By Destiny S. Olsen CD(DONA), PCD(DONA), RYT, TPYT
Once your baby arrives you recognize the birthing experience has a big effect on how you transition into parenthood or how you integrate your little one amongst the family at home. Depending on your birth outcome you may be facing more recovery time than anticipated or just new sensations in your body that take some adjusting to.
As a DONA Certified Birth & Postpartum Doula, organizer of the parenting group, SHAUNTEA’s Sunshine Crew and participating in the Maternal Mental Health Collaborative, I’ve realized the Postpartum Period, the 4th trimester, is often brushed to the side.
So how can you approach the 4th Trimester with ease to give you ample time with baby – without stressing over the little things? Here are some ideas to getting you on the right track, without overextending yourself once baby has arrived back home.
Have a Good Support System
The phrase “it takes a village” is truly accurate when arriving into the 4th trimester. Dishes pile up, grocery shopping doesn’t get done and your animals may need some extra love. Not only will your time be spent learning more of baby’s sounds and cues, but also your sleep will be altered from its regular routine. If you have friends and family nearby, it’s possible you’ll have more visitors than normal taking up your “down” time. Gather a phone list of people you can call to help your daily life stay in motion, without any extra stress building up.
- House Cleaning – A clean, organized space is important to feeling comfortable back at home. Hire a maid or ask loved ones to help out (dishes, laundry, plant care and trash removal are typically the biggest needs) so you can spend your time adjusting.
- Meal Preparation – Eating healthy to recover from birth is very important. Some people with larger circles of support start up meal trains on mealtrain.com or have food delivered. If you have a restrictive diet or allergies it may be best to prepare your own meals leading up to birth. During your pregnancy, make extras of your meals and freeze the leftovers. Make bone broths and other nourishing, low maintenance meals to consume when you’re tired or when you “have you hands full”- literally.
- Animal Care – Write down a list of daily necessities your animals have. Arrange for someone to spend ample time with your pets and to take care of their needs. Often times you will need someone to walk your dog, change the kitty litter or other minimal tasks. Ask a trusted neighbor or hire an animal care professional like a dog walker or pet sitter.
- Yard Care – Allow someone to take care of your yard in the summer and shovel your walks in the winter. Simple maintenance crews can come as little as once a month and take off the burden of any heavy lifting or body compromising as you recover.
- Showers – That’s right y’all I said it, showers. It seems like a silly request, but if this isn’t your first baby you know what I’m talking about. Set aside a time for someone to watch baby while you shower all by yourself once a day and hey, if you can get a bath in- more power to ya!
- Maternal Mental Health Specialist – Although you will have follow- up appointments with your prenatal care provider and pediatrician know that they are there for specific needs. Do your research now for a mental health care provider that specialize in Maternal Mental Health. Although you may never use their services, it is good to have their contact information on hand. They are there to talk through any part of your birth, lactation, mood or hormonal changes, familial or relationship adjustments and just adjusting into your new routines.
- Lactation consultants – Regardless of how you choose to feed your baby (breast or bottle) you may have lactation needs or questions. By doing your research beforehand and selecting someone you like, it will be easier when questions or concerns arise.
If you don’t have a lot of friends, family or resources nearby, hire a Postpartum Doula to help you fill in the gaps. You can find certified or trained Postpartum Doulas on Doula Organization sites like Utah Doula Association, DONA International or ICAPPA.
Maintain a Healthy Body
After birth, be patient and kind to yourself, allowing ample time to recover. Depending on whether you had a vaginal or belly birth will then determine how your body heals, as well as the physical activity your doctor will approve. Take light walks as your body heals and maintain good alignment in your everyday activities. When you are feeding your new baby, make sure you use pillows, towels or blankets to support your elbows and shoulders eliminating over- stretching your back body and tightening the muscles in your chest. Although you may be itching to be more active, adjust gracefully by introducing a regular meditation routine until your body heals. Maintain nourishment to your body through a well balanced diet. Remember that if you’re breastfeeding you will burn more calories and need to nourish yourself to keep you energized and your body healing.
Absorb Vitamin D
Winter in Utah can make it difficult to spend a lot of time outside, make it a priority to get out and let the sunshine on you. If you live in the valley, on days when the air quality is poor, take a friend to bask in the sunlight in the mountains or at higher elevations.
Maintain Personal Relationships
Who are the people you care about? How will they stay involved in the changing you and be there as a support when you need a friend? Write a personal letter to friends and family when expecting, let them know how much they mean to you. Ask them for help during this time of transition and give them specific tasks to lighten your household duties as well as staying connected. Often times people like to come visit, be direct about when it makes sense and forewarn them for the first few weeks that your time is more limited. I am a firm believer in new visitors bringing or doing a task to help lighten your load. Let there be reciprocation in your relationships and don’t be afraid to ask for exactly what you need.
Accept the New Version of Yourself
Sometimes you haven’t woken up from the dream of becoming a parent yet, you wake up in the morning and are surprised that yes, do you indeed have a baby. What can you set in motion before baby comes to step into the role of being a parent? What rituals or celebrations do you culturally have to embrace stepping into parenthood? Know that as you shift there are parts of you that will remain and others that won’t. Let this be a time for self-reflection and growth into a better you.
Although some of these topics may not seem important to you now, take time to contemplate on your own personality as well as your familial needs and keep these resources close for if obstacles ever arise. Plan time to be gentle, kind and accepting of yourself and know that regardless of how this transition unfolds you have professionals, family and friends there to support you. Take a deep breath and permit yourself to arrive!
Come join SHAUNTEA for some awesome events, classes and workshops to help ease into the Postpartum Period.
- A Celebration of Motherhood
March 3rd 4PM – 6:30 PM @ Full Circle Yoga & Therapy (1719 South Main Street, Salt Lake City)
Tickets on sale now until February 26th through PayPal.me/SHAUNTEA or by calling Destiny @ 801-361-9785
Spend an evening celebrating the Mother Within through henna, acupuncture, footbaths, sound healing, meditation and ritual. This event is for any “MOTHER” (this includes anyone in the LGBTQIA community who identifies as a mother) whose expecting or in any stage postpartum wanting to honor the transition, or set new intentions, of parenthood. Come join the community through ritual, celebrating this rite of passage.
Bring your friends and family (no children under 12 please) that want to bless and support you during this time.
- Postpartum Preparation Series
Saturday’s March 10-31st 1:30PM – 3:30 PM @ Full Circle Yoga & Therapy (1719 South Main Street, Salt Lake City)
Tickets on sale now until March 5th through PayPal.me/SHAUNTEA or by calling Destiny @ 801-361-9785
Plan for the 4th Trimester, the Postpartum Period, with building strength in your Prenatal body with a 75 minute Prenatal Yoga Class followed by Guest Speakers: Destiny S. Olsen, a Postpartum Doula, Sarah Caldwell, a Maternal Mental Health Specialist, Susan McLaughlin, a Physical Therapist specializing in Pelvic Floor and Elizabeth Smith, certified, IBCLC, Lactation Consultant.
- SHAUNTEA’s Sunshine Crew
Wednesday’s 11PM – 12 PM@ Full Circle Yoga & Therapy (1719 South Main Street, Salt Lake City)
This is FREE community gathering
SHAUNTEA’s Sunshine Crew meets every Wednesday to build up a support network of local parents while getting some much-needed caffeine. We will let the kids play around, sleep, eat while we talk and get to know one another. This is a safe circle for ALL pre and postnatal parents (this includes anyone in the LGBTQIA community) within the first year.
- Prenatal Yoga
Saturday’s 1:45PM – 1 PM @ Full Circle Yoga & Therapy (1719 South Main Street, Salt Lake City)
Class Drop-in rates are $10 per class
Create a union of your body, mind and breath through a weekly prenatal yoga class. Start in any stage of pregnancy to create strength, learn coping skills and empower yourself for your big birthday. Wear something comfortable and bring a mat if you have one.
Destiny S. Olsen CD(DONA), PCD(DONA), RYT, TPYT is the proud owner of
SHAUNTEA, a company focused on individualized health and wellness. She has
taught Somatics since 2005 through yoga, dance and meditation. As a DONA
certified birth and postpartum doula she believes developing mental and physical
health throughout the childbearing year is essential to creating well-balanced
children, happier parents and a overall healthier lifestyle.
Contact her at:
Phone: 801-361- 9785
To find out more about her, check out: