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 ❤️