Preparing for the Fourth Trimester: Revisited
When I was pregnant, I wrote an article titled “Preparing for the Fourth Trimester.” In this article, I’ll be revisiting what I did to prepare and whether or not it was actually helpful, as well as what I wish I would have done differently.
Let’s start with how woefully underprepared I was for the physical postpartum recovery. I mentioned in my article that I had purchased extra long pads for postpartum bleeding and while they did come in handy about 3 to 4 weeks after giving birth, I was constantly changing them up until that point. What I wish I would have included in addition to these are disposable underwear. They were a lifesaver in the hospital and would have been really beneficial for that first month of recovery.
What I did need, and I cannot stress this enough, TUCKS COOLING PADS. This was such an essential part of my recovery and provided me with so much relief. I never used the sitz bath (but I still believe it would have come in handy if I had torn more or developed hemorrhoids) and I also never touched my belly band; the last thing I wanted or needed was something restricting my stomach.
I cannot emphasize how important this step was. I struggled heavily in my fourth trimester (which I will detail in another post because it requires a space of its own) and I quite literally don’t know how I would have survived mentally if this was not taken care of ahead of time. If you can make the freezer meals ahead of time (or just buy them if you don’t have the skills), do so! While I personally don’t have the freezer space, I would have killed for meals that we could just pop in the oven.
However, if your freezer space is anything like mine (a.k.a. limited) my meal calendar was SO helpful. My husband had all the recipes he needed linked in a digital day-by-day calendar and there was never a question of what’s for dinner. He either cooked what was on there or took it upon himself to order takeout if he didn’t feel like cooking (which honestly, I feel you, man). This was really great as it allowed me to take those much-needed afternoon naps, completely uninterrupted, and wake up to a nice, hot meal.
Getting housework done in the fourth trimester is simply unrealistic. There are daily tasks that you can get done (laundry, dishes, etc.), but I stand by my don’t stress about it philosophy. I don’t know about you, but I’m personally sick of seeing those “what I get done in a day 6 days postpartum” TikTok videos where a mom who literally just pushed out a baby is vacuuming out her couch and scrubbing her shower spotless. Don’t get me wrong, good for them. However, it is such an unrealistic expectation and mentally exhausting. I had to take a social media pause and drastic step back since giving birth because of these crazy standards that are extremely difficult (if not impossible) to meet.
All I would add to my previous plan is don’t be afraid to ask loved ones for help. If you have them around, ask if they mind doing the dishes or folding a load of laundry. I know for many that notion is going to sound crazy, but I promise you so many are more than happy to. Remember, we’re the only ones that live our daily lives and see our home a certain way; no one can read your mind. If you don’t vocalize what you need help with, chances are no one is ever going to offer.
Baby Blues & Postpartum Mood Disorders
As someone who experienced the baby blues I have to say, it is wild. When my baby was born and placed on my chest, I didn’t even cry. I think for the first 24 hours or so I was kind of just in a state of shock. It wasn’t until the second night in the hospital that I randomly started crying. When my husband asked me what was wrong I blurted out, “I just love her so much” and I couldn’t stop crying. His response, “The nurse told me this was going to happen. This is the baby blues hitting you” and he was right.
For the next week or so I would cry randomly and was wildly sensitive; all my husband had to do was say something in the wrong tone of voice and I would cry. Thankfully, that subsided pretty quickly and baby blues just turned into good old stress! While I thankfully didn’t deal with Postpartum Anxiety or Depression, it was very reassuring to know that my husband was well-versed in the warning signs, had a visual on the fridge to assist him, and knew how to properly check-in every couple of days to verify that I was not dealing with any mood disorders.
Overall, whether you’re a first time mom or a veteran mom, fourth trimester prep is necessary to survive. After having my first baby, I think it is going to be even more essential than ever as we continue to grow our family. I am so thankful that we experienced a quick labor and healthy birth, and it feels so much better knowing what to expect postpartum. If you’re a first time mom, try not to stress too much.
Enjoy the journey as you approach your due date. Think of your day-to-day life and what you think will be essential as you head into the fourth trimester to keep your household functioning. Your world is about to change (don’t worry, it’s for the better!), but it’s so important to prepare and save yourself the stress later down the road.