The 4th Trimester: What It Is, Plus 8 Tips For Surviving It
You made it through all the ups and downs of three trimesters of pregnancy as well as the crazy, amazing experience of childbirth. If it seems like this postpartum stage is just an extension of the tiring, emotional rollercoaster of pregnancy, you’re not alone. Welcome to the 4th trimester.
These months after your baby’s birth can be a wild ride, with many changes and challenges. We at Newton Baby think it’s absolutely essential that moms take care of themselves during this time, and we want to help you figure out how to do just that!
We’ll explain what the 4th trimester is and give you a few tips to not only survive but thrive.
What Is The 4th Trimester?
It makes sense that everyone talks so much about the three trimesters of pregnancy, the changes in your body, and how your baby grows in the womb.
After all, pregnancy is a big deal, and keeping a close eye on your and your baby’s health is vital!
But as much as pregnancy can turn your life upside down, having your baby in your arms is perhaps an even more significant change to your life. It’s a huge transition for you and should be taken as seriously as your three trimesters of pregnancy.
These first few months of postpartum motherhood are called the 4th trimester. Both you and your baby are getting used to new situations.
Your baby has to adjust to being out of the cozy womb and in the big, wide world. And you have to let your body heal, deal with sleep deprivation, and adapt to being responsible for a newborn.
Let’s take a look at some of the physical, mental, and emotional changes and challenges new moms face in the 4th trimester.
First of all, your body is recovering from childbirth, which is no small feat! Whether you had a vaginal delivery or a C-section, your body needs time to heal. Don’t underestimate the toll this can take!
You might also be in some pain, whether it’s due to hemorrhoids, tearing, afterpains, or sore nipples from breastfeeding. There’s no doubt about it — the postpartum period can be physically uncomfortable.
Another challenge you’ll face? Sheer exhaustion. You’re probably tired from childbirth anyway, and with a newborn in the house now, you’re not getting tons of quality sleep.
Lastly, during the postpartum stage, your hormone levels will change...again.
This is normal but can have some profound effects on your body as well as your mental and emotional state, which brings us to the next point.
Mental And Emotional Challenges
Your fluctuating hormone levels contribute to what is known as “baby blues,” which the American Physiological Association describes as “feeling stressed, sad, anxious, lonely, tired, or weepy.”
They go on to say that “some women, up to 1 in 7, experience a much more serious mood disorder — postpartum depression,” which doesn’t go away by itself.
During your 4th trimester, you’ll likely feel the lows of baby blues one minute and the highs of finally having your baby in your arms the next!
Don’t be surprised if you also feel stressed about learning how to care for a newborn, anxiety over whether or not you’re doing it “right,” and confusion over your new identity as a mother and who you “used to be.”
The stress of adapting to motherhood is real!
Tips For Surviving And Thriving During Your 4th Trimester
As challenging as it can be, your 4th trimester can also be a time of joy and health. Remember that no one is a perfect parent from day one!
Laugh, give yourself lots of grace, and follow these tips to take care of yourself.
1) Make A Plan
Whether you’re still pregnant or already in the postpartum stage, now is the right time to make a game plan!
Think ahead about ways you can practice self-care, and jot down specific people who are willing to lend a hand. Here are a few examples to get you started:
- Make a list of people who are willing to cook meals or go grocery shopping
- Create a generic grocery list that you can give to folks who offer to do your shopping
- Write down the people who are available to come over and help with the baby or pick up your older kids from school
- Pre-schedule house cleaning services
- Schedule time for enjoyable, simple self-care activities for both you and your partner
2) Give Friends Specific Jobs
When friends and family say, “Let me know how I can help,” you should do just that!
Don’t necessarily wait for them to suggest a way to pitch in. Your loved ones want to help, but they might not be aware of the specific things you need help with. So, let them know!
Offer friends and family concrete ways they can give you a break by saying, “Hey, it would be really helpful if you could come over and do my laundry,” or, “Do you have time to swing by the store and pick up some groceries?”
3) Put Your Mind At Ease
Part of what makes the 4th trimester challenging is that you may be feeling a lot of anxiety about your baby’s safety.
When your little one goes down for a nap or to bed at night, your anxiety can kick in extra hard, especially if they’re sleeping in their own room. Not having eyes on your baby can make you nervous!
Take a deep breath and do what you can to put your mind at ease. Following safe sleep guidelines will help you rest easy knowing that your baby is sleeping as safely as possible!
- Putting your baby to sleep on a firm crib mattress that fits correctly
- Removing pillows, crib bumpers, blankets, and toys from the crib
- Sharing your room but not your bed
- Putting your baby to sleep on their back
- Giving your baby a pacifier at bedtime
It’s also a good idea to put your baby to sleep on a breathable mattress, like Newton Baby’s Crib Mattress. That way, once your little one starts rolling over in the middle of the night, you know they’ll be able to breathe straight through the mattress!
4) Take Naps
Your baby isn’t the only one who should be taking naps!
Sleeping through the night might not be a reality for the first several weeks with your baby, do your best to make up for it by catching some shut-eye during the day when your baby naps.
Even if you can’t sleep, putting your feet up on the couch will give your body a welcome rest.
5) Talk To Your Doctor
If you’re still pregnant, talk to your doctor now about the 4th trimester: what resources they provide, when your visit will be, if you’ll need to adjust any medications during that period, and what you can expect in the weeks following your baby’s birth.
If you are already in the thick of your 4th trimester, it’s important to talk to your doctor about how you’re doing, especially if you can’t seem to kick the baby blues.
Most women have a postpartum doctor visit around six weeks after birth. However, don’t hesitate to give your doctor a call if you have concerns before this visit.
6) Watch For Signs Of Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression (PPD) is more than a few bad days. It’s a serious mood disorder that affects one in seven women following birth and can lead to long-term issues down the road if not dealt with.
Watch for warning signs, including:
- Constant anxiety
- Eating more or less than usual
- Disinterest in your baby, family, and friends
- Sudden, irrational anger
We won’t go into all of the signs to look for, but please click here for the American Psychological Association’s list. Once again, call your doctor if you have questions or feel lost.
7) Eat Well And Move Your Body
Your body is connected to your mind and vice versa. Eating well and getting active will not only help your body stay healthy and heal, but it will also help get you in the right frame of mind.
When it comes to moving your body, start with short and easy exercises and be sure to ask your doctor what physical activity is OK to do postpartum (this is extra important if you had a C-section!).
8) Help Your Baby Adjust
Remember that your newborn is going through a big transition, too! You’re both in this together, so do everything you can to help your baby adjust to life outside of the womb.
Hold them close, bounce and rock, give them plenty of skin-to-skin contact, and wrap them snugly in a swaddle.
Newton Baby’s Organic Swaddle Blankets are made with breathable, 100% organic muslin cotton to keep your sweet one safe, comfy, and cozy!
Here’s a tip: keep several of these swaddle blankets on hand. They can double as a stroller cover, blanket, burp cloth, or nursing cover!
Make Your 4th Trimester The Best One Yet
With all of the physical, emotional, and mental changes and challenges that the postpartum period presents, it’s no surprise that the 4th trimester can be difficult!
To thrive during your 4th trimester, follow the tips we listed above: make a plan, give friends specific jobs, take naps, talk to your doctor, help your baby adjust, and set your mind at ease by putting your little one to sleep on a Newton Baby Crib Mattress.
With the right care and attention, you can make your 4th trimester the best one yet. After all, the little one you’ve been waiting so long to meet is finally here!