How to Survive the Fourth Trimester

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The fourth trimester. I had heard of it. Did I know anything about it? Not really. I had been too busy preparing for my baby to think about what I was going to need after birth.

The first moments after delivery were beautiful.

I’ll never forget when the doctor laid my beautiful baby girl on my chest. It was pure magical bliss. I had experienced excruciating labor for so many hours that I thought this moment would never come. Now that it was here, I never wanted to let go of my precious baby.

I’ll also never forget the first tears I cried.

I’ll also never forget the first tears I cried, or how much it hurt to sit, stand, and go to the bathroom. I will never forget the pain of a sprained rib from labor. Or the pain of being awake for almost 5 days straight, not even sleeping for a single minute.

I’ll never forget the very dark place that was my postpartum baby blues. I was barely a shell of my former self, and I didn’t recognize who I was anymore. It was one of the scariest things I have ever experienced. I didn’t think I was ever going to smile or laugh again.

I felt lost, broken, incompetent, depressed, overwhelmed by my physical pain, and I had reached a new level of exhaustion that I didn’t know existed. How was this person that I’d become supposed to take care of a newborn? I didn’t even feel like I could take care of myself.

This was also a very difficult time for my baby.

One thing that helped me was to remember that I wasn’t the only one who was struggling. This was also a very challenging time for my baby. While in utero, she was floating in a warm, dark, small environment with all of her needs being met.

Suddenly, she is thrust into this huge, bright, loud world that has a lot of stimulation. She now feels cold, hunger, and uncomfortable diapers.

And while she is getting used to this crazy, new world, she is also continually going through major developmental and physical changes. Just when she thinks she has things figured out, things change again.

There really wasn’t anything I could do to make this time easy for me or for my baby. In many ways, we were surviving, not really living. However, I do have some tips and tricks to share that allowed us to survive more comfortably.

Fourth Trimester Survival Tips

Tips to Make Life Easier in the Fourth Trimester

1. Support from family and friends

The support that we got from family and friends was more important to me than I ever imagined it would be. My husband and I had so many people bring us food, it was amazing.

We were so sleep deprived and overwhelmed in the beginning, it’s scary to think about what meals we might have tried to throw together ourselves! I don’t think my husband went to the grocery store once for at least the first three weeks.

My mom also came over around three times a week to watch my baby so I could get some sleep. Sometimes I would also take a shower and actually wash my hair. This was a big deal because, while I was showering every day, I wasn’t washing my hair every day.

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2. Dry shampoo

Speaking of not washing my hair every day, that is why dry shampoo was and still is a LIFESAVER for me. My tear made standing very painful, so my showers were always as quick as I could manage.

I use two different types of dry shampoo, Bumble and Bumble and Drybar, and I don’t really have a preference between the two. It is best to spray dry shampoo on the hair closest to your scalp, focusing on sections that look greasy.

This isn’t something that just helps you in the fourth trimester, this is a mom hack, for sure! It’s a quick way to feel better when you don’t have time to wash your hair.

3. Baby logging app

The baby logging app that I use made life easier in the fourth trimester. There were days I couldn’t remember why I went upstairs! I can’t imagine trying to remember how many diapers she was going through or how much she was eating.

My baby logging app helped me keep track of those things, also her measurements, how long she slept, and my pumping sessions.

It gave me peace of mind knowing how much she was eating each day and how many diapers she was going through. It was also helpful because her doctor always asked about these two things.

I still use this app, which is called Baby Loggy. You have to pay for it, but you can use their free trial first. Their free trial allows you to input 100 entries, which gives you plenty of time to decide whether or not you want to pay for it.

4. Newborn onesies with mitten cuffs

These were AMAZING! One of my friends got me these onesies as a Baby Shower gift, and I am so thankful that she did. I was always worried that my baby was going to scratch her face. We had mittens, but they always fell off her hands.

These Moon and Back newborn onesies with mitten cuffs gave me SUCH peace of mind. Plus you had the options to roll back the mitten cuffs if you wanted. If you get these, only the preemie and newborn sizes have mittens on the cuffs.

RELATED: Postpartum Recovery Essentials

5. Baby mental development app

I downloaded The Wonder Weeks, which is a paid app, so I could keep track of and learn about my baby’s mental leaps.

This app tells you when your baby is going through a developmental leap, and what that leap entails. It tells you about her skills, things you may notice her doing, milestones, tips to help her during her leap, and more.

I think it’s important to understand what your baby is going through so you can stay saner.

For example, the app said that her third leap would follow a dramatic increase in her head circumference at around 10 to 11 weeks of age. My baby was pretty fussy around that time, and at her next pediatrician appointment, her head circumference had increased by 1 inch.

6. Watch funny shows

This was a must for me almost every day, especially since I was already stuck on the couch for hours either nursing or holding a sleeping baby.

Even if funny shows weren’t making me laugh, there was no way I was going to watch anything that was even remotely serious. My postpartum baby blues demanded that I only watch light-hearted shows.

Parks and Rec definitely became my best friend during this time.

Sleeping at Night

I realize that this goes without saying, but sleep is so important. Sleep deprivation is a form of torture, and really compounds everything for mamas in the fourth trimester. You need as much sleep as you can get to help with healing and your sanity.

Unfortunately, the amount of sleep you get isn’t entirely up to you. It’s up to your newborn baby, who hasn’t developed her biological clock yet. When I was pregnant, people kept telling me that newborns sleep a lot, and I could just sleep when they sleep.

It actually isn’t that simple, though. Especially because your baby’s sleep cycle isn’t aligned with nighttime.

Plus, if you have really bad postpartum anxiety like I did, sometimes you can’t sleep that much during the day because you’re so anxious about anything and everything to do with your baby.

I knew I had to do something because I was already in a very unhealthy place mentally. If I didn’t start to get some sleep, I knew things were going to spiral out of control and there was no way I would survive the fourth trimester.

So my husband and I came up with a simple strategy to help our newborn with day and night confusion. It worked the very first time we tried it, and she has been sleeping at night ever since.

RELATED: Mastering Baby Sleep (Like A Boss)

Recovering From a Perineal Tear

Perineal tears are fairly common after childbirth, but I was hoping that I would get lucky and miss out on this experience. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

It is more common for women to have either a first-degree tear, where just the skin is torn, or a second-degree tear, which involves torn skin and muscle. I had a second-degree tear that required stitches, and it took approximately eight weeks for it to completely heal.

It was excruciating, and it made EVERYTHING difficult, to include nursing. I did anything and everything I could think of in order to help mitigate the pain and promote faster healing.

RELATED: How to Recover from a Perineal Tear

Breastfeeding Tips for New Moms

Many moms had mentioned to me while I was pregnant how hard breastfeeding was, especially right after giving birth. Even with that, it was way harder than I ever could have anticipated.

The biggest shock for me was how painful it was. I realize that it’s not painful for everyone, and I was also told a million times that it’s not supposed to hurt if done correctly.

Either way, breastfeeding is NOT an intuitive thing, and can be extremely challenging both physically and mentally. I put together a list of 8 breastfeeding tips for new moms that I hope you will find helpful.

RELATED: 8 Breastfeeding Tips for New Moms

How to Calm Your Crying Baby

Although I think it’s pretty universally known that crying is how babies communicate, it still doesn’t make it any easier!

For a lot of moms, myself included, knowing this never helped to ease my anxiety when she cried as a newborn. I had severe postpartum anxiety, and every time my baby cried I felt like I was going to come out of my skin.

With that, I clearly needed to find ways to soothe my baby to help her and to keep me sane. Through trial and error I was able to come up with 8 solid ways to calm my crying baby.

RELATED: 8 Ways to Calm a Crying Baby

Cloth diapers vs. disposable diapers

I decided when I was pregnant that I wanted to give cloth diapers a go, but I used disposable diapers for almost the first two months. My baby was too little to wear cloth diapers in the beginning, and I didn’t believe that buying newborn cloth diapers would be as good of an investment.

I also didn’t want to try to figure out cloth diapers during the fourth trimester. However, I did make my own wipes solution. This ended up being a lifesaver for me.

The first poop your baby passes is meconium, which has the look and consistency of black tar, and can be very difficult to wipe off your poor baby’s bum.

The wipes solution I used made it super easy to wipe the meconium off my baby, causing as little irritation as possible to her skin.

RELATED: Cloth Diapers for Beginners

What helped you to survive the Fourth Trimester? Please share in the comments below!

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