There are very few moments in life where everything changes in an instant, and giving birth is definitely one of them. But instant transformation doesn’t mean you and your baby are instantly adapted to this new phase. The first three months after your baby is born are also known as the “4th trimester,” a term coined by famed pediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp to describe the time it takes for your newborn to slowly adjust to life outside of the womb. During those first three months, a baby still feels most comfortable with womb-like conditions like white noise, rocking, and a lot of close contact. An awe-inspiring time, yes—but easy it is not. Just as your baby needs to adjust to the world over the course of her first three months, your body and mind will be adjusting to no longer being pregnant and the challenges of mothering. Not to mention your partner is adjusting as well! Amidst the sleepless nights and wonder-filled days, you’ll need to take care of yourself as well as your little one. Here are a few things to know and prep for in advance, and what to expect as the days fly by.
The first three months after your baby is born are also known as the “4th trimester,” a term coined by famed pediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp to describe the time it takes for your newborn to slowly adjust to life outside of the womb.
Take advantage of your nesting impulses in your third trimester to build out a cozy and useful space for yourself along with the nursery. You’ll spend a lot of time in bed with your baby in the very beginning, especially if you’re breastfeeding, so stock up your bedroom with your favorite candles, nursing pillows, newborn essentials and soft blankets. Nursing mothers need to work extra-hard to stay hydrated, so humidifiers, water cups with built-in straws, and lots of lotion for your constantly-washed hands are a must. Pipette Relaxing Body Lotion for pregnant and postpartum moms does double duty, safely moisturizing dry skin and lifting your mood with its citrusy, aromatherapeutic scent.
Set yourself up for success.
Assemble and familiarize yourself with all the new baby gadgets and tools in your house before your baby actually arrives; trust us, you won’t feel like learning how to work your stroller/twelve foot long baby wrap/video monitor when you’ve only had a couple hours of sleep and you’re holding a newborn. Get your car seat set up well before you go into labor, too, so you have one less thing to worry about. Most fire departments will actually install or check your car seat so you can rest assured your newborn’s first car trip home is a safe one. As you pack your go bag for the hospital, don’t forget to include personal touches that will make you feel like yourself: your softest pillow, some favorite pjs or robe, a framed picture from home. When it comes to newborn and new mom essentials, Pipette Relaxing Body Wash is ideal for that first shower at the hospital: It has an uplifting bergamot and mandarin scent and a moisturizing, sulfate-free formula that leaves skin extra-soft. Pipette Baby Balm is a must-pack for yourself as well, as your skin will feel parched in the hours and days post-birth.
Ask for advice.
Lactation consultants are invaluable to breastfeeding moms, who often need lots of support to get the whole nursing routine figured out. If your hospital offers you a free lactation consultation, take it! There are also plenty of lactation consultants who will come to your home to help you and your little one achieve success with latching, pumping and more. Postpartum doulas can also help you get your footing at home, assisting with baby-soothing tactics, breastfeeding challenges, baby massage, and household tasks to make your life easier. Best of all, they’ve seen hundreds (if not thousands!) of newborns at this exact stage, so they have a wealth of tips for every baby’s personality.
Taking your time also means taking a little time for yourself—our Belly Butter is full of moisturizing ingredients that are great for mamas’ delicate skin
Delegate, delegate, delegate.
Think ahead to what you’ll need your first week or two at home and postpartum care; giving birth is no small task, and you’ll need as much time as possible to rest and recover. Make a list of friends and family who can come help you (and if anyone asks if you need anything brought over, say yes!). Stock your freezer with as much pre-made food as possible, whether you or a friend cooks it. Saving time on figuring out what to eat will be crucial, especially in the early days. If you have a community or a group of friends that can do it, a meal train is especially helpful. If not, research meal delivery services in your area so that you can stock your refrigerator with healthy, ready-to-eat food.
Take your time.
Your body will start to heal over the first six weeks, but don’t worry if it takes you a little more or less time. Every mom is on her own schedule, and you should always feel comfortable reaching out to your doctor if you aren’t sure about your recovery. Once you’re home and feeling up to it (at least ten days if you’ve had a C section), taking your baby out for gentle, slow walks in a baby carrier is a great way to start rebuilding physical stamina and upping your activity levels. Not to mention, babies love the close contact and movement! If at any time it doesn’t feel right, just head home and try again in a couple days. Your recovery is entirely your own, and what might feel great for one parent could feel like too much for another. Once your doctor has cleared you for exercise at your six-week appointment, you can begin resuming your regular exercise schedule—but remember that your body has been through a lot and may need a gradual re-entry. Taking your time also means taking a little time for yourself—our Belly Butter is full of moisturizing ingredients that are great for mamas’ delicate skin.
Find your support system.
You’ll need support beyond food and baby-holding the first few months as well. If you don’t have close friends who are also moms or pregnant at the same time as you, look into parents’ groups in your area. Whether in person or online, sharing common experiences with other new parents after birth is invaluable—whatever you’re going through, there are probably hundreds of other women going through it too. If you have a hard birth, you may have feelings of PTSD afterwards, and finding a professional that can help you recover mentally is as important as your physical healing. If you start to feel postpartum depression or anxiety, there are plenty of resources to help—and you should never feel shame in asking for support. Becoming a mother is hard enough without having to carry these burdens alone. Same goes for dads and non-birthing partners, as the transition into parenthood can feel tough for them as well. There are plenty of in-real-life and online support groups for fathers and partners, who are also dealing with relationship and life changes.
The most important thing to keep in mind for the fourth trimester is that you need to take care of yourself. Let’s say that once more, just for good measure: You need to take care of yourself. Your newborn needs a lot during those early months—and isn’t shy about letting you know they need you—but that doesn’t mean your own needs should fall by the wayside. If that means taking a break for a manicure, asking your partner to go for a walk with the baby so you can nap, or ordering in dinner when you’re too tired to cook, by all means, do it. There’s a reason they tell parents to put on their own oxygen masks first: The more you take care of yourself, the more useful you’ll be to your baby. And cut yourself all the slack you need. Being a parent is a huge job, and you’re doing great.