Wow. If any trimester was the most trying, it was the fourth. The least talked about, the least prepared for, and definitely the most complex. How come everything you read about the fourth trimester revolves around baby? Mama is on quite the journey too. (Although, all of my fourth trimester pictures are of Sloane and not myself!).
The first few days. Thankfully, I had read a bit and was prepared with a kit of items for healing those first few days post-partum. I loved Mada Leigh’s blog post (she gave birth at the same birth center I did!) and bought everything on her list here. At the suggestion of a friend, I re-purposed a storage drawer to keep all of my items accessible in the bathroom. But aside from purchasing all of these items, I really wasn’t prepared mentally for the healing. I was sore. Everything hurt all the time for days and I just hadn’t thought about that beforehand! Especially my stitches. Ouch. Luckily, I had read a lot about how vital rest is and I allowed my body a few weeks to rest and recuperate. Best advice: DO accept any and all help.
Apparently everyone freaks out about your first BM. I really didn’t have any issue here- it felt like another one of those overly-hyped up pregnancy/labor moments. I continued to take chlorphyll and magnesium, which both help with digestion.
I did keep lots of snacks on a small bedside table because I was completely ravenous when I’d wake up to nurse in the middle of the night. My favorite snack was always trail mix though because it filled me up just enough without being super salty or sweet. That and LOTS of water. I kept 40-60 oz next to me every night and would drink all of it by morning.
I also had awful cramps those first few days while nursing- this is more common for second or third-time mamas. These cramps are actually your uterus shrinking down to its normal size and are a good sign of healthy healing! I didn’t look into relief until day three or four when it was kind of wearing off anyways, but if you’re preparing for post-partum, I was recommended After Ease to help with these cramps!
Oh and the night sweats. I would wake up to nurse in the middle of the night and be soaked with sweat. Then by the morning I would be dried off and couldn’t remember if it had happened or not. I think I showered minimum twice, if not three times a day those first few weeks. This is your body’s way of ridding itself of those extra pregnancy fluids.
And speaking of sweats… did you know that your body can also produce extra smelly sweat to help baby recognize their mama/food source? Yup, another reason for my multi-shower schedule.
The emotions are just out of control too. Of course, mama is experiencing a huge hormonal swing, combined with lack of sleep and a crying baby… I was just sporadically crying everywhere and anywhere. Sleep when baby sleeps, cry when baby cries. I really just tried to ride the wave, give myself grace, and soak in those newborn cuddles.
The first few days Sloane was nursing every 2 or 3 hours. Thank goodness we had the help of my parents who would help soothe her back to sleep at night. They also helped keep us all fed and packed up our house for the big move. (I don’t recommend moving with a three-week-old).
So when did the soreness end? Around 2 weeks I stopped being sore all the time and at 5 weeks I stopped bleeding (even sporadically), but everybody is different and this has a lot to do with your birthing experience as well as the amount of rest you give your body. By week 4 or 5 I was back at it and trying to unpack the house because I couldn’t stand all the boxes. But even at almost 4 months postpartum, my body was still sometimes sore where I had stitches.
Breastfeeding has been and still is quite the fiasco for me. I’ve decided it needs it’s own blog post because I have that much to say about it. You can find it here. In synopsis, breastfeeding is difficult and many mamas have a varitey of struggles- just remember to give yourself grace.
Losing the baby weight, however a controversial topic, really hasn’t come up in our home. When I look at my postpartum body, I am so in awe of it. My hips are a bit wider and my boobs a bit saggier, but I just squeeze Sloane’s sweet little cheeks and buy my clothes a size up. Overall I am not concerned with losing weight at all, I am however focused on re-gaining my muscle! I never realized how strong and toned I was, until I wasn’t. It’s taken some motivation, but I’m working my way back into a fitness routine and it feels so good!
When it comes to adjusting to motherhood, I think things have gone pretty smoothly. My best tips are to just go with the flow and give yourself grace. Newborns don’t have schedules and neither should you. Another good tip is to give your spouse grace! Remember that even in the most sleepless, stressful situations, you both always have the best intentions in mind and are just trying your best to figure it all out.
Most importantly, find a mama tribe! I have been so lucky to have just moved into a neighborhood full of young families and have loved becoming friends with other new mamas on our street. It’s so comforting to know you’re not going thru this alone and to be able to lean on each other. There’s something magical that happens when you become a mama- all of a sudden it’s just instinct to befriend other mamas. If you see another stroller in your neighborhood I encourage you to strike up a conversation- you’ll both be glad you did! And if you don’t see anyone- try finding a local mom Facebook group for your area and post in there to see if anyone wants to take a walk with the babes.
I’m going to sign off this post with a few links to my favorite mama instagram accounts for post-partum recovery, labor tips, and parenting.