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27 Jan

4th Trimester Recap!

Taz is officially three months old as of January 12th, which means our “4th trimester” is over! A lot of you have asked what the 4th trimester is and basically it’s just a term for the first three months postpartum! Yes, pregnancy only has three trimesters, but this 4th trimester is still a huge part of every mothers’ pregnancy journey. Being a first time mom myself, I wanted to share my experience these past three months and hope it helps/is relatable to other moms out there. I asked you all to send in specific questions about how my 4th trimester has gone, so I’ll be sharing answers to those below too!

You can read my trimester recaps here: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd

4th Trimester Recap + Fresh 48 Baby Photos | sassy red lipstick

Taz’s custom hat, swaddle, newborn gown, and fitted sheet are from Newborn Nest!
4th Trimester Recap + Fresh 48 Baby Photos | sassy red lipstick

To be honest, the first few weeks were a complete blur: blissful, yet daunting, a completely new learning experience, definitely sleep-deprived, and definitely full of tears. But looking back, it truly was such a blessing to have a fresh little piece of heaven in our home. Don’t get me wrong, it was {and still is!} hard, but there’s nothing quite like having a precious little newborn in your home.

You can read Taz’s full birth story here.

We were in the hospital for two days to recover following Taz’s birth and it was so nice having help from the incredible postpartum nurses. The day we got home, Shannon {my doula and SIL} was there to help us out with a few things but then had to fly out that night. Our first night at home with just us three was absolutely terrifying for me. I cried when Shannon left {she talked about it in this post} because I was scared. During the first few weeks, my mother-in-law came to help, my mom came to help, and even my father-in-law came for a few days, but it was all still overwhelming being a first time mom.

4th Trimester Recap + Fresh 48 Baby Photos | sassy red lipstick
4th Trimester Recap + Fresh 48 Baby Photos | sassy red lipstick

In those first few weeks, Robbie and I took turns getting up with Taz to feed him. I would pump and Robbie would give him a bottle of my breast milk so I could sleep some nights. Robbie was and has been such a supportive spouse in helping care for our baby! For that I am so, so thankful. During the day during those first few weeks, I would pretty much sit on the couch for 12 hours a day and nurse Taz. He only liked to sleep being held, so I just stayed put! It made for long days, but I did have help from Robbie and our family. Feed, sleep, repeat all day long!

At three weeks old {and so, so sleep deprived}, we took Taz to Taking Cara Babies‘ famous newborn sleep class. Robbie and I both feel that this helped us immensely. We used her tools to soothe Taz, understand his sleepy cues, help him fall asleep, etc. That was the point we started swaddling him for naps and not just at night, and we started putting him in his crib for daytime naps. That changed everything and I felt like I could get things done again! My goal was to get just ONE thing done a day during the first six weeks or so. That equaled a win to me!

4th Trimester Recap + Fresh 48 Baby Photos | sassy red lipstick
4th Trimester Recap + Fresh 48 Baby Photos | sassy red lipstick

Since we are self-employed, I didn’t really get much of a maternity leave. Being an entrepreneur means work never really stops {or your paychecks do!} and Taz’s birth fell right at the beginning of the holiday season, the busiest time of year in our industry. Robbie was so sensitive to taking as much off my plate as possible so I could rest and take a break from work, but at the end of the day I still had to be involved in creating content for the projects we were working on. This was a learning experience and I’ve already made a vow that next baby I am going to take off two whole months and not let anything get in the way of that. Live and learn. :)

For the first six weeks or so, we had to wake Taz every 2-3 hours for feedings during the day/night. After learning from Taking Cara Babies’ sleep advice, it was at about six weeks that we started to let Taz wake us at night for feedings {this was also confirmed by our pediatrician… be sure to chat with yours for what’s best for your baby!}. He would give use 4-6 hour sleep stretches and I started to feel like a real human again. It was also at this point that we were well into the holidays and even hosted Thanksgiving for my family! It was a little bit tough with a new baby {mostly because I’m an anxious person and just wanted everything to be perfect: clean house, homecooked meals, fun things to do, etc.}, but it did help us get out of the house with Taz and go places like we hadn’t done up to that point other than going to the park for a walk.

4th Trimester Recap + Fresh 48 Baby Photos | sassy red lipstick
4th Trimester Recap + Fresh 48 Baby Photos | sassy red lipstick

When Taz hit two months, he really became so alert! He started smiling at us, cooing at us, would give us 7-8 hour stretches of sleep at night, and loved being read to. He started getting more used to tummy time and didn’t cry as much as he showed us how strong his neck is! I would babywear him a lot during the day so I could work at my computer, get things done around the house, etc. We celebrated our first Christmas with him and even though he was so little and won’t remember anything from his first Christmas, it was magical for us to have his sweet spirit in our home during such a special time of the year.

At three months to currently, Taz is chatting with us every day in his cute little squeaks and squeals, he found his little hands and they were always in his mouth, started rolling tummy to back, can put all of his weight on his little legs, and can even grip and shake a rattle. Most of all, he loves music and being sung to!

4th Trimester Recap + Fresh 48 Baby Photos | sassy red lipstick
4th Trimester Recap + Fresh 48 Baby Photos | sassy red lipstick

Now that he’s halfway between three and four months old, we are starting to see a bit of a sleep regression {normal}, working on transitioning out of a swaddle since he can roll back to tummy and tummy to back now, and I *think* he’s starting to teeth a bit {starting to drool, fussy while eating, loves to chew on literally anything, etc.}. He’s constantly developing and growing and it’s crazy how fast time flies right now! I wanted to share Taz’s Fresh 48 photos from the hospital with this blog post since I never shared them… and our tiny baby isn’t so tiny anymore! At 15 weeks, he’s no longer considered a newborn {babies graduate from that term at 12 weeks!}, and I can’t even believe we have an almost four month old. It’s been so fun to see Taz grow and learn!

Now that you’re recapped on my baby boy, let’s talk about how the 4th trimester went for me personally. In short, it was {and still can be} really hard. I think I cried every day for the first entire month. Between being a first-time mom and having zero idea of what to do, and then having so many hormones going on, all the while trying to keep up with our business, it was a lot to adjust to. Plus, I was healing from a 4th degree tear, which was no picnic. I wore a diaper for the first six weeks because it was easier than wearing a bulky pad.

4th Trimester Recap + Fresh 48 Baby Photos | sassy red lipstick
4th Trimester Recap + Fresh 48 Baby Photos | sassy red lipstick

Which leads me to how I felt physically. I’m just going to keep it real for all you mamas out there! Obviously, a 4th degree tear is no joke but fortunately I healed pretty well for the trauma my body went through during birth. I was very careful to keep my lady bits/stitches clean, and always used the squirt bottle given at the hospital after using the restroom and consistently used perineal spray and witch hazel pads for relief. I never took any hard pain killers, but I was prescribed 800mg of ibuprofen and took that once a day or so for those first few weeks. I wasn’t necessarily ever in pain following Taz’s birth {which surprised even the nurses at the hospital… chalk it up to a high pain tolerance}, but I was extremely sore. Even going for walks made me sore, but they were so nice for me to get out of the house.

At my six week postpartum OBGYN check-up, my doctor was pleasantly surprised with how well I had healed! That made me happy because I was so worried about healing correctly. I was cleared for sex and physical activity right before Thanksgiving, but waited for the new year to do any physical exercise other than walking. Even though my stitches had healed, I was still sore and there was no way I was going to get back on a spin bike just yet. I’ve also looked into ways to heal my pelvic floor because that was pretty much destroyed during pregnancy haha. Per the suggestion of my favorite nurse practitioner, I just started using VFit plus, which uses red light therapy, gentle heat, and sonic technology to heal your pelvic floor. Will share more about this soon!

4th Trimester Recap + Fresh 48 Baby Photos | sassy red lipstick
4th Trimester Recap + Fresh 48 Baby Photos | sassy red lipstick

Mentally, postpartum has been a huge struggle for me and I’ve been pretty transparent about that on IG {example here}. I did experience the baby blues for the first few weeks, but I think most moms do. It’s just such a huge adjustment and your body is flowing with crazy hormones. While I personally have not dealt with PPD {postpartum depression}, I was and still am dealing with PPA {postpartum anxiety}. I honestly didn’t even know that was a thing until I started reading more about postpartum. I have been dealing with severe anxiety for the last few years, but postpartum anxiety is truly on another level. My mind goes to worst case scenarios about Taz all day long, and it’s really hard. I don’t have any solutions to share with you, but just that I’m going through it and I hope any of you mothers out there know you’re not alone. Robbie and I have talked about it and I do think it’s time I go see my therapist again. I haven’t really shared these types of things publicly until now, but I think it’s important to share so that other moms don’t feel alone. Mom life can be hard!

4th Trimester Recap + Fresh 48 Baby Photos | sassy red lipstick

Phew! If you’ve made it to here, thank you! I did want to answer some specific questions you all asked, so sharing those below:

Did you read any pregnancy/childbirth/motherhood books prior to having baby?
I did read a few, but there is nothing and I mean nothing that can truly prepare you for being a parent. There’s definitely resources to help {for us, it was Taking Cara Babies and my lactation consultant}, but there truly is a momtuition as well. Of all the books I read, the one I found to be most helpful was the book I read to help me get through an unmedicated hospital delivery {here}. I haven’t read any parenting books yet, but will keep you updated when I find any I like!

What are your must-haves when leaving the house for you and baby?
With a newborn, I feel like you have to pack your entire life for even just a trip to the pediatrician, haha!
What I pack for Taz: Diapers, wipes, changing mat, change of clothes, blanket or swaddle to keep warm, hat, burping cloth or two, extra pacifier, pacifier wipes, bottle with my breastmilk or formula just in case you aren’t in a situation to breastfeed for some reason. Now that he’s a little older I also bring a rattle and a book.
What I pack for me: A snack {RXBAR, jerky, granola bar, etc.} and water to keep my milk supply up when out and about, wallet, keys, chapstick/lipstick, sunglasses.

4th Trimester Recap + Fresh 48 Baby Photos | sassy red lipstick

How do you deal with hard days being a mom?
Having help is KEY! Whether that’s your spouse, your mom, a friend, hired help, etc. Don’t ever say no to anyone who wants to help. Simply being able to take a hot shower or get a nap in will help so much on the hard days. And honestly, I try to remember that this period of time is short and my baby and I can get through it together. Sometimes I have to take a few deep breaths!

What has challenged you the most as a new mom?
Figuring out an entire new way of life! It’s all such an adjustment: the lack of sleep, caring for a little one who is dependent on you 24/7, taking care of yourself at the same time, etc. The hardest unexpected thing has been breastfeeding, hands down. I plan to share an entire blog post about my breastfeeding journey, pumping, bottles we use, what pump I use, etc. very soon!

Sex after baby… is it painful or scary?
BOTH haha! As mentioned above, I was cleared at six weeks, but we actually waited until eight weeks because that was the soonest I could get an IUD put in {first time with this, I used the pill prior}. Sex was scary the first few times because I had just had a 4th degree tear and a baby come out of me and I just was nervous about anything involving down south. While it wasn’t necessarily painful, it was definitely uncomfortable. Just another thing you have to get used to postpartum! I’m happy to report that it does get more comfortable each time and things will go back to normal.

4th Trimester Recap + Fresh 48 Baby Photos | sassy red lipstick

What is your plan for childcare? Any advice for being a working mom/balancing career and motherhood?
Since Robbie and I both work for ourselves from home, I think initially we thought it would be very doable to just take turns with Taz every day at home while working. Spoiler: it wasn’t. We hired some help {someone we already knew and trusted} at the beginning of the year and she started right when Taz turned three months. She’s been with us just a few weeks and it’s been such a blessing. Taz loves her, we love her, and it’s going so well! I still breastfeed Taz every feeding, and Robbie and I take breaks to play with him throughout the day. This will look different for all working moms/parents! But my biggest advice is to get help! I’m not sure if there’s such a thing as balance when it comes to a newborn, but having help {mom, friend, daycare, nanny, etc.} is huge.

Do you feel back to your pre-baby self yet? What is your body REALLY like?
I talked about this topic in this IG post, and basically I don’t plan on ever feeling or looking like my pre-baby self! I don’t believe in “bouncing back,” I believe in embracing the new normal. Your life {and body} has completely changed, so there’s only moving forward. My body is a lot softer, I have new stretch marks, my hips are a bit wider, and that’s all perfectly fine with me because I’m just so happy to have created a happy, healthy baby.

How did you lose your baby weight so fast?
A lot of you have asked me this and it always makes me feel kind of weird to talk about considering my body positive beliefs and I’ll explain why. I gained about 32 lbs while pregnant. After giving my birth… my baby weight seemed to come right off. I did exclusively breastfeed for the first almost 12 weeks and even now breastfeed 90% of the time {that other 10% is if I’m out of the house; I never pumped a ton so I never had a freezer stash}. I didn’t do any special diet {in fact, I feel like I can hardly consume enough calories to keep up my milk supply, even now} and I wasn’t exercising. It just… came off. And this is why it makes me feel weird to talk about: I know that’s not necessarily normal and I really genuinely hope that you mamas out there aren’t getting caught up comparing yourself. Being a mom is hard enough without always comparing ourselves to other people’s experiences! Every body will be different postpartum. I have friends who couldn’t lose a single pound until they stopped breastfeeding. For me, breastfeeding was definitely the reason why the weight came off so quickly and easily. That said, my body is still totally different! Before I was wearing a size 12/L, occasionally a size 14. I’m currently below my pre-baby weight, and yet now wear a size 14/XL in almost everything because things just fit differently. See what I mean? Pregnancy completely transforms you and it looks different for everyone!

What’s your #1 tip for moms to survive the 4th trimester?
I might be broken record here… but ask for help! And when offered help, take it! There’s no extra points for going this road alone and running yourself into the ground.

Have you been wearing a belly wrap?
No! I do have one and wore it twice… but it just didn’t feel necessary to me and wasn’t the most comfortable thing. It was like wearing shapewear all day while lounging in cozy clothes at home. That was a pass for me personally!

Have you gotten your period already?
Yes! My cycle returned at exactly six weeks… which to be honest I was bummed about. I thought for sure exclusively breastfeeding it would be a few more months before it came back. This was also the first time my milk supply dipped, which is really common when your period returns.

Is tearing during childbirth as terrifying as it seems?
You’ll be happy to hear that, in my personal opinion, no. It’s really not as scary as it sounds. And that’s coming from someone who tore really, really bad and had a strong birth plan not to get episiotomy. If you read Taz’s birth story, you know I ended up with both. But in the moment, there’s so much adrenaline I didn’t even feel it. The only reason I knew I tore was because of how bloody Taz was when he came out. But my doctor quickly and efficiently sewed me up great after delivering the placenta and it was the least of my worries in the moment because I was holding my beautiful new baby boy!

Be sure to check out my post all about newborn essentials for mom and baby here!

Thank you for reading! This is probably one of my longest blog posts to date besides Taz’s birth story, so I’ll end here! But I do plan on dedicating an entire post to our breastfeeding journey thus far, so stay tuned for that! xx