How I Survived the 4th Trimester

Even though being pregnant for nine months is quite enough (ask any pregnant mama), babies would really rather you be pregnant for a full year. For the first three months of their life, it’s completely normal for babies to want to be held all the time, rocked to sleep and then only sleep on your chest, breastfeed often and for a long time, and be fussy for no reason.

They want to be constantly soothed and comforted because that’s what they were used to in the womb. For some lucky mamas, the first three months might seem like a breeze. For others, the first several months can be a struggle! But for many babies, they “snap out of it” so to speak when they turn three months old and things become much easier for the whole family.

They start to sleep in longer stretches, they tolerate being put down for longer periods and their happy personalities start to shine through. But the first three months can be struggle for new mamas and second (or third or fourth!) time mamas alike.

I am a mama to two beautiful boys. My first son was a very “easy baby” – he was a quick study at breastfeeding and each session was no more than 20 minutes. He slept “through the night” at one week old and dropped his only night feeding at six months. He only cried when he was tired or hungry and was overall a happy little man.

My second little has followed suit and I’d consider him easy as well, but having a newborn and a toddler to care for made me understand what surviving the fourth trimester means. I had heard other mamas talk about it, but the first time around, only having one easy baby to care for, I didn’t get it. The second time around? I got it!

With my older son, I’d happily sit and hold him for an afternoon nap, respond to his every whimper and sit in the rocking chair for an hour and rock him. But now, I’m also contending with my toddler’s many snack requests, daycare drop-offs, a rotating door of service providers for his communication struggles, temper tantrums, and endless hugs and kisses before bedtime.

Here are some things that helped me survive the fourth trimester:

1. Accept help from others: For many families, this might mean that your husband or significant other pitches in even more than usual. My husband was a saint the first few weeks after we brought K home. He did more housework than usual, cooked more meals and folded endless loads of laundry. My mom stopped by with dinner once or twice a week and my MIL cooked for us a few times.

You might consider “treating yourself” and hiring a cleaning service sometime in those first few months so you can just focus on caring for your little one and not have to step over dirty socks and dust bunnies while you’re doing it.

2.  Your slow cooker is your new best friend: I began my maternity leave a week and a half before my boys arrived both times and had plenty of spare time to stock up our freezer. My favorite kinds of meals were slow cooker freezer meals. I prepped them and put the ingredients in a plastic bag with instructions written on the bag for cooking. I would take a bag out of the freezer in the morning and stick it in the slow cooker. Eight or so hours later, dinner was served. I use my slow cooker at least twice a week still and love it! I have this one.

3. Sleep!: I know everyone will say to you “sleep when the baby sleeps!” but it’s true that it really can help. I suffered from some pretty serious baby blues (more with K than with B) and everything that I read said that sleeping would help your hormones even out. According to WebMD getting some extra sleep can prevent on-going postpartum depression. And on the topic of sleep…get it any way you can. I was very against bed-sharing when I had B, but we’ve done it a few times with K. Do whatever you can the first few months to get some rest!

4. Pick up your groceries or have them delivered: This is something I did before having K and I still do now! Two major grocery stores in our area allow you to shop for your food online. A personal shopper will get your order ready for you and then you can either pick it up at the store of have it delivered. I love this service and do it almost every week! And it sure beats taking a toddler and a newborn to the store.

5. Wear your baby: I didn’t do this enough with my first kiddo and wish that I had. Babywearing can be a calming and soothing experience for your little one. They were carried in your belly for nine months. Many of them enjoy being carried when they’re out the outside as well. For mamas of fussy babies, babywearing might be the only way you can throw a load of laundry in the wash, whip up a dinner in your slow cooker or stroll through the aisles of Target without your baby crying. It’s also an awesome bonding experience for mama and baby.

For mamas with more than one kiddo:

1. Have a friend or family member spend some quality time with them: With either of them! Have someone come and rock and cuddle the baby so you can spend time with your other children. Or have someone come and take the older ones on a special field trip, out to the playground or for a sleepover. This will allow you to spend some time with the newbie and ease your mama guilt about taking attention away from the older ones.

2Continue with school or daycare: If your older children are in school, then problem solved. Of course you wouldn’t take them out of school just because you’re home with the new addition. But if your older children go to daycare, consider letting them stay, even if only for a few days a week. When K was born, B continued at his daycare on Tuesdays and Thursday.

He loves his daycare provider and gets to see his “friends” and other kids his age. If it works out financially for your family, it could be beneficial for everyone. I loved the two days that I got to spend some quality one on one time with K. B got to be an only child for almost 2 ½ years, but K never did! So for a few months, he got some of his mama’s undivided attention for two days a week.

Everyone knows how quickly time flies with little ones and we wouldn’t want to wish these precious moments away, but hopefully the things that helped me survive and stay sane the first few months might help you out as well. Good luck! The fourth trimester will be over before you know it.

3 Responses to How I Survived the 4th Trimester

  1. love these tips… I was adamant on doing everything myself the first two kids but with #3 I realized that the more help the better! lol

  2. Such a great article, especially for a Mama who is living through the 4th Trimester now!

  3. I had no idea that the fourth trimester would be so hard. It literally was pretty much two months of holding or babywearing our little one. She did not tolerate being put down. I am also so thankful I made a bunch of freezer meals before baby arrived!

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