Week 38: Pain & Beauty

One mom-to-be touts the feel-good benefits of getting groomed and pampered before giving birth.


I’ve been blessed with a healthy, relatively pain-free pregnancy apart from the typical first trimester nausea and round ligament pain. But at 38 weeks and feeling like a giant beach ball, I all of a sudden got hit with an excruciating pain in my left side that stopped me in my tracks and lasted more than 48 hours.

Was it labor? My doctor said I was already about 3 cm dilated at my weekly visit and that the baby could come any time now, but I figured it couldn’t be labor since I read that you get a rest in between contractions (this was a constant, shooting ache).

I called my doula and doctor, whose theories ranged from a pulled ligament due to carrying a big baby (my sonogram results estimated his weight at 9 pounds if I make it the full 40 weeks) to him changing position and putting more pressure on my internal organs.

I googled “left side pain 38 weeks pregnant.” Bad idea. Panic for my baby’s survival set in as I read about placenta ruptures that cut off his oxygen supply. But the very rare condition’s symptoms included bleeding and a baby who wasn’t moving along with intense pain.

Since I was not bleeding and my little guy was flipping more than an acrobat despite the fact that there was absolutely no room left in my stomach, I tried taking the doctor’s advice and soaking in a cool bath; did plenty of downward dogs and child’s pose; and finally resigned to lying on the couch for the rest of the weekend. When I awoke on the second morning, the pain had magically diminished from a constant stabbing sensation to only a few sharp tinges.

So I decided to take advantage of feeling somewhat normal again and take care of some business. Did I clean the apartment or write those shower thank-you notes I was so delinquent on? Nope! Maybe I had my priorities mixed up, but I decided to make it a day of beauty since I figured it might be months (years?) before I would have the luxury of visiting a salon again without having to pack a diaper bag and carry a baby or book a sitter.

My first stop was for a blueberry facial with Cecilia Wong, a New York-based, holistic skincare expert. I couldn't lay on my back with my big belly so I turned on my side with my head facing up. I practically fell asleep I was so relaxed as Cecilia massaged a delicious-smelling blueberry smoothie mask into my face and hydrated my dry skin with a super-nourishing oxygen spray.

I walked out feeling rejuvenated and pampered, and when I stopped in a deli for water the cashier said that my skin was glowing. It may sound silly, but after feeling tired and rotund for months, getting this facial made me feel pretty again to boost my mood and my energy.

Since I hadn’t been able to see my lady parts in awhile and they’re about to be on full display to a roomful of people, I decided to get a bikini wax. (I gave up any shaving attempts after an epic fail where I dropped my razor in the shower and discovered that my belly was too big to even bend over and pick it up).

I opted to go to this little oasis of calm in Soho called Haven Spa because they use special Cirepil Blue Stripless Hard Wax. It sticks to the hairs rather than your skin for less pain and irritation. My esthetician Marta was amazing! She made me feel so comfortable and even had me laughing, saying “Honey, you’re not going to care one bit about your bikini line when you’re on the table pushing that baby out, but we’re going to make you look good!”

I can honestly say that, despite being uber sensitive from the increased blood flow down there, the hard wax and expert technique used made it the least painful Brazilian I’ve ever had. Sure, whether or not I’m growing a national forest may be the least of my concerns once I’m on the actual delivery table, but I feel better in the moment being clean and smooth going into labor. Now I can get to that cleaning!

Read more: Here’s what’s happening in week 38 of your pregnancy >>