The first three months after having a baby is what has become known as the “fourth trimester.” While this description is largely geared towards the baby, it is helpful to consider how the first 12 weeks with Baby also impacts Mom. It helps us to understand that like the previous three trimesters, this one will have its own unique adjustments, sacrifices, hard nights, and beautiful moments.
When all you want is a good night’s sleep and life with your little one seems momentarily extra hard, here are a few suggestions to help you during the fourth trimester postpartum.
ASK YOUR TRIBE FOR [SPECIFIC] HELP
Ask for a two-week meal train. This will lighten your load emotionally as you do not have to worry about dinner. When asked most people will say that the number one way to help is to provide a meal. Hands down.
Think of the other regular errands you do that you can ask family and friends to help you with. Do you shop at Costco? Schedule a pick-up order and ask someone to drop it off at your house. Does the dog need to be groomed? Ask a friend to drop the dog off for you to pick up later – that’s one less trip for you and baby. Think of the “little” activities you have on your to-do list that you can ask others to do. If your family does not live close or they don’t have the ability to physically help in this season, ask your family to help remotely by sending gift cards to food delivery services.
HAVE LOVED ONES HELP WITH BABY
It’s okay to list household preferences: washing hands before touching baby, feeding/sleeping shifts you need help with, chores you would like done, etc.
We think we are burdening family but often they want to know how to help and may not know what we really want.
IT’S OKAY TO SET BOUNDARIES
Having a child is enough of an adjustment but parenting through a pandemic can cause life to get overwhelming and confusing at times. No one has it all figured out and we are all learning as we go.
If you want people to wear a mask and/or get tested for Covid before visiting with your baby, that is okay. Share your desires with prospective visitors. Don’t assume they are thinking the same as you. You may also change your preferences after the fourth trimester as Baby gets a little older and there is nothing wrong with that.
WHEN THE DAY IS L-O-N-G AND HARD: YOU ARE NOT CRAZY
“I prayed for my daughter. How could I think this way?”
There will most likely be a time when if you haven’t experienced this already, the weight of the responsibility of taking care of your child may feel so overwhelming, lonely, and filled with sacrifice that you seriously question whether you should have wished to be a parent.
I have spoken with friends about this and I also have thought this. When you feel this way, know that you are normal and your feelings are valid. You are not crazy or a bad mom for feeling this. You are tired, feeling overwhelmed, you miss your freedom and friends, and you probably are not sleeping and/or eating well.
Do you see how under these circumstances anyone could feel this way? A friend told me recently that she felt like she could not talk with God because she felt ashamed for what she was feeling/thinking. She said she finally got to a point where during a late-night feeding she told God she needed his help. You may not realize or maybe you forgot but God knows how you feel. He cares and He wants you to tell him.
You need community and it is not always the easiest to come by with a little one. Ask your loved ones, your tribe for what you need – even if it is a quick coffee date in between feedings.
NEVER SAY NEVER
You probably already know this but it’s worth listing. Before having a child you said you would never do certain things as a mom. Moms get it. We’ve all been there. But when you realize the perfect motherhood picture in your head is not your reality (nor any reality), we are humbled and grow as mothers. With each new hard night and feeding and each new stage of caring for your child, you also grow as a woman and mother. That’s the beauty in this mommy-hood journey. Our child is growing but darling so are you.
GIFT IDEAS FOR NEW MOMS
Most mothers have had flowers delivered and already purchased their favorite soaps and lotions before Baby’s arrival. There are some gifts, however, that moms are saying are really helpful and extra special during the fourth trimester.
Beyond the meals (which are the #1 recommendation for weeks after Baby is born), there are some other creative ideas to consider that will truly lighten the load for mom and dad.
Consider gifting a mani/pedi service to the mama at home! Every new mom wishes she could relax in her comfortable clothes at home while she gets her nails done. What a rejuvenating afternoon!
If you are looking to show love and extra care towards someone in their fourth trimester, try gifting the very creative and helpful gift of a housecleaner. Who doesn’t want someone to come do the dirty work so we can enjoy more cuddles with our little(s)!
Mama, you are doing a wonderful job and you were chosen for this perfect little one, and them for you.