Just when you think you've gotten into the swing of this whole new mom thing, you'll enter the newly termed fifth trimester and start dealing with a whole new set of "mom-probs" that weren't a thing during the first, second, third, or even the dreaded fourth trimester. Learning how to prepare for the fifth trimester (once you've learned what is is, of course) will help you navigate that period of motherhood with as much ease as possible.
In case you're having a hard time keeping up with exactly which trimester you're in (join the club — last time I checked, trimester meant three?) let's do a quick overview of what exactly the fifth trimester is and why you may need to treat it a bit differently than the other phases of motherhood you've experienced thus far.
The term is gaining popularity largely through an upcoming book by the name The Fifth Trimester. The book, written by author, producer, consultant, and mother to two Lauren Smith Brody, is expected to be released in April 2017 and will give moms essential tools to enter back into the workforce after their maternity leave.
There is a wealth of information for how to get through the actual trimesters of pregnancy, a bit less available for the fourth trimester with your newborn, and an even smaller amount of information for how to handle life once you're past the newborn phase and trying to regain a sense of "normalcy". Be it returning to work or just handling your ever changing postpartum body, living in the fifth trimester isn't always easy. These tips to help you prepare can be true lifesavers for the moments when motherhood is particularly messy.
1. Be Prepared For Mixed Emotions
Going back to work after being home with your baby for a few months or longer can be a big bag of mixed emotions. And that's totally OK. Parents pointed out that you may have second thoughts about leaving your baby during the day one minute, and crave alone time and independence the next. Give yourself plenty of time to process it all, because the adjustments aren't done yet, even though you and your baby have been getting used to each other out in the real world for three to six months now.
2. Expect Your Body To Keep Changing
Along with your schedule and your little one, your own body isn't done changing yet either. Your weight will fluctuate, your breasts will change, your mood will seem unstable, and according to Self, that's all a totally normal part of fifth trimester adjustments.
3. Rest As Much As You Can
Although this is a good rule of thumb for moms in any "trimester," if you're planning to go back to work soon, getting in the habit of resting when you can (during your baby's naps, or while your partner handles things for example) will be an extremely helpful skill. Parents pointed out that sheer exhaustion is one of a working mom's biggest difficulties, so learning to prioritize self-care before you actually start your job will be helpful.
4. Plan To Prioritize Time With Your Baby When You're Home
One of the hardest parts of going back to work is the thought of not being around your baby for an entire work day. Although you're likely ready for some "me-time" (if working a job can really fall into that category,) missing your baby can be really hard. Try to plan ahead as much as possible and plan to leave your work at work with you so that when you're home, you're able to focus solely on bonding with your little one.
5. Ditch The Guilt From The Get Go
In a letter to working moms, Forbes encouraged moms to stop feeling so guilty. The piece will hit home whether you feel guilty about leaving or guilty that you don't feel guilty (or somewhere on the spectrum.)
6. Have A Plan In Place
Don't try to head into the fifth trimester without a solid plan in place. Who will care for your child when you're away? Will you need to pump while at work? Thinking through the common questions of working moms, an article from U.S. News pointed out, will ease the transition into your new job.
7. Expect Changes To Your Routine
And just when you think you have a solid plan in place, your baby will have a sleep regression, or cut a tooth and throw the entire thing for a loop. Motherhood is messy and it doesn't get any cleaner during the hours you're working. Expect it to be hard, but expect it to be totally possible too, because moms are superheroes in every trimester and that's the only explanation.