The 4th Trimester: Wait, There Are 4?
- Yes, another trimester for you to go through, but this one is unlike the others since you have your baby in your arms now!
- You all are learning about each other, and going through many changes as a family.
- Coping with these changes and understanding that this transition period is normal will help you through your final trimester.
We know what you are thinking- aren’t there 3 trimesters during pregnancy? Well yes, but the 12 weeks after birth are often called the 4th trimester. During this important time, mom, baby & other family members are all adjusting to this new routine. It’s a happy & exciting time, full of baby snuggles and adorable sleepy smiles. But it can also be challenging both emotionally and physically for everyone involved. The Pickles & Ice Cream Georgia® Team is here to explain this important transition period.
Moms go through a lot of changes, both physically and emotionally. Your body is recovering from an event like no other – birth. This can include vaginal soreness, bleeding and cramping, recovering from a c-section and swelling. You may also be adjusting to breastfeeding, which sometimes can cause sore nipples and breast engorgement. It is important to remember that every mom heals differently, so if you are concerned about any symptoms are you are experiencing – call your provider and ask about it.
You are also experiencing a lot of hormonal shifts. Hormones like estrogen and progesterone are dropping now that pregnancy is done. Not to mention, you probably aren’t sleeping a lot taking care of a newborn. This time period can be overwhelming while learning to adjust to your baby and understanding their needs. All of this together can make each day feel like an emotional roller coaster! It’s normal to feel weepy, irritable or sad. For most moms, these so called “baby blues” will lessen in a couple weeks. Other moms experience postpartum depression or anxiety, which can be treated. If you are still feeling overwhelmed or sad after a few weeks, call your provider or reach out to a mental health professional for help.
Even though it seems that babies do little more than sleep, eat and poo or pee, the 4th trimester is actually a time when baby is experiencing a lot of developmental changes! Their eye-sight is improving every day, they are learning to control responses like sucking or grasping things and their brains are going through SO much development as they learn about the world around them. It’s a lot of work! No wonder they need so much milk and sleep! At this age, it is normal for babies to eat every 2-3 hours and sleep for up to 17 hours a day. Must be nice!
Despite all the rest, the adjustments can be overstimulating to babies, and the only way they can communicate that is to cry. It may seem like babies cry a lot but over time, parents will learn how to distinguish their baby’s different cries. Some baby’s may have colic if they cry for more than 3 hours a day for more than 3 weeks. While this can make the first few months very hard, colic tends to go away after the first 12 weeks. You can always contact your provider if you want to lessen your worries. That’s what they are there for!
Coping for Baby
The best thing you can do is whatever works for you and your baby. You can’t spoil a newborn. You are trying to give them the attention they need at the time. Some ideas to try:
- The 5 S’s can help remind your baby of the womb.³
- Side or stomach: Laying them on their side or stomach while awake
- Swinging or bouncing them gently
- Suck: Letting them suck on a pacifier or breastfeed
- Shush: Make shushing sounds
- Give your baby a warm bath.
- Give your baby a gentle massage.
- Some baby’s enjoy being in a sling or carrier (babywearing).
Coping for Mom
It is also so important to take care of yourself during this time.
- Rest whenever you can- even if it is just lying down on the couch for a few minutes.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reach out to friends or family if you need help around the house or need someone to watch the baby for a few minutes to get a break. Just be sure to get together safely to protect yourself and your baby from COVID-19.
- Don’t feel bad delaying visitors if you don’t feel up to it. Even though it can be nice or even helpful to have visitors over, if you don’t feel up hosting people – that’s okay!
- Don’t worry about perfection. You are not superwoman. Do the best you can and remember that is enough!
- Focus on keeping you and your baby’s routine simple.
- Follow all instructions from your provider for your healing process. Call them if you need more guidance.
- Try to eat healthy meals and drink water regularly.
- Find ways to give yourself a break if you need it – take a walk, call a friend, or just a hot shower alone can work wonders!
The first few months of baby’s life bring a lot of change to everyone in the family. Parents and baby alike have a big learning curve! Remember, no mom or baby experiences this time the same way. Try to take it easy and enjoy the time with your new baby!