The Fourth Trimester
Guest Post by Kelly Moriarty of The Green Body Plan
If you haven’t heard of the fourth trimester before, it is essentially the first 3 months after baby is born.
It’s a period of massive change and adjustment for both the mother and the baby and it can be helpful to think of this period as a time when baby would probably just prefer to be back inside of mum!
During the first three months, a new mum is figuring out how to care for a helpless tiny human, all the while running on very little sleep, with her hormones practically doing back flips while she tries to adjust.
At the same time baby is trying to cope with the somewhat shocking sensory overload that is the outside world – very different to that temperature controlled suite they had for the last 9 months!
Babies also have zero concept of day and night, in fact my midwife told me when I was expecting that all babies are nocturnal for at least 8 weeks!
Their little nervous systems are madly laying down the wiring to adapt to this new environment and frankly it can all be a bit overwhelming.
For mum this teeny tiny newborn might be gorgeous, but they also need to be handled with meticulous care, they make all of these weird and unexpected gurgling noises, they cry – and sometimes a lot!
Plus they just want to be held… all. of. the. time.
Add to that the breastfeeding, cluster feeding, bottle feeding, formula choices, sleeping choices, medical choices, trouble feeding, is it colic? Is it a tongue tie? Should I call the nurse? Should I go to the doctor?……. Agh! Did I mention it’s a huge adjustment?
Whilst the first three months can be long and hard, it’s really helpful for new mums to know about the fourth trimester because understanding that all of the above is normal, can make the tough days a whole lot easier and provide some much needed light at the end of the tunnel.
So for mums approaching this period, know that it is totally normal to feel like all you do is feed your baby constantly and act as a temporary bed while they sleep on your chest and refuse to sleep anywhere else.
Getting into ‘bad habits’ doesn’t apply during this period and it is totally ok and actually really helpful to hold your baby a lot, wear them in a soft wrap, pick them up and feed them whenever they cry and generally dote on them to your heart’s content. It may literally be the key to saving your sanity!
And for friends and family, it’s the perfect time to honour that old adage “it takes a village to raise a child”.
During the fourth trimester a new mum is entirely preoccupied with caring for her newborn day and night. She barely has the time or energy to look after herself so the best thing you can do to help with the baby, is actually to look after mum.
Deliver her a home cooked meal, pop round to do some washing, take the dog out for a walk or pick up the kids and give her and her new baby some time alone.
Or perhaps bring her a takeaway coffee and just cuddle her baby while she has a long hot shower to herself.
And the most indulgent way to show you care would have to be the ultimate care package.
Things like sweet treats, (alcohol-free) bubbly, teas, body products… just beautiful gifts that make her feel really special when she probably feels like a total mess, hasn’t left the house in days or even thought about washing her hair…
(P.S. The New Mum Gift Box is perfect for this!).
Can you relate to this experience of the fourth trimester? What helped you through this period? Leave a reply in the comments!
Kelly Moriarty is an online health & nutrition coach and founder of The Green Body Plan. After 5 years as a veterinarian she left her career suffering with chronic back pain, recurrent gut infections and often crippling anxiety.
10 years later, a certified yoga teacher, personal trainer and nutritionist, she now helps professional women make the same changes she did to beat burn-out, lose weight, recover their energy and ultimately take back control of their health… naturally.