This chapter has information about your third trimester (months 7, 8 and 9 of your pregnancy), and about getting ready for the birth of your new baby. At this time you may start feeling more tired as your baby gets larger. You may feel excited, anxious or scared about the birth of your baby. Soon you will see your baby for the first time!
By the end of the third trimester:
- Your baby will be about 51 cm long (20 inches) and weigh 3.5 kg (7.5 pounds).
- Your baby’s skin will begin to look less wrinkled as your baby grows and gains weight.
- Your baby can hear sounds, like voices and music.
- Your baby’s movements will change. The movements become less big but may feel wiggly and squirmy.
- Your baby’s head has hair.
- The brains, lungs, and other organs continue to grow and develop.
- Your baby responds to light.
- The sex organs are developed.
- Most babies will move lower and into a head down position, getting ready to be born.
Preparing a Sacred Bundle for Your Baby
According to some First Nations customs, a sacred bundle is prepared for the baby. Tobacco, sage, cedar, and sweetgrass are the most common medicines to put into a bundle. The bundle contains things that will help guide the person through life. Some parents place a drum or rattle in the bundle. Gifts for the baby can also be added. After their baby is born, some parents put their baby’s dried up umbilical cord in the bundle or in a pouch near where their baby sleeps.
For information and support:
Best Start Resource Centre
Online resources about prenatal and child health.
Public Health Agency of Canada
Information about pregnancy, and planning a pregnancy.
Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Information about pregnancy, birth control, and sexual health.
Your Local Public Health Department
Public health nurses provide information and support.
or Call Service Ontario: 1-800-267- 8097
What is preterm labour?
Normally, pregnancy lasts between 37 and 42 weeks. Preterm labour is labour that starts too early (before 37 weeks). It can cause your baby to be born too soon. Babies who are born too soon may have health problems. They may need special care in the hospital.
What should I do if I have any of these signs?
Get a hold or your Care Provider or go to the hospital right away.
There are things that your health care provider can do to help.
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea helps to tone and get the womb (uterus) muscles ready for labor and delivery. I love this stuff and will be drinking a lot of it from now on! The nice thing is you can make it into an iced tea too! This can be safely used throughout the pregnancy and is full of vitamins (calcium and vitamin C). You can also add rosehips for flavour or mint and it is very healthy... 2 to 3 cups a day in the 3rd trimester is good to get that uterus in shape! This also helps after birth to get the uterus back down to size quickly and with less bleeding!
– Queen Sacheen, Nuu Chah Nulth
What you can do
It is not possible to prevent all preterm births, but there are things you can do to reduce the chance of preterm labour:
The third trimester is a good time to start getting ready for labour and birth.
What you can do:
- Talk to your partner, family, and friends about your feelings about labour and birth.
- Talk to others about their labour and birth. Ask them how they felt during the first few weeks after their baby was born. Say no “horror stories” please! It is important to have a positive but proactive approach. This helps you keep a ‘good mind’ in pregnancy.
- If you can, go on a hospital tour with your partner, a family member or a friend. This can be helpful even if you plan to birth at home or in a birthing centre. Find out more about the services at the hospital. Many hospitals have staff who are familiar with First Nations cultures. Some hospitals have a special room for families who want to smudge. This may be an important ceremony for you and your family during labour and after the birth. Elders and/or drummers may be available to come to the hospital as well. Think about other traditions you might like.
- Think of who you want with you during your labour and birth. Some people want their parents with them during labour, but not during the actual birth. Some want this the other way around. Everyone has different needs.
- If you are giving birth in a hospital or birthing centre, find out how many people can be with you during labour.
- Make a list of things you and your baby will need. Family and friends may be able to give or lend you items on the list.
- Your baby’s sleep area will need to be set up. The safest place for your baby to sleep is in a crib, cradle or bassinet in your room (see page 106 for more information).
- Learn more about chest or breastfeeding.Many communities have lactation support groups or a lactation consultant who can help.
- Learn about caring for a new baby.
- Ask for help from family and friends for your first few weeks at home.
- Think about preparing extra meals and freezing them for after you and your baby come home. or get family and friends to sign up to a “bring a meal” list for postpartum.
- Rest when you can.
- Learn about community services for new parents. These can be great places to meet other parents.
- If you are working or in school, find out about taking time off. There may be benefits available when you are not working or in school.
Learn more about benefits that may be available if you are sick, pregnant or caring for a young baby:
1-800-206-7218 TTY: 1-800-529-3742
Keeping the Placenta
I kept my placenta. It is traditional to our people to bury it closer to where you want their home to be. Different Nations have different traditions; usually tobacco is placed as well. In my case, it was buried with things that you wish for the baby’s future. It was buried with a mini drum, a guitar pick, a pen, money, a knife, a fishing hook, and a few other things I can’t remember.
Two-spirit individuals were considered good partners due to their highly developed ability to relate to and teach children, a generous nature, and having exceptional intellectual and artistic skills -all qualities that make a wonderful parent.
During the Delivery
It was considered important for men to be there at the delivery to help the mama and her spirit.
When you are expecting you may want to write a birth plan. This does not mean that everything will happen the way you want but caregivers should respect your wishes as much as possible. The most important things are your health and the health of your baby. A birth plan gives you a chance to think about what you would like or not like, if you had the choice. A birth plan also helps share information with your health care provider. It can help them know what you want.
Here are some things you can write in your birth plan:
- Who you would like to be with you while you are in labour and/or during the birth.
- Positions you would like to try in labour.
- Where you would like to give birth to your baby. Some people want a home birth, others want to give birth in a hospital or birthing centre.
- What types of pain relief you would like to use or not use. Some people never want an epidural while others want one.
- Your thoughts about episiotomy and Caesarean section (see page 90).
- Whether or not you want keeping the placenta and umbilical cord. These can be labelled and set aside for you.
- Your plans for feeding your baby.
- What you like to happen if plans change.
- If you want to smudge during your labour, or after the baby is born.
- Some parents request the first language their baby hears to be their First Nations language. The health care team can help make this happen.
- Some people have a welcoming, naming and/or cord ceremony in hospital. Other women do this once they return home.
- There may be other ceremonies that you want during labour or birth.
Some people have to travel to another community to give birth. Their community may not have a health care provider who delivers babies, or, due to health concerns, they may need to be in a specific hospital for their birth. This can separate you from your family, friends, community and culture.
It can be very difficult being away from your home community and your family at this time. Your health care provider may have information about the community where you will give birth. Talk about who can come with you, and options to cover their travel expenses. Find out about ways for important people to participate by phone, computer etc. Think about how you can get support while you are away from home. It is okay to ask for help and to accept it. It may be helpful to find out about services in the community where you plan on giving birth:
- Are there Aboriginal organizations in the area? Do they have doulas /labour support people working with them?
- Is there an existing Aboriginal community where programs & services are offered through Aboriginal Health Centres, Friendship Centres, Aboriginal Midwives, Outreach Services, Traditional Wellness, Counselling, etc.?
- Are there programs for those who are pregnant or for new parents
Let your new health care provider know if you:
- Take medications. Remember to bring these with you.
- Are keeping the placenta and umbilical cord. These can be labelled and set aside for you. This is a common request.
- Want help completing forms to register your baby in order to obtain a birth certificate (see page 95).
- Want help completing the paper work to register your baby with your First Nation/Band (see page 95).
Talk to your partner and family members about how you will stay connected while you are away from home:
- Think about a way to call home.
- Talk about how you can let them know about the birth of your baby.
- Talk about when/where ceremonies that are important to you might take place, such as welcoming, naming and/or cord ceremonies.
- Make child care plans for your other children, well before your travel. Sometimes, women leave their communities early because of pregnancy complications.
- Prepare your home so it is ready for you and your baby when you return home. Have the baby’s bed, clothing and supplies ready if you can. Think about freezing some meals ahead of time, to make it easier when you return home.
Pack your bag ahead of time, in case you need to leave earlier than expected. See page 76 for a list of things to pack. You will also need extra clothes and a bag for your laundry.
Journey for Two: A guidebook for when you’re away from your community to give birth
Parents choose an Elder from the community, one already chosen to be a name giver. They offer tobacco to that individual who by vision, dream or fasting will receive a name in the language for the child. They will give the child this name at a special naming ceremony. The parents select a couple of representatives, sponsors who are like godparents, who now have a lifelong role to advise, watch over, and protect the child. After this ceremony, a feast is held to honour the baby’s new name.
The name is more meaningful and spiritual than a name in English that was chosen based on a favourite aunt or uncle, actor or actress or a name from a book. The name is to be acknowledged, and be used when referring to the child. The child must use this name in ceremonies, prayers, public duties and in healing rituals.
The Great Spirit, Creator will identify the child by this name. The name gives a feeling of belonging, embracing the spirit of who they are as Anishinabe, and enhancing the feeling of being loved/cared for.