As a doula and a fellow mother I hear more things about the fourth trimester than I hear about pregnancy, and I've lived it four times. This is the time right after your baby is born until about 6-12 weeks of age. In my opinion, this is the hardest part of having an infant and no one prepares you for this. Parenting is often described as a Pampers commercial but it's not. While it's beautiful and rewarding, it is hard.
What does the fourth trimester mean?
Humans are the only mammals dependent on their mother for an extended period of time. This is because they are not finished developing when they are born, there is more time needed for further delevopment but it can no longer safely happen in the womb.
What does this mean for parents?
Well, a lot actually. I've heard so many moms say "I cannot put this baby down!" This is normal. Just like being in the womb the baby needs to hear your heartbeat, feel your warmth and smell you. The baby may frequently nurse for hunger and comfort. Let it happen, it's frustrating and exhausting but this time is fleeting and it does end. You cannot spoil an infant, a newborn is not playing you. They are small biological creatures that need mommy, nourishment, warmth and sleep. They cry to get all of those things. If we think back babies only nursed and never left mom. I know in today's fast paced world it's different but biology doesn't change. Babies wake every two hours because of how quickly breastmilk digests--even though moms are forced to go back to work at 6-12 weeks that doesn't change biology. No fancy baby equipment can change it, only help for short periods of time.
What can parents do to keep sane?
1. Ask for help.
Whether it's a relative, friend, or post partum doula. Mom's need a few minutes (or an hour or more) to decompress. A baby free nap, shower and a meal is what we need sometimes to recharge. Post partum doulas are a good resource to have for nighttime hours.
This is how I get most of my housework done when I'm working for clients and when I was raising my own newborns. They can smell you, hear your voice, your heartbeat and they are close to you. You can also nurse them in the carrier when they get bigger.
I will get into how to safely cosleeping in another blog entry but this will get you the most sleep. This was how biology intended for infants to sleep with their mothers for warmth and nourishment purposes. When done safely it is fine to do and I highly encourage it (I coslept with all five of my children and not one child sleeps in my bed anymore).
If you have any questions about the fourth trimester post them below! Have you used a postpartum doula after your baby was born? What was your experience?
If you would like to share some beautiful fourth trimester stories I would love that as well, encouragement is what all moms need to get to the next step of motherhood.
Lets build each other up and make this world a better place ❤️
So many people do not know what a doula is and they miss out on the amazing experience and support that we provide. The exact definition of a doula is "a woman trained to assist another woman during childbirth and who may support the family after the baby is born." There are two different types of doulas, birth and post partum. Although they are different, many of us do both because of our pure love for women and motherhood. There is something magical about getting to know a woman while she is creating a life, watching her bring that life into the world and helping her nurture that new life and making sure her mental and physical health is in tact. They say it takes a village to raise a baby and they are right, a village of women.
A birth doula is an important part to a normal birth. Having a birth doula lowers the usage of epidurals (if you wish not to use one), lowers the use of interventions as well as lowers the risk of c section. While birth is normal and natural, birth is all about attitude. If you are scared and not receiving the right support your chances of a normal birth are lowered. Birth doulas help you before the labor as well to get the baby in the perfect position and help the mom get the confidence and the right mindset. It's so important!!! While I'm the delivery room we never speak over your partner, we are actually there to support them too! We keep them calm, help them understand the doctor, give them breaks and show them how to be the most helpful. Having a birth doula really enhances the birth experience.
Post partum doulas often get mistaken for nannies. While both types of work are crucial and important for infants we differ from nannies in different aspects. A doula is not only worried about the newborn but also the mother, I'd actually say 99% of my work is taking care of new mothers. I'm helping them breastfeed, making sure they eat properly, drink enough water, watching them for PPD symptoms, making sure they rest etc. All of this is important. I help moms maintain a healthy milk supply and have a successful nursing relationship. Women with doulas nurse longer because we are cheering them on, supporting them, helping them along with the hiccups along the way, letting them rest and regroup as well as sending them to the right outlets if we cannot fix the problem (lactation consultants). Moms with post partum doulas are less likely to experience post partum depression, they are getting rest as well as not being left alone with the newborn all the time. That can be very lonely and sleep deprivation is a type of torture...new moms need help in the 4th trimester. It is not a weakness to ask for help, it is a strength. As a mom of five I encourage it to enjoy the newborn stage because it is not always like a pampers commercial, and that's okay!!
I know many moms fear that cannot affordo doulas but many of us work on a sliding scale and work with moms. There is not one set rate to be a doula, so you could find one in your price range if you looked hard enough. Interviewing doulas face to face is crucial to get the right feel, remember this woman will be with you during an intimate time as well as caring for your child. Use your instinct.
If if you have any questions about doulas, both birth and postpartum post them below! If you've used a doula and want to share your experience also share it! Let's spread the word so that all women have a doula with them on their journey!
Be kind to each other. ❤️