I thought a while about the title of this blog…my initial title was “How to survive the 4th Trimester” but, I work so hard to try and ensure parents actually enjoy the early days and weeks, why write a blog suggesting you just have to get through it? I LOVED the 4th trimester, but have to be honest and say not so much with first baby, a bit more with second and really loved it with my boy!! Not because he was my boy, but because I learnt to go with it, to relax, to stop worrying about “bad habits” and to enjoy him, because in the blink of an eye it is over!
I run 1:1 sessions for mums in the first week weeks after birth, and the resounding thing that comes out of these, is a lack of confidence in themselves, a lack of trust that they are doing the right thing, and an overwhelming sense that they get differing advice from everybody they speak to, from health professionals to relatives and friends! I tell them all that they have an instinct about this, they just need to step back, relax and let their baby teach them. They are the experts, their babies are their teachers and I am there to help facilitate the union!
So, here are my top tips to not only survive by thrive in the fourth trimester!
#1 - Drop the pressure
Stop putting pressure on yourself or your baby…if you are finding your baby will only sleep on you, or with you, it is totally normal!! Read up about safe co sleeping, have a go at laying down breastfeeding (seriously this is revolutionary) and enjoy those snuggles. I say at every 1:1 I go to, I guarantee if you set a date in your diary for 1 year from that day, you will look at your chubby rolling, crawling, possibly running around toddler and think you would give anything for a squishy newborn snuggle on the sofa!!
#2 – Embrace daytime TV
If you find after 2,3, 4 weeks or more, you are still in your jarmies sat on the sofa feeding, look down at your baby, what you have created and high five yourself!! You have grown a baby and the entire of that baby is down to your hard work, whether you are breast or bottle feeding, YOU did that!! Embrace Jezza Kyle and the silver fox on This Morning, never ever again (unless you are ill and that is no fun) will you be able to slob in jarmies all day, if you have another baby you will have a toddler running around, or a child that needs collecting from school!
#3 Understand what the fourth trimester actually is
The Fourth Trimester is the school of thought is that human babies are born at least 3m too early, if we gave birth to them at 3, 4 or even 5m they would be too big to deliver! We are one of the only species whereby our babies are born without the ability to do anything for themselves for a prolonged period of time.
Newborns are not like chunky, bouncing, smiling 6m olds…newborns are curled, foetal, need containment, movement and noise, download a white noise/shh’er app, invest in a good sling and swaddle and get ready to rock!
#4 Limit Visitors
Everybody wants to come for a cuddle, and of course they can, but on your terms, they can wait until you are ready, don’t put pressure on yourself to have a tidy house because the mother in law is coming (I speak from experience lol)…if they have to come, they come and take it as you are, you are growing a baby!!
#5 Let your baby teach you
I remember distinctly, getting to 11wks postnatal with Jasper, bearing mind I had been working with postnatal women and newborn babies for 6yrs previously, I have done god knows how many CPD courses on newborns, and he was my third baby…I got to 11wks and thought, now I am beginning to understand you….they are all so completely different, which is why it is almost impossible to read a baby/routine book and fit it to all children, they all have different personalities and you are all different, let your baby teach you to understand them, they will, and you will learn, but it TAKES TIME!!
#6 There is no such thing as “bad habits” in the early days and weeks
I fell into this trap, when Jasper was 2wks old, I was complaining he had been up most of the night on me, wouldn’t settle at all in his moses basket (this was before I succumbed, kicked hubby out and J moved in permanently for a few weeks). My mum said to me, what do you expect, you are spoiling him, you and the girls carry him around all day…for a moment I considered this, then realised he was 2wks old, had spent 9m curled up inside me, I couldn’t expect him to self soothe and self settle! If you get to 6,7,8 months and “bad habits” are still there and you want to break them, they are relatively easily tackled, but don’t stress about trying to get your 5,6,7wk old baby to self soothe or sleep independently…
#7 Try and not stress over Crying
Now this is a tough one, a crying baby is awful, especially for mum, we instinctively feel we need to do something, and we can, but it isn’t always the obvious thing. Babies cry for all sorts of reasons, we need to learn to listen, watch the early cry cues and try different “tools” from your tool kit, calming techniques etc. Dunstan Baby Language is really interesting to watch, as is The Happiest Baby on the Block – I have written a blog on Crying if you want to read my thoughts on this emotive subject!
#8 Ask for help
Especially if you are breastfeeding – girls that have done antenatal with me, I harp on and on about Tongue Tie, it is so common and easily missed, or mums are told to leave as it isn’t causing problems….It is very hard to have confidence in breastfeeding if it either hurts or baby isn’t latching well and possibly not taking enough milk. Surrey mums utilise the wonderful KateRosatti at the RSCH Drop in session Wednesdays, or there are private lactation consultants you can see also, I have a list so please contact me for more info.
Nicky offers free 1:1 sessions to all parents on her Essential Mummas Antenatal Course - For more information contact her - firstname.lastname@example.org 07900 676719