As a new mom, it’s normal to put your child’s needs above yours. But, providing your newborn with the right amount of care it needs will only be possible when you’re at your best. Self-care plays a key role for moms in the fourth trimester as it helps them rest, heal and recover from all the various changes their body has gone through during the past three trimesters of pregnancy. If you’re wondering about what self-care strategies we’re referring to, read on, as this article by Life as Mama has got you covered.
Major Changes in the Fourth Trimester
Before we dive into the self-care strategies, let’s look at some of the major changes new moms experience in the fourth trimester.
- Breast Tenderness: As reported by KidsHealth, in the 3-5 days following delivery, experiencing breast engorgement (tenderness) is normal. This is because of increased milk production in your body as it gets ready to begin breastfeeding. Breast tenderness can make the first few attempts at feeding your baby challenging. However, within a couple of days, the engorgement will subside, and breastfeeding will become easier.
- Vaginal Discharge: Experiencing vaginal discharge after delivery can be looked at as a cause for concern by new moms. However, it is completely normal and usually lasts between 2-4 weeks after giving birth. Vaginal discharge is your body’s natural process to rid itself of blood and tissue from the uterus. Moms are advised to avoid using tampons during this period to minimize any risk of infection. Instead, use sanitary napkins until the process ends.
- Mood Swings: While the hormonal changes will be gradual, they often lead to mood swings among new moms. You can start experiencing mood swings within 2-3 days post-delivery. But don’t fret, as within two weeks, your hormones will stabilize, reducing moodiness significantly.
- Weight Loss: Research shows that new moms lose up to 13 pounds after delivery. In the following weeks, your body will continue to dispose of fluids and mass that it had built up during pregnancy to support the baby. Those having their eyes set on returning to their pre-pregnancy weight should set a realistic timeline of 6-12 months.
Self-Care Tips for New Moms
The best advice for new moms is to work towards maintaining a healthy lifestyle and developing a balance between childcare and personal needs. Here are the best ways to achieve these goals:
- Regularly Meet with Your Doctors: While the six-week postpartum appointment is important, this doesn’t mean you can’t meet your doctor more often. Whenever you have health concerns, reach out to your doctors for guidance.
- Eat Clean: Keep the intake of caffeine and alcohol to a minimum until the end of the fourth trimester. This will assist in the recovery process and help you feel at your best each day. Additionally, eat a balanced diet and track your fluid intake.
- Reach Out for Help: Whether it be for childcare or household activities, reach out to your partner, family, and friends to chip in and make life easier for yourself. No one expects you to do everything single-handedly, and you shouldn’t either!
- Stay Away from Work: Rather than jumping right back into the office, take it easy and stay at home until you completely recover. For those managing businesses, the best option is to empower employees to undertake tasks independently and invest time only to supervise and provide guidance. Additionally, schedule all new projects for after the fourth trimester.
- Join a Support Group: If managing recovery and childcare are taking a toll on your mental health, join a support group for new moms. This will allow you to meet moms who’ve had similar experiences and learn the best strategies to develop balance and not be too hard on yourself.
The fourth trimester will bring along numerous major responsibilities, such as caring for the newborn and managing your recovery. While this process will be challenging, you’ll be able to keep stress to the minimum by using the above-mentioned strategies. The key will be to spread out responsibilities, whether it be at home or work, and give yourself ample time to spend with the baby and rest.
About the Author
Emily Graham is the creator of MightyMoms.net which offers a wide range of info tailored for busy moms — from how to reduce stress to creative ways to spend time together as a family. She believes being a mom is one of the hardest jobs around and wanted to create a support system for moms from all walks of life.