I worked with children for over 16 years before I had a child of my own. I really thought I understood what it was going to be like. I thought that I was super prepared and was going to fly through this thing called “motherhood”. I read all the pregnancy books I could get my hands on and many had great tips about the postpartum period. But then I actually LIVED through the postpartum period. After what was an absolutely horrible pregnancy with hyperemesis (yeah, that’s all day vomiting) I had an amazing birth and was eager to bring our new little babe home. So we did just that. We escaped the hospital as soon as we could and we were excited to now be a family of three. We quickly realized that we didn’t have this whole parenting thing down pat and we were thrown into the “fourth trimester” like a deer in headlights. So, what do I really wish I would have known BEFORE being responsible for another human being?
1. The first night, or two, at home can seem like HELL.
No, seriously. You know that sleeping little cute newborn you had at the hospital who squawked once and a while, you fed him/her, changed them, and snuggled them back to sleep? It probably won’t be like that your first night home. I remember looking at my husband asking if he thought the hospital would take us back if we should back up at the birth unit. We tried EVERYTHING and our son wouldn’t settle for more than 15 minutes. But then you know what? It got better. Looking back I don’t blame him! All snug and warm in this dark cocoon safe inside his mama and then all of a sudden he was part of this bright world!
2. Breastfeeding isn’t always as easy as it looks the movies.
I read books, I watched Youtube videos, I armed myself with education and confidence. And then I actually tried to breastfeed. What started off as “this isn’t too bad” quickly went to “something doesn’t feel right”. Down a slippery slope we went and, thankfully, because I had built my support network up before giving birth, we knew where to reach out.
3. Intuition, use it! YOU know what is best for YOUR baby.
Follow your intuition. Looking back at our breastfeeding experience when I said that something didn’t seem right, I was originally told that everything seemed great. I should have listened to what my intuition was telling me in those first few days. If I would have reached out for help from an actual lactation consultant early on, changes are we wouldn’t have climbed an uphill battle for the first few months.
4. Sex, it’s going to be different. Maybe for a while.
Maybe forever. I am not saying “different” as in you won’t want to ever do it again or it will hurt (because it should never hurt!), but things have changed. You grew another human being! It’s completely normal in those first few months while you are bleeding, leaking, and sleep deprived to not feel overly sexy and wanting to get it on. You are not alone! But there are tons of ways you can ease back in to things and get re- connected with your partner.
5. Put down the credit card!
Stop buying all the cute baby stuff BEFORE your baby is even born. I know. It’s hard. You see a cute outfit here. A fun toy there. But it all adds up. The kicker? We didn’t even use half of the stuff we purchased after we had our babies! Looking back I didn’t really need the playpen, crib AND bassinet. But I thought maybe I would?!
If you would like more information on how to be prepared for the “Fourth Trimester” check-out the Fourth Trimester Workshop offered by Little Lotus. Led by midwife Julia Wykes an experienced mom of three. This workshop is designed to prepare you for anything that may come up. Topics include symptoms women experience after birth, the importance of rest and family support, after birth supplies, pelvic floor, well being and much more!