October 20, 2016
Did you know that there is a fourth trimester?
Too few women know about it!
We all know what to expect in the first trimester (morning sickness is most common), the second trimester (finding out the gender!), and the third trimester (big belly and then boom: baby). But it’s also important for women to understand the fourth trimester.
So what is the fourth trimester? You’ve probably guessed it’s the three months after your baby is born. But you may not know how important it is for you and for your baby.
The 4th trimester is important for you because your body has just done an amazing thing! You’ve brought life into the world. And it’s going to take time to recover from that, regardless of how you delivered. Those twelve weeks postpartum should be filled with baby snuggles, relaxation, and self-care. While not all women are able to take a full twelve weeks off from work, you should do your best to take things as slow as possible.
Ask for help whenever you can. Family and friends may be able to step up and bring meals, watch the baby so you can shower, or even help clean or do laundry. Don’t have friends or family to lean on? You can actually hire a postpartum doula to help you in that fourth trimester.
As for your baby, he or she has just gone through so much change. After months of never being cold or hungry, now they are out in the world. They’re having to learn everything! How to eat, how to sleep, how to communicate – it’s all brand new to them.
How can you make it easier on them? By attempting to recreate the womb. That’s why skin-to-skin contact is so important in the early days after birth. Hearing mom’s heartbeat and feeling her warmth is soothing to newborns. That’s why babywearing is encouraged from birth (for most healthy babies). Babies feel supported and are kept close to mom or dad, keeping them calm and safe. That’s also why babies love being swaddled, as well. They like the feeling of being surrounded (babies aren’t claustrophobic like some of us.)
There are other things you can do to the 4th trimester transition easier for baby. White noise is a great way to keep baby sleeping (and is one of my tricks of the trade for keeping babies asleep during our sessions). Because babies are used to being surrounded by fluid and sounds, white noise is perfect to keep them calm. And little babies love car rides because of the motion.
The fourth trimester may be lesser known, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s you and baby’s transition from pregnancy and birth into life as mom and baby. Make the most of it by taking it slow and savoring it. Those twelve weeks will fly by!