometimes children need to have external motivation to get them down the path toward success. Once they feel success and enjoy their pursuits, they will learn to self motivate.

    To get them started you may need to help motivate them. Offering genuine praise for their success is one way to motivate. If you are motivating them away from bad decisions, you may need to use consequences or discipline. However, praise and rewards are always more motivating in the long run.

    9. Home Organization

    It is hard for a child to learn how to be organized, not lose their personal items, and keep on schedule if their home life is chaos. A home that is clutter filled, unkept, and where things are easily lost does not lend itself to helping a child develop good executive functioning skills.

    Some home organization methods that can help your child include having a specific place for backpacks, coats, and shoes to be placed when not being used. This will help with their routine, planning, and time management skills.

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    Having them participate in keeping a home in order helps with their development of executive functioning skills, as they are learning about organization, planning, task initiation, and task completion. Overall, the best benefits of an organized home are their development of time management skills and routine.

    10. Self Control Techniques

    Self control is an executive functioning skills that is imperative to life success. If you have a child who is still throwing temper tantrums in public at age 10 because they can’t control themselves, then you definitely have a problem.

    There should be consequences for lack of self control that is disruptive or damaging. For example, a child’s tantrums can result in loss of play time, or a child who steals a classmate’s lip gloss simply because they wanted it (lack of impulse control) will need to return it, apologize to the classmate, and will be grounded for a week. Whatever the situation may be, there should be an adequate consequence to match the failure to control their behaviors.

    Once children learn that their behaviors have consequences, they learn to control their behaviors better. A child who wants to go to the movies after church, but knows that they must be quiet during church for them to be allowed to go out with their friends, will likely be quiet during church so that they can get the desired result (movie with friends after church). Providing consequences in advance (or the potential for rewards like the example above) can help to promote self control in your child.

    Help to motivate your child by providing both rewards and consequences as fitting for the situation. Again, remember that rewards are always more effective for long term positive results and can help to create genuine motivation toward good behavior.

    11. Be the Example

    To teach your child skills that embody good executive skill functioning, you must be the example. For example, if you want your child to follow rules, then you should also follow the rules set forth for you (i.e. the laws). If you are a habitual speeder and you say things like “those speed limits are only suggestions,” you are essentially telling your child that rules and laws don’t matter. If you want children who follow rules, order, and the laws of society, then you must be a good example.

    If you want your child to not be late for school, then you should set the example for morning routines and leaving early to get to your destination. Your habits such as organizational skills, time management, following rules, planning skills, and completing tasks are being observed by your children on a daily basis. They learn just as much, if not more, through your actions than your words. “Actions speak louder than words” is a motto to live by.

    12. Teach Self-Evaluation Through Questions

    The ability to assess one’s own abilities and achievements (or lack thereof) is an executive functioning skill. If someone is weak at this skill, then they will be shocked when they fail at something.

    Help your child prepare for success and failure. If they fail at something, then ask them “what do you think you could do different next time?” If they can recognize areas that need to be improved, then their perception of the situation and the reality can become more closely aligned.

    If you tell your child “you deserved to win” every time that they lose, they are going to start believing you and they will see no wrong in themselves. You teach them to evaluate themselves by asking them questions.

    Below are some additional questions you can use with your children. Be sure to use a kind and inviting tone. If you sound sarcastic or harsh, your child is going to shut down to your questioning and it will not be productive. If you want a meaningful conversations, then use a tone that shows you care for them and are genuinely interested in their situation:

    • How do you think it went?
    • What could you do differently next time?
    • What is one thing that you could improve on before next time (next game, meet, test, etc.)?
    • What did you learn from your disappointment today (or loss or whatever happened)?
    • How are you feeling about your disappointment?
    • What did you learn from this experience?
    • What is something positive you can take away from the experience?
    • What do you think it will take for you to win next time (or pass the test or whatever the situation may be)?
    • What kind of plan do you need in place to take you to that next win?

    Final Thoughts

    Executive functioning skills are essential to human function. The weaker the executive functioning skills, the less successful a person is likely to become in life in all areas (except maybe sleep). Although routine and time management help with sleep too!

    Executive functioning skills are learned primarily in the home though a primary caregiver (usually the parent). How a child is raised (and treated), their home environment, and the behaviors (and example) of their primary caregiver play a huge role in developing executive functioning skills.

    Even if a child doesn’t develop them early in life, all hope is not lost. These skills can still be developed in late childhood and even into adulthood. Just do the best that you can do as a parent for your child now.

    More Parenting Skills

    Featured photo credit: Paige Cody via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] The Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University: Executive Function & Self-Regulation
    [2] Harvard’s Center for the Developing Child: Executive Function Activities for 3- to 5-year-olds

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