The Ultimate Survival Guide for your 4th Trimester
Just when you thought pregnancy was done and dusted after seemingly endless 9 months, we’re here to burst the bubble.
Once you hold your bae in your arms, it’s time to welcome the 4th trimester. You heard right! The trimester where your tiny human gently transitions to a new normal and you try to settle into the new normal of #mumlife.
We caught up with early parenting expert Jen Butler who shares her take on this vulnerable time in a new mum’s life and sets you up with your own ultimate survival guide that makes the shock to the system easier-for both bae and you.
Over the past 10 years Jen has helped new and expecting parents understand their baby’s flow, particularly when it comes to sleep, feeding and behaviour through 1:1 consultations and her popular online parenting courses.
Jen, thanks for chatting to us. Can you give us a quick rundown of the 4th trimester and how it impacts newborn babies?
The fourth trimester refers to the first 3 months in your baby’s life. You can look at it as an extension of your three pregnancy trimesters, where your baby was constantly held, rocked and cocooned in the comfort of your tummy. After birth and during those first 3 months, your babe continues to crave that closeness and comfort they felt when in your tummy.
What it essentially comes down to during the 4th trimester is respecting and embracing your baby’s need for closeness and comfort while they settle into their new environment.
You and your body took care of everything for your baby during pregnancy and it takes some time for your tiny human to accept that things are changing. They will no longer be swaddled, have food on tap via your umbilical cord or rely on the familiar sound of your voice to soothe them 24/7. And rocking or holding them all day long will eventually be difficult to fit into a sustainable daily routine.
Our job as new parents is to gently transition our babes from womb life to room life as gently as possible.
How can new parents best support their baby and the changing needs through the 4th trimester?
Following these simple tips for the early days in your newborn’s life can make all the difference for the transition and at the same time give you the best chance at snuggling up with a happy and settled baby.
1. Comfort your baby
Most babies crave to be held well into the 4th trimester. Shower your baby with your gentle touch so they know you’re there and they’re safe.
2. Keep your baby close to you both day and night
During pregnancy your baby was with you 24/7 and heard your comforting voice all the time. Work out practical ways that help you keep your baby with you throughout the day and at night so they continue to hear your soothing voice and know that you’re close by. Portable baby loungers, like the Cushii, are a great way to you’re your baby with you wherever you go when you just don’t have two hands to cuddle them.
3. Make frequent feeding your bestie
Newborn tummies are the size of a marble, which means you need to keep up food supply throughout the day. Settle into a feeding routine that works around your baby’s demands and never leaves your babe hungry.
4. Swaddle baby during sleep time
When it’s time for shut eye, support your newborn with a swaddle that mimics the comfort of your tummy. Your babe loves to feel safe and secure, and a swaddle achieves that for you.
5. Rock your baby
Rocking movements work a treat when baby is upset or struggles to settle. During the 9 months in your tummy, your tiny human was constantly out and about with you and therefore is used to that rocking movement.
6. Introduce something to suck on
Whether it’s your breast, a bottle or a dummy, sucking motions calm and relax your baby. Be gentle on yourself and your babe during this time and opt for a comfort feed if it feels right.
What about new mums? Do you have any tips to help them survive the 4th trimester and the shock to the system that can come with it?
The 4th trimester is a huge learning curve for new parents and especially new mums. It’s the beginning of the exciting journey of parenthood and the transition is just as huge for the parents.
Here are a few tips I share with the families I work with. These tips set the right expectations right from the start and allow new parents to grow into this new, exciting role they’ve just taken on.
1. Don’t overdo it. Rest when you need it.
New parents often are overjoyed and keen to get stuck into their new normal. But they often forget that it’s so important for both parents (and especially the new mum) to get enough rest and recovery time so they are physically and mentally fit to support their new babe.
2. Time away from everyday tasks and the daily juggle.
Hit pause on mundane tasks that can wait. A clean house, a feast for dinner or hosting a large group of friends takes time and effort that can be a real struggle to find in the early days. So be kind to yourself and let go of #perfect in the 4th trimester.
3. Fewer visitors, more helpers.
Let’s face it. Who doesn’t love a new baby? As tempting as it is to have friends and family over all the time who want a cuddle, make sure you don’t end up with more work than you can take. Nobody expects you to have a feast prepared. Instead, see whether you can enlist the help of your favourite people when they’re over so you can get some rest or tick off a few things on your growing to-do list. You can even ask them to bring a nourishing snack along.
4. Go easy on yourself. You are learning, just like your babe.
Parenting doesn’t come with a manual. It’s a constant learning curve that never ends. What I have learned in my time helping 200+ new families is that everyone is different and it takes patience and an open mind to read your baby’s cues so that you can support your tiny human on their journey.
5. Have realistic expectations.
I hate breaking it to you, but your babe won’t sleep through at 4 weeks. Accepting that your tiny human will naturally progress through their developmental milestones will help you set yourself up with the right expectations and live in the moment. You can’t force something that your baby simply isn’t up to yet.
6. Find your mama tribe and support each other.
Joining a mothers’ group or linking up with local mums with babes in arms will make a real difference to your mental wellbeing. It can be tempting to hide in the baby bubble, but venturing out into the world with your new baby in tow means you have the support of likeminded new mums that you can share your journey with.
7. Seek help when you’re stuck.
Becoming a parent is unchartered territory for any first-time parents. And asking for help can be a real hurdle to overcome. Know that you don’t have to struggle in silence. If something worries you, speak up and find someone who can help you and your babe right there and then. Parenting doesn’t have to be lonely and overwhelming. There are experts out there who can make a real difference to how you experience the 4th trimester and early parenthood in general.
Ready to explore the Cushii as your perfect sidekick for the 4th trimester? Click link below to learn more.