By Sarah Greenfield, RD CSSD of Fearless Fig
4th Trimester Pregnancy
Congratulations! You’ve just brought your newest addition into the world! This is such an exciting time for you and your baby, but it can also be an overwhelming, challenging time. Make sure to reflect and recognize the power of your body. There will be changes coming as your body begins to adapt to its new normal; it’s important to remember that this is okay.
The first 40 days, or the fourth trimester, there is a lot happening in your body. One thing that I was not aware of, was the bleeding. For about 2 weeks after birth your body is healing and getting rid of tissue and blood that was in your uterus. Think about it, your uterus just expanded to almost 500x its normal size, so there is a lot that needs to be removed in order for it to go back to its normal size. Your hormones are also changing rapidly which can lead to feelings of sadness, anger and upset which are normal in the first week.
After the birth of your child it’s essential for you to rest and recover. Rest however, may not mean sleeping so don’t be too hard on yourself. During this time, consider what would make you feel the most supported. Your favorite meal? Physical touch? Chatting with friends? A movie? A soothing shower? Or maybe you just need a good cry, I did that a lot in the first couple of weeks of becoming a new mom. There are no wrong answers here. Once you know what you need, you can begin to ask for it.
Jumping headfirst into figuring out your needs immediately after your birth experience could be extraordinarily overwhelming. You may want to consider planning ahead so that you’re not caught short. I have an amazing Pregnancy and Postpartum guide that can help you get prepared. Understanding that your body is about to undergo extreme stress and that you may experience exhaustion is only half the battle. Start considering the things that you may need to set yourself up for success.
When people offer their support to you, take it. This may be counterintuitive if you’re the type of person that rarely accepts help from other people, but in this case you’ll be the beneficiary of your loved ones generosity. Don’t be afraid to tell people exactly what you need and understand that each person around you may be a perfect fit for a unique role in your postpartum life. Here are some ideas to get you started: you may need someone to vent to without judgement, a few minutes of alone time, a home cooked meal, or simply someone to make you laugh and lift your spirits. Be clear on your needs and make sure to set boundaries as needed throughout the process.
As you’re planning ahead, don’t forget about food. Make sure to set aside time before the baby arrives to get some frozen meals prepped. I have some amazing recipes I used to get ready for baby in my Pregnancy and Postpartum guide. You always will want to have snacks on hand when you start breastfeeding, you will be hungry! I used a plastic storage bin that I loaded with snacks and kept next to my bed and where I was breastfeeding.
Water intake is critical and will help prevent dehydration, headaches and keep your milk supply cranking. Using electrolytes or trace minerals is a great way to boost the hydration power of your water.
While you’re working through adapting to this time, you may begin to feel overwhelmed or uncomfortable as you begin to adapt to new habits. If you start finding yourself in a bit of a funk, take time to reflect on the following questions:
- Have you practiced taking a few deep breaths?
- Have you eaten anything that might’ve upset your stomach or made you feel ill?
- Are you hydrated?
- Have you pooped today?
- Did you go outside and see the sun?
- When was the last time you connected with someone who loves you?
- Have you moved your body?
Taking the time to reflect can help you to refocus your intentions and reconnect with your goals, especially when you’re having a hard time with all the changes and the sleep deprivation. Once you’ve reflected, see what you can do to shift your mood. In need of a quick mood booster? Try these:
- Listen to an upbeat song
- Take a quick walk around the block
- Use the bathroom
- Drink a glass of water
- Look up motivational quotes
- Call someone who will make you laugh
It can be really challenging when the stress of changes are overwhelming the senses on a near-daily basis. All of your post-birth plans might’ve gone out the window the minute your new family member entered this world. You might have underestimated the challenges of this period of time. It may be time to shift your focus and redefine normal for yourself.
Remind yourself that things will not always be as challenging as they are in those first 40 days. Throughout all of this, perhaps the most important thing is remembering who your support system is. Who are the people around you that will be ready, willing and able to help you as you navigate your new life as a parent? Lean on them and don’t be afraid to ask them for help when everything feels challenging.
You are stronger than you know. You got this!
As a registered dietitian, functional medicine practitioner, poo aficionado and someone who has struggled with digestive issues for the better part of her life, Sarah knows how vulnerable and overwhelming it can be to make a lifestyle change."
"In order to upgrade and transform your health, you have to be Fearless! My practice utilizes advanced testing to determine root cause of imbalances, and together we create a personalized nutrition plan to correct them."