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May 17, 2021

20 Things We Wish We Had Known about the Fourth Trimester

 

Hey tired Mama, we see you! The fourth trimester is tough going - the learning curve is real. For the first 12 weeks postpartum, life as a new mother can be a bit of a whirlwind, it's unbelievably amazing and yet totally exhausting all at the same time. You are undergoing a monumental change, you are learning a new role, you are recovering from birth, you are discovering the little person you created. This new role is 24/7 and the weight of responsibility can be heavy.

 

Here are 20 keys points we wish we had known about the fourth trimester:

 

  1. It will get easier (the days will be long, but the year will be short), each day you will grow more confident. You will learn more new skills and abilities.

  2. It takes a while for your baby to work out the difference between day and night (so be prepared for sleep deprivation particularly in the first few weeks). 

  3. If you are breastfeeding, you will be feeding a lot. Your baby is learning to feed and so are you (it can take time, hang in there, it's not always easy and it can be painful). Prepare to feed 8-12 times a day or around every 2-3 hours. You may feed for up to an hour at a time in the beginning, change a nappy and start again. Babies will go through growth spurts and cluster feed (frequent feeding). Breast milk takes less than an hour to digest, so make sure you have a comfortable place to feed your little one with a good back support.

  4. After birth pains are real (every time you feed, your uterus will contact, and it can feel like an intense birth contraction. The more babies you have, the stronger the after birth pains can be).

  5. Baby blues are perfectly normal and happen to around 80% of Mamas (they come with a huge hormonal shift of going from being pregnant to giving birth. They generally start around day 2-3 and go away soon after, but sometimes can hang around for 14 days postpartum (symptoms can include feeling weepy, irritable, mood swings, feeling restless, you can experience insomnia yet feel totally exhausted).

  6. Breastfeeding and recovering from birth makes you ravenous. Have lots of healthy snacks in your fridge, pre frozen dinners, ready to go as you will be time poor.

  7. You can be very sore after birth (particularly if you have had stitches or a c-section). Try to lay down as much as you can. You have a lot of soft tissue after giving birth so laying down takes the pressure off your pelvic floor and can really help to quicken your recovery time.

  8. You will have postpartum blood loss for 4-6 weeks.

  9. Make sure you don't get constipated as that can impact your pelvic floor.

  10. There will be lots of nappies (be prepared to change around 8-12 nappies a day). 

  11. There can be lots of crying. Babies cry to communicate with us and a healthy baby can cry for 3 hours a day (witching hour is a time when your baby is really unsettled and often happens in the evening around dinner time).

  12. Your body will undergo weird changes (you will look 20 weeks pregnant while your uterus shrinks back into place. You will have hair loss and new hair growth (wispy bits of random hair).

  13. Your hormone shift can cause acne and pigmentation.

  14. You can have night sweats (wake up completely wet as your body gets rid of excess fluid).

  15. It's not important to 'bounce-back' (now is not the time to take on a new exercise regime – it's a time to rest and repair).

  16. Pelvic floor exercises are going to be the most important exercises you do (make sure you get an assessment from a pelvic floor physio, you can't always feel or see birth damage but they can).

  17. Please accept all offers of help (try and tell people how they can help. Can you go to the grocery shop for me? Can you drop off milk and bread? Can you bring me a coffee? Can you put a load of washing on for me?)

  18. You will become a master of the Swaddle (babies have a startle reflex and the swaddle helps babies feel calm and safe).

  19. You will become very good at doing things one handed.

  20. Your days can be a blur (a mix of feeding, settling, swaddling, changing nappies). Some days having enough time to have a shower can feel like a massive achievement.

 

The fourth trimester is a time for your baby to get used to being outside the womb and for you to get used to life as a Mama. Be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster. Becoming a new parent is full of emotions, the high of looking at the amazing miracle you created and the next moment you may feel inadequate, underqualified for the role and utterly exhausted. You may miss the freedoms of the life you had before.

 

If you want to learn more about the newborn days book into our Baby Basics Masterclass to learn about Birth Recovery and Lactation as well as practical parenting tips on how to draw the perfect bath, change a nappy and perform the perfect swaddle by the best Experts in the business.

To all the gorgeous Mamas about to have your baby or embarking the fourth trimester, we want you to know that we are your Village, you are not alone. Mama You've Got This is your place to belong, be supported and empowered on your parenting journey.

Be kind to yourself Mama, you have got this!

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Christy Hopwood

Mama You've Got This