Happy three month birthday to little Frankie!
Phew. After the last three months I can understand why parents go all out for their children’s first birthday parties, not for the child (who probably won’t remember it) but to say ‘I SURVIVED!’. The fourth trimester (or post partum period) have been full on – filled with plenty of incredible highs and lots of challenges. New motherhood is raw, real and so totally full time that it can feel pretty overwhelming. But before you know it life is back to normal… a new kind of normal but normal all the same. So in case you are worried about what’s to come, from the other side I can confidently say: your life is not over!
That said, a little preparation prior to giving birth went a long way to having a fairly enjoyable (albeit challenging) experience, so I wanted to share with you my essentials for the last 12 weeks… As always, know that this is from my own personal experience and I’m no expert, this is just what worked for me. Read on for me.
My Fourth Trimester Essentials
One thing I wasn’t prepared for was how hard the recovery would be. We get so focused on the actual birth but in the whole scheme of things it’s just one day (or two, if you’re me ha) while the recovery can take weeks or months. For me, the fourth trimester was split into two periods – the two weeks post birth where literally everything hurt, and the following months where I was still building my strength and getting back to normal. In those first few weeks you really don’t feel yourself at all… you find yourself wondering if you’ll ever be the same again. But fear not! The body is incredible and you’ll be surprised how quickly you start feeling better. But whatever you do, don’t underestimate the need to take it easy, particularly during that first period.
Although we all feel pressure to get back to normal asap, why not lean into this incredible and intense time? I mean, you just created a human and there’s no better time to revel in having an excuse to do nothing… andddd force other people to fetch you the remote while you lay marooned on the sofa. Disconnect with the outside world and let yourself slip into a baby bubble. For the first two weeks after leaving the hospital I barely left the house at all and tried to keep social media to a minimum (I preplanned content so I wouldn’t be completely offline). And don’t be afraid to regulate who comes to visit and when – everyone will want to see your baby and the last thing you want to do is make endless cups of tea and be all smiley when all you want to do is lay facedown on your bed. It’s ok to wait a while or space people out. Instead, I mainly lay down, nuzzled Frankie, breathed in her newborn scent, tried to drink gallons of water and eat lots of yummy food. And you know what? Not much had changed when I got back into the real world.
Comfort is key when you’re in your fourth trimester, particularly in those first few weeks. Not only will you find yourself sore, unable to sit for too long and in various states of undress at most times, you’ll not want any tight or hot fabrics squeezing you. Soooo you’re going to want your wardrobe to be oversized, in dark colours and natural fabrics… For the first few weeks when I was at home I opted for a uniform of drawstring silk or cotton shorts and pants, high waisted black cotton knickers and a feeding bra. In case you’re wondering about bras, this is the one that I wear at home a lot, this is what I wear when I go out and this is what I wear when I am exercising. When I had people over I would throw a linen button down or linen dressing gown over the top. For going out, I stuck with dark colours usually in linen, and opted for button down tops, dresses and jumpsuits for easy access. And FYI, I chose most things in a few sizes bigger so there weren’t any seams pressing me.
On The Menu
The hunger is real, particularly if you’re breastfeeding! I’m not sure about other people, but I definitely felt like the first few months wasn’t the time for dieting. But to avoid eating too badly, I always had some granola or bircher muslie prepared so when I woke up at 6am starving or was super hungry at 4pm something healthy-ish was always in reach. For meals, Ben was on cooking duties and he knocked it out of the park (as usual). One thing we did before the birth was cook up lots of dahl and white bean stew and put it in the freezer, then all we had to do was grill some fish or steak to have a quick and healthy dinner. I also tried to drink as much water as possible… 3 litres most days. I bought a (seriously ugly) refillable cup with a straw and had that on hand at all times. And I allllwayys had dessert and a glass of wine… I figure if I’m happy and relaxed, surely the baby is more likely to be, right?
Ahhhh breastfeeding. The process of your milk coming in is alternately incredible/terrifying/hilarious. For bras I use this one at home, this one for going out and this one for exercising. From day one I used Silverettes and I also put some hydrogels in the fridge and used them to soothe inflammation (I tried out the cabbage but I didn’t find it particularly useful). I bought this pump which I use now everyday. In case you’re wondering, I don’t have an electric one but may get one down the track. As a side bar, my sister-in-law tried to teach me how to hand express (she pumps a whole bottle this way in a matter of minutes, without any equipment), it wasn’t that easy but is ideal if you can master it. I’m working on it! I also like using a feeding pillow to bring Frankie closer to me and give me free hands, but it’s also worth getting used to doing it without so that you can feed on the go. For the first few weeks I liked to feed lying down (get your midwife to teach you or google it), as it took the pressure off my tail bone and other sore parts. Oh and if you’re having trouble, I recommend looking up the La Leche league in your area, they have monthly meetings in lots of cities with great hands on advice.
As I mentioned I really didn’t do anything at all for the first few weeks. But once I was starting to feel more recovered, i.e. I no longer had any pain, I got back into walking. After two weeks I went for my first flat walk, and by 4 weeks I was starting to do my uphill hikes. That’s pretty much all I have done for the first 12 weeks! But as of next week I will be getting back into a few yoga sessions and a few pilates sessions. One thing I did early on was see a women’s health physiotherapist (around week 6), who checked my pelvic floor and gave me some great exercises for core and pelvic floor strengthening. These have been really good and I noticed the difference straight away.
Easy Beauty Products
For the first few weeks I kept my beauty routine to a minimum, for one I had zero time to apply products (props to any woman who can find the time in the first few weeks!), but I also wanted to keep it clean with a newborn attached to me. Because of dehydration caused by birth and breastfeeding, I liked to apply a really nice hydrating moisturiser and face oil when I got the chance. I also used this for the first month. As usual I used a natural deodorant (still using this one). But all in all I kept it fairly simple and I’m looking forward to getting back into my fave products. Oh one thing, you’re going to need lots of hair ties for all those top knots you’ll be sporting!
Lastly, I know it sounds so cliché but after being told this multiple times, I tried to remind myself that Frankie was only going to be this tiny once. And when things got really bad I remembered advice that my friend gave me… This too shall pass!