We know all about the first, second and third trimesters, but have you heard about the fourth trimester? As you’ve probably gathered, it’s the first 12 weeks after the baby is born. It’s basically the time where the baby is out – but not quite ready for it, so to speak. It’s a time of adjustment as they learn to exist in the big, wide world after having been so cosy inside your belly.
Not only that but it’s also a period of adjustment for you, as you learn to adjust to your new role of mother – and all the physical changes your body is experiencing. Recovering from birth, uterus contracting and returning to normal size, lactation and breastfeeding, lack of sleep… to name but a few. And not to forget the dads and partners, they too are learning their place in this new dynamic.
Don’t worry about routines right now, feed your baby when they’re hungry not according to a schedule. Swaddling can help them to feel secure but there’s nothing like your arms so cuddle them lots (skin-to-skin as much as possible) and rock or sway them to sleep if that’s what works for you and your baby
10 things you need to know about the Fourth Trimester
1. The 4th trimester is not easy
You’re still recovering yourself, go easy on yourself and accept help. Don’t feel like you have to do everything, let your partner or your “village” help you so you have time to rest and recover yourself.
2. Don’t forget about YOU
Speaking of rest and recovery, you are just as important during this phase as your baby. You need sleep, nourishing food and time to rest from the birth, so make that a priority. Remember you need to be healthy and strong to look after your baby so you can’t do that if you don’t give yourself time to recover properly.
3. It’s not always Insta-worthy
Before you had a baby you probably had a pretty clear idea of what this time would look like… a little Anne Geddes baby sleeping peacefully while you had coffee dates with your other mum friends? Remember, Instagram is a highlights reel, the reality for every mum no matter who they are is much more 💩…
4. You won’t love every minute
It doesn’t mean you love your baby any less it just means you’re human and have your own needs and that’s ok. Hormones are still raging through your body and will make you prone to lots of ups and downs and that’s completely normal.
5. You can’t “spoil” your baby
Your little one was all cosy inside of you and now they are here and wondering what the heck is going on. Cuddle them, get to know them and spend as much time as you like staring at them in their sleep. And don’t forget to soak in that glorious new baby smell!
6. Your baby isn’t “good” or “bad”
People love asking if they’re a “good” baby and this usually tends to be in regards to sleeping and temperament. But don’t buy into this one bit – and don’t go comparing your baby to another who is already sleeping through the night.
7. Your body might not feel like yours for a little while…
But don’t worry it won’t always feel like that. For now, you might have been poked and prodded and feel like a 24/7 milk machine but it won’t be forever. It can be a strange time after you have had the baby but you still have the belly.
Your uterus needs time to contract and you may have a little excess weight gain from pregnancy and not to mention your boobs are doing all sorts of weird things. They should settle after a few weeks once your milk has come in and your supply has established.
Your body will become yours again, sure it might be different but don’t forget how amazing it is and all it has just been through to give you your baby. So go easy on yourself.
8. After birth pains and bleeding
Speaking of that uterus contracting, many new mums are taken by surprise by the afterbirth pains – which is simply your uterus contracting back to its regular size after its job is done. There will be bleeding too so just embrace those maternity pads or period underwear and roll with it. Comfort is key right now so wear clothes that are loose, breathable and cosy.
9. It will feel like Groundhog Day for a little while
You might feel down some days when you feel like you haven’t “achieved” much, but simply surviving the day is enough. These early days are tough and can feel monotonous when you’re in that ‘feed, sleep, poop, repeat’ phase. Once you feel up to it you can get out and about and enjoy your maternity leave or tackle those jobs around the house. But in these first few weeks lower the expectations and roll with it.
10. Remember you know your baby best
People will love giving you advice and telling you what to do, but remember you know your baby best and you are their best advocate. Do what’s right for you and them and don’t worry what anyone else thinks. Trust your gut and take everything people say with a grain of salt.
For all its highs and lows the newborn bubble is a truly special time, albeit one of the hardest times. But it WILL pass and you WILL survive. One day you will look back on it as one of the most precious times in your life, even though we know it doesn’t feel like it right now. Give yourself and your baby time and grace to figure it all out, remember as long as they are fed and loved, everything else can wait right now.