#4thtrimester #postpartum #takingbackpostpartum
All of these hashtags—when searched on Instagram or Twitter—have a couple of things in common. You’ll find pictures and posts about losing weight, cute babies, and even some breastfeeding posts. While none of these were surprising, in the newborn fog that followed the amazing moment of my becoming a mom, I realized this: there is so much more in the “4th trimester” that never gets talked about. I did some research (asking friends and a Facebook poll totally qualifies as official research, right?) and discovered there are a lot of things that new moms don’t know about going into it. So, without further ado, here are a few things that I’ve found took many mamas by surprise:
Baby brain turns into mommy brain.
You will leave your keys in your ignition (which, incidentally, means your car doesn’t get locked either) and walk around Costco for an hour or two. Then, in the middle of picking out a coffee maker, you’ll suddenly remember this small fact and panic. Luckily, my car was still where I left it and completely intact.
You may not want to see people.
It’s okay!! Having a baby is a huge deal, and while some people may want all kinds of people to visit and shower them with food and love, you shouldn’t feel badly if you don’t want people around. You only get this time with your baby once. If you don’t want to remember it having a revolving door of people coming and going, that’s completely fine. Anyone who has been there will understand, and the few weeks will go by so quickly, you’ll be back to your (sort-of) regular social life soon enough. Don’t feel guilty for saying no.
Sometimes even the best intentions don’t go as planned.
I intended to breastfeed my baby, but then he was born 3 weeks early and couldn’t latch. Instead of the beautiful nursing moments I had pictured in my head, I remember crying and bleeding while being milked like a cow by a crude lactation consultant who kept calling my baby a “lazy white boy.” I ended up leaving the hospital with a pump and spending the first three months exclusively pumping. However…
Formula isn’t a sign of failure.
While I’ve been able to provide my baby with 100% breastmilk like I wanted, many moms can’t—or make the choice to use formula for all kinds of different reasons. Formula is okay! Some moms have no desire to nurse, their milk doesn’t come in, baby doesn’t latch… There are tons of reasons to not breastfeed, and thankfully science gives us a good alternative. As long as you’re feeding your baby, no mommy-judgement should be happening.
Mommy-judgement is a thing.
You can be doing everything “right,” but there’s still going to be some random lady in the grocery store that has a problem with something you’re doing, and she’ll be sure to tell you so. Nurse in public? Someone has a problem with it. Give your baby a bottle? Someone has a problem. The mommy shaming is ridiculous, and it really surprised me how much people think it’s okay to tell you what they think you’re doing wrong with your baby.
You will be exhausted.
Newborns sleep 80% of the day away, and yet they still manage to completely wear you out! You might think you don’t need to sleep. You have energy! Trust me (and some other mamas who learned this the hard way), you need to sleep! You will feel like a zombie for a few weeks; but for most of us, it was over before long. Then you can, once again, become an (almost) fully functioning adult again.
You still have to drink water.
SO. MUCH. WATER. This is so important—especially if you’re nursing! I’ve found I really need to drink even more than I did when I was pregnant, and that’s a lot. If you don’t, you’ll feel so tired, worn down, and groggy—and it’ll hurt your milk supply. Always keep some water with you; if you have it close by, you’re more likely to drink it.
The cravings don’t stop.
For me, they’ve actually gotten worse. Apparently, breastfeeding cravings are a thing. Everyone talks about pregnancy cravings. They don’t tell you about scarfing down chocolate donuts at 2 a.m. by the light of the fridge after a nursing session—or that you’ll cry when you run out. Thank goodness Kroger is open 24 hours.
Last, but most importantly…
You are a good mom.
Moms that worry about being good moms are already good moms. Your mommy instincts will make sure you’re doing everything right. For anything you’re not sure about? There’s a whole world of people to help you. It takes a village, so use that village. Post your questions on Facebook; I promise one of your mom friends wondered the same thing at one time. Call your pediatrician 5 times in 3 days if you need to. Your baby relies on you completely, so do what’s best for your baby. Surround yourself with supportive people that will remind you that you are a good mom and that you’re doing a great job. And remember to take care of you. Happy mom = happy baby!