You made it! Now that you’ve got your little one or ones home, you begin to settle into a new routine as a whole new family dynamic begins to take shape.
The postpartum period is often referred to as the 4th trimester (the first 3 months post-delivery). Although some argue that the postpartum period never truly ends, it just takes on new forms over time.
In numerous other more Eastern cultures, from India to China to Korea, the first several weeks of the postpartum period is treated as a sacred, transformative time. A new mother is cared for by their own moms, sisters, aunts, and neighbors while she recovers and transitions into her new role. They nourish, soothe, assist with housework and baby care, giving the mother time to heal and bond with her baby.
In the United States, we often treat the postpartum differently. We treat it not as the precious time that it is, but something to hurry through, often alone. Studies have shown that having a strong care system in place, especially for the first several weeks after birth, can greatly reduce the risk of postpartum anxiety or depression. But this support system can be integral even months — or years — later when the overwhelm of motherhood is even greater.
Navigating your new normal, and what that means for your relationships, your career, and even your own self-identity, is challenging. But with the right team, you can blossom into your best mom self.
*The 5th trimester was coined by author Lauren Smith Brody in her 2017 book, The Fifth Trimester: The Working Mom’s Guide to Style, Sanity, and Big Success After Baby