top of page

Navigating the 4th Trimester

Updated: Apr 9

Many people believe the hardest part of pregnancy is over once the baby arrives. Their sweet, squishy, goodness does help to alleviate many of the post-pregnancy woes you may be having but that doesn't mean the first few weeks following the birth are completely smooth sailing.

Baby lying on his front wrapped in a cream blanket on top of a cream covered beanbag

What is the 4th trimester?

For most people, when they here the word trimester, they associate this with actual pregnancy. The first trimester being approximately 1-13 weeks, the second trimester sitting somewhere around 14-27 weeks, while the third trimester is the long stretch from 28-40 weeks or until you meet your baby. The fourth trimester is said to be around 12 weeks post-birth where women can be at their most vulnerable, both mentally and physically - and baby is trying to adjust to their new world.

After feeling sick and tired in T1, on top of the world in T2, and back to being tired in T3, what can you expect in T4?!

What to expect immediately post-birth

Going off my own recent experiences, the first few hours post-birth are a whirlwind of emotion. You've just been through one of the most physically challenging things in your life, regardless of how you birthed your baby, and this is immediately following 9 months of growing a small human. It's hard to imagine that after delivering your little bundle of joy, within just a few hours you might be expected to walk around, feed your baby, change their nappy, use the bathroom, have a shower, sit up in bed, and all the rest of it! But it has to be done, and as women, I do believe we gain some sort of super power when we create life.

No matter how you deliver your baby, it's going to be a little sore afterwards so make sure you're accepting all the help you're offered in those first few days. Having your partner or another family member/friend stay as long as they can in the hospital or with you at home is essential for ensuring you can rest and recover before being left alone with your baby for the first time. Request all the pain medication you're allowed! Stock up on paracetamol and ibuprofen and take it easy. Not only will you be sore from the birth, you may also notice post-labour contractions as your uterus begins to shrink to its original size. These can get worse when breastfeeding thanks to that beautiful hormone oxytocin so keep on top of that pain relief in the first few days.

Your emotions are also going to be super sensitive in the first few days. You might find yourself welling up for no reason other than you looked at your baby, or someone asked how you're feeling. This can be normal but if it goes on too long and you feel like you're struggling emotionally, reach out to family and friends or your healthcare professional who can point you in the right direction for help and support on post-natal depression.

What to expect in the weeks following birth

Once you're home and relaxed, you will probably find family and friends are eager to make an appearance. But this is your time. Be as accomodating as you want to be and if you don't fancy visitors just say no. You won't get these weeks back so take full advantage of hibernating with your newly creating family and soak in that newborn goodness.

If family and friends are visiting, don't play super host! Let yourself rest and recover. If they're close enough to be visitng your baby this early on, they're close enough to get themselves their own drink - and maybe wash the dishes while they're in the kitchen.

Depending on your birth story, you may find yourself feeling ok within a few days or a week, or it may take a month or two to feel yourself again. Everyone is different, so try to focus on your own recovery without comparing it to anyone elses.

The fourth trimester: the first 40 days after birth

Many cultures believe that the first 40 days after birth are essential for mother and baby to stay home, rest and recuperate. During this time, she should not carry out household chores, and must focus on bonding with her baby. This largely stems from the idea that it can take up to 6 weeks to establish breastfeeding and therefore this time should be spent ensuring mother and baby are well rested, well fed and well hydrated.

Obviously in today's modern world where father's are allocated 2 weeks paternity leave and most family and friends will be working, it's not always possible to follow the 40-day recovery process. School runs, nursery pick-ups, making lunch, they all need to be done. Just remember to allow yourself plenty of time to get ready, and don't feel guilty about doing absolutely nothing else all day!

Navigating motherhood is always going to be difficult, whether it comes naturally to you or not. Some babies sleep, some don't. Some need holding all day, others don't. But as parents, all we can do is what feels right for us and our babies. It doesn't matter if it's your firth or fifth child.- they're all different experiences and each time you enter that fourth trimester, you should definitely treat it like it's the first time.

9 views0 comments


bottom of page