The fourth trimester starts from the moment your baby is born up until your baby is three months old. The transition to being a mother is definitely an adventure. It is chaotic, messy, demanding, but also beautiful at the same time. Here are ten truths about the fourth trimester.
10 Truths About the Fourth Trimester: You And Your Newborn Baby
1. Your body is powerful, it went through a lot – forget about ‘bouncing back.’
Whether you had a vaginal or c-section birth, your body is powerful. Your body nurtured and grew a whole human (or more) for nine months. Don’t put pressure on yourself to ‘bounce back.’ In fact, reject that notion totally, as you did not ‘lose’ your body during pregnancy. Give yourself time to heal.
2. Your baby is only a newborn for a while
Soak in the beauty of having a newborn. The precious smell, and the lovely cuddles. Here are 9 things you will miss about life with a newborn.
3. Baby blues and postpartum depression
Many women experience some form of baby blues after their baby is born. 10-15% of women experience postpartum depression. If you think you may be experiencing some of the symptoms, reach out. There is no shame in experiencing postpartum depression. We recently published an article from a South African mommy sharing her story about postpartum depression. The article also include links to support forums within South Africa.
4. You will not enjoy every single moment – and that is OKAY!
Being responsible for a tiny human is incredibly demanding and overwhelming. Your time will no longer be yours. You may experience sleep deprivation, challenges with breastfeeding, and a host of other challenges. It is okay to feel tired, annoyed and to accept it is not all that glamorous after all.
5. Your little one is experiencing a whole new world
Your baby was nestled in your womb for nine months, getting exactly what she needed, when she needed it. Being outside, is a transition for your little one. Therefore, the first three months of your baby’s life is called the fourth trimester.
To help your baby transition earthside: try swaddling, babywearing, skin to skin, and close contact as much as possible (during the fourth trimester especially). These activities will help your baby stay calm and also enhance your bond with each other.
In the beginning, it is essential to feed on demand, as your little baby’s tummy is so small, she can only take a little at a time.
6. Feeding time is also bonding time
Feeding your baby (breast or bottle) presents an amazing bonding opportunity. You will be able to make eye contact and be close to your baby. In the beginning, a feeding routine may not be possible. However, by feeding on demand, you will, later on, see patterns emerge. After that, you may explore a 2 – 3 hourly feeding routine.
7. It takes a village and more
Bring your village close to you during this time. Bring your support network along the journey, as you take care of your little one. By reaching out for help, accepting help, you will also have an opportunity now and then to take a break. If a nanny is part of your support network, see this post on tips when leaving your baby with your nanny for the first time.
8. Take care of yourself
Carving out a little time for yourself does not make you a bad mother. You cannot pour from an empty cup. Set small self-care goals daily. Bringing your village into your parenting journey will allow you opportunities to take a break. You can use this time for whatever you need. Example, sleeping, having relaxing bath, going out with friends or going for a walk.
9. Outsource what you need to, and lower your expectations
Be ready to take it easy. Order ready-made meals. If the house is a mess, let it be. Bringing a human into the world and then having to maintain life is damn hard. Outsource what you need to, consider things such as:
- pre-ordering meals, or just keep it very basic.
- getting help with the house, or just do minimal tidying up.
- take help from friends who offer.
10. Let the With Love Baby Journal help in your parenting journey
The reason why I designed the With Love Baby Journal is to create a beautiful ‘companion’ for you as you experience the fourth trimester (and beyond) with your baby. Here is how the With Love Baby Journal can help you:
- Did baby feed 5 min ago or 5 hours ago? Your memory will be pretty bad with a new baby. So, jot down your baby’s daily routine (feeds, sleeps, nappies, milestones, etc.)
- Make a little diary entry. Trust me, you will forget those special moments where your baby smiled for the first time or had that first explosive poo (it is funny after the fact!).
- Simplify handovers between caregivers, so that you can easily bring your village in the loop. You will know exactly how baby’s routine went in your absence.
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