The first six weeks after giving birth is known as the fourth trimester and is a period of massive change and growth.
It doesn’t matter if you’re experiencing motherhood for the very first time or have previously given birth, having a new baby is equal parts tough, exhausting, beautiful and so fkn messy.
As a woman who has given birth to five children, I can attest it certainly takes a village to raise a child. Asking for help is a necessity for survival. No awards will be given to those who try to do it all.
To help with your transition into motherhood I’ve compiled a list of what you need to get through this special time. And show it to your loved one/s – they need to get on board!
Ten things every new mother needs to survive the fourth trimester
- Help with meals
The last thing you want to be doing is organising what everyone is going to eat when you’re sleep deprived, leaking and engorged.
So, get your loved one or a close friend to take over meal organisation for as long as possible. It’ll help relieve a lot of the pressure during your fourth trimester. This can involve:
- Batch cooking and freezing meals to build a stockpile before bub is due.
- Organising friends and family to drop off meals when bub has arrived. Meal Train is a convenient website that allows your friends to set up a personalised meal schedule for you. Loved ones simply block out a time that suits them with whatever dish they will bring. They even get a reminder so no one forgets.
- Look into meal service providers, such as The Golden Month, if you have the budget for it.
- Water, water, and more water
Hydration is so important in building up and maintaining your milk supply. If you’re already struggling to keep up adequate fluid intake imagine how this will affect milk supply when bub is born. I am certainly guilty of not drinking enough water.
So how do you get around it? Have your loved one bring you a glass of water every time you sit down to breastfeed. This will help build up milk supply for the subsequent feed.
Another trick I learnt very early on was to set an alarm in my phone on the hour as a reminder to replenish my h2o.
Creating a breastfeeding basket to put on the coffee table next to the couch is also a great idea so you’re always good to go. Stock it with essentials such as a water bottle, snacks, tissues, burp cloth and phone charger. Have your loved one replenish each day.
- Netflix binge list
Who gets time to watch anything when you’re looking after a newborn?! You do my friend when you’re up every two hours doing those late night feeds.
It’s hard scrolling through Insta with one hand as you try to nurse bub with the other, so online streaming services are a blessing.
Be sure to have your ‘watchlist’ set up before bub arrives so you’re all sorted. Sleep deprivation makes any decision harder, so trying to find an awesome show at 2am sucks. Be prepared!
- Cuddles, cuddles, and more cuddles
Your emotions will be all over the place in the early weeks of your fourth trimester, so having a loved one there to cuddle you when you’re feeling overwhelmed is a blessing.
I was super emotional for the first couple of weeks after Augie was born, but come the third week I could feel my emotions start to even out.
This is different for every woman so just remember your feelings are valid, and cuddles can work wonders.
If you are feeling like your emotions aren’t starting to stabilise after several weeks it’s important to talk to someone, such as your midwife or GP about it.
- Someone to take photos of YOU.
It took me until baby number two to realise this, as I was looking through photos of my gorgeous Julianna and realised it looked like she was being raised by David alone.
Why? Because I had been the sole photographer.
Lesson? Get your partner to use their damn phone, camera, iPad – whatever you have available to capture those precious times.
And be prepared for the un-insta worthy looking moments during your fourth trimester. They are the most beautiful, raw, honest, gorgeous photos that you will cherish most. Filter-free and perfectly imperfect.
Nothing in real life looks as good as Instagram, and nothing on Instagram is as beautiful as real life.
- Time out
Pamper time every day to just focus on yourself can work wonders for your mental wellbeing.
Whether it’s having a bubble bath and reading a few pages of a novel (or binge eating chocolate), sitting in the garden, or chatting to friends on FB, time to disconnect for half an hour can help you recharge and break the monotony of feeding routines and nappy changes.
Time out is important, especially when your job is 24/7.
- Someone to tell you you’re doing a good job.
This point is so damn important because your hard work and commitment to raising your precious newborn needs to be acknowledged.
Too many women tell me they feel undervalued and taken for granted, which is sad but unfortunately a reflection of the way mothers are valued in society.
Just because you don’t get paid for being a mother doesn’t mean you aren’t working.
Yes, it’s the best job in the world. But it’s also a shitload of work and it’s nice to get acknowledged for it occasionally.
You need to be told you are beautiful every single day because you are.
You created a tiny human being, birthed it, and have committed to looking after it and keeping it safe. That is a pretty awesome achievement don’t you think?
Even if you’re feeling like a bloated mess, it’s nice to be reminded of the beautiful sacrifice you made by sharing your body to create another soul.
- Company to break up the week
Typically, when you have a new baby, the visitors come thick and fast (provided you aren’t in lockdown of course). After the first few weeks the visitors dwindle, your partner goes back to work, and you are left alone with a new bub.
As beautiful as this time is, it’s also nice to have an occasional visitor for support and companionship.
This can help keep you connected to the outside world. Plus, it’s always nice to have an excuse to dress up your bub and show them off!
You need someone to be your laundry bitch as much as a fish needs water to survive. In the early weeks anyhow.
When you’re running on empty, constantly feeling like you could murder a hamburger, and scared shitless that every time you sneeze you might bust open a stitch – the last thing you need to be doing is laundry.
It’s time to settle in with bub and get to know each other, recover, spend those first weeks in a bubble of complete delirium with bub, partner, and nothing else pulling your focus. You and bub are number one.
Your family, or chosen family, are there to help. So, ask for it.
It’s such a cliché and I hate using them, but they are so true (*sigh). This time passes too quick, and you probably won’t remember much of it at all.
Embrace your fourth trimester in all its messy, painful, swollen but beautiful glory.
I just looked back on photos of Augie’s first month at home and I swear I barely remember half of it! Thank god for smartphones is all I can say.
Hope this list helps you a little for your postpartum period.
Have you already given birth before? If so, what helped you throughout the first six weeks postpartum? Or if you’re about to give birth, do you have a plan in place to help you settle in with bub?
It’s 10:30pm here and I’m off to watch Netflix and sneak some chocolate before Augie wakes for a feed.
Your mum bun wearing friend and parenting peer,