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What is the fourth trimester of pregnancy?

 

The pregnancy of a woman usually lasts around 40 weeks. It is measured from the first day of your last period to the birth date of your baby.

There have typically been three phases of a pregnancy, called trimesters and each is about three months long. However the period which starts from the day of your baby’s birth and which lasts for 12 weeks is being increasingly known as the “fourth trimester”.

 

Trimester

Weeks of pregnancy

First trimester

1-12

Second trimester

13-28

Third trimester

29-40

Fourth trimester

Birth -12 weeks post birth

 

The fourth trimester is a time of adjustment. It is when parents and their baby are transitioning from the worlds they knew previously to becoming mum and dad and a baby who is now living outside of the womb.

During the 12 weeks of the fourth trimester, your baby will be having to get used to being fed at times which have gaps between them rather than being fed continuously, as they were when in your womb.

Your baby will also need to get used to sleeping in different places which may take some time to adjust to, and may cause them to get upset on occasions. These changes are significant for a baby and it’s no wonder they may cry.

 

How to make your baby happy in the fourth trimester

One of the best things that any new parent can do to help their baby be happy and content as possible is to create an environment as close to the womb as possible. This includes making the baby feel safe and secure, which is why swaddling is an effective way of getting that close contact with your baby which they had whilst in your womb. They can hear your heart beat when they are held close to you, which is very comforting for your baby to hear.

Feeding your baby is not only about providing nourishment for your baby. The close contact makes your baby feel safe and secure. It is a wonderful way to help your baby develop emotionally, physically and intellectually.

The feeding times also provide you with an opportunity to sit and rest with your baby whilst you are recovering after the birth. If you find that you are struggling to get comfy when sitting to feed your baby, Comfyse has a special postpartum seating cushion that will help you to rest and recuperate in the fourth trimester. This enables feeding time to be beneficial to not only your baby but to you too.

 

How do mums feel in the fourth trimester?

If you are a parent who is having to adapt from living an independent life to becoming a full time parent with a baby to look after 24 hours a day, it can be difficult to adjust to the change in your lifestyle. This is totally understandable. This is why the fourth trimester term is useful as it helps you to understand that the adjustment will take time, most likely three months or sometimes longer.

If you are a mum and you’ve had a traumatic birth, you may find it even more challenging than others to adjust to becoming a parent. The physical changes in your body, especially if you’re had perineal trauma or other physical issues due to childbirth, can make it difficult to rest and recuperate after the birth.

You can help yourself to recover after childbirth by taking time out for yourself and using the specially designed postpartum products that can help alleviate any pain and discomfort you have.

  • Bathing regularly can help keep stitches clean and hygienic (some people add tea tree oil to the bath water too to aid healing of tears and episiotomies)
  • Use spritz for bits like the one from the Expert Midwife which can help reduce the pain in your perineum
  • Use a postpartum cushion like the one from Comfyse, the Cushy Cushion, which relieves the pressure off your sensitive areas when you sit
  • Use the postpartum pads and maternity pants to manage the lochia that is discharged for the first weeks after childbirth

It is worthwhile remembering that this stage does not last forever. When you are in the fourth trimester it is all-consuming, but your life will gradually change and one day you will reflect on the fourth trimester and how precious the moments with your new-born were.

The fourth trimester is a special time when you’ve met your baby for the first time and you and your partner adapt to being mum and dad. You will at times be on a high and feel full of love for your new-born. At other times you might feel exhausted and overwhelmed. This is why, whether you are on your own with a baby or you are a couple finding your feet as parents, you will benefit from receiving support to help you raise your baby. At this time in any new mums life, help from family and friends should be welcomed. It takes a village to raise a child, not only one or two very tired parents!

Try to enjoy all of the special moments you have with your new-born during this time and take photos and videos to remember it by, because it will go by all too quickly.