My Fourth Trimester Recap

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Any purchases made using these links will result in a small commission for me, but at no extra cost to you. All opinions are my own. You can read about my affiliate disclaimer here

When I wrote my recaps for my first, second, and third trimesters, I was not planning on writing one for my fourth. I don’t think I truly understood the whole “fourth trimester” thing until I had a tiny human to take care. I realize now that I have quite a bit to talk about after all.

There was a lot I expected after having a baby, and a lot I didn’t. I have been putting off writing this post because I think it could get really long based on all that happens postpartum.

For starters, I had a third degree tear (read my birth story here). I expected bleeding postpartum, but I didn’t expect to be in so much pain for weeks. I didn’t know that it would hurt to poop, or that I wouldn’t be able to sit down without an inflatable cushion. It all makes sense, it was just things I didn’t think about previously.

The first week

The very first night at home (two days after delivery) was the worst night and really made me question my parenting ability. It was the middle of the night, Hayden was sleeping, and I went to change Shepherd’s diaper. I had to pee, but thought I could hold it. Turns out I couldn’t. I peed my pants because I had ZERO control over my pelvic floor muscles, plus the pain from tearing prevented me from being able to squeeze too hard. So, baby was on the changing table crying, I was halfway to the bathroom, regretting that I hadn’t worn Depends and calling for Hayden’s help. It was awful.

I had also hoped to do a lot of baby wearing, and I did, but after awhile, my pelvic floor muscles would be so fatigued and in pain that I needed someone else to hold the baby, or I had to sit with him. This doesn’t sound terrible, but Shepherd didn’t sleep a whole lot during the day (20-30 minute naps) and loved to be held and walked around. So, there was a lot of pressure on my muscles by the end of the day. During pregnancy I didn’t have any pain or discomfort from my pelvic floor muscles that I remember, so I didn’t realize the strain they had gone through until after birth. It makes complete sense, but again, it wasn’t something I expected.

The first week was absolutely the hardest. I felt okay in the hospital when the baby slept in his bassinet, and the nurses kept me on top of pain medication (Tylenol and ibuprofen), but once we got home things became real and hard. I didn’t know that Shepherd would not sleep on his own, and that he’d only sleep on us. While I like the idea of bed sharing, it freaks me out, plus, Hayden was not on board. So, we spent multiple nights taking two hour shifts awake in a chair while the baby slept on our chests and the other was able to get a bit of sleep.

Not only that, but Shepherd cried pretty much anytime we set him down. Diaper change? Screaming baby. Bath? Screaming baby. Need to set him down so I can at least pee? Scream, scream, scream. Luckily this didn’t last too long, but again, I wasn’t expecting it.

It all makes perfect sense. Babies are used to being snug and cozy in the womb, listening to the loud whooshing sounds of heartbeats and pumping blood, the only environment they’ve known. Then, they’re thrust into the cold, open world. No wonder they don’t want to be away from the secure, familiar sounds, smells, and snuggles. Hence, the fourth trimester.

We probably could have taken longer sleeping shifts, but I was breastfeeding and Shepherd was eating on demand or at least every two to three hours, which is another thing I didn’t expect. I thought he would let me know when he was hungry by crying, which he did, but what I didn’t know is that newborns can sleep through hunger cues, so until they get back up to their birth weight, you wake to feed as needed.

Eventually, after the first week or so, as long as Shepherd was swaddled well and listening to womb sounds, which I played from YouTube until I finally bought a white noise machine, he’d sleep on his own. With enough positive reinforcement (kisses, etc.) and finally getting used to life outside my belly, he stopped crying during diaper changes, or when being set down. The bath took some time, though. Water was not Shepherd’s favorite thing. He was skeptical. He didn’t start enjoying bath time until he was around five months old after repeated, nightly exposure.


Everyone always wants to know about sleep. And let me tell you, it’s hard to come by in those early days. At least it was for us. After Shepherd started sleeping in his bassinet, or on a mat on the floor, or really anywhere that wasn’t on our chest (which I really miss now by the way), it was still short lived. Overnight, he would sleep for three hours at a time, and eventually increased to six hours or so, which was great! But, he was not a long napper during the day as mentioned above. So, that made the days tiring, and difficult to do much else (prep food, laundry, dishes, nap ourselves). I thought that newborns slept a lot, and some do, just not Shepherd. I think this was a big component of the culture shock that is parenthood. Oh, plus, we were accidentally drinking decaf coffee for the first five weeks, so we were extra tired – haha!


I experienced a lot of things, and only a few of which I actually expected, like feeling really hungry, postpartum bleeding, and mood swings (though I didn’t realize just how intense these would be). I also did not research a whole lot because I didn’t want to get nervous about postpartum, which maybe was a mistake. I might have been better prepared – or not. I also feel like it’s an experience that’s hard to explain until you’re in it, but this post is attempting to do just that! My symptoms were as follows:

  • Night sweats
  • Lots of gas
  • Leg pain (after walking too much or too long)
  • Increased thirst (from breastfeeding)
  • Increased appetite (from birth, breastfeeding, and recovery)
  • Decrease appetite (this happened after a few days and lasted a day or two? or more, I can’t remember – either way, it wasn’t long)
  • Stomach pain if wearing tighter pants for too long, or engaging my core too much
  • Bleeding
  • Mood swings (more below)
  • Breast pain that would wake me in the middle of the night and was incredibly painful when I moved
  • Perineal pain from tearing

I did read about engorgement, but it was something I didn’t completely understand until experiencing it myself and it totally freaked me out. It was painful, weird, and I didn’t know what to do about it. I didn’t want to pump as that would make things worse later on, yet it was so uncomfortable I was desperate to drain the milk somehow. Luckily, the day after I first experienced this we had a weight check at the hospital with the labor and delivery nurse who was there when I delivered Shepherd (it was a Sunday, so we didn’t go to the pediatrician’s office). She helped me immensely! Even though it was too soon to pump, she said I could for a short period of time just to ease the discomfort without causing overproduction. What a relief!


I wanted to eat SO. MUCH. FOOD. Trouble was, we didn’t have much prepared and I wanted cooked, nutrient dense foods. I also still craved dairy (especially yogurt and cheese). I wanted more protein in general, as well as grains, like oats, rice, cereal, and sourdough or gluten free bread. That may seem odd, but prior to postpartum, I didn’t crave as many grains, and instead wanted a mix of starches like squash and potatoes too. I also ate a lot of peanut butter. I don’t know how much of this was craving versus just needing an easy, high calorie food. Either way, I ate it by the spoonful – ha.

I had prepped a healthy shepherd’s pie and froze it, but that was it as far as food prep. I wish I had done more. I often debated whether or not to take a nap or make food. If I’d prepped more food prior to birth, I might’ve gotten a bit more sustenance and sleep.

When I look back, this all makes sense. The body is healing and recovering, of course my cravings for foods with lots of vitamins, minerals, and protein were strong. My cravings for certain grains and carbohydrates in general support breastmilk production. Oats in particular are great from milk supply, as well as getting 210 grams of carbohydrates each day.

I’ve also recently come across recommendations to eat only cooked foods for awhile after birth as this can help with cramping. I haven’t looked in the reasoning behind this recommendation, but it is interesting that cooked foods are what I naturally craved. It makes sense, though, as cooked food provides more calories/energy than raw, and are easier to digest.

bowl with cooked kale, sweet potatoes, riced cauliflower, and ground beef with ketchup

What I wore

In the beginning, my clothing pretty much consisted of the same outfit on repeat: joggers with a nursing tank and cardigan, or joggers with a nursing bra and nursing shirt. I would wear a sweater and jeans for a few hours at a time if we were going out or expecting company (which was extremely limited for the first 3 months because Covid-19 cases had spiked due to the Omicron variant). If I wore jeans too long, though, I’d have a terrible stomach ache. In hindsight, I should have worn leggings or maternity jeans, I was just so ready to feel like myself again and wear something that wasn’t baggy.

My top recommendations for postpartum comfort & nursing:

woman wearing sweats standing in front of a mirror, wearing a baby in a wrap


I cried. A lot. Sometimes it was happy tears, other times it was mourning my old life/self, or it was from sheer exhaustion. Some of it was for no reason at all except hormones. And somedays I cried because I no longer had a coping mechanism for the emotions I was feeling. Normally, if I’m upset, or cranky, or frustrated, I’ll exercise, but that wasn’t an option due to my slow recover. So, I cried for the emotions I was already feeling, and then I’d cry harder because I couldn’t do the thing I wanted to do to feel better. I felt more impatient than I ever had, but I think this was largely related to sleep deprivation and hunger when I wasn’t on top of it.

Sometimes, I was upset that I was the only one who could feed Shepherd, at least in the first few weeks. I wanted my body back – in the sense that I wanted it to be my own again. My nipples hurt, my boobs hurt, and it felt like this tiny human was latched on to me 24/7. Because of this, I hated breastfeeding at first. Sometimes he’d be hungry and I felt like I had nothing left to give. Breastfeeding made me way hungrier, so I felt like I almost had to fuel up to feed my baby, and if I hadn’t eaten, the thought of feeding was exhausting. I also used a nipple shield for the first four and half months, which was actually nice in some ways. After the initial nipple pain in the early days, the shield prevented any further pain or cracking. It was just sort of a nuance since it had to be washed so frequently, and it was just one more thing to worry about. It was wonderful, though, and I was (still am) incredibly grateful to be able to provide breastmilk and breastfeed, it just wasn’t what I expected in the beginning. I hoped it would be a peaceful, pleasant, bonding time with my baby, which it was eventually, just not right away. While it was hard at first, I now love it and was sad when I had to go back to work and could not be the one to feed my baby on those days.

Additionally, as mentioned above, the Covid-19 omicron variant had recently broke out, so while we had been so excited to introduce our little one to friends and family we kept to ourselves for the first few months trying to protect him (and ourselves) from getting sick. Plus, it was flu season. But, this definitely made having a newborn harder. It would have been good to have more help – not with the baby, but with other chores. Everyone offers to watch the baby while we do other things. Well, I didn’t want to do other things (dishes, laundry, cook), I wanted to be with my baby! Fortunately, our parents did make us a few meals, which helped

I think another thing plaguing me during this time was that I wanted to be working from home after my maternity leave ended. I love Shepherd so much, and it’s definitely hard to leave for work in the mornings. I was kicking myself a little bit for not working harder to be home sooner, and feeling pressure to “work” and increase my personal business so I’d be that much closer to working from home eventually. I just wish I hadn’t had that over my head, and was able to completely relax and enjoy the peaceful moments of the fourth trimester.


This may honestly have been one of the hardest things to cope with postpartum. I exercise for so many different health reasons: improved mood, healthy blood pressure, diabetes prevention, better sleep, stress reduction, and feeling better overall when I move my body regularly. I know this because there have been times I’ve fallen out of exercise habits and felt my worst.

I am totally fine with taking rest days. I take them often. The hard part of postpartum was that I was a) just tired of sitting all day everyday, and b) was undergoing so many shifts in mood and mindset, I was craving exercise to gain patience and a clear head, and a little time to myself.

In the beginning, even slow, short walks landed me with leg and perineal pain. Eventually when I started implementing core exercises (I’m talking very gentle breathing and light strength) for minutes at a time, I’d end up with a stomach ache.

I loosely followed Kim Perry’s Abs After Baby program in order to progress slowly and safely back to exercise, which I started maaaybe six weeks after birth, maybe longer. I had been walking up until then (or even doing additional exercise, I don’t remember, but I know it was tough not to!). All I really wanted to do though, was go for a run. It definitely did not help that my husband was training for a half marathon at the time. I was totally envious of him – haha.

By three months I finally felt good enough to run short distances and do more types of exercise, but my tearing had not fully healed. I had surgery to repair it, which set me back to square one. Fortunately, it was only about another two weeks of recovery time and then I was cleared to work back into running and other forms of exercise.

Writing this makes it seem like I’m addicted to exercise or something. That is absolutely not the case. It’s just such a part of my routine and overall daily habits that it was really hard for me not to do. Imagine someone telling you you couldn’t brush your teeth for six weeks because your gums were recovering from birthing your teeth. It was kind of like that. For example, when I’m upset, my immediate reaction is to go run or throw around heavy weights. And I was upset – a lot. Nothing was what I expected, and everything was harder than I thought it would be.

woman outside, snow is on the ground, with a winter hat on and a baby bundle up in a carrier


At my baby shower, my mom had all the guests write down advice, and there was one piece of advice I kept reminding myself of over and over: “the blob phase will end and his first smile will make it all worthwhile.” I look back on those days now and wish I cherished them more (which was the common advice we received), but in the moment, I wanted time to speed up. I couldn’t wait to see him smile and interact. As I’m writing this eight months later, the newborn stage seems like a distant memory (even though it wasn’t that long ago!), and I wish I spent more time taking it in.

One month:

  • Starting to smile, which is just the best and makes all those long days & nights so worth it
  • Raising his head really well and able to follow objects

Two months:

  • Smiling more often
  • Playing with toys, and interacting with the hanging toys on his mat
  • Sleeping in his crib instead of his bassinet
  • Babbling

Three months:

  • Started rolling over
  • Blowing bubbles
  • Use his thumb, and/or bring toys to his mouth


Motherhood is absolutely amazing, and our baby is wonderful, I think it’s just also something that’s hard to prepare for until you’re in it. Which is why I wanted to write this post. As a way to remind myself what it was like and to empathize with new moms. I always find it helpful to talk about and gain advice about a shared experience with others. It helps knowing that I’m not alone in it. The fourth trimester is hard, there’s no getting around that, but as everyone gets more sleep, and you recover, it is worth every tear – in both senses of the word!

What about you? What was the biggest thing you didn’t expect postpartum? Or what was the best part?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You Might Also Like

Leave a Reply