Recovery during the Fourth Trimester
The fourth trimester is a wild ride. To recovering from either a vaginal delivery or a c-section, to milk coming in and trying to navigate breastfeeding for the first time, feeding and keeping your little human alive, to hormone crashes, and sleepless nights. It is certainly not talked about enough and feels like such a taboo topic! #breakthestigma.
When you’re pregnant, you tend to only think about what your baby is going to need. Designing a beautiful nursery, building your dream baby registry. But, what about you? You’re your baby’s way into the world after all. (Being in labor and giving birth come with a lot of side effects, both physical and emotional.
Allow Your Body Time to Heal
After a long pregnancy, your body has done some pretty amazing things, but it’s also been put through the wringer. And now it needs time to heal. (At least four to six weeks, to be more exact.) With that healing often comes all-over soreness, lots of vaginal bleeding (very normal, but still more than you’re used to seeing down there), urinary incontinence and, yes, your first postpartum bowel movement.
There’s a lot to deal with when recovering from childbirth, but these tried-and-tested postpartum recovery hacks can help ease the process and even shorten your recovery time.
My personal postpartum experience
The fourth trimester is just as important as the first three so that is why we need to make sure we take good care of ourselves postpartum! Having a good support system is KEY. I am so blessed that my husband was an absolute rockstar from the minute my son was born. He ran in circles to make sure we were both cared for. From helping me extract colostrum to give to our son while he was in the NICU, to helping me up from the hospital bed when I was still too numb to walk. Having that support through those tender moments kept me going. Once I got home from the hospital there was a whole list of items that were absolute must-haves during recovery. The hospital didn’t send me home with much, so I had to make sure I had everything ready to go once I got home.
Postpartum essentials that helped me during the fourth trimester :
Always ultra-thin overnight pads: I preferred these over the pads they gave in the hospital since they are not as bulky! I never knew how much vaginal bleeding I would experience post-delivery-I had bleeding for about 4-6 weeks after a vaginal delivery.
Frida Mom Postpartum Underwear: This mesh underwear came in super handy because I could just dispose of them. The bleeding is pretty heavy right after delivery for a couple of weeks, so these worked well! They are soft, seamless and breathable to keep pads (and everything else) in place, without squeezing or pulling.
A comfy robe: I lived in my MASONgrey LA robe after I had my son. It feels so soft and luxurious which is much needed when you just have a baby and you’re swollen and sore.
Peri bottle: This is such an important part of the postpartum recovery regimen especially after having a 4th degree perineal tear (ouch). I ended up just taking the one I used at the hospital home, but I have heard great things about the Frida Mom Upside Down Peri Bottle.
Tucks Medicated Cooling Pads: These cooling pads were a GODSEND! They really helped ease the pain I had from my tear.
Frida Mom Perineal Healing Foam: This stuff was lovely. It provides pain relief, reduces swelling (thanks to the witch hazel!) and provides a nice cooling feeling in that sensitive area.
Greater Than hydration drinks: These were AMAZING! Your body goes through a great deal of trauma during childbirth, so it is so important to stay hydrated for many reasons, especially if you are breastfeeding. These hydration drinks were delicious and made me feel so much better when I was feeling icky.
Nursing tanks: These were so easy to throw on day after day and were so easy to unclip to nurse on demand.
A nursing support pillow: Learning how to breastfeed for the first time can be overwhelming so you want to ensure that both you and baby are both comfortable to ensure a successful feeding session. The Nook Sleep Organic Nursing Pillow is SOOOO soft to the touch and just firm enough to give you and baby the support you need during feedings.
Stool softener: These are CRUICAL. The first postpartum bowel movement can be almost as scary as the thought of childbirth (not to be dramatic) so don’t sleep on taking your stool softeners! You will not regret it.
Pain meds: Don’t forget to take Ibuprofen every six hours!!! (Per your OB of course). I would sometimes forget to take mine at the six-hour mark and boy did I regret that.
Postpartum Mental Health
It’s not only important to take care of yourself physically post-delivery but mentally too. The fourth trimester’s postpartum depression and anxiety are all too real so make sure to take some time for yourself so you can be the best you for your little one.
Resources for Postpartum Depression and Anxiety
Having access to resources is an important part of learning about postpartum depression and anxiety, finding support and seeking appropriate treatment. Luckily, there are numerous qualified organizations out there that can help. Here are a few of our favorite PPD-specific websites and books to consider:
Postpartum Support International
The Postpartum Stress Center
Postpartum Depression for Dummies by Dr. Shoshana Bennett
Keeping Mommy in Mind by Dr. Ashurina Ream (@psychedmommy; use promo code BABYLIST until June 3, 2020)
Postpartum Health Alliance
Dropping the Baby and Other Scary Thoughts by Karen Kleiman
As you go through the overwhelming, seemingly endless challenge of postpartum depression and anxiety, there’s one thing we hope you’ll continuously keep in mind: You are not alone, and through loved ones, support groups and mental health professionals, you’ll get through it.