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The fourth trimester is the first obstacle to your maiden motherhood voyage, and we have the tips and tricks to help you ace it
It’s a term that is increasingly becoming more pertinent in today’s pregnancies. Many mums are adept at keeping track of the milestones of their first three trimesters, but when it comes to the Fourth Trimester, most are clueless, with some even unaware of this period. Defined by paediatrician Dr Harvey Karp as the first three months when your newborn is adjusting to life outside of the womb, these precious months play an important role in creating a rich pregnancy experience between you and your baby. It’s a tumultuous time for both Baby and the hair-tugging, tired adults tending to them, and for some mamas caught flat-footed by it, it can be a dark tunnel of tears and fears.
The thing is, it isn’t easy being in your little one’s shoes either. Imagine rocking along in your fluid, warm paradise for nine months before abruptly being ushered out into a bright, noisy world. It is enough to unnerve even some adults (think someone yanking open the curtains to your room in the morning). No pressure, but during this period of adjustment, your baby’s vulnerability means that she is counting on you and your partner for the right care and attention. Likewise, this is also the time when oxytocin, or the “love” hormone, and dopamine (the “feel-good” hormone) you derived from skin-to-skin cuddling and feeding starts to fade, instead replaced by feelings of helplessness and fatigue known as baby blues.
Of Leaky Boobs AndBattle Scars
Besides hormonal changes, your body also goes through a dreaded physical transformation. For a start, stretch marks may now appear on your previously smooth and blemish-free pre-baby skin, which occurs when skin is stretched faster than it can grow naturally, according to Dr Douglas McGeorge, co-founder of Science of Skin. “Whether you get stretch marks or not depends on the elasticity of your skin,” he says.Finding more hairballs around the house and in the shower plughole? That’s because of the plummeting levels of oestrogen, which was responsible for withholding hair fall and blessing you with a full, voluminous crowning glory during pregnancy.
First time mums may also be surprised when they find wet patches on their tops. Leaking is a sign that your body is producing milk for your hungry baby, and other than a little embarrassment, is completely normal during your fourth trimester. You’ll begin by feeling a tingling sensation around your nipples like pins and needles. Fret not, wearing breast pads in your maternity bra can help absorb any colostrum that leaks. Breast milk is not the only unwelcomed fluid leak you can expect; some new mums also experience light vaginal bleeding akin to a period. Known as lochia, the process lasts between two to six weeks after childbirth and starts with bright red discharge, which eventually fades to dark brown before it ends.
All these physical changes are nothing compared to the emotional rollercoaster you find yourself on during the first few weeks. A new sense of identity and responsibility, coupled with a lack of sleep, can severely sap you of your energy, andin the long run, forming a proper relationship with your newborn.
Recover To Discover
In order to bounce back as soon as possible on the path of motherhood and ace the Fourth Trimester, you’ll need to first love yourself and respect your body’s boundaries. Your postpartum body will need all the rest it can seize, so follow this general rule of thumb: first week in bed, second week around the bed, third week around the house. Don’t feel bad about doing nothing; after all, you’ve more than earned it. Get a doula or nanny to do the heavy lifting and help you heal, and take advantage of the time to establish a good nursing routine with your little one.
Besides listening to your body, spoil yourself a little and dress up. If you look good, you’re likely to feel good too. Get a new robe or super comfy silk pyjamas that allows you to relax while looking the part of a mama boss at the same time. Button down maternity tops are also great for nursing.
The key is to allow yourself the space and time to fall in love with your baby during the fourth trimester. You’re on a steep learning curve, and sometimes, it starts with being the best mum you can be, rather than a perfect one.
If the reality of the Fourth Trimester has been a slap in the face for you, we hear you. Turns out, it isn’t just snuggling up to a fresh smelling newborn or plastering your Facebook page with adorable little angels that make everyone melt. Your baby’s struggles aren’t making your life any easier, and any help you can get your hands on is appreciated. Try these Fourth Trimester hacks to make things easier for both you and Baby, and before you know it, you’ll come out of the other side and be amazed that, lo and behold, you’ve survived!
Baby, meet Mum. Mum, meet Baby. Your newborn is as new to you as you are to her, so the sooner you bridge the gap, the better it is. Know that your baby is born with innate instincts to reach out to you for care and love, so pick up these cues early to ensure her transition to this world can be as smooth as possible by responding to her needs.
Right Tools For Bright Parents
By now, you would have already amassed a stockpile of baby gear, either from rash purchases or hand-me-downs. Getting the right gear throughout your baby’s development is important to reducing your stress and workload, so be sure to update your baby’s depository as she grows.
Taking care of yourself is essential for having the energy and motivation to barrel through each day. Get cooking with some easy and healthy family recipes to pamper yourself a little and recharge for the road ahead.
Share The Load
It’s true – it does take a village to raise a child, so get the people that matter involved. A little extra help goes a long way with those Fourth Trimester tears. This period of time presents dads with the opportunity to support their partners, since it also offers early bonding and less developmental issues by the time your child is three years old.