Welcome to Motherhood.
You survived pregnancy and have brought a tiny human into this world. This may be your first go at this or maybe even your third. One thing is certain, though: the fourth trimester is full of life changing transition. This is your time to find the groove of bonding, healing, and learning. You are juggling tons of different hats right now, but don’t forget about self-care.
When I entered the fourth trimester, I wish I would have slowed down from the very start. It took trial and error, a bout of PPD, and tagging along on my husband’s business trip for me to really settle in and focus on myself. A year out, I can look back and analyze what was most important for me. I realize that if I had implemented these five self-care tips from the day I had my daughter, I would have had a lot less anxiety, possibly reduced depression, and I would have been a lot happier.
1. Take time to heal.
Now is a great time to ask for help with meals, cleaning, laundry, etc. Don’t worry about how your body looks right now, you need at least 6 weeks to heal, but really, it is so much longer. Your mind needs time to heal too. Take this time to balance your mind and body.
2. Don’t forget to eat and drink.
You are probably consumed with tracking when the baby eats, sleeps, and poops. You are dog tired and it is easy to forget to do this little step. Set an alarm, have snacks and bottles of water next to your cozy areas. Have freezer meals prepped before the baby comes (or if the baby is already here, have someone help you prep meals), and you can throw the food in the crock pot or oven with little to no clean up and have yummy, nutritious food.
3. Sleep. And if you can’t sleep, shower.
Your newborn is going to sleep a lot and people are going to want to hold the baby. These are great times to catch up on your zzzz’s and make sure you are clean. If you don’t want the baby to be in their crib, have someone you trust come and hold them to make sure they are comforted during these times. My mom and husband would let me sleep and then bring me the baby when it was time for her to eat.
Turn off the TV, read a book, drink some tea, do something in quiet. It allows for your body and mind to relax a little. Whether this is your first baby or your third, our bodies and brains freak out with such drastic changes.
Drop your shoulders, lengthen your spine, inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth. Practice this while you are feeding the baby, practice this while you are sitting, practice this all of the time. It will help to ground you and bring your emotions back to center. Our postpartum journey includes some great moments, but it involves a lot of hormones, emotions, sleep deprivation, and life changes.
The fourth trimester is truly a magical time and it is something you should embrace to it’s fullest. Let being a momma consume every ounce of your being. Just remember to pause and take some time for yourself. And if you are experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, or other postpartum mood disorder, talk to your doctor.