You’ve gone through 9 months of pregnancy. Some of us were lucky enough to have it easy. Others really go through it and sacrifice a lot to experience the journey into motherhood. Those first three trimesters are what we all hear about and what is talked about at length in all the articles and apps we get as expecting mothers. It is what our doctors and midwives focus on but what about the aftermath of birth? What is this 4th trimester I don't see much about?
Now that you’ve given birth to that amazing bundle of joy and reality is setting in, you’re number one priority becomes that precious peanut and you have no qualms about putting your needs on the back burner. Life changes in the blink of an eye and your big win on most days is that you are able to brush your teeth, take a shower, or feed yourself. This next 3-month journey is what’s known as the 4th trimester. After spending 9 months with baby in tow, you're wondering what next? Another trimester? What are some challenges you'll face and what is it that they don't tell you but will need to endure during this period? I will tell you everything I've gone through so far. Brace yourself, mama!
Inability to Urinate. When you think about delivery, you don't think about the immediate moments after and what that will look and feel like. It's different for every woman, so I will speak for myself. I had a vaginal birth and if you read My Birth Story, you know I got the epidural, which means I got a catheter inserted. Directly after I was stitched up and nursed my baby girl, it was time for me to use the rest room on my own. I got off the hospital bed and waddled my way to the bathroom with my IV in tow and what felt like a watermelon between my legs. Talk about swelling! I sat there and sat there for 20 minutes trying to do this one task that I had no issue executing for 9 months. I wasn't able to urinate on my own. My nurse had to put the catheter back in to relieve me.
Swollen Vag. Of course you know you're vagina is going to expand with the head of a human coming out of you, but do you think about how swollen you will become afterwards? I certainly didn't! I was naive and thought that I would expand to the point of rupturing but I didn't account for the swelling and let me tell you, it is real! Once you are taken from the delivery room to the recovery room, the nurses will come in and show you how to take care of your stitches and swelling. They take you into the bathroom to measure your urine and spray you with a pain and itch spray, put witch hazel pads on you and give you what seems to be a pad and diaper hybrid with netted granny panties. This is what you will be wearing for at least two weeks around the clock. Your labia feels like the size of a watermelon and all you can do is ice it for 24 hours non-stop.
Constipation. I don't know where to start with this. It took me several days to have a bowel movement and 25 days later, it's still not easy. Postpartum digestion can be a real pain, literally! You want those bowel movements to be as smooth as possible as your lower body, muscles, incisions and stitches are still healing. Fiber rich foods not only help keep your digestion regular, they also provide you with a boost of essential #vitamins and #minerals! I won't get into the details, but it got so bad for me that I had to take a laxative. I drink a TON of water but I haven't had a lot of greens until this week. Eat greens, fiber, and drink a ton of water.
Baby Blues. I wasn't sure if I was suffering from #postpartumdepression or if I was just super tired but the baby blues hit me the 2nd night in the hospital. I was overwhelmed by the fact that my newborn was crying inconsolably and I felt that I wasn't able to provide her with enough mother's milk because my milk hadn't come in yet. Pile that on top of being in labor for 19 hours, being woken up every 4 hours to be checked and monitored, being woken up every 2 hours to feed baby, learning how to breastfeed, keeping everyone in the family in the loop, struggling emotionally because your partner has to leave to go to work, baby crying and not knowing why. You start to feel defeated. What is important to know is that you are doing all you can and you're doing great. I hope you have someone in your corner telling you how awesome you're doing.
Exhaustion. You may have been a night owl before baby and stayed up all night in the trendiest clubs in the city, partying all night but nothing prepares you for what you're about to take on for at least the first few weeks when baby arrives. Throughout your pregnancy, you'll hear a plethora or "you'll never sleep the same again" and you'll roll your eyes because let's face it, your baby is going to be perfect. Ha! Think again. Well, baby will be prefect, but they were right. You will not sleep the same. For me, I didn't get much sleep the first 24 hours because I went into labor at 3 am and had Stella at 10 pm. We didn't get to bed until about 2-3 am the next day. Then, you're waking up every few hours to feed your baby and, if you're like me, check to make sure baby is breathing! Yes, you will check. For me, after week 2, I was less tired and more adjusted to my new sleeping routine. I nap when I can and make an effort to do so. You need your sleep mama!
Breastfeeding. I've always known that I wanted to breastfeed my child. I am the type of person who doesn't given up even when the going gets tough. I knew that BF would be one of those things that would be a challenging labor of love. I knew that there would be elements out of my control that could hinder and, in fact, stop my breastfeeding journey. So, I leaned on my lactation consultant friends and colleagues for information. I asked a lot of questions and prepared myself for breastfeeding. What I didn't know is that Stella would be a natural! I joke with my friends and tell them that she learned it through telepathy from all our breastfeeding conversations haha! As for the 4th trimester, your boobs are no longer yours. They now belong to your little one day and night. They will be yanked, sucked, pinched and no doubt you will get a tear or two. #Niplash is real. She will be calmly nursing and then yank her head back ripping your boob out of her mouth. OUCH! Keep in mind that the best way to heal them is by using your own breast milk. When in doubt, talk to professionals and join a breastfeeding group. Hopefully your hospital has lactation consultants on staff around the clock to help you.
Heavy Bleeding. Two weeks postpartum and I woke up to massive bleeding. I was in shock. It lasted about a week and a half and wasn't pleasant. While trying to recover, take care of baby, make time to brush your teeth, shower and use the restroom, you now have to deal with bleeding that was unexpected. Why didn't anyone tell me?
Keep in mind that I'm only 4 weeks into my 4th trimester. I have two more months to go. I would love to hear your comments on what you experienced during your 4th trimester! Leave a comment here or shoot me a DM on my IG.