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10 real truths about the 4th trimester, mama

2. You are not going to enjoy every minute, and that's okay.

10 real truths about the 4th trimester, mama

The transition to motherhood is the wildest adventure of all time. In the blink of an eye, everything is just so different! While it is impossible to sum it all up, here are 10 important truths to remember about the fourth trimester:

1. You are doing a great job

This needs to be the first one because it's the most important—and the easiest to forget. You really are doing a great job.

I know you don't believe me. You glossed over reading those words, believing they were meant for someone else.

But, Mama, they are meant for you. You, who has been thrust into the thick of parenthood. Who has more questions than answers. Who feels totally overwhelmed. Despite all that, and maybe because of it, you are doing a great job.

Take a moment (or a lot of moments…) to appreciate the magnitude of what you have done—and are doing. It's amazing, just like you.

2. You are not going to enjoy every minute, and that's okay

Somewhere along the way, we absorbed this idea that motherhood should be one blissed-out-so-in-love-with-my-child moment after another. While those moments do exist—and they are wonderful—they are not always the constant.

Caring for a newborn is an all-consuming roller coaster ride, and some of it just isn't fun. It can be boring, hard, stressful and overwhelming. Not enjoying every moment does not make you a bad mom—it makes you a normal one.

If you do feel like the hard moments are coming frequently, speak to your provider about the possibility of postpartum depression.

3. Babies aren't good or bad, they're just babies


We often say things to new mothers such as, "Is the baby a good sleeper?" or "What a good baby you have!" These are well-intentioned comments, of course, but they can put unrealistic expectations on the baby—and on you.

There is a wide range of normal when it comes to babies.

Just because your baby isn't acting like that "perfect" baby next door, doesn't mean they aren't doing just fine. If you are concerned, ask your pediatrician for sure. But try not to stress too much about what type of baby you have.

4. You'll be confused by your body

Our pregnant bodies change a ton of course, but in a lot of ways I think we're prepared for it—and we have regular medical appointments where we can get answers, and assurance.

This is not the case for all the changes that happen after birth. Everything feels different and quite weird, to be honest. Your breasts may seem like foreign bodies for a while. You may have vaginal bleeding in ways you didn't expect. And then, of course, there is the incontinence that no one warned you about…

And you are not spared physical reminders of your newborn if you've adopted or had a baby via surrogate. The tiredness, the twinge in your arm from constant baby-holding—you have that too.

It can feel pretty odd to be living in a body that doesn't seem like yours.

But just because it's confusing, doesn't mean it's not something to be immensely proud of. No matter how a baby comes into your life, your body will change because of it. It's molding and changing to accommodate the new life that it is supporting. It may be healing and doing one hundred things to keep you healthy too.

How powerful is that?

5. There is no such thing as "bounce back"

The term "bounce back" really just needs to go. There is this assumption in our society that the moment we have a baby, everything returns to normal—our waistline, our kitchen counters, our sex life. And when it inevitably doesn't, we feel bad about ourselves, like we have somehow failed.

Mama, nothing about you is failing in any way. It can be hard to come to terms with all the ways your life is different than it used to be—and you are allowed to have feelings about that. But guilt should not be one of those feelings.

YOU ARE A GODDESS! Look at everything you have done, and are doing! You are not going to bounce back because you are way too busy soaring forward. Look at your wings, mama! You don't need to bounce anywhere.

6. "Success" is different now

Before parenthood, success is somewhat easy to measure: Study hard—get a good grade. Train hard—run a 5K. Work hard—finish that big project or get a promotion.

Fourth-trimester success is totally different—and often really hard to see. Every time you take a step forward, it seems like you have another setback. You spend all day keeping this helpless human fed, dry, rested and moderately content, only to receive an evening scream-poop-puke all over you as a note of appreciation.

In the hard moments, it can feel like the most unimportant, thankless work on this planet.

But know this. To the baby who has consumed your world, you are the world.

All the thousands of things you do for your baby matter so much. You won't see results immediately, but all your hard work, love and concern are there— growing this baby into an amazing human being, little by little, day by day.

Now, "success" is a baby that sleeps the soundest when curled up on your chest.

Success is when they outgrow their first set of onesies.

Success is when you trust your intuition.

Success is that first coo, smile and laugh.

Success is so different now, but so, so awesome.

7. You are not alone

The first months of motherhood can feel a little isolating, but mama, you are not alone.

From a village of other new mamas out there to lactation consultants, from your child's pediatrician to a therapist, there are people who are able to—and want to—help you. So please don't hesitate to reach out.

8. Your plans may change

Before having a baby, it is next to impossible to imagine what it will really be like. So if you find that your pre-made plans are suddenly not the right fit anymore, that is completely okay.

Maybe you planned to return to work after maternity leave but now want nothing more than to stay home.

Maybe you planned to stay home, but now find yourself yearning to be back at work.

So much can change now—your relationships, your priorities, your goals. And that is all okay. Be sure to check in with yourself from time-to-time to make sure that you are living the life that feels right and works for you. Because it is okay to pivot.

9. You are your baby's expert

New motherhood is incredibly vulnerable. You are going through massive physical and emotional changes and taking care of a newborn—it's natural to second guess yourself and have some doubts. So when (well-intentioned) people start giving you all kinds of advice it can sometimes feel like they know better than you.

But no one knows your baby like you do.

So listen to what they have to say (or don't), but ultimately—you have to trust yourself. You are allowed (and encouraged) to listen to your gut. You may be very new at this, but you possess profound wisdom.

10. Self-care is not selfish

New mom guilt would have us believe that every waking second should be spent taking care of our babies. But having a baby doesn't make you suddenly unimportant, or un-human. Quite the opposite! You need more care than ever before.

So please, please do not feel guilty about taking care of yourself. Regularly. Self-care should be woven into the tapestry of your daily life. You are so important—to your baby and to the world.

You might also like:

A very important letter for new mamas

Listen, mom-guilt is a dirty liar. Yes, it's your job to fill your little human's needs, but you matter too. Don't forget to take care of yourself. Hang out with friends, take a drive blaring 90's hip hop or shower without interruptions—trust me, you'll be a better person (and mom) because of it.

Dear new mom,

You will shave again someday. Today is not that day.

Set expectations low, my friend, and set your partner's lower—at least where body hair and overall hygiene are concerned.

That conversation could go something like this: “From now on let's not consider shaving a “standard," but more like a gift that happens on birthdays and the first day of summer."

Voila, you are a gift-giving genius. You know what else is a gift? Shaving the inch and a half of skin that is between your skinny jeans and your boots. You're welcome world.

You will not be perfect at parenting.

Boom.

I have yet to meet a perfect mother, but when I do, she's going to be a tiger who is insanely good at making up songs. (Daniel Tiger's mom, we salute you.)

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Life

I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

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Life

It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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