The Fourth Trimester
Not everyone has heard about the fourth trimester. I find that it is often overlooked and unplanned for. So what is the fourth trimester you ask? This is the 12 week period after giving birth to your new baby. This is a time that comes with a lot of changes, both physical and emotional as you are adjusting to your new life.
In this blog I am going to talk about a few things that can help you to be prepared for the fourth trimester. These are great conversation starters in your relationship and also wonderful things to talk about with your postpartum doula (if you have one).
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#1 Postpartum Support
Support in the fourth trimester is key to the physical recovery of the birthing person and the emotional adjustments the whole family experiences. Having a good support system set up before the birth can make all of these changes and transitions run much smoother.
Conversations with friends or family that you would like to be a part of this support system is important too. Discuss some of your hopes and/or expectations. These can be things like ensuring they know that there help isn't necessarily needed for endless baby holding, but that there help is much more useful for things like cooking, cleaning and playing with siblings.
If you feel that you don't have an adequate amount of support (or even if you do) a Postpartum Doula can be a super fantastic person to have around! If you are in the Kelowna area please check out the Kelowna Doula Association (kelownadoulas.com) for a list of local Postpartum Doulas. For those who are elsewhere in Canada go to DoulaMatch.net.
Another important key to the fourth trimester is to not feel pressured to let everyone come visit! Take time to rest and get yourself into a new routine that works for you. Let those who you want to spend time with come for a visit and ask others to wait a little longer. You have every right to chose who comes and who doesn't. The focus is on the birthing parent and the baby. After all, skin to skin is super important and is really hard to do when you have many visitors in and out. Do what feels right, rest up, adjust, and take time for you!
#2 Breastfeeding (if you plan to)
This is a super important piece to the fourth trimester. Think about it for a minute...if this is your first baby, you have never done anything quite like breastfeeding. It can come easily or it can come with great difficulty. Remember that this is also your baby's first time feeding this way too! I highly recommend connecting with a local breastfeeding group such as LaLeche League (llli.org) or the Kelowna Breastfeeding Cafe (kelownabreastfeedingcafe.org) I would suggest doing this in pregnancy, before your baby is born. Get comfortable with the group and the conversations that happen in these communities of parents. Set yourself up for success with information, stories, and ample support for if you need it. If it turns out you didn't need extra support with breastfeeding, all you have done if make connections with other parents and open up the door for yourself to potentially have encouraging words for someone else who is struggling.
#3 Baby Wearing
Baby wearing may not be for everyone, but it is something can be incredibly helpful! Especially for those parents who already have other children. My two recommendations for newborn baby wearing would be to use a wrap or a ring sling, these are items that you can easily search to read reviews and decide what you think might be best for you. There are so many different kinds of baby carriers out there, but for now I will leave that up to you to dive into.
You've carried your baby inside of you for nine or ten months now! These sweet little ones aren't quite ready to be separated from you. They thrive being on your body, where they can hear your heart and feel your warmth. Having your baby in your arms can make the simplest of tasks very difficult, but wearing your baby on your chest give you the chance to still snuggle up close and be able to do things like tie your hair up, eat food hands free, fold laundry!
So go do some research and decide if baby wearing is for you, find a carrier that looks comfortable and easy to use. Then practice! Find a doll or a stuffed animal and tuck that little thing into your carrier. You will feel so much more ready and have the confidence needed to start your baby wearing journey when your sweet little ones comes earth side.