It feels a bit odd to be writing about the fourth trimester when I never actually got the chance to write about the third. I had wanted to document each trimester of my pregnancy and enjoy talking about it all but as William decided the third trimester wasn’t entirely needed I just jumped straight to our birth story instead!!
So, the fourth trimester eh? (Yes, tri does mean three so we’ll just ignore that technicality) I will be honest, I’ve only come across this saying/stage recently and I’m on my second child but it really does make a lot of sense.
What is it?
It is the period where the baby recovers from the trauma of being born, adjusts to being on the outside and all the joys that come with it, plus it’s the time your body realises what it has just gone through and what it’s about to go through!
For me, this time around has all been very different because my baby was premature. He came into this world at 32 weeks which means that right now he is actually 11 weeks old BUT… he is only supposed to be 3 weeks old, meaning I’ve had a newborn for an extremely long time and one who has now technically entered the fourth trimester and isn’t it fun?!..
The first 4/5 weeks involved a hospital stay, experiencing life with a baby in NICU, bringing him home and learning what it meant to be a Mum to a teeny baby. Then the colic hit. Urgh, what a time that has been. Crying, screaming, up most of the night, scrunching up his little body and not being able to pass wind, I have hated it. Hated watching him in pain, hated trying every tip/remedy under the sun and hated not being able to sleep. Sleep when they sleep you are told… Errr, yeah try doing that when you also have an energetic four-year-old!
Don’t Put Me Down!
Sound familiar? Your baby arrives and for the first few sleepy weeks they can quite easily be laid down but then something kicks in and your once peaceful baby refuses to sleep anywhere but on you! You put them in their Moses basket to have a wee, they cry. You put them in their bouncy chair to have a shower, they cry. You put them in the car seat to make a cuppa, they cry. But as soon as you pick them up? Nothing, silence, peace, content. This is where you have to learn to do everything with one hand!!
How can something so small make such a noise?! They scream when they are hungry, they scream when they are being changed, they (usually) scream when they get put in the bath, they scream when you put them down, they scream when they wake. Get used to pacing the floor, rocking them, swaddling and using a dummy even if you swore you never would do because at this point you will do anything to calm your baby.
Sleep? Remember that? You won’t for a while but somehow our bodies just get on with things. Your baby doesn’t know the difference between night and day, they don’t like the quiet and dark and they need to feed. a. lot! You can try white noise to mimic the sounds they were used to when they were in the womb, you can pop a night light on your bedside table, you can even… wait for it… co-sleep. Yep, I said it. It isn’t something I have ever been a fan of– cot death rates can shock you out of it– but if you research it and do it correctly it can be the only way you can get a few hours shut-eye. This is where I’m at, at this moment in time with my baby and I am doing it because he just won’t be put down. He will happily scream all night long and I can’t let him stress himself like that and I also cannot safely function the next day to look after 2 children. I need to do what is best for us for now and even though it is working and I am taking every precaution I still feel as though co-sleeping needs to be whispered like a dirty word when I mention it to people. Don’t feel judged for choosing how you sleep, what you use, where your baby sleeps but do make your health visitor, doctor or midwife know so they can advise you.
Be prepared for your days and nights to be filled with feeds. Your teeny tiny baby can certainly guzzle away and, man, your boobs are gonna know about it! This is the time when your nipples really toughen up (they will be leathery and droopy by the end of your breastfeeding journey but let’s not focus on that just yet, eh!) Be prepared for red, sore, achey nips plus milk over-production followed by leakages galore!!It may sound awful but once you get past the pain (if you have any), the soreness and find your flow (pun intended!) it is the best feeling ever.
Your hormones may go a little crazy during these 12 weeks. There’s no time to really let things sink in after the birth because you don’t get a chance to sit back and think it all over, you have a screaming newborn ready to tackle those nips!! You may be on a high for the first couple of days and then the ‘baby blues’ may hit. We are all different and this is what you need to bear in mind. Keep an eye on how you feel. Take note if you are lower than other Mums may be. Talk if you think postnatal depression may be an issue for you. And cut yourself some slack if you think you are crying one too many times at that Donkey Charity advert– damn charities and their heartbreaking ads in the middle of the day. If you are short with your other half– hell, he didn’t just push another person out of his body did he?! If you wanna shout because you are so tired– perfectly natural to want to. At the end of the day, your body has just done the biggest thing it possibly can and it takes time for everything to heal, settle down and get back to normal.
You are not doing this alone. I have to remind myself of this daily, sometimes hourly. I am not the only Mum sat up at 3am crying because the baby hasn’t let go of my nipples yet. I am not the only Mum who hasn’t showered today. I am not the only Mum who has lost her shit at some point this week and I am not the only Mum who can feel complete exhaustion but elation all at the same time just by looking at my baby, because we are all going through the exact same thing. So, reach out for that extra bit of chocolate, watch that extra episode of your fave programme and enjoy the baby cuddles because before you know it they are a toddler and that’s a whole other ballgame!!
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