As a first-time mom, I learned that a lot of people tell you how to prepare for pregnancy. BUT no one really talks about what happens after the baby comes. So I wanted to dedicate a post with all the things that I’ve learned thus far into the 4th trimester. (We are officially over a month in now!) I feel like I’m literally learning something new every day at this point, but these are the biggest lessons that I’ve taken away from life post-pregnancy.
See these maternity posts for more:
Keep Reading 4th Trimester Realness
Taking care of YOU is just as important as taking care of baby
I’ve never been an overly emotional person, but wow, let me tell you that postpartum hormones are REAL. Weeks one and two as a new mom were rough stuff y’all. Then add a bunch of hormones on top, and I was crying over really weird things and for no reason at all. I put this at number one because I think it’s most important to take time to care for your mental wellbeing after the baby comes. If something feels off, ask for help. If you feel overwhelmed, ask for help. Ultimately, if you are not well, then you cannot care for your new little one.
Prepare for nursing AND every other option
I highly recommend learning as much as you can about breastfeeding AND the possibility of supplementing formula. I took the breastfeeding course available at my hospital and ordered all the necessary things to begin nursing. I ordered the pump, the nursing bras, the nursing pads and cream. What I did NOT plan for was what would happen if I wasn’t able to supply enough milk. Ask your care provider what lactation resources will be available after delivery and in the weeks following birth. I had to learn so much about formula options, the different bottles and the appliances for formula as soon as we got home!
Sleep when baby is sleeping
I already haven’t taken my own advice on this one as much as I should. I get so easily distracted at home trying to catch up on emails, clean bottles, do baby laundry – the list is never finished. BUT try to sleep as much as you can no matter what time of day it might be!
Stock up on supplies for recovery
If there’s one thing I did prepare well for, it was prepping the house with recovery supplies for well, “down there”. I did a lot of reading on this and had the help from very close friends when getting things ready. I made little kits for all the bathrooms that included maxi pads of different absorbencies, overnight Depends, perineal ice packs, Cottonelle wipes, trash bags, Tucks pads, and Earth Mama perineal spray. (I mentioned a lot of these things in my hospital packing post.) Other items I stocked up on were sitz bath packets and extra mesh bottoms.
Create a 4th Trimester capsule wardrobe
Postpartum is rough because you’ll need clothes that still accommodate the extra pregnancy weight. I decided early on that I was going to invest in good loungewear options during my pregnancy. I previously shared a ton of my Jockey favorites that fit the bump and even packed them up in my hospital bag. I’ve been living in loungewear ever since we got home. I’d recommend high waisted leggings, boyfriend tees, roomy pajama dresses and a comfy robe. Look for pieces like joggers and oversized pullovers for those days when you get out of the house for a quick errand.
Sign up for every grocery delivery service available
I have become a pro at getting anything and everything delivered to our house either online or via phone app. Amazon and Instacart are basically my two best friends, and I talk to them weekly. There’s literally no time in the day to grocery shop – and the thought of bringing Bennett to the grocery store is still super daunting to me. So I’ll either either use Instacart or use a pickup service like the one that Walmart offers. Anything I can’t get one of those ways is always a Prime click away!
We also use a local meal delivery service similar to UberEats for nights when neither of us feel like cooking or making a food decision.
NEVER turn down help
This seems like a no brainer, right, but this definitely needs to be on the list. And when I say help , I mean accept whatever they might be offering – even if it’s just to bring you some Starbucks or pick up something from the store. Ps. When someone offers to watch the baby, you need to do one of two things – sleep or run any personal errands! I’ve also heard that postpartum doulas will come help you with errands and tasks too.
Choose your visitors wisely
Don’t be afraid to say NO to visitors. I have learned that TIME is precious and fleeting during these first weeks of being home. If someone asks to come see you and the baby, don’t feel obligated to take guests – especially if you feel overwhelmed and exhausted. I promise they will understand if you ask them to take a rain check.
Listen to your body
There was no piece of advice or reading material that could prepare me for how I’d feel in my postpartum body. I did not at all like the feeling of my baby-less bump. It felt foreign and empty and completely out of sorts. I had a rough time juggling crazy hormones, lack of sleep and a disappointing situation of low milk supply. For me, feeling “comfortable” in my own body felt almost impossible. One thing that did help me feel more normal was wearing a compression band or shorts for postpartum. The idea behind compression garments postpartum isn’t new – it’s centuries old and spans many cultures – and it’s not just for appearance.
Belly binding can be helpful for many different reasons in your postpartum days. It can promote the shrinking of the uterus (involution) that is supposed to happen after the birth. It also helps support your back and your abdominal muscles (they are weaker after carrying the baby and giving birth) and can aid with diastasis recti, a condition where the abdominals remain separated following pregnancy. It helps reduce swelling and lower back pain. more info via thebump.com
But more than any of these things, it helped me just feel more “held together.” I 100% recommend the specific Belly Bandit that I used if you are interested in using a belly band. Also, everyone’s postpartum body journey is different – this is just what worked for me! There is no right or wrong answer as long as MOM is comfortable and happy.
I’ve been wearing my Bamboo Belly Band for four weeks now, above is my week-to-week progress. My band would not close immediately after labor, so I wasn’t able to start using it until around day 4 or 5 postpartum. I wear it over leggings for the majority of the day every single day and have also worn it a few times to sleep.
Give yourself grace
Your body just went through one of the most crazy endurance tests of all time. It’s going to need some serious TLC. Give yourself permission to take time for yourself as you recover. Days and even weeks are going to go by where you don’t put on makeup or you don’t feel like yourself. I have to remind myself that it’s all temporary, and that everything will feel more normal with a little bit of time.
Thanks to Jockey for sponsoring today’s post. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own!
Photos by Lainey Reed