What To Expect in The Fourth Trimester
Some people are well accustomed to the phrase ‘the fourth trimester’ whilst others may be looking at the title thinking ‘What’s that?’. At Millie & Ralph, we don’t think the fourth trimester is spoken about enough.
The first trimester: You get to excitedly tell your nearest and dearest and soak up the excitement of finding out you’re expecting. Whether it’s your first or fifth time the excitement is always there.
You might experience symptoms from six weeks onwards such as morning sickness and extreme fatigue. You’ll meet your midwife for the first time and have routine checks. You’ll get to have your first scan.
The second trimester: This is where morning sickness in most cases will start to pass. You may start to notice your bump. Aches and pains can start to creep in. Lots of pregnant women get cravings for different types of food or drink. The extreme fatigue will wear off but you may still feel tired. Some mums-to-be experience pregnancy insomnia. You can find out the gender of your baby at this time.
The third trimester: You need to rest a lot to help with aches and pains and conserve energy as your body gets closer to birth. You’ll have plenty of midwife appointments and you’ll discuss your birthing plan. Most importantly you’ll be giving birth to your little miracle, whether vaginally or through a C-section.
You’re told lots about birth. They get you to curate an entire plan on how you’d like it to go, right down to if you want to push to Mozart or Tupac. You learn about breathing techniques, best positions, contractions, pain management, and delivering the placenta.
Rewind 50 years and once a baby was born the mother would stay in the hospital for a week. During that week the midwives would care for the babies day and night only bringing them to their mothers when they needed feeding. This allowed the mother to catch up on sleep and nourish her body whilst it healed.
Unfortunately, over the years the NHS whilst still absolutely wonderful just doesn’t have the capacity to allow for this anymore. You’re only kept in if you need to be for your or your baby's health. If the birth went well and you and your child are healthy they’ll often discharge new mums on the same day.
This thrusts new mums into the fourth trimester quite abruptly, especially if you’re a first-time mum. So here we’re going to discuss what you can expect from the fourth trimester.
Please take into consideration that no two mums are the same. Your pregnancy and birth may be completely different from someone else reading this blog. It has been written in a generalised way to try and relate to as many mums as possible. If you feel you’re really struggling with the fourth trimester, ensure you speak to your midwife, health visitor, or GP.
The fourth trimester:
Once you’re discharged from the hospital, whether this is the same day or a week later depending on your birth it’s time to start adapting to life with a newborn.
Your body will be trying to heal from the trauma of birth. Even if you had an idealistic birth, having a baby isn’t a walk in the park for your body. Your uterus will be shrinking back down to size and this may cause slight cramps.
You’ll want to be prepared with large pads as you’ll bleed quite heavily following birth for up to 12 weeks but normally around 4-8 weeks. Even if you don’t plan to breastfeed you’ll want to stock up on nipple pads for when your milk supply comes in. Showers, massaging, and warm compresses can all help with engorged breasts.
To allow yourself time to rest and heal as well as bond with your baby we recommend following the 5-5-5 rule as you adjust to a changing lifestyle. The 5-5-5 rule means you spend 5 days in bed with your newborn, allowing your partner or close family members to take care of you and watch the baby when you need to sleep.
The following 5 days are spent on the bed, you don’t need to take it super literally. You may be lounging on the sofa, however, you still give yourself the grace to relax, have skin-to-skin, and only worry about keeping you and your baby healthy. You give responsibilities like housework and cooking to someone else.
The last 5 days are spent near a bed. This means whilst you may start to venture out for a walk or invite immediate family and friends around. You still spend plenty of time resting, you don’t throw yourself into social situations and work. You’re kind to yourself.
Once the 15 days have passed please do not then feel as if you have to deep clean the house and fit in everything you haven’t done and invite everyone over. The newborn stage goes within the blink of an eye so slow down and take it all in.
Prepare for the fact you’re going to be very tired, that comes with broken sleep but it doesn’t last forever. Make nights easier for yourself by having water and snacks close by, creating a nappy changing station with everything you need, and sharing the load with a partner if you can.
We know the 5-5-5 rule isn’t possible for all mums, especially those whose partners work away or that already have children, but do your best to allow yourself time to focus on just you and baby and don’t try to wear your pre-baby hat, it just won’t fit anymore.
Once your body has healed, focus tends to come around to identity. Having a baby can sometimes make you feel like you’ve lost yourself. You’re now in mum mode 24/7, which you love, but you crave parts of your “old life”. Please, go for that coffee, get your nails done, go to that class, whatever it is that makes you feel YOU!
You may feel mum guilt but no one can pour from an empty cup so it’s so important to value your needs as well.
The fourth trimester will also be the time you realise if you’ve over or under-bought. As well as if there is anything you’ve forgotten. Check out our range of baby clothing, comforters, toys, and bedroom decor for anything you may have forgotten.
For any more information or guidance on the fourth trimester don’t hesitate to get in touch with a friendly member of our team who will be more than happy to help answer any questions you may have. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org