The 4th Trimester
The first 12 weeks after your newborn is born is known as The Fourth Trimester. During this period it is believed that newborns don’t know that they are no longer in the womb. Hence why they want to be permanently attached to you every minute of every day (am I right?)
In this blog we will cover the following:
- What can you expect during The Fourth Trimester?
- How will The Fourth Trimester affect mum?
- Surviving The Fourth Trimester
- Fourth Trimester for dads
- Beyond The Fourth Trimester
What can you expect during The Fourth Trimester?
The Fourth Trimester is the 12 week period immediately after your little one joins you earthside (i.e. when they’re born!) It’s called the 4th trimester as it is believed that babies are born too soon. Their brain and nervous systems are not fully developed at birth, it takes those extra few months to create those important synapses.
Life inside the womb is much more comfortable for a baby. It’s dark, cosy, always a nice warm temperature and they become familiar with the constant sound of your heart beating. When they are born they are immediately exposed to a completely different world. Cold, bright, noisy, different smells, sounds and sensations – it is an extremely overwhelming period for them as they get used to this new world they have entered. Typical behaviour of a little one going through the 4th trimester is crying, fussing and not wanting to be disconnected from you.
How will The Fourth Trimester affect mum?
We have spoken a fair bit about how the 4th Trimester affects baby, but what about mum? It is expected that during this time you also go through a rollercoaster emotionally and physically due to the dramatic changes that you’re going through.
Post birth your hormone levels will change, oxytocin and prolactin levels rise (to promote bonding and breast milk production) while estrogen and progesterone levels plummet (resulting in mental fuzziness, feelings of overwhelm, anxiety, sadness and exhaustion – otherwise known as The Baby Blues). These feelings are completely normal, and once your hormones level out, they are expected to go away. If they linger beyond 2 weeks or become too intense or worse, please consult your doctor and/or a therapist.
Other symptoms that are normal to experience during the 4th trimester are acne, hair loss, dry skin or pigmentation, afterbirth cramping, post birth bleeding (for up to 6 weeks), change in breast size and breast tenderness.
We have a large range of items designed to support mothers during The Fourth Trimester including Breast and Perineum Ice & Heat Packs, Breast Pads, Lactation Cookies, Mama Tea and Motherhood Essential Oil Roller.
Surviving The Fourth Trimester
While The 4th Trimester may seem like it’s going to be a super duper hard time, we assure you that that isn’t the case and there are some magnificent things you can do to help you and your baby survive this time. Our absolute favourite – baby wearing! Baby wearing is hands down the best way to support your little one during this time, because the main thing they want is YOU! Wrapped up snug, close to you in a womb like environment (a stretchy wrap carrier) soothes even the most fussy of babies.
Other tips and tricks to assist in settling involve swaddling, plenty of feeding (breast or bottle), a baby swing, skin to skin, a nice warm bath or shower, plenty of swaying, shushing, baby massage, a calm and dim environment, firm butt pats and a dummy.
Click here to view our large range of Wrap Carriers suitable for The Fourth Trimester.
Fourth Trimester for Dads
It’s important to not forget the partners/dads during this time either. Because while it’s overwhelming for both mama and baby, it’s also an intense time for them. They may feel a bit unnecessary and unsure of what they can do to help – this is completely normal. There are plenty of things they can do to feel a part of this period and bond with their little one.
Skin to skin is a beautiful and simple way for a partner to bond with their baby (and it’s a great way for mum to get a little break too!) They can take over burping or swaddling duty, even feeding a bottle of formula or expressed milk. You guys basically need to learn to work really well together, communication is key during this time. Understand that you're both overwhelmed, exhausted and trying your absolute best.
Beyond The Fourth Trimester
The 4th Trimester ends when your baby is approximately 12 weeks of age. By this time they have grown and developed beyond the ‘newborn’ stage and they are ready to exist outside of your womb (yay!) While they still may absolutely LOVE being permanently attached to you, they are beginning to develop some interest in the outside world. They have learnt plenty of cute new tricks, like squawking, giggling and smiling and for you the fog has cleared a little and you are starting to find your new rhythm as a mama. And while it may not all be smooth sailing from here, you are beginning a beautiful new chapter of your motherhood journey – you’ve got this mama!