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Gravel Gertie Consults on the Third Trimester of Pregnancy

The last 13 weeks (28 weeks to D-day) of pregnancy is filled with all kind of joy. Read on to find out about clumsiness, backaches, what you need for the nursery, making love, swelling ankles, predicting the baby's sex, and more!

Dear Gravel Gertie:

My mother says I shouldn't bathe after the 34th week, but I'm starting to smell bad.

Brooke from Knoxville

Dear Brooke, if you consider that you'll have about six or so weeks left of being pregnant, not bathing would scare off your hubby, your friends, and most importantly, your doctor. Back when your momma was pregnant, her doctor probably believed that dirty bath water could get up in your you-know-what and cause an infection. This ain't necessarily so. The only time that you should be wary around the bathtub is when you're getting in and out of the slippery tub (installing a winch to pull you out is an option to discuss with your hubby). In my opinion, showering is the way to go, honey. You don't need anyone to lower you down in the tub and then hoist you out.

Dear Gravel Gertie:

I've found that I stumble walking across the floor and trip going up the stairs. Why am I so accident-prone?

Erma in Hixon

Dear Erma, third trimester women ain't the most graceful creatures around. The reason for this is that your joints are not as stable as before your pregnancy and your center of gravity has shifted. And don't forget that you can no longer see your feet when you walk. To avoid tripping over air molecules, carpet, and other out-of-sight things, you can either install rear-view mirrors on the top of your shoes (to see what you're about to stumble over) or you can slow down and take your time. A pregnant body ain't meant for speed - it's meant for rest.

Dear Gravel Gertie:

I have a catch in my back. When I bend or step a certain way, I get this sharp pain shooting down my right leg. What is going on?

Bernice in Pelham

Dear Bernice, try these following tips:

  1. Sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees to make the pain less intense at night, plus it'll help you get more comfortable and sleep better.
  2. During the day if the pain gets bad, lie down on a heating pad (set on low) with a pillow under your knees for about 20 to 30 minutes. Stock up on reading material - you might want to move some of those magazines in your bathroom to your bedroom.
  3. Wearing shoes with good support seems to help.
  4. Maintain a good posture and don't hunch your shoulders and pooch out your belly - but this is really hard to do.
  5. Wear a maternity belt. It is this really attractive elastic strap that you Velcro around your lower abdomen to take the pressure of your massive belly off of your back.
  6. Make your daggum lazy kids and relatives help out more around the house! The less you have to reach and bend over, the better!
  7. Whining, grunting, and sucking air loudly through your teeth may have some effect on family members - most of the time they'll probably just turn up the volume on the tv.

The good news about this back pain thang is that you'll have something other than constipation to discuss with your OB; how refreshing!

Dear Gert:

My husband and I disagree on what all we need for the nursery. He thinks we just need a baby bed, garbage can, refrigerator, dresser, and chair. What do we really need?

Kim in Florence

Dear Kim, I had a cousin that put a fridge in her nursery to keep the bottles of formula cold, but it ended up out on the back porch filled with her husband's Pabst Blue Ribbon cold beer. Anyway, the basic implements for the nursery are:

  • Bed. Your baby needs some place to sleep and most folks opt for a crib while others use some type of bassinet. Myself, I've never used a bassinet because I ain't never had the money to afford one. Cribs can be expensive so getting a used one or a hand-me-down (none made before [get safety rule here]) will make them more affordable. Nowadays some moms choose something fancy called "The Family Bed" where everyone sleeps together in the same bed. If you're into that, then go for it. Growing up, we called it being poor. Although, Momma and Daddy shared a bed, the rest of us younguns had to all sleep together on a mattress on the floor. [Side note: don't be a dufus! If you get a crib, you're gonna need some crib sheets!]
  • Dresser. You need a place to put the baby's clothes, so investing in a dresser ain't a bad idea. Try to get something that won't go out of style because Junior might get a wee bit embarrassed by his Pooh dresser when he's 17.
  • Diapers. Just like your Uncle Ed after his stroke, that baby's gonna need something to catch the goodies that comes from his bottom. If you use disposable diapers, stock up on about two to four packages of newborn sized (or size 1 if big babies - over 8 pounds- run in your family). If you have the money, also buy a pack or two of baby wipes. If you can't afford them, plain old washcloths'll do the job just as good.
  • Diaper pail. If you use cloth diapers, you'll need a pail to put the diapers into until you can wash them. If you use those disposable diapers, a garbage can will do nicely. Just remember to change the garbage/pail pretty regular because it'll make a stink.
  • Chair. Lots of folks like to have a rocking chair, but any old comfortable chair (minus the empty beer cans and cheese curl stains) will do - and no, it doesn't have to be in the nursery. Of course having a chair near the crib for those middle-of-the-night feedings will come in handy.
  • Changing table. Again, if you can afford this, then get one (make sure it has a pad!). If you can't, then just spread some old towels out on the bed when you have to change a smelly.
  • Car seat. If you never leave the house and don't own a car, then you don't have to worry about this implement. Elsewise, you better get and properly install a car safety seat or the law'll get ya.
  • Feeding the child. If ya ain't using your breasts to feed the baby, get a few bottles and nipples.
  • Baby clothing. Socks (or booties), undershirts (or bodysuits that snap between the legs), sleepers (or gowns), and small soft blankets.

Dear Gravel Gertie:

I'm having trouble sleeping at night because I keep worrying about all the demands a baby will make on me. Will I manage?

Sylvia in Savannah

Dear Sylvia, yes honey, you're gonna do just fine. Many new mommas have tried to be superwomen and the ones that do succeed end up drooling onto their Liz Claiborne blazers and wondering why those cute little men in the white coats are carrying them off to that soft padded room. Go ahead now and accept the fact that you can't do it all. Don't forget that your husband can change diapers, bathe the baby, and watch the Winston Cup just as good as you can.

Dear Gertie:

Is it OK to continue to make love being this close to delivery?

Jessica in Jasper

Well, if you're still interested, your water hasn't broken, and you're not a high risk for pre-term labor, then go for it. With all that swelling, constipation, hurt-a-roids, varicose veins, and farting, I really wonder though.

Dear Gert:

I've lost my ankles! How can I make this swelling go away?

Mary in Chattanooga

Dear Mary, you're swelling because your body has a bunch of extra fluids floating around and it especially happens late in the day, in warm weather, or after standing or sitting a lot. It usually goes away after a good night's sleep (which is rare in the last trimester). To help get rid of swelling, try the following:

  • Elevate your legs or lie down when you can, preferably on your left side.
  • Wear comfortable shoes or slippers.
  • Avoid elastic-top socks or stockings.
  • Drink a bunch of fluids (not cold beer, tea with caffeine, or tequila slammers) - eight to ten eight-ounce glasses worth should be perfect to flush out your system.

Dear Gravel Gertie:

Is it true that if I carry low, I'm carrying a boy?

Rachel in Opp

Dear Rachel, nope, that's an old wives tale. It is true that each subsequent baby you carry will be lower. Here are some other interesting old wives tales I've heard over the years that hold about as much truth as a politician does on Election Day:

  • If you conceived on the weekend that a Ford or a Dodge won the Winston Cup race, then it's a boy.
  • If you conceived on the weekend that a Pontiac or a Chevrolet won the Winston Cup race, then it's a girl.
  • If you conceived during NASCAR's off-season (November - January) and you had really bad morning sickness, then it's a girl.
  • If you conceived during NASCAR's off-season (November - January) and you didn't have much morning sickness, then it's a boy.

Dear Gertie:

I'm a petite person - will I have trouble delivering a baby normally?

Janice in Chatsworth

Dear Janice, sugar, just like that time your momma dried your tears when Bubba took Darlene instead of you to the truck pull - it's what's inside that counts. Little short women can have a roomier pelvis than tall big women. If you're really worried, a sonogram might show any disproportion between the pelvis and the baby's head - plus it might show the effects of any alien abductions you might've had several months ago.

Dear Gravel Gert:

My mother-in-law insists on being present during the birth and I'd rather just have Harvey in there. What can I do?

Abby in Atlanta

Dear Abby, you can do two things. If you're the brave type, then just say, "No!" Tell mom-in-law that you'd be more comfortable with her waiting with the rest of the family in the hospital's waiting room. If she blows her stack, sob uncontrollably and sic your momma on her. If you're not the brave type, then try these excuses:

  • Get the hospital staff to tell her no - that only Harvey can be there.
  • You have contracted a strange and highly contagious disease.
  • Your new birthing plan's use of live possums and squirrels won't leave enough room for her.

Dear Gertie:

What is "dropping" or "lightening"?

Katie in Mobile

Dear Katie, lightening ain't referring to an electrical storm but where your baby is resting in your belly. Stations range from -4 (the baby's head - or whatever is presenting itself - is just coming into the pelvis) to +4 (the presenting part is crowning). Zero (0) station is when the presenting part is even with the bones in the pelvis - the baby is "engaged" at this point. [Now don't get excited if you baby is a girl, we ain't talking about prenuptials!]


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