The Fourth Trimester: Into the Thick of It
That song that is swimming around TikTok comes to mind when I think about how my fourth trimester went. "The fourth trimester is a period coined by Dr. Harvey Karp as the first 3 months of a baby’s life after birth. Dr. Karp explains that babies are born too soon!" (Dr. Harvey Karp) Too soon!?! Did you know that? I didn't! I had that explained to me by my lactation counselor when I was at my breaking point 3 weeks postpartum.
Like I've said before, my husband and I prepared for childbirth and taking care of our son as best we thought. I realized the week we brought him home that I was overwhelmed and underprepared. It didn't help that we were isolated and family was hesitant to come over and help.
I filled my time as much as possible with support groups right away. I joined a fourth trimester support group that saved me. The Nesting Place holds these support groups for mamas of 0-5 month olds. I actually was a part of two of them! Having an intimate circle of mothers who are all learning their new roles and babies at the same time, or just went through it was more helpful than all the books that I could have read.
I struggled to figure out how to take care of my son and myself in these first 5 months. My lactation counselor explained the fourth trimester to me - that other species carry to full term where their infants are able to walk on their own right away and we have evolved to carry to 9 months and really should to 12 months. I sure as heck DID NOT know this and it makes complete sense. Not that human infants would be able to walk at that time, but they should be able to hold their heads up! Can you imagine how much easier that would be?
I was instructed to do a lot of babywearing to make things easier for us - baby loves it, feels like the womb, and frees me up to do most of what I need to, or not.
Finding our groove was trying. We read all the conflicting parenting advice and eventually found our way. Sleep was another biggy to figure out too. Our son had a few oral ties that created trouble with nursing and sleeping. We ended up bed sharing for a few months because the constant nursing was exhausting and having him in bed with me allowed us both to have decent sleep. We followed The Safe Sleep Seven when we did bed share. Now, after his tie revision and some sleep coaching, he only sleeps with us when he's in a new environment (like camping!).
Poop diapers, tummy time, and feeding baby are my other top learning curves. We were told multiple opinions on how many poop diapers to have when to start solids, whether or not to supplement to formula, and how often to breastfeed. With tummy time, I just wasn't sure if we were doing it right or enough.
One thing we probably missed out on was socializing at an early age. Having to be cautious when he was first born in the middle of the shutdown, we weren't going out a whole lot and we really weren't seeing many babies out when we were. I think we started seeing more babies when he was around 5 months old - now he gets incredibly excited to see other toddlers and babies, screeching excitedly.
We lacked support from our family how we preconceived. I believe it was because we took caution and started to get back to our "normal" when the shutdown was lifting. Both set of our parents had to be careful and while they would have liked to have been more involved, felt safer staying at a distance. Bobby doesn't feel the same way about it and thinks they could have done more to help out. Instead of relying on help that I wasn't getting, I worked on growing my village.
Now I have a group of people that supports me (this does include our parents) that I can call on. This was the best thing that I did for myself (and some of my mom friends). My village is what gets me through my hardest days and my advice for all moms. No one knows what they are doing, especially on the first child. So just find other moms who don't know what they are doing also and make friends. And, it may be weird AF, but give that mom in the grocery store that you bump into your number. If you don't know where to start, start with me!
Book a Call
Would it help you to share your story? Let's chat about it one day!