Every new mom and baby experience the fourth trimester, but it’s not often talked about. In fact, even as an expectant mother, you may not be familiar with it, even if you’ve already brought baby home.
The term “fourth trimester” is often used to describe the postpartum phase from the birth of your baby until they are three months old.
The mental and emotional challenges of the fourth trimester
There are so many different elements at play that those first three months can be overwhelming, exhausting and may even leave you wishing you didn’t have a newborn to care for at all.
First, there are several changes happening with your own body: hormones are bouncing off the walls, you can’t sneeze without peeing, and you’re so sleep deprived you could cry… or maybe you just want to cry for no reason at all.
One of the best things you can do is make sure you’re not neglecting yourself. Yes, that’s hard to do when you’re taking care of a new baby, but it’s too important not to try.
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a very real problem among many new moms. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 80 percent of women struggle with “baby blues” and at least 15 percent struggle with PPD.
If your mood and anxiety are interfering with your daily life and taking care of your family, seek help from your doctor or a therapist.
Caring for mom (and baby) post pregnancy
In addition to mental health, you have to take care of your physical health. If you need physical therapy to help with incontinence issues, your pelvic floor or diastasis recti (a separation of your abdominal muscles), take the time to do that. If you’re dealing with any pain after birth from breastfeeding or stitches or other vaginal issues, these also need to be addressed immediately.
As for your newborn, they’re also trying to adjust in many different ways to this big, new world. Here are some helpful tips to keep them calm and happy during their first three months of life:
- Swaddle them often (especially during sleep) and babywear.
- Make loud shushing noises and don’t keep things too quiet — it’s not quiet in the womb!
- Focus on feeding them and helping them sleeping. Both of you will be happier.
If you have concerns about your own mental and physical health, or the health of your newborn, don’t hesitate to contact your OB/GYN or pediatrician. Our compassionate staff knows it can be a big time of adjustment and we’re here to help.
Also, don’t forget to give yourself grace as you navigate being a mom to a new baby.