When I was pregnant with my first little, I got a lot of advice. Some that was asked for, and definitely a lot that wasn’t asked for. Something that the doula who taught our birthing classes said stuck with me. She told us to aim for spending a week in our bed, a week on our bed and a week around our bed.
I remember thinking that that was crazy, initially. I had been teaching nearly a dozen fitness classes each week, while attending more. I had just graduated with my Master’s while working three jobs. I wasn’t about to “lounge around” in a bed all day long and make people bring me food and do my laundry. HA! Oh how things change…
I started preparing for my baby like most people do. I washed the clothes, gathered baby supplies, made sure I had diapers. But then another couple who was in our birthing class had their baby and we decided to bring them some dinner one night. When we walked into their house, you could tell that everything revolved around their growing family. She shared how surreal her first baby snuggles were and how they just snuggled for days and days and days. I knew that I needed to be more mindful about how I treated that special time after birth.
I decided to take that initial advice to heart. I wanted the best start that I could get and I was ready to do the work. Now, here is the funny thing. I didn’t fully comprehend everything that I needed to do… so apparently I had to have more babies so I could perfect my methods and my plan. Ha!
This is what planning for my first 4th trimester looked like with my first baby;
Semi-stocked freezer (I am not lying for one second when someone told me to whip up a few freezer meals, and I thought I was good because I had some frozen fruit and a few random boxes of things…)
Time off of work
My first 4th trimester was delicious. As soon as that baby girl came, I snuggled, nursed and rested. I tried to stay in bed, but I got restless and honestly started back with my normal things way too early.
My second 4th trimester was even better. I realized how fast that 4th trimester was going to fly by and I reveled in it. I prepared better too. Remember my definition of freezer meals?…we’ll that changed. I actually blame my freezer meal prep for sending me into labor early, so just don’t stay up til 2 in the morning making freezer meals after a long day of gardening when you are 8 & ½ months pregnant, ok?
I protected my space differently the second time around too. I respected the length of time that it takes to appropriately recover from an event like birth. I was mindful of the people who wanted to come visit. Heck, I don’t even put on real clothes for several days…skin to skin is everything!
When I found out I was pregnant with my third, you can read some of my reaction here, but I knew that I needed to do everything in my power to have the best 4th trimester that I could possibly experience, and I started early. I started so early, that I had to make lists of things that I couldn’t do until 3 months before baby, 2 months before baby, and a few weeks before baby came. I was in a nesting frenzy.
My freezer was stocked with several months’ worth of meals, my house was clean-ish (I mean, come on…I still had 2 kiddos at home). I made plans for who was going to come over. I had a doula, and other people who were completely on my team. I took baths (this may seem like a no-brainer, but when you are so focused on taking care of a new little human, you quickly forget the last time you took care of yourself). To get a better idea of what I did to fully prepare, check out my 4th Trimester Plan Cheat Sheet.
What I really want you to know is what I gained after all of my planning. I gained connection. Not just with my new baby, but with my new family. We went from 4 to 5…Still a huge number in my head. We needed the space and freedom to get to know each other and to not stress about anything. By preparing ahead of time, we were all able to focus on each other rather than stressing on what we needed to do. If someone offered to help, as hard as it still is to get help from someone, we took it and were SOOOO grateful for them.
I had to learn how to follow my baby’s cues again, learn how to nurse again. Heck! I nearly forgot how to change a diaper. That whole advice to spend a week in the bed, a week on the bed and a week around the bed, changed the trajectory of my recovery. These things are all so much easier when all of the other things are either thought of or already taken care of.
Now, I know that not everyone is able to take the time off of work, or is surrounded by family (2 of our babies were born no where near family). We did, however, let others in and owned our vulnerability. Having a baby is no joke! When we recognize the fact that a baby is going to rock our world (in the best possible way, of course), we open ourselves up to others and that is where the magic happens.
I wish you all the best 4th trimester anyone could wish for. If you are looking for help, start here with this cheat sheet. You have so much power to have the birth and the postpartum period that you want and need, and I would love to help you! Happy planning!