I can’t believe it’s been 3 months since I had my baby boy! Time really does go so fast. I know most people do 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Trimester recaps but I feel like the 4th Trimester is not talked about as much. I know when I was pregnant for the first time I spent a lot of time and energy thinking about the labor and delivery process and not a whole lot about how I was going feel after all of that. However, I think the 4th Trimester is probably the most important one out of the bunch!
4th Trimester Update
I’m sooo thankful that my 4th Trimester experience for this birth was a lot easier than my first. I think that’s probably to be expected for most people because you learn what works and what doesn’t work. And recovery from my first labor and delivery wasn’t bad but it definitely took longer for me to recover physically. I was very sore and I felt like it took a couple weeks for me to feel comfortable moving around. I remember I didn’t want to leave the hospital because I felt like I couldn’t stand up!
This time around I felt like I could stand up and walk around the first couple hours after delivery! I was even able to take a shower! (That’s something I felt was impossible after my first labor – gross, I know). So by the time I got home I was able to put on real clothes and move around the house – not just sit on the couch. It really was a blessing because now I have a toddler to run after! However, I did still wear sweats most of the time and sit on the couch…haha. Even though it was easier for me this time around there is still a lot of bleeding, soreness, and exhaustion. P.S. No matter how easy labor and delivery was you can still expect to be bleeding for a couple weeks. That’s definitely something I didn’t realize the first time around!
Check out my Postpartum Must Haves post for the things I used to get me through the physical discomforts!
I was underweight at the beginning of my pregnancy so I ended up gaining a lot of weight during the pregnancy – about 45-50 lbs! I have absolutely no problem with gaining weight during pregnancy. I see it as a part of the whole pregnancy journey and as long as the baby and I are healthy I say – bring it on! However, gaining a lot of weight during pregnancy means I do have more weight to lose after baby is born!
You do lose a lot of weight in the beginning through childbirth and once the swelling and all the water weight goes away. (P.S. You end up sweating a lot at night after birth because your body is getting rid of all the excess fluid. Fun, fun!). It’s been 3 months now and I’m still 20 lbs heavier than I was before getting pregnant. Of course, it is frustrating to not be able to fit into all your clothes right away. It feels like forever since I was able to wear my jeans!! I know that losing weight right away is on a lot of women’s minds after childbirth but in my opinion the 4th trimester is NOT a time to focus on losing weight. Exercise to be healthy and feel good if you want but don’t do it so that you can fit back into your pre-pregnancy jeans right away. I like to naturally let my body recover and shed the weight for the first 3 months before I start doing things to speed up the process.
I’m very lucky that I don’t have postpartum depression or baby blues. I feel very emotionally stable. And I felt that way after Harrison was born too. Sure, I’m tired and frustrated some days but overall I really enjoy the newborn stage. I think it’s also because I have a husband who is super involved so I definitely don’t feel alone in the struggle. The only time I felt really overwhelmed was when I had a breastfeeding issue the first couple of days after giving birth, which I mention below.
But postpartum depression is REAL. It’s totally normal to feel down after giving birth. If that’s you then get help sooner than later! Talk to your OBGYN or anyone that will listen. And don’t take NO for an answer! If you feel something is wrong don’t stop until you get help.
I’m very lucky that both of my baby boys latched right away and I didn’t have any problems with them nursing. I don’t even get cracked and sore nipples which is amazing! However, this time around I did start to get engorged 4 days after giving birth which was when my milk started to come in. I’d been engorged before and it does happen often in the beginning. Usually, I was able to pump or nurse the baby and it would provide relief. However, this time I couldn’t get any milk to come out and my boobs became hard as rocks. It was VERY painful. I thought I had clogged ducts or possibly even mastitis but I was able to get a drop or two of milk out and I didn’t have redness on my breasts which ruled out both of those possibilities. I tried massaging, warm showers, and heat pads to try to get the milk to come out but nothing worked. It’s really hard to explain how difficult this is. I started to feel really depressed, couldn’t sleep, and wanted to cry all the time. I was in a ton of pain and felt feverish even though I don’t think I had one.
Luckily, my hospital offers free breastfeeding support and one-on-one lactation consulting. I tried calling the hospital to book an appointment but they were really busy and I wasn’t able to get through to a lactation consultant. So I talked to the nurses at the hospital and they suggested I call my OBGYN or go to the ER if it got really bad. I thought about going to the ER because I felt like I couldn’t take it anymore and my boobs would explode! But I called my OBGYN instead and he was able to call the hospital for me and get an appointment with the lactation consultant because he had her direct number. This all happened in 2 days but it felt soooo much longer.
When I met with the lactation consultant she told me that I didn’t have mastitis or even clogged ducts. My breasts were just so inflamed that the milk wasn’t able to come out. The solution was to use a COLD compress on the breast for 15 minutes, followed by a WARM compress for 15 minutes while you massage the lumps. Then try to nurse or express the milk with your hands. You want to do this every 2 hours. She also told me that unfortunately, engorgement/inflammation is very common and you just have to wait it out. Thankfully, after following the cold compress/warm compress schedule I was able to get milk to come out and my engorgement subsided. Thank goodness! The cold compress step was super important because it helped with the inflammation that was preventing the milk from coming out! I also took Sunflower Lecithin Supplements to try to thin out my breast milk to make it easier to come out. I’m not sure if they worked or not but I was willing to try ANYTHING! I did check with my OBGYN and Lactation Consultant and they both said it was safe to take.
Breastfeeding issues are VERY COMMON and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help. Check with your hospital to see if they offer free services and support. If not, check with your insurance company to see if a lactation consultant is covered (it probably is!). And be persistent! If you feel something is wrong, keep asking for help until someone helps you! And finally, don’t be afraid to switch to formula if you need to do it for your physical and emotional health. It’s more important to have a happy mom and a fed baby than it is to try to stick it out with breastfeeding.
Transitioning from 1 to 2 Kids
This has been the hardest thing to deal with so far! Harrison is 2.5 and very independent now but he still needs a lot of attention. He’s definitely watching TV more than he should just so we can get a break! It’s hard to juggle 2 kids when you don’t have family around to help sometimes. You just NEVER get a break. Harrison is really nice around his little brother but a couple weeks after he was born he started to “act out” with his sleeping habits. Harrison is normally a great sleeper and would go down without a problem around 7pm or 8pm and sleep all night. Oh how I miss those days! All of the sudden he started to scream bloody murder when put him in his crib and wouldn’t go to sleep unless someone was in the room. He also started waking up in the middle of the night screaming. Unfortunately, we live in an apartment so when Harrison screams EVERYONE can hear him. We feel bad doing the “cry-it-out” method because of our neighbors. Otherwise, I’d just let him scream until he wore himself out! I was hoping it was a phase he would grow out of quickly but he’s still doing it almost 3 months later. It’s not so bad now because my husband is still home so one of us takes the baby while the other one deals with the toddler. But when my hubby goes back to work I don’t know how I’m going to deal with them both at bedtime! If you have any suggestions, I’m all ears!
I know that a lot of things I just talked about don’t seem fun at all. But honestly, I don’t mind the 4th trimester. Sure, it has it’s difficulties but so do a lot of big changes in life. One of the reasons why I waited longer to have kids is because I was kind of freaked out with the thought of childbirth and recovery after childbirth. I just want to give you some hope if you are feeling the same way I did. Childbirth and postpartum don’t have to be scary. I’ve had a relatively easy time with the postpartum phase and I was able to get my body back after childbirth as well.
I guess my point is – don’t let anyone else’s journey determine what yours is going to be. There are some things you have control of (and some you don’t). Not everything will turn out according to plan and that’s ok. But overall I believe that you are in control of your own experience – or at least you are in control of how you react and respond to your experiences!
But most importantly – if you are struggling don’t be afraid to ask for help!