What no one tells you about the fourth trimester

There’s a lot of new mum content about the fourth trimester. But one thing that’s not talked about enough is the recovery.

I had a forceps delivery and an episiotomy. All in all, my labour was very straightforward. It wasn’t as bad as it sounds and it was a really positive experience.

However, from day one, I was so sore down there. It was incredibly painful. I couldn’t sit down for long and I couldn’t stand for long either. Lying down was the most comfortable position for me, but I couldn’t stay that way for long as I was also caring for a newborn.

My mum said I could use a little inflatable donut thing to sit on, but my midwife said they don’t advise women to use that anymore as it could just make things worse.

I also tried using a sitz bath and Epsom salt since we didn’t have a bathtub. It relieved some pain, but it wasn’t an absolute must have. I maybe tried it too late.

I also felt like my stomach threw my belly up and then forgot how to use the muscles. It was like jelly and I couldn’t sit up from lying down anymore. I had to roll to get up, which I was good at thanks to my third trimester.

I just pushed a human being out of my vagina and got stitches for it, and all modern medicine (in the UK) could give me was paracetamol and ibuprofen. I was drinking the maximum dose I could take while breastfeeding, and I set an alarm to make sure I drank them on time. Still, I was in pain!

To be fair, the pain was maybe a 7 out of 10. But add the caring for a newborn for the first time, all the breastfeeding woes, the hormones, baby blues, and sleep deprivation, the struggle was a 12 out of 10.

Anytime anyone asked me how I was, I’d hold back tears and say, “I’m struggling.” It was really hard and no matter what anyone said, I just couldn’t see the end of it. It felt like my life was a painful and miserable existence and I couldn’t get out of it.

Luckily, my mum stayed with us for a month (and I wish she stayed for longer!). I would feed my baby then pass him to my mum who would then rock him to sleep. That gave me a much needed respite.

After about 2 weeks, which truly felt like an eternity since days and nights just melted into each other, the recovery side of the struggle eased up. It just strangely ended.

I don’t have any practical and general tips for this period because just as every pregnancy is different, every recovery is different too.

Just take heart in the knowledge that this will end sooner than you think. It might be longer than 2 weeks, especially if you had a more difficult labour than I did. But things WILL get better and you WILL be fine!