As if the 3 trimesters of pregnancy weren’t enough, there’s actually another one. Yes, the fourth trimester is an actual thing. Basically, it’s the idea that the first 3 months of life are very much an extension of life in the womb for baby.
In my opinion, the first 12 weeks with a newborn (see my survival tips here) are the most difficult. Hence why it’s been dubbed ‘the 4th trimester’. Nobody really tells you (warns you) or talks about it and I’m not really sure why. In the hospital they often tell you about the dreaded 2nd night, I’m pretty sure with Baxter we were even given a print out on what to expect. Constant feeding being the main thing and most babes don’t know their day from night in those early days (sometimes weeks).
I did some googling….
“Your baby’s fourth trimester starts from the moment he/she is born and lasts until he/she is three months old. The term is used to describe a period of great change and development in your newborn, as he/she adjusts to his/her new world outside your womb. You may find the term “trimester” odd, since your baby is already born.”
So there. It is a ‘thing’.
I’ve always told people that things get better after the first 12 weeks, they’re not so fresh, they respond (some what), they smile and are a lot less fragile and become more interactive each and every day.
Back to the whole ‘fourth trimester’ thing. Imagine what the life is like for you wee one tucked up inside your womb: tightly cocooned in a warm, dark, comforting place. Constantly hearing the safe sound of mums heartbeat. This is why they’re like koala’s once earthside. They take comfort in the sound of mum’s heartbeat and her smell. Mum’s chest is their safe place. Your baby will want to be held by you, and only you. Babywearing can help during this period to enable you to still go to the bathroom and do things that help you feel sane without being stuck under a newborn 24/7.
I look at the fourth trimester similar to the third trimester for many. You’re tired, your uncomfortable and many of us are anxious. Some of us still look like we’re pregnant, I know I did – just a lot more squishy!
Nobody warned me about the contractions after birth if you’re breastfeeding, your uterus contacts when you feed and it can take up to 12 weeks for it to return to is normal size. I found I bled more during those first few feeds too.
Don’t worry too much about creating bad habits during this time, you can’t spoil a newborn. They’re still too young to form bad habits.
The fourth trimester is an adjustment period for all, mums/dads & babies. I just wish there was more discussions surrounding it so we can align our expectations and not be so overwhelmed.