How to Navigate The Fourth Trimester with a Postpartum Plan:
A Guest Blog Post by Postpartum Expert, Hillary Sadler
BeauGen is thrilled to partner with postpartum expert, Hillary Sadler, MSN, RNC-OB, CLC (yes, she’s that knowledgeable!), in a guest blog post designed to help you navigate this crazy, beautiful and often hazy beginning to your motherhood journey. In this post, Hillary shares a step-by-step tutorial for creating your customized postpartum plan as a free download, and what led her to create this plan along with her additional digital offerings.
Hillary is a mama to three, and an experienced Labor & Delivery, Newborn, and Lactation Nurse. She has spent her entire nursing career working with mamas and babies in the hospital setting, then in their homes, and now virtually with private consulting. Her online, on-demand, foundational courses on Birth, Babies, and Breastfeeding, just launched on September 1st of 2020.
Navigating Postpartum without a Plan
The postpartum period can be hard, really hard. It isn’t all rainbows and butterflies! I look back on the postpartum period after my first baby, and you know what? It saddens me to think back on it. I felt isolated, frustrated, trapped, worried, and exhausted. I also felt alone, which made me wonder... “How in the world can I feel so alone when I have a wonderfully supportive husband and family?,” which only added to the loneliness I was feeling. I remember thinking to myself, “All I’m ever going to do is breastfeed, change diapers, and try to get my baby to go to sleep so I can sleep.” But then, I couldn’t sleep. Even when my baby was asleep… my mind was racing.
I went into the postpartum period with no plan and just hoped for the best. In hindsight, those days ended up being much harder than they needed to be. And that’s why I want to share with you my plan and lessons learned, to help you think about your plan.
If you’re having a difficult time navigating postpartum, you are not alone. You are perfectly normal. Postpartum is challenging, even with the greatest of support networks. Pregnancy, childbirth, the fourth trimester, and breastfeeding were some of the most joy-filled and equally challenging times in my life.
What Led Me To Develop a Postpartum Plan for Mamas:
So often we are told to create a birth plan, to focus on the birth of the child rather than what comes afterwards. However, in so many ways, the fourth trimester can be harder than the preceding three, and childbirth combined. After navigating it on my own, I knew from my expertise and experience that there had to be a better way.
Having had the honor of helping families with all things birth, babies, and breastfeeding, I realized there was a huge gap in education and support for parents. I started an in-home consulting business in Charleston, SC in order to begin to close this gap. To help even more families navigate postpartum, I expanded to virtual consultations. And then I realized I could support many more families if I were to share the same information through online courses.
And that’s why the Baby Settler Foundational Courses were born.
What Goes Into a Postpartum Plan?
To have a happy and healthy fourth trimester, it’s vital to plan for support and make your plan a priority.
1. You need to get sleep.
Mama, you can’t pour from an empty cup. While there might be a few in the sink, trying to run on little to no sleep won’t fill your cup. Only sleep can do this. Many will tell you to sleep when your baby is sleeping but our circadian rhythms can sometimes make this hard. If you are having a tough time getting rest during the day, make sure to go to bed early and see if someone else can cover a feeding in the middle of the night, so you can get the rest your body needs.
2. You need to eat good, nutritious food that makes you FEEL good!
You’re no longer pregnant but that doesn’t mean you are no longer eating for two. Breastfeeding your baby means that you need to consume a healthy and balanced diet, not only to give your baby what he or she needs, but to stay happy, healthy, and energized yourself! Nourish your body and you will have the strength and stamina to nourish your baby.
3. Exercise and Vitamin D (the good ol’ sunshine + a supplement of Vitamin D).
There’s no substitute for exercise and vitamin D. Start slow, but start moving. Take your baby for a walk to refuel and recharge. Strollers and carriers make walking easier and help sooth your baby to sleep for a well deserved nap.
4. Make time for yourself (without your baby) every. single. day.
You might have become a mother, and yes, becoming a mother is transformational, but you are still a person separate from your baby. You need time for yourself to think (or to stop thinking about everything running through your brain). You need time to relax. You need time to yourself every day, even if it’s only for a few moments. The guide has a few ways to start small, taking a few moments for yourself without #momguilt.
5. Don’t let your mind take you too far into the future.
This was never a truer statement. With the uncertain landscape right now, no one can be certain of the future. There’s no doubt that you have a ticker tape of thoughts running through your head right now. But letting your thoughts run too far into the future not only creates stress but it takes you away from these sweet moments that are so fleeting. Be here, present with your baby and soak up these days. We’ll all miss them when they’re gone.
6. Talk about your thoughts and feelings with your partner.
Being a new mom can sometimes feel like you are navigating a strange new place where no one speaks your language. It’s healthy to talk with your partner, a friend, or even a therapist rather than to keep the broad range of emotions you’ll experience bottled up.
7. Be honest with your OB providers.
After you have your baby, your OB providers and even many pediatricians will ask you how you are doing. Some moms feel the stigma of postpartum depression or even anxiety and will not truly tell these healthcare professionals what they are experiencing.
You can craft your own plan even if you aren’t a postpartum expert. With my free tutorial, I walk you through seven simple steps to create a plan tailored to your fourth trimester. I’ve even thrown in an easy to use template to make this as stress free and fun as possible. So grab your favorite pen, a journal, and your partner. Get cozy. And create your own postpartum plan!
Questions are sure to come up along the way. You’re not alone. With experts like the mamas at BeauGen and myself, there is an entire community here to support you. You’re welcome to reach out to me on my instagram, Baby Settler, or via my website, babysettler.com.