Surviving the Fourth Trimester

Those first three months of a babies life is often a whirlwind for parents, often consisting of sleep deprivation, constantly dealing with poo explosions and trying to settle a wailing baby. Trying to navigate the hurricane that a new baby brings whilst adjusting to the demands of parenthood is one that is difficult, exhausting and often overwhelming.

I remember when I was first introduced to motherhood, very clearly. It was far from the idealistic visions of being a beautifully groomed yummy mummy, pushing my designer pram that held my gorgeous, contented baby. The reality of course was very different. I was constantly covered in sick, couldn’t go out for my wailing baby and I was so sleep deprived that I felt almost delirious. During the first few weeks I ventured to the supermarket to end up abandoning my shopping half way round and retreating to the car as my son screamed and screamed. It felt like the whole supermarket had stopped in their tracks to stare at me. Trust me when I say there were no old ladies cooing over my newborn baby that day.

If somebody had uttered the words ‘fourth trimester’ then I wouldn’t have had a clue what they were on about. Luckily now there is an understanding of what the fourth trimester is and what it entails.

Why are the first three months so difficult?

Let’s try understand your baby…. knowledge is power, after all. Imagine being sat at home, cosy and warm, listening to your favourite music and you knew that your loved ones were in the kitchen making your favourite meal. Can you picture that lovely happy place? Great. Now imagine somebody storming into your cosy setting, drags you away from all that made you happy and plonks you in the middle of a cold room, with bright lights and lots of unknown noises. Your favourite meal has gone and you have no idea where you are or where your loved ones are.

This scenario is very much like when a baby is born. They have spent nine months in their lovely watery world, never being hungry and with their favourite sound (your voice and the white noise of your blood rushing around) playing on repeat. They have been rocked to sleep and felt all safe, in their ‘tight fit’ cocoon in the womb. Then suddenly, they are delivered into a strange new world where all of their comforts have disappeared, they experience hunger for the first time and they are laid down away from mum, still, alone and quiet.

The fourth trimester

Taking into account what a shock a baby has when they are born, it isn’t surprising why they seem to wail endlessly and be so sensitive to changes. This first three months, referred to as the fourth trimester, is your baby adjusting to the world. This is where actions such as swaddling, rocking, white noise apps and patting your baby all help as it mimics the womb. For more information on how to soothe a baby struggling with the fourth trimester then please read my article over on the Colic S.O.S website

Mummy survival

I understand how difficult it is when your baby is adjusting to this big scary new world and you are also going through a period of adjustment too. I have been there, lived through it and survived. Here are a few self-care tips to see you through those first three months;

  • Be gentle on yourself – being a mother is hard work so give yourself a break and don’t stand in judgement of yourself.

  • Take some big deep breaths – this helps calm you down and if you are holding your baby at the same time then it calms their central nervous system too.

  • Accept support – nobody needs to be supermum. If you need help or support then take it. Let someone take the baby for a walk whilst you have a nap or let someone do your ironing whilst you feed the baby. Whatever help you need, then don’t be afraid to ask for it. It doesn’t make you any less of a mother.

  • Don’t forget the importance of ‘me time’ – Having a moment to yourself whilst being a new mum may seem impossible but try and make some time where you can breathe and have a moment to yourself. Whether that is a bubble bath for 15 minutes, picking up a book that you would really like to read or going for a walk whilst baby is asleep in the pram. You can not pour from an empty cup so giving yourself some me time helps you be a better mummy.

Above all else, remember that you are doing an amazing job, raising a tiny human. Keep going, you’ve got this!

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