The Saturday Question: How Did You Survive the Fourth Trimester?

Maybe I should have asked this question before Joy gave birth to her second child in June. Those sleepless nights, the ceaseless crying, the endless nursing: How on earth did you survive it? What were your tricks to survival in those first few months with a new baby? Help our sleep-deprived readers out!

new father sleeping with newborn baby


  1. One of the best things we did was get a nightlight. It was too hard on me to have to go turn on the light every time the baby stirred to nurse at night. Once we got a nightlight, I could nurse without fully getting up which helped me get more sleep.

  2. CO-SLEEP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It allowed me to lay down while nursing.

  3. Ahh….the 4th trimester. What a loony time!

    I let go of trying to do anything else but care for the baby and myself. No cleaning, no chores, nada. The house (and visitors) can deal with it.

    My freezer full of meals was insanely helpful. I’ll continue that next time, and once my own supply is gone I may even be unfrugal and order from the Schwann man or something like that.

    When people come over and offer to help, have them do some work. Laundry, dishes, scrub a toilet — whatever. Delegate those tasks! Don’t let them hold your baby while YOU do them, especially in those early days!

    Cosleeping can be a sanity-saver. Do what ya gotta do to get some rest.

  4. Nurse lying down, co-sleep or have a co-sleeper. GET.THEE. A. SWING.

    Lower your house-cleaning expectations, eat as healthily as possible.

    Do not go on a diet. But again, eat to fuel yourself.

    Avoid white flour and white sugar. These can cause depression, irritability and thrush. Really, they can. And thrush is no fun. At all.

    Make “stations” around your house. Nursing stations, changing stations which are totally equipped with everything you may need.

    White noise machines/fans-yes.

    Make a “We are sleeping, please do not knock/ring” and unplug the phone(s) every time you nap. I had my sign up for about 3 years straight.

    Don’t change your baby’s diaper in the night if they are not soaked or poopie. Some people do it routinely and it can be unnecessary.

    Baby gowns for quick changes at night. Nothing more irritating then those origami sleeper snaps when you are sleep deprived.

    Make a basket for your younger kids with fun toys/books or DVD’s and snacks a sippie cup etc to pull out when you start nursing.

    Accept all offers of help.

    Don’t overschedule yourself or try for more then one trip out of the house a day

    Do try to get out of the house regularly. Important for perspective and to avoid depression.

    If you are getting over the top sleep deprived and starting to feel crazy or very run-down, let someone else take care of the baby for a full night (pump or formula) feed. Ultimately this will save your milk supply and your sanity more then you can believe. Don’t be martyr about this.

    Remember, it will pass sooo fast. The days are long but the months/years are so short. Take a ton of photos and videos because many of them will be a blur.

    Enjoy yourself 🙂 Babies are super resilient, don’t obsess.

  5. Yup to Kirsty’s suggestions! I especially second the gowns and not changing diapers just out of habit.

    For us, cosleeping worked for the “4th trimester,” then was real crazy-making after that.

    And I coped pretty well for the first few months, then ran out of stamina after that, so I think keeping up the good habits is definitely a tip, too. And knowing it’s ok to ask for/accept help after that 3 month window is up.

  6. librarymama says

    1-Amen to not changing the diapers unless soaked or poopie
    2-Finding other mamas in same stage to commiserate with
    4-Laugh often
    5-Get out of the house at least once a day even if just to go around the block
    6-Scheduled a night out with my girlfriends within first month — good for me and the dad!
    7-Minimal housework on my part

  7. i wish i had an answer to that question–i was a wreck the 4th trimester. 🙂

  8. Aside from recuperating from a C-section in a multi-level house, the worst part of the first month after my son’s birth was just feeling incredibly incompetent. Not only was this my first child, I grew up with no siblings and never babysat, so I’d never even changed a diaper before.

    So librarymama’s suggestion #2 above–finding other mamas in the same stage–was the biggest sanity-saver for me. There was a “First Weeks” group that met three times a week in our area, so you could come whichever day you were able to get up and dressed and out of the house by noon. Having other moms to talk to, as well as a caring and knowledgeable nurse, helped tremendously.

    I also second #5 above. Just walking around the block made me feel better.

    Also, protein bars, friends bringing takeout meals, and books–being able to read when nursing my baby at night made the getting up every three hours something to look forward to rather than dread.

  9. Co-sleeping is a good way to kill your baby! Practice safe sleep with infants – on her back, in a crib.

  10. m, co-sleeping is not recommended if you are a very heavy sleeper, overweight or smoke in bed. They should not be under the covers with you, but on top of the comforter in a sleep sack and away from pillows.

    Co-sleeping has been shown to reduce incidence of SIDS, and makes nighttime breastfeeding calm and easy for mom and baby. Ultimately, I think co-sleeping is a choice each parent has to make based on the risks and rewards, and how much sleep everyone is getting. You might find you both sleep better together, or you might both sleep better separately.

    We co-slept for the first six weeks, then transitioned to a snuggle nest on the bed. From there it was a painless transition to a portable crib next to the bed, and finally her own crib in another room. I wouldn’t trade those first six weeks for anything, especially since I was on bed rest for the first two. We would have co-slept longer if baby would have put up with it, but as it was she was done!

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