What to Expect in the 4th Trimester
The 4th trimester… you know, the one that no one talks about. Maybe it’s because the 4th trimester isn’t as beautiful or glamorous as pregnancy, and maybe its because all of our focus instantly goes to baby (probably a combination of both), but moms, we HAVE to start talking about those first few months postpartum. They aren’t pretty, they aren’t easy, but they are amazing in their own special way. Here’s what to expect in the 4th trimester.
What to Expect in the 4th Trimester
You won’t be Pregnant Anymore
You might be thinking, “well duh”, but hear me out. I couldn’t wait to not be pregnant anymore. The excitement of not being pregnant almost started to compete with the excitement of finally meeting my baby. But, when you’re pregnant for nine months (3/4 of year), and suddenly you’re not, it’s kind of a strange feeling. For such a long time, you were used to carrying a baby inside you. Your whole life revolved around being pregnant, from what you wore, to what you ate (and drank and didn’t drink), to what you talked about… literally everything. You became accustomed to the excitement of feeling a life move around inside of you. And suddenly, your big round belly is… empty. The feeling is hard to put into words, but just be prepared to, dare I say, miss being pregnant.
You’ll Still Look Pregnant
Don’t be surprised when you look down after delivery and still see your baby bump. Be prepared to look about six months pregnant when you leave the hospital. It takes four to six weeks for your uterus to shrink back to normal. In addition, don’t be shocked if you feel phantom kicks for a few weeks. It’s probably just gas or things moving back into place, but these “kicks” will likely play a few tricks on you.
If you’re interested in recovering and strengthening your post baby body (okay… and losing the mom pooch), I highly recommend The Postpartum Cure. The Postpartum Cure is a nutrition, meal plan, and fitness plan designed specifically for postpartum moms. The program tackles problems like strengthening your pelvic floor (so you don’t pee every time you laugh), curing diastasis recti, and regaining strength in your core. It comes complete with a meal plan, recipes, grocery lists, exercises you can do in the first 6 weeks postpartum, and full workout routines to be done after you get the thumbs up from your doctor. I don’t really know of any other program that is created just for postpartum moms. It even has mommy and me workouts that you can do with your baby!
Things are Gonna get Messy
From postpartum bleeding, to leaky boobs, the 4th trimester is gonna get a little messy. I can’t say this enough (because I was totally unprepared); invest in a few pairs of postpartum underwear, multiple packs of maxi pads, and lots of nursing pads. I dedicated an entire post to managing the aftermath of childbirth. You can read it here.
You’re going to be Emotional
Your hormones are going crazy, you just gave birth to the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen in your life, and sleep is something of the past. Of course you’re going to be emotional. Many women experience the baby blues, myself included. I would get this overwhelming feeling of sadness for about an hour, in the evening, every evening, for about a week. While I knew this was a possibility beforehand, I was so ashamed when it actually happened. I would hide it from my husband, and never told him about it until about a month ago. My best advice is to be honest about it with your partner, feel it, cry it out, and move on. If these feelings of sadness don’t go away, or you have thoughts about hurting yourself or your baby, you may be suffering from Postpartum Depression and should seek help immediately. You can find out more about the difference between the baby blues and PPD here.
Everything is a Whirlwind
I think we get a giant surge of adrenaline after we give birth. At least I felt that way. I was surviving (and sometimes even thriving) on a couple hours of sleep each night. Every day was a new adventure in learning how to be a mom. We had visitors, holidays, doctor’s appointments, and keeping up with our daily lives. Suddenly, the days and weeks had flown by. Our son was a month, then two months, then six months. My body started to morph back to its original shape (or something similar to it), the bleeding had stopped, the baby blues were far off in the rearview, and we even started to sleep in stretches that were longer than two hours. All of it had happened so quickly, and when I try to remember the smaller details of the 4th trimester, it’s all a little blurry. (I’m fully convinced that this is the way our brains are wired so that we want to have more kids).
If you want a more in depth guide to the 4th Trimester, check out The Postpartum Handbook. It walks you through what to expect, tips for managing pain and speeding up recovery, postpartum fitness, postpartum sex, your postpartum diet, and more.
All in all, the 4th trimester is a beautiful, exhausting, (sometimes) painful, and wonderful time. The days can seem long when you’re in the thick of it, but you’ll soon look back and wish you could relive one of them just one more time. To look down at your brand new baby and see something new every time. To hear the little grunts of your newborn. To be so deliriously tired and in love that nothing else really matters (great… now I’m crying and my ovaries are aching). It’s such a short blip in time, so make sure to soak it all in.