Before you know it, baby will be on the move (and so will you)
The first three months after your baby arrives can feel a little jarring as you adjust to life with your new addition. Newborns can be pretty demanding little creatures at times, and it’s normal to feel like all you do is feed your baby, change them, and put them to sleep. But even in the haze of sleep deprivation and the physical discomfort of healing after childbirth, this precious time, known as the fourth trimester, is also an opportunity to nurture yourself and bond with your little one.
1. Binge-watch your favorite television shows
Whether you plan to breastfeed or bottle feed, you’ll be spending a lot of time on the couch with your newborn, making the fourth trimester the perfect time to get to all those shows you haven’t had time to watch yet. It won’t be long before that little bundle of joy is demanding endless episodes of Paw Patrol and you’ll turn it on, even though you really want to watch the next episode of White Lotus.
2. Go out to dinner
Newborns sleep a lot—about 14 to 16 hours a day. Of course, it doesn’t feel like that when they wake you up every two to three hours at night to eat. But in those first few weeks, it’s normal for your baby to stay awake just long enough to fill their belly before falling back asleep. Your baby’s need for cuddles and plenty of shut-eye actually makes them a pretty great dinner date. You can hold them close in a corner booth and let someone else cook for you.
3. Meander through your favorite museum
No doubt about it, caring for a newborn is hard work but there are also a lot of pros to your baby being small, sleepy, and contained in a carrier or stroller. Load baby up and walk around your favorite art gallery or history museum before they’re off and running trying to touch everything. Not only is this a great way to stay connected to your hobbies and interests, but museums are also usually quiet so your baby can snooze while you walk around.
This may sound daunting but hear us out—traveling with a sleepy newborn can actually be a lot easier than traveling with a wiggly baby or busy toddler. If you’re considering a road trip, chances are your little one will snooze through much of it. And if you’re thinking about flying somewhere, your newborn is likely to be pretty content snuggled close to you in a carrier. Plus traveling with a young infant means you won’t have to worry about packing tons of snacks or finding ways to entertain a toddler during a long flight. So book that trip you’ve been eyeing, already.
5. Get an uninterrupted workout in
Whether it’s mommy and me yoga or a Fit4Mom class, getting in a workout is possible (and easier than it will ever be) during the fourth trimester. Baby is along for the ride while you get your sweat on. Plus, these classes give you an opportunity to connect with other parents, find community, and swap stories about eating, sleeping, and pooping, because parenthood.
Note: Remember to check with your health care provider before engaging in an exercise routine after giving birth.
6. Meet a friend for a drink or a meal
What once was easy isn’t so after you become a parent. That casual after-work meet up with a friend for cocktails (or mocktails) and a bite take more than a little planning when you factor in nap schedules, feeding schedules, and time for everyone to rest. But there’s still that sweet spot with your newborn when heading out to a local coffee shop or cafe to connect with friends is undeniably possible. Baby sleeps, you get caught up, and all is right with the world.
7. Read a book
Seems simple, doesn’t it? Just sitting down to read a book. But there will come a time where sitting still, even for five minutes, is a thing of the past. You’ll need to change a diaper, grab a sippy cup, rush out the door to an appointment the minute you have a break. So break out that book and get reading…even if you do fall asleep after five pages.
8. Take a chance on a babysitter
We know. We know. Handing your new baby off to some stranger just doesn’t feel right. Even if you’ve interviewed them and checked references, this is still a tough one. (Leaving baby with a family member counts.) But the during the fourth trimester, babies don’t really care who’s holding them or rocking them or singing to them, just as long as it’s someone. So get out while you still can. Enjoy time with your parenting partner away from the house. And whatever you do, talk about something other than the baby—at least for 10 minutes.
9. Go on leisurely walks
The operative word here is “leisurely.” The fourth trimester is all about slowing down, giving your body time to heal, and getting to know your newborn. If you felt like you were always on the go before, let this be a time to take it slow and (quite literally) smell the flowers.
Newborns love to be close to you; wearing your little one in a carrier during a short walk around the block is usually very soothing for them. This is also a great way to encourage some skin-to-skin contact and take advantage of your baby’s littleness before you’re pushing them in a stroller or chasing them down the sidewalk (it happens sooner than you think).
Depending on the time of year your baby is born, a walk outside may not always be possible, but getting some fresh air and sunshine when you can is a great way to clear your mind and give your body some endorphins. Just be sure to check with your health care provider before engaging in exercise after giving birth.
10. Soak up the snuggles
It might not feel like it when you’re covered in spit-up and changing endless diapers, but this time really does fly by. Soon your baby will start making eye contact, smiling, and babbling away and your cuddle sessions will slowly get shorter and shorter. Soak it all up as much as you can. Take in their little features. It won’t be like this for long.