It’s known as the fourth trimester for a reason.
The first three months after the birth of your little bundle of joy is a rollercoaster physically, emotionally and mentally.
Here are 12 ways to cope through the first 12 weeks of what might well be the most overwhelming period of your life …
Don’t expect your body to bounce back
According to What To Expect, “Physically, the fourth trimester is a time of change for new moms: your hormones will be in flux, your organs will be returning to their former positions and your breast milk will come in. It can take a year for your body to recover fully.
It took you nine months to grow your baby, and you can expect it to take at least that long for your body to go back to normal. In fact, you should probably give it a full year”
Breastfeeding doesn’t always come naturally
Breastfeeding is a skill that both the mother and the baby learn together – and the fact is that some babies are better at it than others.
Talk to a lactation expert if you’re finding it painful or you’re worried your baby isn’t getting enough milk.
And if it doesn’t work out, move on – there is no shame in feeding your baby a bottle.
Watch out for the baby blues
The first few months postpartum will be a roller coaster of emotions – you’ll feel ecstatic to meet your baby, overwhelmed by the demands of new motherhood and sore and exhausted from labour. So really it’s no wonder if you feel frazzled and emotional.
Go easy on yourself; don’t stress about being the perfect mothers as you’re still at the beginning of your journey.
Focus on the baby and healing your body; the rest can happen on its own time. And if you’re finding it difficult to cope, speak to someone – there are a whole load of experts out there who can help you get through this time.
Focus on your recovery
Schedule routine check-ups with the doctor to keep any physical complications at bay. Focus on your pelvic floor exercises, as the muscles and tendons in this region bear the maximum stress during labour.
It’s normal to experience issues such as difficulty in passing stool or pain in the pelvic area but don’t suffer in silence. If you’re worried about any aspect of your recover, see a doctor.
Look after yourself
It’s easy to forget to look after yourself when there’s a newborn baby in the house.
Try to focus on what makes you happy, though, and incorporate a few of those things into you life, be it watching box sets, eating delicious food, long warm baths or a manicure or massage. Remember: taking care of yourself is just as important as caring for your baby.
Get out and about with your baby
The monotonous pattern of feed/ sleep can be challenging for new mothers, particularly if you’ve been used to a busy career.
Go for walks with your baby as soon as your feel able as getting out into the real world will make you feel more like yourself. Even if it’s just to the shops or a quick walk in the park.
Eating and sleeping come first
Eating and sleeping should take precedence over everything in the fourth trimester.
Stock your pantry with healthy snacks but don’t feel guilty if you stuff yourself with cake every now and again – you definitely deserve a treat.
However, eating healthily most of the time will help your body recover and provide essential nutrients if you’re breastfeeding.
Good sleep will reduce the impact of mood swings and other emotional stress – try to sleep when your baby sleeps during the daytime, however tempted you are to mess around on instagram or put on that load of laundry.
Be patient about your sex life
Caring for a newborn, recovering from childbirth and ever-changing hormones can leave you feeling anything but sexy.
And the fact that post-delivery the estrogen levels drop to the menopausal range, leaving your vagina dry with less natural lubrication, makes matters even worse.
It is a natural process so don’t berate yourself for lack of interest – and definitely don’t feel any pressure.
When you feel ready, you can revive your sex life by using lubes and a little patience.
Nurture the sibling bond
Don’t expect your existing child(res) to be open to this new change.
They might well miss being the centre of attention. Help them to bond with their new sibling but getting them involved in bath time and singing bedtime lullabies.
Don’t neglect your partner
While you are concentrating on raising your baby and getting acquainted with new family life, ensure you spend enough time in each other’s company.
New motherhood can be lonely so be sure to share your experiences with your partner. Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family to help – and don’t, whatever you do, feel the pressure to entertain guests at home as it can leave you exhausted. They can come to visit when you have settled in well with the baby.
Outsource household chores
Stock up on household items and toiletries to save last minute dashes to the shops. Scale up your cleaner’s hours if you can, so you can concentrate on the baby and yourself. Try not to stress if your house is messier than usual and you’re not on top of the laundry – everything will fall into place again after the first three or four months.
Try to feel grateful
This can be difficult when you are exhausted from sleepless nights and struggling with breastfeeding. Try not to let anything come in the way of enjoying this precious time getting to know your little one. Immerse yourself in getting to know your baby –and if you’re struggling with any aspect of parenting, get help as soon as you can.