The first time I heard of the “4th trimester” I kind of shrugged it off, thinking it was just one mom being dramatic. Thankfully I heard the phrase kicked around a few more times so I did some research. There is a lot of advice out there about how to prepare for the time right after you welcome your sweet baby into the world, but here are my 2 cents!
I found everything on this list incredibly helpful in allowing me to adjust to postpartum life and enjoy my beautiful baby.
Natural maxi pads
Let’s go TMI right off the bat, shall we? Take whatever giant (GI.ANT.) pads and mesh undies the hospital will give you but be prepared to run out. You probably don’t want chemicals or any unnatural materials near your nether regions so stick with non-toxic choices. My two favorites are Natracare New Mother Natural Maternity Pads and Seventh Generation Chlorine Free Overnight Maxi Pads with Wings. The Natracare ones are definitely thicker but they don’t have wings. The adhesive is very strong though so I don’t think wings are necessary. I found the Seventh Gen ones to be preferable overall because they were absorbant without being so thick, which was slightly uncomfortable to sit on. Buy a box of both and then repurchase the ones you like better. BUY LOCALLY @ City Market
Some people swear by all means of numbing sprays (like Dermoplast) and “postpartum padcicles” but I found the ibuprofen + acetaminophen dosage recommended by my midwife to be more than adequate for handling the minor discomfort I felt from my stitches. I also liked the Earth Mama Angel Baby New Mama Bottom Spray. It’s a totally green/clean spray that gently cools and has a really nice cucumber scent. I actually have positive associations with the scent now because it reminds me of my first few extremely sleepless but blissful weeks home with my daughter. BUY LOCALLY @ Healthy Living
Bras and Tanks*
At the hospital and at home, you’re pretty much open for breastfeeding business 24/7 to get that baby hydrated and gaining weight. You’ll likely wear nursing bras and tanks 24/7. I liked having some support all day and night, especially when my milk first came in (Hello Dolly Parton!) I found nursing tanks to be the most versatile versus nursing bras during the first week or so. You can throw a cardigan or robe on over them and feel totally ready to see guests… or not. BUY LOCALLY @ Bertha Church
Big water cup with straw*
As far as I’m concerned, staying hydrated is one of the absolute easiest ways to stay healthy and recover faster postpartum. Plus you’ll be insanely thirsty since you’re producing breast milk. Anytime anyone asks if you need anything, ask for water. Even if you already have a full cup. Any cup will do but my favorite (it’s still by my side right now) is by Liberty BottleWorks. All of their bottles are made in the USA using recycled aluminum. BUY LOCALLY @ Outdoor Gear Exchange (Tip: you can sometimes find samples at OGE at a deeeeeep discount!)
Keep pots or sticks of your favorite lip balm everywhere – bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, living room, pockets… I had Josie Maran Argan Lip Treatment by my side every second of the first few weeks of bringing my baby girl home (and during my delivery.) It was a small luxury that made me feel so good. Other “small luxuries” to keep by your side: delicious hand cream and facial mist (rose water is lovely). BUY LOCALLY @ Sephora (JCPenny, University Mall)
Hand Soap and Sanitizer
Be “that parent” who makes every single person wash their hands (or use hand sanitizer on the go) before they come near your baby. There is no reason for someone to accidentally give your baby a cold that lands them in the ER. No need to douse your family and friends with toxic options, though. Natural (non-antibacterial) soap and sanitizer will do the job well. My picks are: Kiss My Face PEACE Soap and Babyganics Fragrance Free Sanitizer or EO Sanitizer. BUY LOCALLY @ Hannaford, City Market, Healthy Living …
Food glorious food! …that you can eat with one hand.
Keep up your energy, mood and milk supply with lots of nutritious and delicious food on hand. My husband and I froze a lot of pre-portioned meals when I was in my final weeks of pregnancy including stews, chili, and (grain-free) burritos and thank goodness we did. Some days I felt like all I did was eat and nurse my baby. Three square meals a day? Pfft, try seven meals! Beyond the freezer meals, my favorite easy things to reach for in the first weeks were things I could devour easily with one hand (no spoon or fork required, huzzah!) Protein bars (Quest ‘Mixed Berry Bliss’ are my favorite), Epic bars (Beef Habanero Cherry is my favorite), fresh fruit, and pretty much any cookie or muffin I could get my hands on. BUY LOCALLY @ GNC (Quest bars), Healthy Living (Epic bars), City Market (gluten- and grain-free cookies)
While sleep is few and far between, it does exist and I found that I got to sleep faster by using a comfy eye mask. I like the simple yet comfy ones by Earth Therapeutics. It can be difficult to adjust but trying to get sleep whenever you can (yes, following that
annoyingold adage “sleep when the baby sleeps”) is a good way to stay healthy and happy, at least in the first weeks. A few of my postpartum nurses mentioned over and over again the restorative power of a small 20- or 30-minute nap. By a month or two in, you might be on a schedule that allows you to get things done while your baby naps. BUY LOCALLY @ Bed, Bath & Beyond
*Please note that I refer to breastfeeding in several of these essentials because that was my experience. But hopefully all moms can find some useful nugget of information here, whether you’re EBF (exclusively breastfeeding), pumping, feeding formula or any combination.