Guest Blogger, Colleen Stewart: Care for Yourself as a New Mother

April 17, 2023, Pollywog Staff

Preparing for the Fourth Trimester: Care for Yourself as a New Mother

Black and white image of a mother holding her swaddled newborn
Photo via Unsplash

During pregnancy, you learn each of the three trimesters very well. What you may not have heard of, however, is the fourth trimester. The fourth trimester is the postpartum period which occurs following the birth of your baby. The time following your baby’s birth can be one of the most challenging as you adjust to a new lifestyle, a changed body, and a baby. To help you navigate this period and the potential changes you might encounter, here are some things to consider.

Give Your Mental Health Attention

Self-care is always integral to mental health, but it is even more important after having a baby. Make sure to continue to eat nutritiously. Not only does eating healthy foods impact you, but it also affects your baby if you breastfeed. Make sure you also continue to socialize with your friends. Some moms isolate themselves with their babies, which can lead to feelings of loneliness and increase their risk of postpartum depression.


Mom in a the outdoors carrying her newborn in a green wrap carrier

Make the time to meditate. Take a few minutes to yourself while your baby sleeps to reflect on your thoughts or to relax. List your priorities and make time for at least three of your priorities every day. Do not forget to allow yourself to have hobbies. For example, try to read a book or catch up on your favorite show while caring for your baby.

You’ll likely have lots of questions once your baby arrives, but searching for answers online while stressed can be maddening. Take time before your due date to download helpful documents to reference later—go here to combine them all into one easy-to-use PDF. Having the information you need in a searchable document will make life easier once the baby arrives.

Heal Following a C-Section

According to the experts, if you have a C-section, you must give yourself plenty of time to heal. It can take about six weeks to recover after this major operation. During the healing process, it is normal to have abdominal pain, shortness of breath, and heavy bleeding. If you find that you are in a lot of pain, talk to your doctor about painkillers or muscle relaxants. Once you understand their guidance, you can look for less expensive options online.

When caring for yourself, make sure that you rest as much as you need. Try to take short walks daily, and keep a pillow to hold close to your body if you laugh or cough. It’s also important to avoid lifting anything too heavy. Some supplies you’re likely to need include:Top view mother kissing her newborn baby on bed. Young mom or nurse taking care newborn in the hospital

  • Skin salve
  • Loose clothing
  • Disposable underwear
  • Abdominal binder

Avoid buttons, zippers, and snaps after a C-section. Instead, choose flowy dresses, stretchy clothes, and breathable garments that do not restrict movement or scratch your skin or scar. You’ll also want to invest in high-waisted underwear specifically designed for women following a C-section. These undergarments help to support the incision site, which can be very tender in the days and weeks following surgery. Look for a style that prevents irritation and chafing and that won’t dig into your skin. Preferred retailers like Amazon have postpartum shops that specifically offer these types of undergarments, so throw a few in your cart when shopping for your regular essentials.

Learning to Breastfeed

Breastfeeding has many benefits for you and your baby, but it can take some time for both of you to learn how. You may want to take a class to learn about what to expect and who to call if you have questions. Some issues many new parents struggle with are getting baby to latch, engorgement, and worries about having enough milk to feed their child. If you have breastfeeding questions or concerns, be sure to get support right away. You can call your baby’s doctor, the hospital where your baby was born, or find help in the community.

While these challenges can be discouraging, there are many resources available to help and support you in feeding your baby.

Care for Your Needs, Too

New mom holding baby and making a phone call while looking at a laptopCaring for yourself postpartum is essential to your mental and physical health. Make sure you take the time to rest, eat healthy foods, and drink plenty of fluids. If you are feeling overwhelmed or struggling with your mental health, please seek help from a professional. If your financial situation prevents you from being able to access certain services, look at the resources available from Pollywog. Be sure to also invest in the right clothing and undergarments to ensure comfort as you adjust to your new life. In the end, taking care of yourself will help you be the best mom possible for your little one.

By: Colleen Stewart,