The 4th Trimester
Updated: Oct 26, 2021
It's the time to let your body & mind heal, to take things slow & enjoy the moments of new parenthood. This is the time of healing in which some cultures worship the new Mamas, they don't let them do anything but eat, sleep & feed. In the western society that we live in today once the baby is born the focus undoubtably changes to the care of the baby & that is amazing but we mustn't forget about the Mamas, the care, the focus & the support they need too.
I love the introduction in 'The First Forty Days' its written beautifully & is very insightful so I am going to share it with you all.
"The first forty days is a period in time unlike any other. Its a short season of life that follows the delivery of your child - an almost six-week long period that arrives after many weeks of pregnancy and who knows how many hours of labour - in which you recover from birth, your baby unfurls slowly into the world of bright lights and sounds, and together you devote yourselves to forging your relationship outside the womb." Heng Ou
It really gets one thinking about the time after, a time we forget to plan for. During pregnancy you're planning for labour, writing your birth plans, shopping for baby, decorating a nursery. The list goes on. But what have you planned for the time after birth, the time of healing & bonding with baby?
Think about who your support circle will be once baby has arrived, will it be family, friends or a postnatal doula? Being supported & feeling supported is so important to your well being & health. Have discussions about what support you would like if that be contributing towards a weekly cleaner, support throughout the night feeds & cluster feeding, someone to talk too about how tough & amazing it all is wrapped up together.
During the Covid-19 pandemic when the majority of the country was in lockdown there was some evidence to show that the uninterrupted time at home with baby was hugely beneficial with parents being able to enjoy more bonding with baby, skin to skin & it helped mamas to establish breastfeeding. With little to no interruptions of the doorbell going & visitors to host. Whilst the evidence for this at the moment is only anecdotal one hopes that in time formal research can look at the data in greater detail.
Some suggestions to help you plan your 4th Trimester & top tips from other Mamas.
Load your freezer up with some good, healthy, nutritious food that helps to promote healing or plan an order from the Food Doula/Cook/Waitrose etc to arrive a few weeks after birth when your freezer stock is getting low. Or ask friends & family to cook some meals for you & put them in their freezer until you are in need of them. https://www.thefooddoula.co.uk/ https://www.cookfood.net/
Don't announce the birth of your baby until you're ready, you could wait a couple of days or weeks before telling people to give yourselves that moment of peace, slowly tell people in small groups so you don't feel overwhelmed with all the congratulations & well wishes. Do what feels right for you.
Let yourself be. Don’t worry about the house, the visitors & feeling the need to get up & out. Eat well, stay in your PJs, cuddle & get to know your new bubba .
Sleep when baby sleeps, I know people always say this & sometimes you might be feeling like you need to get stuff done but listen to your body & your needs. If you are feeling exhausted take them time to sleep & rest. If you have visitors ask them to do some jobs for you like the laundry or the dishes.
Work as a team with your partner, be patient with each other. Have discussions while you are still pregnant about each other's role in the daily routine, how you will cope with sleep deprivation & how to talk to each other about your mental health & wellbeing.
Use kind words about yourself & don’t feel pressure to do things or see people until you are ready.
Skin to skin! There are so many amazing benefits of skin to skin with your new baby, take it in turns to enjoy this & the boost of Oxytocin.
Drink loads of water. Staying hydrated is so important especially if you are breastfeeding, expressing or combination feeding.
Use a stretchy wrap. These are wonderful in the early days as they cocoon baby close up against you, there is that womb like feeling for baby. It also allows your arms to be free for if you want to do anything while also comforting baby. Baby wearing also supports early communication development.
Another part of the postpartum period can be loneliness. When you're awake in the middle of the night while everyone else is asleep, being a solo parent or your partner has gone back to work & you're on your own most of the time could all be reasons why you may be feeling lonely. When you start feeling like the loneliness is getting too much for you or you are feeling overwhelmed by everything, there is support out there. Whether that be talking to your friends & family, joining baby groups/wellbeing walks/Mama coffee mornings or getting help from mental health charities. Just getting out of the house for a walk in the fresh air can also help.
In Letchworth we have lots of different groups out there for friendship & support from Letchworth Pregnancy Club which can be found on Facebook & has local meet ups, Letchworth Parent Walks, 6 Week Social which is a mum & baby group which meet weekly for 6weeks during the 4th trimester, plus lots of lovely mum & baby yoga classes.
I got the inspiration for this blog from reading 'The First Forty Days' by Heng Ou, 'The Little Book Of Self-Care For New Mums' by Becky Hands & Alexis Stickland & "Lets talk about the fist year of parenting" by Professor Amy Brown. All 3 books are amazing & cover different aspects of the 4th Trimester. I would definitely add them to your gift list or borrow them from you local library.