When I got pregnant in 2019, I only had one friend with kids and her youngest was 4. It is safe to say I felt a little lonely and clueless throughout my pregnancy journey.
I found myself googling “is this normal” multiple times a day, taking pictures of any & all discharge, and spending way too much time watching labor and delivery videos (cannot advise).
Surprisingly I felt pretty prepared for the actual birth but I was scared shitless for the 4th trimester. I had never even heard of the 4th trimester before a friend mentioned it in passing and I definitely regret not asking more questions!
I had a vaginal birth but I know a cesarean birth comes with an additional set of postpartum adventures. This list is aimed to alleviate some 4th trimester stress no matter what kind of birth you had. Feel free to share more in the comments!
I think this goes without saying but you need to fuel your body. Especially if you plan to breastfeed. Your baby will literally be sucking the nutrients out of you so it’s your job to double up in order to get some for yourself. You can ask friends and family to do this for you on sites like mealtrain.com, there is even an option for someone to send you a delivery gift card! You’ll realize that once you are in the thick of the 4th trimester you won’t know the difference between night & day, breakfast & dinner, and the last thing you’ll want to do is try to come up with and prepare a meal. Trust me on this one.
This is for my breastfeeding parents. If you are new to breastfeeding your nipples will likely get very sore and raw. Breastfeeding itself should not hurt but your nipples might for the first few weeks. I highly suggest investing in a nipple shield. These are typically used when breastfeeding parents have inverted nipples, a baby is not able to latch, or there is strong let-down making it difficult for baby to eat. I am not a doctor by any means and this is NOT medical advice. I did use a nipple shield for the first 8 weeks of my breastfeeding journey- this is the one I used. At first, it was out of necessity but then I would occasionally use it when my nipples were tender or raw. It can provide a temporary relief from direct friction while still allowing you to breastfeed.
Witch Hazel Pads
Okay so maybe this is a no brainer, but I had never even heard of witch hazel pads until I was in the hospital with a nurse putting a pad on top of my adult diaper, squirting warm water onto my vagina, and then pulling said diaper up for me. Have I mentioned how lovely the 4th trimester can be? Fear not, these things are literally a MIRACLE. I’m not even exaggerating. They have some kind of secret ingredient that cools whatever area you put it on instantly relieves pain. Not like the deep soreness kind of pain just the uncomfortable burning/friction kind of pain. I really have nothing more to say about witch hazel pads other than to get them and thank me later.
Another breastfeeding tip is to use a manual breast pump on one side while baby eats on the other. These are pretty cheap and can be found at any big retailer or online. I personally love the Haaka but there are a ton of brands out there. These are classified as manual pumps but in reality there is nothing manual about it. You suction it to your boob and catch let down, that’s literally it. Using a Haaka every time I breastfed during the first 3 months allowed me to stash over a dozen 4+ oz bags of breastmilk in my freezer. I was probably a little excessive with using it but if you end up getting one at least use it during the early morning feeds, you would be surprised how much milk gets wasted on your clothes. Don’t be the parent with the titty stains at the grocery store!
Sleep when baby sleeps is a fucking myth and I hate when people say it. If you are reading this and you’ve said that phrase before, knock it the fuck off! Take it out of your vocabulary right now. It is quite literally impossible to sleep when the baby sleeps because parents need to eat, shower, do laundry, dishes, work, tend to other children, etc… Sleeping when the baby sleeps is not always feasible. During the 4th trimester you might get lucky and be able to sleep for a few hours at a time but this could be at 2am or 1pm. That is why an eye mask is necessary! You never know when you will get to catch some ZZZs so get a cheap eye mask you can throw on for those days where your babe decides to party all night and sleep all day.
This isn’t necessarily something you need to buy but definitely something you should plan for. Lower your bed as far as absolutely possible to make getting in and out easier in the middle of the night. This will help with alleviating pain because you are not having to climb into bed with a fresh incision and/or throbbing cervix. At 6 months postpartum I’m still rocking the floor bed strictly for convenience because my baby co-sleeps and breastfeeds 2-3 times a night still. We do what we need to do! If you plan to bedshare it is ideal to have a floor bed to shorten the distance to the floor if baby decided to tumble. Regardless of the reason, it just makes sense.