I don’t know about you, but I had my fourth trimester all dreamed up in my mind. It would be nourishing, I’d feel totally supported, and since my pregnancy had been easy and lovely, I hoped postpartum would be, too.
Instead I got my world rocked.
Don’t get me wrong. There were still wonderful moments and things I did right, but if I’d had a crystal ball, or the benefit of hindsight as I do now, there are things I’d do differently. I don’t share this to lament what could have been, but to help any soon-to-be birthing parents out there better transition into your new role while allowing time for your body and mind to heal.
Here’s what I wish I’d done differently postpartum, AND some things I’m glad did right:
I wish I’d built a village
It really does take a village, and I don’t have much of one. We don’t live near family, and nannies were harder to find than I ever could have expected.
I wish I’d met more people when pregnant. I had time back then, and I could have built up a network that now, though not impossible, is more challenging to do with my limited time.
For those with a strong network in place, lean on them. Let them help, and if they’re not helping, find the strength to ask for space.
I’m glad I set myself up for success while pregnant
It’s true that a baby doesn’t really need much more than a safe place to sleep, diapers, and clothes. But without our village, I did all I could to go easy on myself by getting things that would make it easier. The SNOO helped so much with sleep by rocking my baby at night for me, the wearable pumps gave me freedom again, and my steamer took bottle cleaning off my plate.
Some of them, like the SNOO, I essentially got to rent for free (more on that in #4).
I wish I’d let breastfeeding be less of a big deal
I was SO committed to breastfeeding. It was so important to me that I attended classes, hired MANY lactation consultants (at great cost), and ran myself ragged, undoubtedly furthering my postpartum depression.
I was heartbroken that it was such a struggle, but it is for MANY of us. If I could turn back time, I’d provide a balanced perspective on formula vs. breastfeeding, and let formula be OK way sooner. Breastfeeding didn’t work out for us and I was absolutely shattered, but now I know that it’s ok. He’s thriving. I wish I’d shut out any advice that didn’t consider me and my needs, too.
I’m glad I discovered the secondhand world
I’m a firm believer in getting whatever gadget I can use to make life simpler with the intention of getting it from the secondhand market or selling it there when I’m done. Why not make life easier? Why not keep things out of a landfill and buy them on the cheap?
High end items are expensive, but they are also more likely to be quality, and have great resale value. Babies use things for a few months, so why does it all have to be new? It doesn’t! Over half of Felix’s things are secondhand and in many cases, like the SNOO, Artipoppe carrier, Kyte Baby clothes, and Beaba Babycook, I’ve net spent nothing or very little once I sell.
I wish I’d gotten out more
I’m very lucky that we were able to travel with my baby, even internationally to Japan, Mexico, and Portugal. Those trips kept me sane, but it’s the random Wednesdays that I wish I’d made more of. We had the snowiest winter on record this year, plus the worst flu and RSV season, too. My baby was young during all of this, so I mostly stayed home with him.
Now that it’s warm out and we can enjoy stroller walks and something as simple as going to the grocery store, I can see how important it is for both of us to get out not just for the big events, but daily, even if it’s just a spin around the block.
I’m glad I committed to home work outs
Exercise has always been important for my mental health, and I didn’t do enough of it in the beginning. I was struggling to find workout classes during my free times, plus the time it took to drive to them added a minimum of 20 minutes round trip. When you’re a new mom, you need that time back.
I’m SO glad I got a Peloton, and can now work out whenever I have an extra 10 minutes to an hour. I’ve been able to get a workout in 5-6 days per week and I feel so much better as a result. Even if a Peloton is out of budget, find YouTube workouts you like. They’re free and almost never require equipment. I love Yoga With Adriene, PopSugar Fitness, and Blogilates.
I wish I’d started therapy before giving birth
This might be the biggest one on this list. Having a baby will rock anyone’s world, and having a weekly therapy routine and session would have been very smart to establish before giving birth. I’m finally in a good place with my therapy now at 11 months postpartum, but finding the right therapist that you gel with can take time, and it could have been much easier if I’d established it before giving birth.
I’m glad I researched before giving birth
I used to love listening to audiobooks, and I’m sure I will again in the future, but I’m glad I took in as much as I could before giving birth. I don’t have the time now, but I have the knowledge.
While none of this is absolute gospel, there were nuggets of genius in each of these: Bringing Up Bebe, Hunt, Gather, Parent, Brain Health From Birth, How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids, and How to Talk so Kids Will Listen. Some of them are more for the toddler years, which come fast! I’m glad I prepared early.
I wish I’d gone easier on myself
We can be so hard on ourselves, feeling like we’re doing everything wrong. If we don’t step back and check those thoughts, the mom guilt and anxiety can get out of control.
I do my best. That’s all anyone can do. My friend told me early on when I was struggling with breastfeeding that “as long as you love your kid, you’re a good parent,” and I agree. When you lead with love, you’ll ultimately make choices from that place that are good for both for yourself and for baby.
What we see on social media is one snapshot of a life. A curated story. I’m never going to be as good as moms on social media because they aren’t either! I try to remember that and to limit my exposure.
As they say to new parents on planes before take off, remember to put your own oxygen mask on first.
I hope this list helps someone out there to have an easier fourth trimester, but even if it’s hard, know that you’re doing great, and things just keep getting easier.