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The Fourth Trimester Guide

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The Fourth Trimester Guide

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The Fourth Trimester Guide

In partnership with our friends at
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Every mother’s journey to motherhood is unique. The same can be said of her postpartum experience. And just as it’s critical to remind a woman in labor that it’s a temporary condition, it’s lifesaving to remember everything that comes after—cradle cap, colic, sleeplessness, feeling that your body is not your own—is temporary. Being prepared, however, can make the process, however brief it may be, that much easier to get through.

Stuff They Don’t Tell You

There’s no lack of opinions and advice that fly around when there’s a baby on the way. And once the little bundle of joy arrives, the village is focused on raising the child—leaving the new mother to navigate the fourth trimester on her own. Which is why most postpartum women we know walk around in a state of WTF for a while. There is good news, and you will come out the other side: These goop moms are proof.

“I had extreme dry eyes for months. I would wake up and my eyes would feel like they were glued shut. I tried eye drops, but nothing really helped—the dryness just went away on its own after I stopped breastfeeding.”
—Colleen Kennedy Cohen,
senior director, events

“A good chunk of those first few months with baby were spent listening to some of my nearest and dearest complain that they don’t get to see enough of the baby. There was guilt. And then there was annoyance. Finding a tool that lets me beam pictures of the little guy directly onto their smart frames, whether they’re across town or across the country, has served as a great close second to nuzzling him in person.”
—Kate Wolfson, executive editor

“I got crazy tendonitis in my forearm/elbow for the first eight months from holding the baby, which apparently is common. I got this brace, which was super helpful.”
—wendy lauria, VP of marketing

“I got CRAZY keratosis pilaris (these white bumps all over my arms) with both boys. It lasted for about six weeks. I also missed the memo that some women have a heavy period for up to six weeks and need to lay in a heavy supply of pads because you can’t use tampons. That knowledge would have saved me a panicked trip to CVS. Also: Tucks Pads with witch hazel for your undercarriage. For some women, whether they get hemorrhoids or not, everything just hurts.”
—Elise Loehnen, chief content officer

“A Guinness a day does wonders
for lactation.”
—Danielle Pergament, editor in chief

“Sweats! (Nothing helped.)”
—Blair Lawson, chief merchandising officer

“In hindsight, I would have allocated resources toward a postpartum doula and also a placenta encapsulation service. There are several different methods, but the general idea is the same—it’s dehydrated and then turned into a powder.”
—roxanne marie, senior buyer

Note: If you’re into the idea, Erica Chidi Cohen
suggests Feel Good Placenta.

“I told my doctor days after delivering that I thought I was still leaking amniotic fluid, and he informed me that I was just peeing on myself. So the complete lack of bladder control that persisted for months was a big shocker, not to mention totally inconvenient. My number one hero product was essentially adult diapers. I also liked this chic, extra absorbent underwear.”
—roxanne marie, senior buyer

“Hemorrhoids. This happens to a lot of women and is never talked about.” —Meredith Schroeder, senior director, fashion

“Establish a clear schedule for who is changing the baby next (like: I do five, then you do five, or whatever works). Otherwise it’s going to be you, and you’ll fill with resentment. Toughest thing about having a baby, I think: The person who was your love object, your partner, suddenly becomes a person you’re trying to manipulate into doing menial labor. A clear and fair division that doesn’t have to be negotiated in real time is key.”
—Jean Godfrey-June, beauty director

“Babies don’t need soap or shampoo at all. Unless they’re covered in dirt, poop, etc. And even then, warm water is usually fine. They need oils and salves and diaper rash creams, but shampooing a baby is a drying, irritating waste of time and money.”
—Jean Godfrey-June, beauty director

“I was so out of it in the hospital after a pretty traumatic birth that my husband had no choice but to step up—he did the swaddling, the diapering, the soothing. Deputizing him in the hospital meant he was super competent and confident by the time we got home.”
—Kate Wolfson, executive editor

The Postpartum Registry

Did you put adult mesh underwear on your baby registry? How about a tub of nipple cream? This annotated registry focuses on the indispensable products to help parents, mamas specifically, heal and thrive.



Suggested Reading

The number of baby/parenting books on the market is dizzying. For many of the mothers we know, the ones below turned out to be the most helpful of the bunch.

  • <em>Nurture</em> by Erica Chidi Cohen

    Nurture by Erica Chidi Cohen

    Whether you get your hands on doula and Loom founder Erica Chidi Cohen’s book before or after baby, the practical resources and words of wisdom are relevant for every stage of motherhood. That said, several moms we know have said they wished they had it to talk them through pregnancy.

  • <em>The New Contented Little Baby Book</em> by Gina Ford

    The New Contented Little Baby Book by Gina Ford

    Everything about this book is perfect for a new mother: It’s tiny, covers every conceivable topic, is easy to follow, and will help make any baby a great eater and sleeper. You’ll flag every single page.

  • <em>The Happiest Baby on the Block</em> by Harvey Karp

    The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp

    Simply put, Dr. Karp’s five S’s deserve a Pulitzer.

  • <em>The First Forty Days</em> by Heng Ou

    The First Forty Days by Heng Ou

    A beautiful book, complete with recipes and actionable tips, focused entirely on providing holistic care for a new mom. It’s based on the ancient Chinese tradition of zuo yuezi, which stresses the importance of healthy healing time.

  • <em>What to Expect the First Year</em> by Heidi Murkoff

    What to Expect the First Year by Heidi Murkoff

    Even if you’re not one of those people who needs to know, well, what to expect, every step of the way, the first year of parenthood has a way of changing all that. Every month of the baby’s first year of life gets a chapter. Yes, every baby is different and your pediatrician—and you—know best, but having general guidelines to reference is helpful.

  • <em>Looking Out for Number Two</em> by Bryan Vartabedian

    Looking Out for Number Two by Bryan Vartabedian

    “Is this normal?” is a question parents ask on a freakishly regular basis. This hilarious book (Dr. Vartabedian doesn’t take himself too seriously, and we love him for it) answers that question in reference to you baby’s poop. Color, consistency, frequency, lack thereof, and everything in between.

  • <em>The Postnatal Depletion Cure</em> by Dr. Oscar Serrallach

    The Postnatal Depletion Cure by Dr. Oscar Serrallach

    Dr. Serrallach’s empathy and wisdom have been immensely helpful to goop moms. His first book is for every mother—new, or years in—who has ever tried to reclaim her health and hit a roadblock. There’s a lot of discomfort and pain we’re told to just accept as women—like, say, feeling tired, rundown, or not like ourselves. It shouldn’t be that way, nor does it have to be.

Useful Resources

Word about the need for proper new-mother support is spreading, though many cities throughout the country are still playing catch-up. If you’re having a hard time finding postpartum doulas, lactation consultants, or emotional and mental health help in your area, ask your doctor or research midwifery communities closest to where you live. They should be able to point you in the right direction.

  • EWG.org

    EWG.org

    A quick, user-friendly app for getting EWG ratings on household and skin-care products.

  • Milk Stork

    Milk Stork

    A service that will safely ship pumped breast milk from wherever you are back home to baby.

  • Birth Waves

    Birth Waves

    A beautiful organization providing free support doulas for people experiencing miscarriage, stillbirth, or the loss of an infant.

  • Love Child

    Love Child

    Baby-and-me yoga, plus breastfeeding support, doula services, and so much more, in a particularly stroll-friendly part of NYC.

  • LOOM

    LOOM

    An adorably designed center for women and families in every stage of their journey—thinking about conceiving, struggling, expecting, parenting, and everything in between.

  • Pacific Northwest Doula Listings

    Pacific Northwest Doula Listings

    A directory of doulas—both postpartum and birth—in the Portland area.

  • WMN Space

    WMN Space

    An all-ladies clubhouse offering everything from pre- and postnatal workshops, to meditation and movement classes, to full-moon circles.

  • The Motherhood Center

    The Motherhood Center

    Dr. Catherine Birndorf’s team offers the kind of mental and emotional support for new and expecting mothers that not nearly enough of us receive.

  • The Pump Station

    The Pump Station

    This place is tiny, with a selection to match, but every single baby essential they stock is a slam dunk—a welcome relief from overstocked big-box stores. They also host mommy-and-me groups, offer lactation support, and help staff postpartum doulas.

  • Mama Fare

    Mama Fare

    An Atlanta-based food-delivery service for postpartum and nursing moms.

  • National Doula Association

    National Doula Association

    A national doula association that helps parents connect with and hire birth and postpartum doulas.

  • Midwest Doulas

    Midwest Doulas

    A postpartum, birth, and sibling doula community that also offers placenta encapsulation services.

  • La Leche League

    La Leche League

    This international nonprofit has been providing breastfeeding education and support for decades.

  • Rockabye Baby on Spotify

    Rockabye Baby on Spotify

    Beastie Boys, Queen, Depeche Mode, Bob Marley, Aerosmith, and more, reimagined as lullabies.

  • Brella (opening early 2019 in Los Angeles)

    Brella (opening early 2019 in Los Angeles)

    Independent workspaces, childcare, and wellness programming all in one beautifully designed space.

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