What is the 4th Trimester?
The 4th Trimester is the first 12 weeks after you have had your baby. A time of great physical and emotional change for you and your baby.
How do I survive these first 12 weeks?
1. Create your support network.
Mama this is a time to snuggle in with your baby and take care of you and your baby. Your body is going through massive changes from pregnancy to healing and recovering. Protect your space. Your hormones are changing, your body is working hard, you are exhausted. Your have a new identity as a mum to get your head around. You are caring for your baby’s every need 24/7. You’re getting to know your baby.
This is a time to be cared for and nurtured. Let people know you need help and tell people when they ask how they can help. Don’t feel guilty.
We live in a society where we find this very difficult. Be bold. We don’t all live near family or have close community in our neighbourhoods. We are a society that encourages independence and self-reliance, girl power! But you know we weren’t created to live and survive in isolation. It is easier to do this before baby arrives as you can feel overwhelmingly vulnerable when you have just had a baby. Tell your partner so he can understand and help communicate. He will need support too.
Above is a practical ‘circle of support’ worksheet to help you. Overwhelmed? I can go through it with you. In my 4th trimester sessions I go through these in more practical detail and work through how it works for you as an individual in your circumstances.
2. Nourish your body
Your body is healing and changing and you need the right nutrition to help you along. I hear you, ‘I’m too overwhelmed to think of what to feed myself’. There are some super simple things you can do. This is a whole topic on it’s own so here is just some food for thought. It really helps if you can plan and prepare for this before baby arrives.
NUMBER 1: ask friends and family if they can drop off meals. See if a friend will set up a rota.
NUMBER 2: If you can, prepare before baby arrives with a few meals and snacks in the freezer. A batch of nutritious muffins stocked up in the freezer, baked while on MAT leave, ready to grab on the go will be such a blessing in those early weeks.
I love this recipe to freeze: https://www.simplyquinoa.com/healthy-blueberry-muffins/
NUMBER 3: Order your groceries online, adding super simple foods you need that don’t take much prep. Like spinach, you can just stir it into anything or pop in a sandwich.
I’ll let you in on my favourites and check out my Blog ‘Postnatal Healing’ for this full topic: https://www.pregnancyandbeyondcheshire.co.uk/post/postnatal-healing-collagen
Fluids, fluids, fluids. Warm being more optimal. Warm mug of caffeine free teas such as Redbush tea, peppermint tea or just warm water with a slice of lemon. Have a bottle of water handy where ever you go.
Soups. Even in the summer. You can throw in so much healthy veg and bone broth for healing and stock up portions in the freezer. You can now buy ready made broth. Yay!! It is also super simple to make your own with a slow cooker to freeze.
A bowl of chopped up fruit ready in the fridge, especially berries rich in anti-oxidents. Eggs are super easy and nutritious. Avocado. Full fat Greek yoghurt. Wholemeal carbs. A snack bowl of dried apricots, nuts and seeds. Though seeds are a bit tricky one handed while feeding! Maybe keep them to sprinkle on food or mix in.
Treat yourself to some 70% or more dark chocolate.
Ditch the sugar and white carbs as they hamper healing and can make you crabby, messing with your hormones. Steer clear of caffeine.
3. Doses of micro-care
Build your nest. These are little ways you can care for you in little mini doses when you barely have 2 minutes to yourself.
Have your favourite mug for your cuppa. Even better a lovely travel mug with lid. Do you have a favourite drink? Pop on your favourite cosy socks. Snuggle under your favourite blanket. Invest in your favourite pair of comfy joggers that make you feel good. Do you have a favourite large, long cardigan?
What makes you feel, ‘aaaahh’?
Ask your partner if he can put fresh, clean linen on the bed before you crawl in for the night.
Have a diffuser in your sitting room or your bedroom with safe essential oils.
Have your favourite body wash in the shower. My Tropic body washes are my feel good factor in the shower. They smell and feel gorgeous.
A sumptuous, tinted lip balm treat to keep beside you in the sitting room during the day.
Close your eyes while you are feeding and breath. Inhale through your nose for the count of 3 and exhale for 3, then for 4 and then for 5. You can work your way up 8.
Give yourself grace. Some days are easier than others but trust me, you will get through. Don't stress about 'getting it right' or living up to expectations of yourself or others. Go with the flow.
4. Reconnecting with your body
Many women ask, ‘what exercise can I do?’. Rushing back to ‘bouncing back’ to the their pre pregnancy body. Slow down! Your body needs to heal, recover, regain function. There is no such thing as ‘bouncing back’! Remember what your body has gone through?
There are simple exercises you can start straight away that don’t take much time and help you start to reconnect with your core and pelvic floor. Encourage healing by increasing blood flow, nutrients and oxygen to your tummy, your pelvic floor and tears, episiotomy or c-section scar.
Improve your breathing as your ribs need to release and return from being displaced through pregnancy.
Breath in through your nose, aiming to expand into your ribs and blow out feeling your ribs and tummy draw in.
Start doing pelvic floor exercises and pelvic tilts.
Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor. Gently curl your pelvis toward you as you breath out, keeping your bottom on the floor. Breath in to relax down again.
In the same position, close your eyes and visualise drawing your tail bone towards your pubic bone and then gently lifting them up as you breath out. Relax as you breath in. Don’t squeeze your bum. Focus on that gentle, internal movement. Like picking up a blueberry!
I go through these and more with you in our 4th Trimester consultation.
5. Recognising signs of postnatal depression
You will have days of feeling overwhelmed and crying, days of sheer joy, days of exhaustion and feeling like a terrible mother and days of feeling that you have it all sussed. This is normal. So recognising signs of postnatal depression and asking for help can seem tricky. Even if you are not sure please always talk to someone about how you feel. Pinpoint that friend or health professional or family member that you feel you can confide in and let them know. If these feelings are persistant and you are struggling please ask for help.
Here are some helpful links.
We go through this in more detail in our 4th Trimester session too.