When a pregnant woman asks for advice about what to do when the baby arrives, she’s usually greeted with hundreds of different responses from different women (and men!). However, somehow she still won’t have a fair idea of what’s to come. The first couple of months after a baby’s born are often referred to as the “fourth trimester,” because life outside the womb takes a while to get used to.
Here are a few things to expect during your own fourth trimester:
1. You won’t sleep—much.
There’s a lot of sleeping for the baby during the fourth trimester, but not a lot of sleep for Mom, or probably Dad either. Newborns often have their days and nights mixed up, or else no concept of them at all. They sleep for what seems like the entire day, when it’s more difficult for you to sleep, and then are awake for what seems like the entire night—just when you’re ready to crash. Expect to get used to nap-taking; it may be the only way you get in your rest.
2. You might feel like a cow.
And I don’t mean you’ll feel huge. I mean, if you’re nursing, you will probably be nursing around the clock with very little time off. It can be exhausting and quite draining (no pun intended) there for the first few months until a routine is established (and it will, I promise). Cluster feeding and soothe nursing are things tiny babies love—and shouldn’t be refused. There are lots of growth spurts, too, so be prepared for the need to nurse to ebb and flow. Nursing is an amazing thing to do with and for your baby, so give it your best shot and stick it out, even though the beginning is tough. The connection you establish blesses you and baby! However, if you try and can’t, it’s really ok—promise!
3. You might cry a little more than usual.
A new mother has a lot of emotions. There is deep, indescribable joy. There are tears of exhaustion, or even frustration. There are also a lot of hormones surging through your body at a time when you are a little more vulnerable to them than usual. But crying is good! Let yourself feel all the feels, and of course, if you are sad more than you’re happy, talk to your doctor about it. That can be normal, too!
…because life outside the womb takes a while to get used to.
4. People will want to visit.
This might not have to do with you or your baby directly, but will be true nonetheless. Whether it’s bringing food, giving gifts, or just wanting to see that angel’s sweet face, family, friends, and neighbors will be wanting to come over. Set your boundaries early, whatever they look like for you, and have some hand sanitizer close by!
5. Things might get … messy.
I won’t go into detail, but between your baby’s bodily functions, and the fact that your own body might be a little unfamiliar for a couple of weeks, early motherhood can be less than clean.
6. Your heart might just explode.
There is no way to prepare yourself for the amount of love you will feel, the adoration you’ll have for the tiniest of faces, and the immediate affection you feel for those tiny toes and infant fists. In my case, that extra love and affection also spread to my husband, who I adored watching cuddle that teeny babe. It seemed at times that my heart could not hold all the growing love that was there.
The first weeks and months of motherhood can be challenging, exhausting, and messy. But they will also be life-altering and beautiful. It’s an amazing feeling to know you’ve not only birthed a precious baby, but you are entrusted with that baby’s care. Your life won’t ever be the same, and that’s a good thing.
You’ll also like 10 Tips for Soon-to-Be Moms, 10 More Tips for Soon-to-Be Moms, Being Pregnant Is Hard! 4 Truths for a Mom-To-Be, Toddlers, Tantrums & Time Out: How To Deal with Discipline, and You Don’t Have to Be Perfect to Be a Great Mom