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Are you afraid of the fourth trimester with your newborn?
So then…. you have heard some “horror stories” of new mothers who have struggled with their postpartum recovery, breastfeeding and sleep… and you’re worried…
Or perhaps, this is not your first baby and you’ve had a tough recovery with a previous birth.
Well, I’m not gonna lie…
Along with the sheer joy that motherhood brings, this season does have its share of challenges and adjustments!
However, did you know that there are things you can do during pregnancy to physically and mentally prepare?
And I’m going to let you in on a little secret….
Being prepared will make all the difference. as to whether you will thrive or just merely survive the fourth trimester with your newborn!
In this post…
I’m going to show you just what you need to do to get yourself ready, both physically and mentally. Here’s what we’ll discuss:
- Why the “fourth trimester” is Important for Mom and Baby
- What can you expect from yourself during the 4th trimester?
- What can you expect from your newborn during the 4th trimester?
- How to adjust your expectations so that you are able to relax, recover and enjoy this precious time!
- How to plan for the help you will need during your postpartum recovery.
Okay….Let’s get started!
This is Why the Fourth Trimester is So Important!
The three month period following baby’s birth is often referred to as the “fourth trimester” because this time is really considered to be an extension of your pregnancy.
If you think about it this way, it’s actually really helpful!
Because it helps you to understand that this is really a necessary time of great transition for both mom and baby.
Baby is transitioning from the womb into the world and mom is transitioning into motherhood. You both have so much to learn! This learning, recovery and transition takes time.
What Can You Expect from Yourself During the Fourth Trimester?
In a word…. not much!!
Most first-time moms expect WAY too much of themselves during this time!
They expect to be feeling back to normal after a few days and they try to take on too much around the house too soon.
Many first-time moms are often shocked or blind-sided by the challenges of their physical recovery.
There are really only 2 things that you should concern yourself with during the first couple weeks….
- Taking care of your baby (with help) and
- Prioritizing Self-Care (aka… Eat, Sleep, and take your Sitz Baths)
How to Love Your Postpartum Body
First of all, you can expect that your postpartum body will still look about 6 months pregnant for awhile!
Don’t fret about that and don’t expect to get back into your skinny jeans any time soon!
Remember, you have just grown and birthed a baby! You should be proud of your body and what you have just accomplished!!!
In fact, don’t even think about losing the baby weight yet. Remember, your body needs time to recover.
And just like your body knew how to grow and nourish your baby, it also knows how to recover and return to its pre-pregnancy state. It will, too, with proper rest… and time!
As your uterus heals, you will experience postpartum bleeding.
This is normal. So make sure that you understand why the bleeding happens and how to prevent any postpartum complications while you recover.
Resting is the best form of self-care for your post-baby body. Take that seriously!
If you haven’t already heard about the 5-5-5 Rule for Postpartum Rest and Recovery, learn that now!
During the first 2 weeks, rest is the #1 way to love your postpartum body!
Adjust Your Expectations… Expect to Get Nothing Done for At Least 2 Weeks!
The only thing you will have time for is feeding your baby, feeding yourself and trying to get sleep in between!
Most moms report not even having time to shower! Don’t be surprised by this.
If you adjust your expectations, it will be so much easier to cope with this time.
Like I said, be okay with doing nothing except relaxing with your baby… plenty of skin-to-skin, breastfeeding and chill time, at least for the first 2 weeks.
Try not to think of this as a hardship, but as a “baby moon!”
When you write your postpartum plan, make sure that you include “doing nothing but feeding your baby and hanging out” in your postpartum plan and you will be so much happier! (This is also best for your own healing as well, since it keeps you off your feet and resting!)
If you expect to be able to get much done, you will find the time much more challenging and frustrating!
Sit back, watch your favorite Netflix series or whatever else helps you to relax and chill.
But most of all, try to savor this time. Hold your baby close and take in all the sights, smells and sounds of this precious time!
Why You Will Need Lots of Sleep!
As you wake to feed your baby every few hours, you will need to make up that lost night sleep during the day.
Not only that, but your body needs lots of rest to recover from childbirth and pregnancy. You are also using calories to make milk for your baby!
You will need to plan to sleep during the fourth trimester!
Don’t over-schedule your days and limit visitors so you get the rest you need.
Here are some other great tips for how to prioritize your sleep during the fourth trimester!
What You Can Expect from Your Newborn During the Fourth Trimester
Your newborn will be dependent upon you for EVERYTHING!
Not only for feedings and diaper changes, but your baby will also need you to even sleep!
Have you ever noticed how babies sleep well while being held, but the minute you lay them down, they become restless or wake up? There’s a reason for this!
Did You Know This Amazing Fact?
Most people don’t realize this, but human beings are classified as “Carry Mammals.” (source)
What does this mean?
It means that their young are meant to be held and carried while they mature.
Other carry mammals include monkeys, koalas and kangaroos.
The carry animals are the most immature at birth. They need the warmth of their mother’s body, and are carried constantly. Their milk has low levels of fat and protein, and they are fed often around the clock.
Although some newborn mammals are born able to walk and even run soon after birth, carry mammals are born immaturely.
Like nest mammals, (cats, mice, dogs) carry animal babies still have lots of growing and brain development ahead.
But, nest animals are meant to be left alone for longer periods of time. Their mother’s milk is richer in fat and protein to accommodate these longer periods of absence by the mother.
Carry mammal babies are not meant to be left alone.
Unlike nest mammals, carry mammals have milk that is lower in fat and protein. This requires more frequent feedings by carry animal babies.
Why Your Baby Needs to Be Held… A lot!
Don’t be surprised that your newborn wants and needs to be held often.
Contrary to popular belief, all this holding will not spoil your baby! That is an old newborn myth that needs to be ignored… and there is modern research to support this!
Not only was she made to be held and nursed often, but she was born already used to this!
Think about this…
For nine months, she only knew the feel of your body… your smell, your voice, your warmth, your movements and rocking motions of being inside of you!
So you see… holding your baby will not spoil her or get her used to being held to sleep. She is already used to that from her life in the womb!
Your job during the fourth trimester is to help transition her from womb to world. Holding her is a great way to do that!
I would highly recommend giving your body at least 2 weeks of postpartum rest first, but baby-wearing is a GREAT way to give your baby the holding and nurturing he needs after that!
Baby-wearing is a great way to hold your baby while doing other things at the same time. If you have older children or things to get done around the house, consider baby-wearing as a great compromise.
If you don’t already own a baby carrier for baby-wearing, get one!
Why Newborns Need to Eat A lot!
If you are breastfeeding, you will need to feed your baby often.
Because human breast milk digests rather quickly and is relatively low in protein and fat compared to other mammals’ milk.
This is precisely what your baby needs, though!
Don’t be afraid of feeding your newborn too much. He knows what he needs and that includes lots of skin-to-skin and breastfeeding sessions.
All this early breastfeeding and cluster-feeding helps establish a great milk supply, too.
Not only that, but frequent nursing means that mom is off her feet as well.
So, take advantage of this feeding time to put your feet up and rest, too!
How to Help Your Baby Sleep Better!
Because your baby is a “carry mammal” and because he is already used to being held and rocked constantly before birth, you may need to help him sleep.
In fact, you probably will need to help him sleep!
First, you must think about this in the right way!
You simply cannot expect that he will sleep on his own right away. Period.
Instead, if you think about this as a process to help him to transition, things will go much better for you.
Holding, baby-wearing and carrying your baby is the first step. He absolutely needs plenty of this!
Next, you can think about ways that mimic the movements and sounds of the womb.
Things like swaddles, sound machines, and baby swings to name a few…
These devices can be a life-saver for new parents.
As much as I like holding and baby-wearing, there are times that you will need to put your baby down to get a shower or fix yourself a bite to eat!
… And it’s totally okay to just take a break now and then, too!!
For more ideas on how to help your baby sleep better during the fourth trimester, find out the most common baby sleep mistakes and how to fix them!
How to Adjust Your Expectations to Have a More Enjoyable 4th Trimester
Okay, now that you know that you need to adjust your expectations during this season, how do you actually do that?
It really helps to be educated and to have a plan.
First of all, you must understand your need to heal and rest.
If you don’t understand that your body needs rest, you will likely overdo it during the first few weeks.
This will only prolong your healing and may be harmful to yourself and baby.
In fact, your whole family will suffer too. Yes, it’s THAT important!
Unfortunately, our modern culture doesn’t always support our need for postpartum rest.
Because of this, we moms sometimes need to take matters into our own hands!
How do we do this?
By making a plan…
How to Make a Great Postpartum Plan and Have an Awesome Fourth Trimester!
The only way to have an awesome postpartum recovery is to have lots of help. For this, you need to plan ahead!
As I’ve said many times before, you NEED to make a postpartum plan.
Fortunately, it’s easy to do and FREE!
I have a FREE postpartum packet and plan for you to download here.
In fact, if you haven’t already joined my FREE EMAIL COURSE, that’s even better!
In this course, I take you through a series of five emails that walk you step-by-step through the best ways to plan for all the postpartum help, rest and recovery that you will need!
How About You?
Do you have any other ideas for how to enjoy this beautiful season with your newborn?
I’d love to hear your ideas and experiences!
Sharing helps new moms, too! Thanks so much!