Preparing for Postpartum - Welcome to the Fourth Trimester
There's no doubt that it's easy to forget about the Fourth Trimester ... oh but wait, you thought there were only 3..? Not so - the Fourth Trimester (also known as postpartum) is easy to dismiss. Between your fertility journey, your pregnancy and then the actual birth, it's hard to find the energy to do or think about anything else. However, having a postpartum plan is incredibly helpful to make sure you're feeling supported in those crucial first few weeks and months... it really does take a village!
Here are some helpful hints - care of childbirth educator ‘Christina McKay’ - to help you prepare for the fourth trimester, because we were never meant to do this alone.
Book a Postpartum Doula
This is all about you! The experience of becoming a mother is transformative. Hiring a Doula can be a huge support to you as a new mother. A non-judgemental ear, delicious meals, a hot coffee bought from your favourite cafe, someone to hold the baby whilst you have a shower, a nap or fold all of that dreading washing... yes please! All Doulas have different offerings so find one that best suits your family and your needs and remember, it's not only the baby that needs to feel held and supported.
Stocking up your freezer with warming nourishing meals really takes the stress out of those first few weeks. You could cook them yourself in those last few weeks of pregnancy, outsource this to family and friends via a meal train or leave it to the professionals and order meals from postpartum food delivery services. Remember to make a few different snacks also - think one-handed freezer-friendly snacks, eg, protein balls, savory muffins, peanut butter filled dates or lactation cookies.
It’s important to give yourself space and the time you need after giving birth, so Christina suggests set boundaries with family and friends before your baby arrives. Do you want your visitors to have had the Whooping Cough Vaccine? Who (if anyone) is welcome to visit you in the first few days after birth or at the hospital? Are you happy for visitors to kiss your baby? What are the rules around friends / family bringing over their kids if unwell? How long do you want visitors to stay for, usually we recommend no more than 45 mins to an hour. Perhaps you’d like to establish set ‘visiting hours’. Are you happy for visitors to post photos of your baby online? There are so many things to think about and having boundaries set in place will reduce friction and make those first weeks a lot more enjoyable for you and your family.
Help could be anything from friends or family walking your dog, doing school drop off or pick up for your older children, taking bub for a walk in the pram so you can have a rest or bringing you groceries. If it's within your budget, hiring a cleaner can also take the pressure off. Surrender to motherhood and ask for help.
Appointments & Bookings
Christina suggests trying to create a few bookings, appointments or meetings before your baby arrives, if you can manage it. Your future self will thank you! If you already see a therapist, book in future appointments so you don't have to wait. It's a great opportunity to debrief your birth or navigate the baby blues in those early days.
Book a Lactation Consultant
For some mothers, breastfeeding can be incredibly challenging and doesn't come as naturally as we would like - it's a learned skill for you and baby, so professional help can mean the world of difference. It helps to have a supportive, comfortable recliner chair to support you and bubs while you figure out what your feeding journey will look like.
Book a Women’s Physio/Pelvic Floor Specialist
No matter how you have birthed, this service can be very helpful in healing and getting a good reading of where your pelvic floor is at post birth. Seeking help early can avoid issues down the track.
Create ‘Me Time’
What is going to fill your cup? A massage, a pedicure, yoga, breakfast with your best friend - finding time outside of mothering is important. This could be as simple as doing a 10 min meditation and having a cup of tea alone, whilst your partner takes the baby for a walk or a long bath - uninterrupted of course.
Lastly, it’s important to practise patience, with your baby, with yourself and your recovery - healing takes time! It's taken the good part of a year to make a baby, and it takes a long time to heal - 6 weeks is how long it takes for your uterus to go back down to pre-baby size and this should not an indication as to when you should be or feel ready to resume 'normal' life again. You're in a new season of life that cannot and should not be rushed. You take care, Mumma xx