You may be pregnant and have spent countless hours preparing for the birth of your baby.  Or perhaps you’ve just had a baby and are finding that it isn’t what you expected.  Life with a newborn can be very hard! 

The first four months after the birth of your baby is sometimes referred to as “The fourth trimester”.  Life with a newborn can be an overwhelming and challenging time.  Your body is healing and changing as you and baby adjust to life outside the womb.

One of the biggest mistakes I made as a first time mom was focusing all of my energy on the birth.  I assumed that if all went well everything else would fall into place.

Ha, was I in for a surprise.  Even with a perfect birth I quickly learned,

Postpartum is HARD.

You will need as much help as you can get. Which isn’t easy in a society that values independence.  Most women in developed countries have poor support systems and end up doing too much too soon. Fatigue and exhaustion soon set in which can lead to postpartum depression.

The road to an easier postpartum lies in adjusting your expectations.  Accept that you will need help and will have limitations. Taking care of a newborn while you heal will take your whole day.  You should not be doing a lot of cooking and cleaning as well.

Studies have shown it takes a whole year to adjust emotionally and physically to motherhood.

You don’t need to do everything and you don’t need to do everything all alone.
Asking for help shows your strength and wisdom.
It’s not a weakness.

Grandma helping out

Build your village. Ask family and friends if they can help you out.  Hiring a Postpartum Doula is an option if you don’t have family or close friends near by.

Make connections before the birth with other moms and moms to be. Some ideas of community groups:

  • Childbirth Education class
  • Baby wearing International Groups
  • Prenatal/postnatal yoga or fitness
  • Drop in Centers
  • La Leche Legue or local Breastfeeding drop in programs

What can you do before the birth to help?  

Asking family to provide you with nutritious meals will go along way in helping you to recover.  Eating nutrient dense foods will help your body cope with the hormonal changes and fatigue that comes from caring for a newborn.  Food has the power of make us feel well taken care of.

Don’t be afraid to set boundaries with family and friends.  You will need this time to heal and bond with your baby. Having visitors is great but it can also be overwhelming and zap the energy you need for yourself and the baby.

Discuss with your partner or another family member the need for them to be the “gatekeeper.”  You shouldn’t have the added pressure of ushering family out or declining a visit when you aren’t up for it.

Educate yourself about infant development. Understanding why your baby is behaving the way they do, can go along way to relieving the stress in your life.  I find this one of the biggest challenges for parents. Their expectations of how they thought things would be, don’t meet up with the reality of how infants behave.

Some communities are starting to include infant mental health and development in their prenatal classes, but they still have a long way in the development of the program.  There are private classes you can take from Infant Sleep Educators as well.

The fourth trimester can be a challenging time for new parents.  With a little preparations before the birth you will be better prepared, allowing you to find the joy in postpartum.  

For local support in the Mississauga and surrounding area, consider joining Mississauga Moms and Babies Meet up Group.  It’s absolutely free!  Here’s a link to the Facebook Group

Written by Sheridan Daly, Certified Postpartum Doula and Infant Sleep Educator