The Fourth Trimester
Posted on May 28 2019
Pregnancy comes with ups and downs that are unique to each woman. There’s morning sickness, back aches, sleeplessness, stretch marks, baby-belly-kicks, cravings, and plenty more. The three trimesters it takes to grow and little human can be the worst nine months ever or also the most rewarding and memorable.
However, nobody talks about the fourth trimester: the time after the baby is born.
This can be just as difficult, if not more difficult than the three trimesters prior. While the fourth trimester is filled with the joys of cuddling a baby, binging Netflix series, and newborn magic, it can also be filled with depression, loneliness, and postpartum pains.
While most of the physical traumas of birth may last only a few months, the mental and emotional effects can linger for much longer.
Many friends and family members ask about the baby and her health. They ask to hold her and bring her gifts and give her a cozy welcome to the world.
But what about mom?
A mother’s life has been changed forever. Her life can no longer be motivated by selfishness— she is now dedicated to the nurture of her new baby and this can be rather taxing on her health.
Those sleepless pregnancy nights turn into sleepless nights with a newborn. Those pregnancy cravings turn into a neglected diet because eating cereal is quicker than a home-cooked meal (and newborns are a full-time job).
A mother must put her life on hold to help another life thrive.
A mother neglects her own physical health and puts off a workout to help care for her baby. She may have a whole new body and even nerve damage from birthing. She may have no free time to balance out her mental or social health. Her mornings, evenings, holidays, and weekends have changed completely.
On top of that, a mother loses hair from postpartum hormones and loses friends who don’t yet know how to relate to the new lifestyle of their mom-friend. Family relationships can be hindered. A mother's relationship with her partner can change drastically, for better or for worse.
It can be easy to overlook the mother after birth and put all the worry toward her precious newborn. As her recovery may be long, mom would appreciate help, support, and lovin’ from a friend.
She’d love a home-cooked meal, a shoulder massage, a pedicure, a night out, or a listener. Mom will need someone to take her other kids out for the day, someone to watch the baby while she naps, an exercise buddy to go on stroller walks with, or someone to help with laundry, cleaning, errands.
If you have been in this newborn/postpartum stage before, you know how difficult it is. You know how much you needed someone to listen, give you a hug, reassure you that you’re doing great, and give you a break. You could even share with her information, books, or methods that have helped you, your partner, and your baby, survive the fourth trimester.
New Parents Are People, too: 8 Secrets to Surviving Parenthood as Individuals and as a Couple, by Dr. Sharon Fried Buchalter, founder of Little Toes,™ is a worthwhile read, especially for first-time parents. It teaches parents how to work together and nurture themselves as individuals and as a couple as they venture into parenthood.