8 Things About the Fourth Trimester that You Need to Know
Don't miss these 8 things you should know about the fourth trimester of pregnancy, also known as postpartum.
Whether you’re a first-time mother or have recently given birth, you’ve just received a wonderful gift: your child. You may have learned a lot about your baby and the birth process during your pregnancy. However, you didn’t spend enough time learning about the fourth trimester of pregnancy, the postpartum. Nor about the newborn stage in general, which can often be a confusing one.
There’s no sure way to become a maternity expert, because it’s experience that will give you the knowledge you need. This, however, takes practice and time. There are things about the fourth trimester that you need to know because you’ll be better prepared for what lies ahead.
1. Simple doesn’t mean easy during the fourth trimester
Caring for a newborn can be simple in theory, but make no mistake about it – it’s surprising how difficult it can be. Lack of sleep plays a major role in how difficult things will feel, in your physical recovery, and in your acceptance of being a mother.
2. You need your rhythm to recover
You won’t recover for at least 16 weeks, and you probably won’t feel you’re fully recovered until a year down the line. Don’t feel bad about this slow recovery, because it’s quite normal. Don’t even think about adhering to what society dictates, because that’s not the reality of postpartum recovery.
You won’t sleep well, it’ll hurt to stand and sit up, you’ll bleed a lot, you’ll feel weak, your breasts will leak milk all the time, and even taking a shower can be an ordeal. You have to be kind to yourself – your body took nine months (more or less) to grow, adapt, and give birth to your baby. So, quite logically, it also needs time to get things back into place again.
3. Your baby also needs to recover during the fourth trimester
Babies also need time to recover, as it’s not an easy process for them. When your baby cries and is restless, be empathetic to him or her. They too need to recover from the birth process, just as you are doing. And in addition, your baby has to get used to their new life.
4. Take someone with you to your medical appointments
With the lack of sleep, your hormones all over the place, and everything being just so new, doctor’s appointments can seem like a tremendous ordeal. So, this is the time to ask your partner, your mother, sister, or even a close friend to accompany you.
They’ll listen to everything, ask the questions that maybe you didn’t think of asking, and help you to remember things that the doctor told you in the appointment.
5. The people who come into your life unexpectedly
One of the experiences you’ll have both during and after pregnancy (in the postpartum period) is that there’ll be people who will reach out to you to offer you love and support. You’ll be surprised at how many people will approach you to ask how you’re doing, without expecting anything in return.
They may be people who have lived through your experiences recently and realize what a difficult time you’ll be going through. If you don’t have relatives or friends who have experienced what you’re going through now, you may well experience feelings of loneliness.
However, when someone reaches out their hand, take it, because it may be just what you need, and a wonderful boost at just the right time. In addition to this, they may go through what you’re going through in the future and may need your help.
6. Celebrate small victories during the fourth trimester
One of the most powerful and important things you can do is to celebrate small victories and be grateful for those little moments of joy and happiness.
Maybe, at first, you just want to do the simple things in life, like doing your nails, writing a thank-you card, or drinking a cup of tea with some peace and quiet. After a while, you’ll be able to be a bit more adventurous and meet friends and relatives for lunch, go out for a walk with your baby, go to the supermarket, etc.
These are things that will make you feel good about yourself, and you’ll see that you’re making progress. When you’re a new mom, it’s perfectly acceptable to be proud of yourself when you’re actually able to have dinner at the table like you always used to, or when you’re able to run an errand. Well, of course you should be! In fact, you should be glowing with pride. You did it!
7. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help during your fourth trimester
When it comes to specialists, there is a wealth of knowledge to draw on. You’ll have at your disposal breastfeeding specialists, sleep consultants, pelvic floor physiotherapists, postpartum doulas, etc.
However, asking for help can also mean asking your mom to come and look after your baby so that you can take a nap, or asking a friend to bring a bag of diapers. And, of course, you mustn’t forget about the options for seeking support for postpartum anxiety or depression. This is crucial and can make a big difference in your recovery.
8. Everything passes…
Everything passes, and it all becomes easier and better. Maybe you’ve heard people say things like, “It doesn’t get easier, it just gets different.” This just isn’t true.
It does get easier. You’ll get better sleep, breastfeeding (if you’re breastfeeding) gets easier, colic disappears, and newborns become cute, smiling, adorable babies. If you don’t love the newborn stage, then you’re not alone – it’s quite okay!
Being a new mom may seem like a long, endless tunnel with no light at the end. But don’t worry, you’ll soon find your way out, and, on the other side, you’ll discover yourself again – and you’ll also discover the sweetest baby in the world! You’ll have reached true motherhood, and you’ll feel proud to have found that warrior mother who was lying dormant in you for so long.