We all know the three trimesters of pregnancy. But did you know that once bub is earth-side, you’ve got one more trimester to look forward to? Known as the fourth trimester, it’s the best trimester of all. It doesn’t involve a lot of sleep, but it does involve plenty of baby snuggles.
What is the 4th Trimester?
The 4th trimester is the first three months of a baby’s life. It’s a time for mum to rest and recover (any chance she gets), a time for baby to get used to this new world and a time for parents to get to know their new bundle of joy.
Not everyone has heard of it, but every mother and her newborn baby will go through it. It’s a time for baby to adjust to life outside the womb, and for mum to get used to her new life as a mum.
The 4th trimester can be incredibly hard. Take it from a mum with a colicky baby who spent hours pacing the house at all times of the night trying to soothe her. It was stressful, it was exhausting and it was heartbreaking.
You may feel like you’re failing your baby (you’re not) and that you’re not cut out for this (you are)… but never lose sight of the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s always important to remember that this challenging fourth trimester, when all your baby wants is you, does end.
9 Tips To Help You Cope
1. Slow down – You only have one job now – to take care of yourself and your baby. Don’t worry about the dishes, or the laundry. Instead, enjoy the slower pace.
2. Let yourself recover – Sleep when you can, rest when you can’t sleep, and focus on keeping yourself well.
3. Ask for help – Everyone needs a break, including you. Accept help from those around you, whether it’s an invitation to hold the baby so you can sleep, look after your other children, do the dishes, making a casserole for the freezer or doing a load of laundry and putting away.
4. Mimic the womb – Play white noise to mimic the sounds they’re used to in the womb, swaddle, baby wear and rock/ bounce your baby. All of these things help them make the transition from womb to world a little easier.
5. Skin to skin contact – While skin to skin contact is encouraged right after birth, this type of contact should continue long after the day your little one enters the world. You are what’s familiar to them in this transitional period.
6. Take a bath – Not only is having a bath a relaxing experience for mum, it’s also a comforting experience for newborns. Being in the water mimics being in the womb, and it’s a great way to bond through talking and singing.
7. Give yourself a break every day – Shower, have a cup of tea or lie in a bed without anyone touching you. Clear your mind, let your body relax and remind yourself that you’re doing everything right, even if, some days, it doesn’t feel like it.
8. See if from your baby’s perspective – For nine months all they’ve known is the womb where they could suck, sleep and snuggle to their heart’s content. The one thing that is familiar to them in this new world is you. Your voice, your heart beat, your touch, your smell.
9. You are your baby’s everything. Yes, this can be overwhelming, but it’s also such a special time for the both of you. Cuddle them, feed them, take in their itty-bitty baby toes and delicious baby smell and accept that, for now, your only job is to be there for them. Before you know it, they’ll be running around, making friends, starting school and entering adolescence – so enjoy it while it lasts.