9 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About The 5th Trimester

Ad failed to load

While I talked to many moms about their experiences as I prepared to become a mother, I focused a lot on what the baby would need. I didn’t consider what I might need. So, when I returned to work after 12 weeks of maternity leave (half of it unpaid), I realized there were things I wish someone had told me about the fifth trimester, a term recently coined by journalist Lauren Smith Brody in her new book on the subject. I had survived pregnancy and the postpartum period relatively unscathed (though the hormone roller coasters and the pits of despair it would sometimes deliver me to was not fun), but I was completely unprepared to go back to work full-time.

I honestly thought I could just pick up where I left off. Not that much could have possibly changed around the office in three months, right? I’d be given my assignments and integrated back into the groove. I didn’t expect to acclimate immediately, but I didn’t know I’d feel that much different just because I had a baby.

Being a mom basically changed how I saw the world, watching everything now through a brand new person’s eyes. I was weighing my choices carefully, debating if what I was doing — at home, at work — was best for my child. I had not done my homework when it came to understanding how this huge life event was going to affect everything I did, including how I felt about my job.

Ad failed to load

Now, I’m eager to share my experiences coming back to work with moms-to-be who ask. I want them to know the things I wish someone had told me about the fifth trimester, like these:

Ad failed to load

You Will Often Think Your Job Is Ridiculous


I am not a teacher or a doctor. I work in TV, and while I do think we all need to be entertained and occasionally distracted from the lunacy of our world, at times, I am not saving lives writing and producing commercials. Nothing crystallized that thought more than when I came back to the office, suddenly away from my baby for 10 hours a day, and for what? Being a working mom made me realize that I needed to feel good about my work, and about being away from my kid. It would have been nice to have had a heads up about this.

You Will Have To Learn To Compartmentalize

Though I do subscribe to Sheryl Sandberg’s current thinking, of bringing your whole self to work (we are all humans with lives outside our jobs, after all), I do think you need to be able to “shut off” that parenting part of you at times.

For one thing, multitasking is the worst way to work. Personally, focusing on one thing at a time is a lot more productive than trying to answer emails while scheduling pediatrician appointments. I can’t help when thoughts of my kids interrupt my day-to-day at the office. So I take a moment, acknowledge them, and get back to work. When the school nurse calls, of course I drop everything. The kids will always come first, and it took me a while after maternity leave to learn how to mentally toggle between work and home while on the job.

Meetings Will Be The Worst


I didn’t care much for meetings before I had kids, but afterwards? Yeah, afterwards I absolutely hated them. They felt like such time-sucks, and I was acutely aware that I could be so much more efficient without them, and maybe even get all my work done in about five hours if I didn’t have to gather around a conference table three times a day. It’s not like I don’t like my colleagues; I just don’t think we need to sit together and “follow up” for hours at a time. I was unprepared to feel so inconvenienced by these meetings.

Ad failed to load

You’ll Find Yourself Wanting To Cry

I had nothing to cry about. I had a job, a healthy baby, and a quality caregiver at home with said baby. And yet, I’d burst into tears staring at an excel sheet at my desk. Turns out, 12 weeks is not enough time to adjust to motherhood, let alone to adjust to re-entering the workforce (and I know many women take much less maternity leave than I did). It’s a lot to get used to and I really wished my company gave the option of gradually on-ramping after being home for 12 weeks. It would have made the transition for me a lot less jarring (and emotional).

You’ll Have To Work Around Your Pumping Schedule


I didn't ask a single person about pumping before I went back to work. What an oversight. There was only one other woman on my team who had kids, and she had pumped just once a day. I needed to do it twice, and I hadn’t thought about how I was going to do that while also getting all my work done. I managed by blocking out my calendar so nobody could book me for meetings during my pumping time (though many did anyway), and by learning to work fast and tune out the distractions of the open office.

You’ll Be Irritated That Your Co-Workers Don’t Want To Constantly Discuss Your Baby

Of course they were polite and asked me about my kid when I came back, but I wanted to chat about her all the time. Luckily, I worked with a great group of people who seemed to be delighted every time I brought up my daughter. Still, I was surprised how nobody thought it was as big a deal as I did that I had just returned from the most momentous event of my life. It clearly wasn’t all about me. Lesson learned.

Ad failed to load

You Will Need To Learn To Set Boundaries


I had to leave right at 6 p.m. to get home in time to relieve our sitter. Obviously if I was held up, she would stay until I get home, but she was expensive so I tried not to be late. When I was finally home, I wanted to be with my kid, whom I hadn’t seen all day. That meant I had to squash my people-pleasing tendency and be clear that I was not going to be available for a while in the evenings. My boss and co-workers knew that between 6 and 8 p.m., I was not on email. I would check in after my daughter got to bed, and only to see if anything was urgent. Otherwise, it would wait until morning. I hadn’t realized how our 24-hour world was going to affect me, and that I’d really have to speak up to let the world know I wasn’t on call when the work day ended.

You’ll Feel Guilty…

Yes, I suffered from working mom guilt. Since then, I have learned to manage it. I like having my career, and I do like being defined by things other than my offspring. I want my kids to be proud of their mother, so accomplishing projects at work is something I delight in sharing with them. But I hate that other people are picking up my kids from the bus, overseeing their homework, taking them to soccer practice and dance class, sitting with them at dinner, and that I get about an hour with them before they’re off to bed. I guess that feeling never goes away.

…And Relieved


Sometimes, I look forward to Mondays. I get to use the bathroom without anyone bothering me. I can drink my coffee while it’s still hot. Nobody needs me to get them a snack or adjust the shower temperature. Having a place to be, without my kids, is an aspect of working motherhood I covet. Plus, it makes me appreciate them all the more when I get home.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

6 Early Signs You're Going To Have A Short Labor, According To Experts

As far as I'm concerned, a short labor is right up there with winning the lottery in terms of lucky life events. (And when I was actually in labor, I would absolutely have traded a bucketful of lottery winnings for a speedier birth.) While some women…
By Kelly Mullen-McWilliams

Kids Will Love These TV Shows & Movies Coming To Netflix In March

You can always count on Netflix to keep it fresh: though there are already so many movies and shows to choose from, every month there's an influx of new content to keep your entire family entertained. As February enters its final weeks, it's time to …
By Megan Walsh

Here Are 10 Ways To Boost Your Baby's Immunity To The Flu

As I'm sure you've read in the thousands upon thousands of articles written about it this winter, the flu is spreading like wildfire and it's bad. Really bad. This strand of flu is the worst we've had in a very long time and it's the most widespread,…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Khloé Kardashian Asked Twitter About Her Bump, & Moms Totally Delivered

Like her younger sister Kylie Jenner, Khloé Kardashian managed to keep most of her pregnancy a sort-of secret. But unlike Jenner, Kardashian chose to publicly announce her pregnancy several months before the baby's due date. While there's no wrong wa…
By Sophie Hirsh

21 Moms Share The Most Surprising Part About Having A C-Section

Honestly, I don't think we, as a culture, talk about C-sections nearly enough, especially considering so many mothers experience them. And because of a number of factors, the little we do talk about it always seems to be a familiar narrative: "It's n…
By Jamie Kenney

13 Yummy Instant Pot Recipes To Make Under 30 Minutes

An Instant Pot seems to be the must-have appliance in every kitchen these days. If you are anything like me and never knew the beauty of a Instant Pot, you are about to have your life changed. Basically, you put some ingredients into a pot, set the t…
By Kristin Manna

9 Things The First Six Months Of Motherhood Will Teach You About Your Baby

Personally, the first six months of motherhood was a mixed bag. I learned some harsh lessons about myself that made taking care of my baby seem overwhelming. For example, I was clueless, and no amount of research could help me feel like anything but …
By Steph Montgomery

11 Photos You *Must* Take During The Last Days Of Your Pregnancy

During my first pregnancy, I took a photo each week to document my growing belly. I stopped around 36 weeks, though. I hated how I looked in those pictures, and didn't think I'd want to relive those moments. I was wrong. My second pregnancy was a dum…
By Steph Montgomery

6 Red Flags To Definitely Look Out For After Your Baby Falls

The first time my infant son tried to take a few steps, he tumbled and bumped his head on the coffee table. My blood turned to ice in my veins and I froze. There truly isn't anything quite like the feeling a parent gets when their little one gets hur…
By Sarah Bunton

These 9 Instant Pot Recipes Will Make Even The Pickiest Eater Happy At The Table

Like any parent, I've had my share of parenting hits and misses, but one of my favorite "wins" is my daughter's diverse palate. I don't even know if I can take credit for it, but I would like to think I had something to do with her love for lentils, …
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Turns Out, Kim Kardashian's Favorite Mom Products Look A Lot Like Your Own Faves

Being a mom is really hard work, especially for the first few months, and Kim Kardashian West is no different in that regard. Now the mother of three, Kardashian says that there are a few products she just can't live without when it comes to raising …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

10 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 30s

If you're like me, you evaluate the pros and cons of any major life decision. When my husband and I were considering starting a family, I thought about my career, education, and financial stability. I wanted to know how a pregnancy and childbirth wou…
By Steph Montgomery

Soda Might Hurt Your Fertility, Study Says, & Here's What You Can Do

Who doesn't love sugary drinks? I stopped drinking soda years ago, but I still love gulping down those fancy Starbucks coffee beverages. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I am a sucker for sugar-sweetened beverages every now-and-then. Turns out, th…
By Annamarya Scaccia

5 Red Flags Your Toddler Isn't Eating Enough

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, at least in my experience. You offer mashed potatoes, they want french fries. You give them crackers, they scream for chips. It's frustrating, to be sure, but it's usually their way of vying for independence. It…
By Candace Ganger

35 Moms Share The Most Disgusting Things Their Husbands Do

I'm a human being who revels in challenges. I like when people present me with one, especially if they don't think I can meet or succeed it, and I like taking a challenge on, especially if it's unexpected. So when I aimed to uncover the most disgusti…
By Jamie Kenney

How Having Kids In Your 20s Affects You Later In Life

For parents, like myself, who had kids in their 20s, there are a number of questions that come to mind. When you're deciding what your future will look like, you'll likely consider what this means for your health, career, and more down the line. Thin…
By Tessa Shull

Study: Drinking Two Glasses Of Wine A Day Is Good For Your Mind — Here's Why

There’s more scientific proof that a daily drink or two isn't necessarily a bad thing and could have a place in an overall healthy lifestyle. A new study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that — in mice, at le…
By Tiffany Thomas

Research Says Eating Carbs Can Lead To A Healthy Pregnancy, So Bring On The Pasta

In the world of me, no food is better than bread. I know it's supposed to be pretty terrible for you, high in calories, low in protein, and full of that modern-day demon, gluten... but guys, it's really yummy. Especially warm out of the oven, when th…
By Jen McGuire

These Photos Of Prince George Then & Now Will Give You Serious Baby Fever

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child in Spring 2018. With all of the excitement surrounding the new baby, it's easy to forget all of the good times that have already passed. The couple's eldest is already well into the sc…
By Azure Hall

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
By Lindsay E. Mack