We’ve all heard the phrase “4th trimester,” meaning the postpartum time immediately after birth when your baby and your body need so much care and attention. It’s almost like an extension of pregnancy; your body still doesn’t feel like your own, you are in pain, your emotions are all over the place, and your baby is still often (literally) attached to you.
Now that it’s my second time around, there are things that I’m doing differently this time during the 4th trimester.
Ask for Specific Help
I didn’t ask for as much help during postpartum as I should have when I had my first baby. Maybe it was because it was November and I didn’t want to be a burden to ask for help, or my strong-willed personality said I could do it all. But during this 4th trimester, I’m asking for more help and letting my pride sit to the side.
Don’t let your pride get in the way of asking for help. We all need help sometimes, even if we don’t like to admit it. A mom with no help leads to what I call “mama overload.” And once mom gets overloaded, the whole family can feel the effects.
When asking for help, be specific with what you need. Our “mom brain” is often on overload from trying to remember the last time we showered, the last diaper change, feedings every 2 hours, and trying to go through the fog of little sleep. Share a specific task that you need help with, and keep it short and simple.
A simple example would be “Can you come tomorrow and help me fold laundry?” or “Can you pick up this list of groceries for me?” Or even, “We’d love some help with dinner one night this week!”
The Frozen Food Section is Your Friend
At first, I felt I should be super mom and wife, cooking my husband hot, fresh dinners with all the prep work that goes into it. This time during the 4th trimester, I’m going be more mindful that the frozen food section is okay to use (a lot). There are tons of great ingredients that can be used, and if you pick out the right frozen meals you can also add a fresh salad or vegetables to help spruce up the meal.
Fast Food is OK
I try to avoid a fast food meals, especially during the work week. I really do love to cook and bake. However, I realized how easy it is to just order a meal and have food at home. I rarely used the delivery services before and thought about giving it a try this time, and it was so helpful. Instead of having a second baby shower and baby gifts, we asked that family and friends provide either a freezer meal, grocery gift cards, or use the grocery delivery service and send the recipe for the meal ingredients to my e-mail so I can prepare it.
I’ve also asked for UberEats or DoorDash gift cards to help us out. Food is better than receiving your 20th baby blanket that you have no use for. And if the restaurant only offers pick-up options, I can ask my husband or friend to pick it up. Often I took advantage of that ask for them to pick up the food and invited them to enjoy the meal with us. Trust me, this is way better than trying to pack two children into a car to get food or groceries.
Embrace the Snuggles (and the Struggles)
The newborn stage is precious. Postpartum healing from delivery takes time for any mother. I have to remind myself that all the time now. Mentally, I know I feel that I can conquer the world and do it all. Physically, my body and my newborn are saying slow down mama. So instead of feeling I need to get everything done during the 4th trimester, I have embraced every snuggle. I’m cherishing the snuggles of holding both my oldest daughter and her baby sister and reading her favorite book for the 100th time. I know I won’t get these moments back as they grow up.
But this postpartum time also comes with embracing the struggles. It’s tough having a 15-month-old daughter and a newborn to care for. Add two very energetic dogs that want to do nothing but play, and I’ve had my share of break-down moments. But those struggles eventually will become few and far between and this time of my life will be a sweet memory.
Embrace it all, mama. You won’t be getting this time back, so you might as well enjoy every bit of it. From one mama (who has warmed up her cup of tea 4 times this morning) to another, I raise my cup to you.