The 4th trimester is a term used to describe the first few months after giving birth. It is a time of a lot of physical change, as well as a change to your daily routine, sleep, etc. The change feels endless in those first few months, so there are a few things I would like mamas to know and be more prepared for!
- Postpartum anxiety, in my clinical experience, is even more common than postpartum depression. This is not just about the changes to routine or lack of sleep. This is also about the shifts in hormones and nutrients that can affect our brain and ability to get through the day without feeling anxious. There are gentle things that a mama can do to help their brain stay more calm, such as getting a longer chunk of sleep on occasion and making sure to get enough protein with meals.
- Accepting help is important! It does not make you a bad mom if you feel like you need help. There is truth in the saying ‘it takes a village.’ Accept meals. Accept help from your neighbor. Accept help from your partner.
- Take a nap! Leave the dishes and the laundry. Sleep when your kid sleeps. Sleep will help the brain immensely!
- Your hormones are drastically shifting. Your estrogen and progesterone are very high in pregnancy and begin to fall post-partum. On top of this, your prolactin and oxytocin are increasing to help with bonding. These all affect your brain, so know that the easy crying and exquisite joy all within a minute are normal. These shifts are what can lead to anxiety and depression.
- Make sure to get some protein and hydrate. Being a mama takes a lot of energy, and water and protein are crucial to a new mom. Make sure to get protein with every meal, as well as in your snacks. Hydration is key to healing and moving nutrients in our system, and is especially important if you are breastfeeding.
The point that I can’t stress enough to mamas is that if you are feeling down, feeling like you are having trouble connecting or getting out of the house, or so anxious that you can’t sleep or eat, reach out to a trusted professional for some help. The postpartum changes are real, and some mamas need extra support. You don’t have to do this alone!