What is the fourth trimester? Everything moms need to know!
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Congrats mama, if you’re reading this post it probably means you’re in your fourth trimester or almost there! But if you’re sitting there wondering ‘WHAT IS THE FOURTH TRIMESTER?!’ don’t worry, I’ll go over that!
And if you didn’t even know there were four trimesters, neither did I!
I was always told there are three trimesters of pregnancy, then your baby is born and boom, welcome to postpartum! But like I said, if you keep reading below we will unravel this motherhood mystery together!
What is the fourth trimester?
Dun dun dun… The fourth trimester consists of the first 12 weeks after your baby is born!
It is the time where moms go through their own physical recovery, emotional recovery, fluctuating hormones, and learn how to adjust to life as being a new mom (or being a mom of 2, 3, etc…)
Yes, it’s also commonly referred to as the postpartum period. So as you probably guessed, postpartum and the fourth trimester are pretty interchangeable.
However, realistically, many moms experience postpartum related issues and challenges that exceed that 12-week time frame.
What can I expect in my 4th trimester?
Between all the changes you’re experiencing AND your baby is experiencing after entering this new world, some things you can expect to deal with are:
- Learning how to soothe a fussy baby
- Learning what’s normal and what’s not normal for your baby (pooping/peeing, how often they eat, burping, gas, sleep patterns, etc…)
- Adjusting to functioning on little to no sleep
- Choosing whether to breastfeed or not (or just simply dealing with adjusting to breastfeeding)
- Potentially dealing with relationship challenges after your baby is born
- Physically recovering FROM GIVING BIRTH!
- Balancing day to day life + caring for a baby
Unless you hired a doula or have someone at home helping you, chances are you’re going through this alone. This is where most new (and seasoned) moms struggle.
I do want to remind you that YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO THROUGH THIS STAGE OF LIFE ALONE!
Sometimes, maybe you just need someone to talk to or vent about. This is exactly why I think ALL expecting moms should prepare a postpartum care plan long before your baby is born!
Be aware of the 4th trimester hormones
I saved this section for itself because honestly, our hormones after birth are crazy. .
Even if you’re someone who has never ever dealt with anxiety, depression, or any kind of ‘mental’ health issues, you could STILL find yourself dealing with issues after birth. All thanks to those hormones.
In fact, about 15-20% of women experience significant symptoms of anxiety or depression (SOURCE)
What are some of the postpartum emotional issues a mom could be dealing with?
- Baby Blues (this one will go away on its own, if it doesn’t it will usually turn into one of the issues listed below).
- Postpartum Anxiety
- Postpartum Depression (One thing most people don’t know is that PPD can be prevented! This is an AMAZING online course put together by a perinatal therapist to help you prepare and prevent postpartum depression)
- Postpartum Rage
- Postpartum OCD
- Postpartum PTSD
- Postpartum Psychosis (this is considered the WORST form of postpartum mental health disorders. If you are experiencing this, please call the Postpartum Support International Helpine at 1-800-944-4773)
To learn more about each one of these postpartum mood disorders, you can check out the following resources:
- All about Postpartum Mood Disorders
- Burd Therapy’s Maternal Mental Health Blog
Is there a fourth trimester for dads?
On top of moms going through a lot of the major stressors and changes that the fourth trimester has to bring, dads can ALSO be going through their own challenges!
In fact, many dads will likely find themselves unsure of how or when they should step in to help mom (just ask my poor husband!).
In addition, dads may find themselves feeling just as overwhelmed as mom whether they’re the main breadwinners, stay at home dads, unsure of how to bond with baby, etc…
So, instead of assuming that mom is the ONLY ONE going through major life changes, don’t forget to acknowledge that dad is also going through some too!
It might not look as obvious, but it’s very common and needs to be better recognized.
What dad should do after baby is born
There are a few ways dads can also prepare for their own postpartum journey after baby is born. That includes:
- Getting involved in the birth classes/education
- Have your own ‘dad-tribe’ of people you can turn to if needed.
- Pay attention to mom’s mood – step in when you see she needs help.
- DON’T be afraid to help out with baby! Chances are, mom will greatly appreciate the extra help of diaper changes, late-night feedings and simply just catching a break!
- Continue to communicate with mom about how you’re both coping through parenthood.
- Don’t forget you also need self-care time for yourself too!
What is the fourth trimester – Recap
The fourth trimester takes place immediately after baby is born and spans for 12 weeks after birth.
BOTH parents can go through their own forms of postpartum struggles, including postpartum depression!
Educating yourself BEFORE the fourth trimester & preparing yourself a postpartum care plan can make the difference in having a hectic vs. chaotic fourth trimester experience!
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