I had always heard mommas talk about the mysterious “fourth trimester”. After having Emma I realized that this pun is NO joke. I’m not sure if the first few weeks after Emma’s birth weren’t the hardest of the entire process (and maybe my whole life?).😂
I don’t want to scare any future mommas out there and everyone certainly has a different experience—this is just mine: the first few weeks of postpartum were super difficult for me. Part of the reason for that is because I just wasn’t prepared. I wasn’t prepared for the pain and discomforts that would continue…I wasn’t prepared for emotional rollercoaster, the exhaustion and the overall strain of hormones.
This last leg of the journey seemed like the hardest. I wondered if I would EVER feel like my old self and return to a somewhat normal existence. 😅 Thankfully around week four I started feeling a million times better and by week 6-8 I was almost all the way back to normal.
Here are a few reasons why postpartum was hard for me:
My pregnancy was so difficult for Emma that I was so anxious and excited for the END!! I was so anxious to feel better and didn’t realize it would take several weeks for that to happen.
I was passionate about having a natural birth for the quick recovery…and I did have a quick recovery—but quick is not 3 days! 😂 Don’t get me wrong, my discomfort was nothing compared to what some mommas have to deal with! I didn’t need ice packs, special pillows or anything of that sort. But there was still discomfort, sore muscles and tenderness that I never considered.
The emotional aspect was definitely something I couldn’t imagine or prepare for! The hormones were a lot to deal with and even caused me to feel depressed. I know SO many moms who struggle with postpartum depression and it’s a real thing. I’m not sure if it was that serious in my case but I was DEFINITELY not myself. I only realized it when I started feeling better and the “cloud” over me finally disappeared!
Nursing/lack of sleep is something you know is coming but is difficult to prepare for! Emma had a bad latch at first, I didn’t know what I was doing and it was a disaster those first few days! I LOVED nursing Emma and it ended up being one of my favorite things…but those first few days/weeks were super painful. I got help and stuck it out but I’m here to testify it’s not easy/painless for everyone to get started.
Here are a few things that made the “4th Trimester” easier for me…with a few additional ideas I’m implementing this time around, after learning the hard way what doesn’t work!
2. Empty your to do list: 6 weeks off in my brain = time to get put-off projects done. I can’t stress enough what a terrible idea this is if you’re a to-do list oriented person! Every day I would remember what was on my “list” and that it wasn’t getting done…it made me miserable! A friend gave me a great suggestion this time around—fill your to-do list with relaxing items. Prayer goals, books I want to read and Netflix series I’m dying to see! These things can still make me feel accomplished without actually requiring any stress. I’m definitely going to try it.
3. Nursing = Tons of Food + Water
One thing I actually did right last time was eating + drinking! My mom nursed seven babies…so basically there wasn’t a time in my life where she wasn’t nursing. 😂 It didn’t help me much with the actual function—obviously I had a rocky start! But I knew what to expect diet-wise to produce milk + have a happy (non-gassy) baby. I’m sharing this info because literally NO one told me any of this and if not for my mom I would’ve made tons of nursing mistakes which would’ve made things even harder.
There’s tons of info about this if you’re interested but here’s a few general nursing diet tips! Please know that I’m NOT claiming to be an expert…just thankful and grateful for the advice of so many experienced mommas around me that made the transition to nursing do-able.
1. You need TONS of calories. I can’t possibly eat enough food because I don’t have a large appetite so I ate sweets to supplement. 😂 Most people want to start dieting right away…but I literally noticed that if I skipped dessert Emma would end up being way more fussy. Make sure you’re eating enough and if you can’t…go for the brownies, cookies and dessert! It’s not great for your figure but your baby will be more content! A nursing mom needs 2,000 – 2,500 calories a DAY!
2. Stay away from “green”. Lettuce, beans, anything in the green family that holds gas and could be hard on your babies stomach. I’m not crazy ahout veggies anyway so this was super easy for me. Meat + potatoes + bread are safest to start with and then after a few weeks you can add new foods and see if your baby reacts! It does take up to 24 hours for it to reach their stomach so keep that in mind when testing.
3. Water – I never sat anywhere without a glass of water. Its recommended a nursing mom should drink 128 oz per day. For me—that’s a lot and it’s hard to do! Breast milk is about 90% water so…Drink drink drink!
4. Watch your dairy: I’ve heard that some babies react very badly to dairy! To be safe I waited a few weeks before drinking milk, eating ice cream etc and then added it back slowly in case Emma had a sensitivity to it! I didn’t want to deal with any colic if it was possible to avoid!
A few things to consider as you think about your postpartum recovery:
Pamper yourself. You’ve just done one of the hardest physical activities of your life…and your body has literally created a miracle. You deserve a break, rest and pampering! Prepare ahead of time special things that feel like “pampering” to you and enjoy them during this crazy time of recovery! It helps to have fun things to look forward to—even if it’s just a long awaited book or extra soft new pjs!
Ask for help: You cannot do this alone. Everyone needs help occasionally and this is one of those times! Friends and family want to be helpful—asking for someone to come hold the baby so you can nap, having meals brought so you don’t have to worry about that and having someone else come clean your house will help your recovery go so much easier.
The most important thing I would tell another mom in the trenches of the fourth trimester would be: you will feel normal again…I promise!!! It may not feel like it right now…but your baby will soon sleep longer periods, you’ll have date night again and you will return to your normal self. This time is hard but it only lasts a few weeks and you’ll feel 10000% better soon…promise.
Here are my favorite postpartum products! These things all worked super well for Emma and are packed, ready to go this time around:
Depends – a mom recommended this to me before I delivered Emma and I thought it was so brilliant. Instead of dealing with those huge pads after birth (and finding the right underwear for postpartum) she just bought depends for that first week or so! It worked like a charm and (TMI!) I never leaked anywhere. I already have them in my bag for next time!
Kindred bravely Nursing Bras – these bras are literally heaven. Super soft and they are still like new after an entire year of wear! I didn’t even need to buy more this time around.
My Favorite Nursing Tank – this nursing tank “converts” all of my pjs to be nursing pajamas—I wear the button down kind so wearing this tank under my open button shirt is easy easy! These tanks have a bra also so you don’t need to wear an additional bra at nighttime. Win win.
Gap PJs – I found a similar set of pjs at Gap that I love for nursing! I’m even wearing them now with my favorite tank (above), because I can’t button the top with this big belly, lol!
Perineal Spray – I’ve never seen a product given so many 5 star reviews on amazon. It really does feel amazing after birth and makes those first few bathroom visits easier!
Haaka – This little manual nursing pump is SO awesome. It catches the let down of milk supply on the opposite side your baby is nursing. You simply attach it to one side while your baby nurses on the other and you’ll get a few ounces each time. When my milk supply really grew sometimes I’d get 4 oz! This helped me freeze a TON of milk with literally no effort, work or pain.
Tucks Healing Pads – These are cooling and feel so great right after birth. Make sure you read the directions…I made the mistake of wearing them all day and damaged things. lol.
Here is my list of favorite nursing friendly clothing stores:
Nursing Queen – I ordered this dress from here and LOVE it!
Seraphine – They have some gorgeous dresses I’ve been eyeing for later on in the year!
A Pea in a Pod – I haven’t ordered from them yet, but have heard super good things.
Pink Blush Maternity – This website is popular and has tons of variety. I would say you have to be careful as some fabrics don’t last very long.
Motherhood Maternity – They carry my absolute FAVORITE leggings and have several dresses that are very durable!
Amazon – amazon has a surprising amount of variety for nursing moms–if anything they have tons of dresses with buttons which is helpful!
Target – doesn’t have much variety, but sometimes you can get lucky. I really like their nursing bras for everyday use. They look like “normal” bras and not all crazy.
Kindred Bravely – This website is the one I’m most impressed with. Every single thing I’ve ordered has lasted the entire year like new with tons of washings. I ordered several more things this time around and I love everything! I wear their nighttime bras and those are also what I wear during the postpartum recovery phase. They are amazing!
Latched Mama – This website has some really easy-to-nurse dress options. I haven’t tried any, but I love the hidden nursing options!
Old Navy – online at Old Navy occasionally has great nursing options + sales.
Gap – I got really lucky online at the Gap for several nursing dresses and the quality is excellent! Will definitely be shopping here way more.
Rolee – This website has an entire “mom” section of dresses and they are beautiful! So perfect for special occasions.
Wren and Ivory – This website is similar. Full of gorgeous dresses for those special events while you’re nursing!
I hope these tips and tricks make your time in postpartum recovery just a tiny bit easier. I would LOVE to hear if you discovered something that helped you during this time. I’m preparing myself mentally to enter into this next phase of my “pregnancy” and look forward to being on the other side!
All of our beautiful newborn photos are thanks to Lindsey Rodgers Photography.
Obviously, I’m a huge advocate of splurging on newborn portraits. I can barely remember when Emma was this tiny so I’m so happy we have these images to look back on and remind me of this sweet time in our life.
Good luck, mommas!
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