Updated: Jun 20
The first trimester is usually the most exhausting. Your body is revving up to be the home of a precious baby. There’s a lot going on!! There’s a whole lot going on. From extreme nausea, vomiting, hyperemesis gravidarum, the need to sleep more, lack of appetite, increased appetite, mood swings, lack of motivation. Pregnancy is no joke.
The second trimester is just about every woman's favorite. You start to feel somewhat whole again. Your bump is beginning to grow, your face might be a bit shiner, and you have a glow!
The third trimester is exhausting yet exciting because you’re so close to reaching the finish line and having that sweet precious baby whose been kicking you, having the hiccups, and [whose probably had you worried a few times if their movements + kicks changed here and there - bring me the orange juice!], the severe heartburn, swollen body parts, high blood pressure, stretch marks...whew! in your arms.
Is the third trimester really the end?
Say hello to the fourth trimester.
What is the fourth trimester?
The fourth trimester is the 12 week period following the birth of your baby. Your baby is learning to adjust to life outside of your womb and you are adjusting to motherhood.
SOUNDS SIMPLE, RIGHT? WRONG.
Lots of new moms only discuss the good things about motherhood, those precious newborn scents, the bliss of it all. Sometimes it helps to hear the challenging bits of motherhood so that you know you aren't alone.
Imagine life starting for you in a warm, soothing womb with soft and jiggly walls to protect you. No loud noises, no strange faces. Just you- happy and content in a familiar + safe setting. One day you fall asleep in this cozy womb and the next, you're sliding out of a birth canal.
Newborns have a lot of adjusting to do when they enter the world. Understanding the fourth trimester will help you to understand that your newborns behavior is normal, how you’re feeling is normal, and that it doesn’t last forever.
[Read more about baby blues, post-partum depression, post-partum anxiety, post-partum psychosis and more here. Reach out to a professional if you need extra guidance and support.]
Behavior of a newborn during the fourth trimester:
Wanting to be held [milk spoils, not babies]
Erratic sleep schedule [newborns have no concept of day and night]
Gassy + having a hard time passing stool [their bodies are learning how to work and it can be uncomfortable and scary for them]
And the list goes on
When I became a mom for the first time in 2017, I wish I knew more about the fourth trimester. I had a hard time with post-partum depression and post-partum anxiety. Those who aren’t as familiar with this stage of motherhood might not understand that the lack of support and understanding can cause a mom to quickly spiral down emotionally and mentally. You feel judged when you aren't as willing to leave your baby, always want to hold your baby, and simply need time to bond. After all, they were in your womb for 9 months. It's OK to need time to adjust. Adjusting looks different for everyone. For me, I really didn't want to be bothered. If someone is offering to help, have them come by for a few hours when you need them to. This makes it easier for you, you don't have to host, and once they're done helping, you're back to snuggling with your baby + having some me-time.
Remember that you are not selfish for wanting to hold the baby that has lived inside your womb for the last 9 months. They are transitioning and adjusting to being outside of the womb and you are transitioning and adjusting to them being outside of the womb. Having an open raw womb, feeling phantom kicks is an all day reminder that your sweet baby once lived inside of you. It's a process and it takes time.
It’s a lot to unpack. It’s a lot to adjust to. On top of the extreme hormone change that happens afterbirth.
There are many emotions that come with having a baby. Every pregnancy, birth, healing, and baby are different.
What can I do to help my newborn during this transition?
Play white noise or womb music
Opportunities to suck [pacifer, breastfeeding]
Talk to/sing to them
Walk and hold them close [or a gentle sway back and forth]
What can I do to help myself during this transition?
-Give yourself grace. You just did something magical.
-Talk to trusting friends and family if you’re feeling depressed or showing signs and symptoms of baby blues or post-partum depression.
-Get as much sleep as you can. [Sure it won’t be 8 hour but find a routine that works for you and try to get as much rest as you can. Sleep deprivation is no joke and does not help with the already challenging bits of the fourth trimester]
-Eat healthy foods. [high protein, iron rich food, etc]
Motherhood is not always glamorous. In fact, I like to describe motherhood as beautifully exhausting, a joyous fog. Through the cries, the not-knowing-what-to-do’s, the poop explosions, the balancing more than one kiddo, breastfeeding struggles, sleep deprivation, drop in self esteem, learning to love your new self and body...it is beautifully exhausting. Beautifully rewarding.
Remember to look after you.
If you're interested in breaking generational norms and want to connect with your baby on a more conscious level, download my introduction-interactive workbook, From Havoc to Harmony: Trust vs Mistrust, to learn how to better understand your newborn.