hehe 4th trimester

Many of us when we have baby for the first time, do not know what to expect, and it can be quite daunting when we face it. Below is a lovely article from HeHe, all about the 4th Trimester, what it is, and how to cope. I do hope you enjoy reading this, as much as I did.


What is the Fourth Trimester?

It’s just as it sounds. Each trimester of your pregnancy was three months. The fourth trimester is the first 90 days after your baby is born. This can be a lovely and exciting time, but it can also be a time of overwhelming emotion and one of a fine balancing act.  Between the sleep deprivation, having a tiny human depend on you for everything, the emotional whirlwinds, and the constant flow of visitors, the fourth trimester can seem very intense. Having a game plan in place, or at least knowing what to expect, can be helpful.

1. Ask for Help

Society expects too much from new parents, especially birthing parents. There, I said it. It’s too much. It’s overwhelming. And it affects the way parents think about themselves as caregivers.
Let go of this societal idea that a new mom has to do it all from day one. It is a slow ramp up. First and foremost, your body is healing and this requires you to rest, so let the laundry pile up (or at least have someone else do it for you). Second, there is no shame in asking others for help if they are offering. When visitors come over, don’t be afraid to ask them to help you. Most people will offer by asking, “Is there anything I can do?” Instead of the obligatory “No thanks,” say, “Yes, do you mind swapping the clothes from the washer to the dryer? That would be so helpful.” Other things that visitors can help with is walking your dog, writing a list of needed items as you rattle them off from the top of your “baby-brain” head, load or unload the dishwasher, bring you something to eat or drink, hold the baby while you shower, fold the laundry, set out the frozen dinners you prepared beforehand so it is thawed when dinner time comes around, and the list goes on and on. People who are stopping by your home and offering to help truly care about you. Let them help. Allow them to help ease the weight of having a newborn. One suggestion is to keep a running list of things that need to be done around the house or errands that need to be run. When someone asks if they can help you, refer to your list!
Part of asking for help is knowing your personal boundaries. This may look like saying “no” to visitors in the first few days or weeks to help your family adjust to life as it is now. That is okay. Having the first few days reserved for yourself, your baby, and your partner (or close friends/family of your choosing) is okay. Let them know that the first few days are boring and filled with constant breastfeeding, resting your body, and quiet time. Politely explain that all your baby does right now is feed, cry, sleep, and poop. They aren’t missing anything earth-shattering. People will understand that your new family needs space to adjust. Plus, who wants all that unwanted advice in the first few days in combination with raging hormones anyway?

2. It’s Just as Uncomfortable as the Last Trimester

While pregnancy is different for everyone, most birthing parents would agree that the end of pregnancy was quite uncomfortable. The end of pregnancy held physical discomfort as well as emotional feelings that you may or may not have been prepared for or expected to emerge. Once your baby gets here, it is common to still be physically and mentally uncomfortable. For the first few days or weeks after your birth experience, you will have to allow your body time to heal. This means that you won’t be able to do certain things such as sex, exercise, use tampons, and lifting things. Sometimes, it is even recommended that you delay showering or bathing depending on the nature of your delivery. Sometimes you are sore in places you didn’t even know you could be sore. Birthing a baby takes efforts from your entire body. Therefore, you entire body is subject to aches and being in need of restorative rest.

You will still worry during this time, too. You will be worried that you’re doing everything “right.” You will worry that your baby is safe. You will worry that your baby is getting enough to eat, enough sleep. You will worry when they are awake and you will worry when they are asleep. This is common in new parents, especially for first time parents. However, trust your instincts. Pregnancy has a funny way of instilling gut instincts in parents. You are the expert on your child. You know your child better than anyone else. You know when things are right and you know when things are wrong. Trust yourself.

3. Wear Your Baby

Baby wearing has an infinite amount of positive outcomes associated with it. For starters, it helps to free up your hands to do other things such as drinking your coffee, brushing your teeth or warming up a bottle. Research also shows it helps your baby remain soothed and relaxed–a good state for a newborn to be in. It also helps your baby bond with you. Skin-to-skin (wearing your baby with only a diaper on and you without a shirt on) has been proven to increase milk production in breastfeeding and chestfeeding parents, improve the heart and lung function of your baby, stabilize your baby’s temperature (Did you know your body will adjust its’ temperature to accommodate your baby’s temperature needs?! How cool is that!), provide you and your baby with pain relief due to the release of hormones initiated by skin-to-skin contact, and has even been shown to reduce the risk of postpartum depression.

4. Having a New Baby Can Be Isolating

Get out and about! There are many ways you can do this: join a new parents class, go on a daily stroll with your baby in the local park, reconnect with the parents you took Child Birth Education classes with, join an online forum (this one seems like cheating, but having interaction with other parents, no matter how you do it is a good thing!). In all major cities, there are meet-up groups for hundreds of groups of people: new moms, new dads, new non-binary parents, second time parents, parents of children born between this date and this date, crunchy parents, anti-vax parents, military parents, nervous parents, and free-range parents. Again, this list goes on and on. It helps to know that other parents are experiencing the same things you are going through. Being around other like-minded people will build your confidence in your skills as a parent. You will see what’s happening with your baby is “normal.”

5. Create a Sleep Routine for Your Partner and Yourself

You will have never been as tired in your life as you are after your baby is born. Communication between you and your partner (or any support person) is essential in the fourth trimester. Nailing down a sleep schedule for you (adults, not the newborn) can be challenging and it look different for each family. Some parents choose to sleep in shifts: 7pm-1am are managed by parent 1 and 1am-7am are managed by parent 2. Some families choose to alternate night feedings while other families alternate entire nights altogether.

Finding the right balance for you and your partner is crucial to mastering the fourth trimester. Play around with different strategies for a few nights and check-in with one another to see how you both feel. If something isn’t working, tweak that aspect and keep what is working. There is no right or wrong. There is simply what works for you and your family’s needs. It’s important to note that as your child’s sleep patterns change, your sleep routines will most likely need to be adjusted to accommodate this change. But that another quest for another day.

6. Think Routines, Not Schedules

We’ve all heard it before: “When can I put my baby on a schedule?” Research shows that newborns thrive best in an environment that is tailored to their needs. This means letting them sleep when they are tired, snuggling them when they are fussy, changing them when they are soiled, and feeding on demand. As adults, not having a structured schedule can be so challenging that some find it paralyzing. The thought of not having a schedule to follow can cause feelings of anxiety. Often times, parents fear that without a schedule, important things will be forgotten such as brushing their teeth or changing the baby’s diaper. To this I say, create a routine. For example, everyday when you baby wakes up, you would change their diaper, feed them, burp them, put them in a wrap to baby-wear, and then proceed with taking care of yourself: brushing your teeth, going to the bathroom, eating, drinking your coffee, answering your emails; whatever taking care of yourself may look like for you. The beauty of a routine (versus a schedule) is that it may happen at 5:30am or 7am, but the routine is the same ensuring that your child is getting everything they need on their own time.

7. Forget The Housework

The housework can wait, but snuggles can not. The housework can wait, but your baby will only smile for the first time once. The housework can wait, but watching your baby peacefully sleep is not a moment you want to miss. Enough said.

This might mean communicating to your partner that the household responsibilities will need to be split. For some this looks like, one partner doing the housework and one partner with baby. For others, this looks like assigned responsibilities around the house. Some families, have designated parent 1 and parent 2 nights where that particular partner is in charge of taking care of baby and the house while the other partner enjoys some much needed time to him/herself.

If you have the means, it may also mean hiring some household help temporarily until you have mastered your new routine taking care of your baby and can begin to {slowly} take on housework. A postpartum doula may be a nice middle-ground to helping you care for your newborn and keeping your independence.

8. Take Time for Yourself

This is by far, hands down, the hardest one to accomplish…for many reasons. Mom guilt, it’s real. The feeling of “nobody else will be able to get my baby to sleep.” The exhaustion tricks you into thinking your needs aren’t as important. Plus, the sheer lack of time–when is there ever 5 minutes you can take to yourself?

Estrogen plays a huge role in the after-effects of birth concerning the emotional ups and downs. This hormone peaks in the third trimester, yet in the 24-hours following birth, it drops drastically…like jumping off a steep cliff. Between the hormonal changes and the sleep deprivation, taking care of yourself is imperative. It’s like this… how well can you deal with a fussy baby, mood swings, constantly breastfeeding, and the everyday challenges of being a new parent if you don’t take care of yourself? However, if you are able to carve out just a few minutes of “me-time” each day or an entire hour each month, you will be able to handle life stressors of being a parent much better.

Washington Post just published an article discussing the importance of self-care in parenting. Click here to check it out.

Lasting Thought:

Embrace your new body! Your body created, grew, birthed, and is now caring for a tiny human. You earned those stripes! Those full, heavy breasts are nourishing you little one. That postpartum belly is just more of you to love. You are a beautiful, human-making Goddess..so own your new title! You earned it!

This too Shall Pass

This brief moment in time (but what might seem like forever) will soon be behind you and your baby will be rolling over, sitting up, walking, and talking before you know it. Relax and embrace this chaotic time of parenthood. This transition is difficult for everyone. Learning how to care for a tiny human and reshape the family dynamics is tough. Let go of the expectations that you are supposed to be perfect. Instead, be perfect for yourself and your baby. The perfect parent doesn’t spend time worrying about what society thinks, rather rests assured that their baby is loved and well taken care of. Things get easier as your baby gets older and as you get the hang of being a parent. Don’t focus on your mistakes, but focus on all the great things you do and provide for your baby. Focus on the fact that you were chosen to be this child’s parent and you made this baby wonderfully and beautifully with your own body. Take time to care for yourself and reflect on the fact that you are a wonderful parent.
You can read more of HeHe’s amazing posts on her blog here https://tbhdoula.blogspot.co.uk
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ultrasound bump pregnancy

Boutique Shows is super excited to introduce you to one of our Guest Bloggers, Tranquility by Hehe. A doula by profession, she really views herself as the guardian of the energy of your birth experience. 

If you’ve ever spoken to HeHe before…

Then you know how frustrating it is to me that healthcare providers put so much weight on due dates–I literally cringe. It evokes such a dramatic eye-roll, I worry my eyes may never recover. Your due date is a guess. It is an estimated guess, so it’s really a guess-stimate. To place so much emphasis on a guess-stimate is silly. Then, the expectant parents become infatuated with this one day. The expectant grandparents are obsessed with this date. Friends and family count down the days until this guess-stimate arrives. It creates so much build-up to a date that is simply an estimate. 
And what happens when that date has come and gone, yet you are still pregnant? You still don’t have a baby to snuggle? You still have to lift your pregnant belly each time you pee and you still have to sleep with a million pillows? Heartache and disappointment is what happens. Moms, dads, non-binary parents, grandparents, aunt, uncles, and the list goes on and on–everyone is disappointed and anxiety begins to grow. You (as the expectant parent) and everyone around you feels let down somehow. As if it was anti-climatic and you had a much bigger, grandiose idea in mind for this guess-stimate date.

Even the Royal family has caught on to this idea that your Estimated Due Date is really a Guess-stimated Due Date. Check out how Kate Middleton has adopted this trend that we, at Tranquility by HeHe, know all too well. 

I made it to 40+1…Bummer. 

Your due date is based off your last ovulation (which is always changing). Some people have no clue when the first day of their last period was and some people keep strict, regimented diaries of their cycles. You can fall anywhere on this spectrum, but nevertheless, the date you give your healthcare provider is what your guess-stimate date will be based on. From that, your doctor (or midwife) will guess 40 weeks from the point in which they (with your help) guesses that you conceived your baby. See how things might be off by a day or so? Or maybe even a week or two?

With this Due Date in mind, your baby could still come 14 days before or after that date (and still be considered full-term). Obviously, there is always a risk that your baby could come before the two week period leading up to your guess-stimated due date. This is called Preterm Birth. Pregnancies that begin to approach the 42-week mark will begin to be pressured to have interventions such as inductions to help progress or initiate labor. It’s challenging (but not impossible) to find a healthcare provider that is comfortable (or will even “allow” you) to go past 14 days of your original due date.

40 weeks + 1 day, 40+2, 40+3 and so on is the language used to talk about “overdue” pregnancies. It’s how we talk about parents who went “past their due date” or baby’s who were “a little too comfy.” If you find yourself in this population of expectant parents, don’t fret. Instead, plan ahead for this likely possibility. Create a space for your body to continue to work hard and grow that healthy baby. Allow your baby more time to continue to develop and prepare for their journey earthside.

So Now What? 

Occupy yourself and trust your body. I know, I know, you’re thinking, “yeah right!” I know. It’s hard.

It can be so hard to do this. On a day that you have looked forward to for roughly 8 months and you wake up to no signs of oncoming labor. This can be devastating. It can feel so deeply disappointing if you aren’t properly prepared. It can be challenging to cope with the fact that most babies are not born on their due date–especially since society (and the birth world) makes such a big deal of this date. A date based in guess-stimation. 

It is even more important at this stage of your pregnancy to trust in your body. Trust that your baby knows when to begin making moves. Michel Odent has been teaching birth workers and expectant parents the skill of trusting our bodies for ages. He believes (and so do I) that the baby talks to the birthing parent’s body. The baby’s body will literally send signals to the parent’s body to say, “It’s go-time!” Up until this point, you risk certain adverse affects such as your baby’s lung not being fully developed and under-prepared for the strain of the outside world. He explains how we understand that the initiation of labor remains in the baby’s hands and to trust your baby to know when they are mature enough for life independent of the parent’s body and support. Odent believes that scheduled c-sections without the trial of labor and the induction of labor is forcing a premature delivery on babies who have not signaled that they are ready. To read more about Odent’s teachings and research, check out the book Pushed by Jennifer Block.

With your guess-stimate date approaching, create a day filled with activities. Maybe this is the evening that you and your partner have a final date night before baby arrives. Maybe you spend this day pampering yourself with spa appointments, acupuncture, and getting your nails done because who knows when the next time you’ll have time for luxury and leisure all to yourself. Maybe you spend the day meeting with friends that you haven’t seen in a while, spend the day creating a baby book, or catching up on thank-you notes for items you received at showers.  Treating this day like any other day has proved to be near impossible for most expectant parents I have ever worked with–mainly because so much weighs on this date. Reserving this day for special activities makes it a day you still look forward too (and are excited about), but it has more attached to it than just the (unlikely) birth of your child. 

Trust the Process…  

When you understand and trust the process, it’s easy to trust your body. You know you can trust your baby to make their grand debut when they are ready. It’s also helpful to think about your “due date” in terms of a “due period” or a “due month.” To avoid deep disappointment if (and when) your due date comes and goes with no baby to cuddle, plan a day filled with special activities to celebrate the so-soon-arrival of your little one. Trying to treat your guess-stimate date as any other ordinary day can be challenging, painful and anxiety-provoking for most. Coping ahead of time and understanding the facts can help you feel more relaxed on your guess-stimate date and more confident in your body to work it’s magic when your baby signals they are ready.
You can read more blogs from Tranquility by Hehe at her blog here https://tbhdoula.blogspot.co.uk
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