The Ultimate Fourth Trimester Guide
I had my second baby this past November! Now that I’ve had two postpartum experiences, I decided to put together a guide for the fourth trimester. Many people call the first three months postpartum the “fourth trimester” because newborns still think they are part of mama’s body during that time - and they really are. The top priorities in this season of newborn life should be eating, sleeping, and taking care of your immediate family unit. I hope this guide below will be a great resource for you as you prepare for the postpartum season of life. Not all of these suggestions will benefit everyone, but I hope you can use this as a guide to piece together things that work for you and your family!
Prepping for Postpartum:
Freezer meals I made around 30 freezer meals before my baby was born and it was something I will always recommend to pregnant friends now. Between our meal train and the freezer meals, I didn’t have to cook for about the first two months postpartum and I cannot tell you how amazing that was! So much more time to spend bonding with my new baby AND with the rest of my family. I didn’t do this with my first baby and high regret it.
Meal Train / Caring Bridge Ask a family member or friend to set this up online for you and they can share it once your baby is born - I didn’t have to use any of my freezer meals for the first two weeks postpartum because we had so many meals brought to us! It was such a blessing.
Essential nutrition/habits Think about nourishing foods for postpartum - it’s okay to indulge in treats and sugar, but plan to focus on good nutrition in order to feed your baby and your own body well.
After-birth support Mom, sister, aunt, cousin, friend… delegate things to people who truly want to help you.
Postpartum doula Our doula, Christina, offers this service. Feel free to contact us to find out more! Christina came to our home for a few postpartum doula sessions and it was incredible - she helped me run errands, organized my pantry, and played with my three year old while I tended to my newborn. Game changer! We recommend going ahead and setting this up before your baby is born. Learn more about that service here.
Take a postpartum prep class We recommend both you and your partner take one together! Birthful has a 5-week one here.
Read It’s important to know what is normal and what is not during the postpartum time. Learning about physical changes (like night sweats and hair loss) ahead of time will help you be more prepared.
Talk to your partner about postpartum expectations: How will you help each other get sleep? Will your partner get up in the middle of the night to change diapers after you nurse baby? Who will be responsible for meals, grocery shopping, cleaning, etc.? How long will you and your partner take off of work after baby is born? Talking about expectations and making a tentative ‘game plan’ together is highly recommended - these things might change after birth, and that’s okay. But sticking together and figuring out what your goals are ahead of time is key. Remember that you are a team!
Immediate postpartum (this list might change depending on your birth location - home/birth center/hospital):
Depends and pads with wings Listen to me now…this may be the #1 postpartum item that I recommend to anyone. Depends change the postpartum game and you will be so grateful for them. I recommend enough Depends for the first 3-7 days, and then most people can switch to pads with wings as their postpartum bleeding gets lighter.
Chux pads/puppy pads These are great to use under your sheets to protect your mattress at home - or a waterproof mattress protector
After Ease tincture This can help with the discomfort from postpartum cramping (disclaimer: talk to your care provider about this)
Heating pad for cramps
Sitz baths, perineum spray, peri bottle Support your body’s natural healing
Stool softener (or foods that promote gut health and healthy digestion)
Breastfeeding and Diapering:
Reusable breast pads
Nursing tank tops
Lactation bars/cookies I actually pre-made these and put them in the freezer before baby was born. Here’s our favorite recipe.
Nursing/pumping station I bought a rolling cart to keep nursing/pumping supplies on so I could roll it from room to room depending on where I was. Keep your pump, pump supplies, bottles, even snacks and water bottles in a handy spot. A boppy/breastfeeding pillow is something to consider, too, as well as a haaka. Printed charts for storing breastmilk, pump info and tips, etc. are handy. I highly recommend reading all about your breast pump before your baby is born so you know exactly how it works before you need to use it.
Diaper station Think about where you’ll most likely be changing your baby’s diapers most of the time. If baby’s nursery is upstairs but you spend the majority of the day downstairs, you will not want to always go upstairs to change diapers. We have a diaper changing station on our bedroom dresser with a rolling cart beside it where we keep diapers, wipes, other baby care items, baby clothes, etc. So convenient!
Contact info for local lactation consultants We recommend you have names/numbers written down so they will be accessible in case you need them. Here are a few local lactation consultants that we recommend… Linda Coppola Beth Sanders Hope Mikat
Things to Remember/Consider:
It’s okay to ASK FOR HELP! You have to take care of yourself in order to properly take care of your baby. Sleep is not a luxury. Showering is not a luxury. Eating is not a luxury. These are all important things needed to simply survive and asking for help in order for you to sleep, shower, and eat does not make you selfish or a bad mom. Taking care of yourself so you can give to your baby makes you a great mom!
Baby wearing Try different wraps and carriers to find what works for you. This is especially helpful is you already have children - sometimes wearing your baby is the easiest way to get anything else around the house done! There are local Facebook groups for info about baby wearing and also local buy/sell/trade groups for wraps and carriers.
Placenta encapsulation/tincture/salve Our doulas Kristian and Sarah both offer this service. Feel free to contact us to find out more! I had my placenta encapsulated after my second baby and I’m so glad I did. Learn more here.
The postpartum time after your baby is born is one of the most life-changing times in your life. Feeling weepy and joyful at the same time is very normal. Feeling overwhelmed and grateful at the same time is also normal. There are so many variations for families of what the postpartum period will look like. I hope this guide will help spur some conversations between you and your family members about what the first few months of your baby’s life could look like for you! Preparation is key.