What is the 4th Trimester? What happens during it? Is there any way that I can prepare for it? Is there anyone that can help me?
The 4th Trimester refers to the 1st 12 weeks after your baby is born. It is a period of massive adjustment for the whole family, where your new tiny person gets used to being outside of the womb & in the outside world, and you, their parents, get to know this tiny person & fit them into your family.
Yes, of course you can prepare for it! And yes, I am here to help you :-)
So many of us spend our entire pregnancy preparing for their baby's birth. We read & read & read about hypnobirthing & GentleBirth & OBGYN led care & midwifery led care & private care & public care ...... and then they forget to plan for when baby is here!
Today, I'm going to help you by chatting about some of the things you will need help with after baby arrives & what you can do to plan for a restful & relaxing postpartum period.
1: Food Shopping.
Before baby gets here, try to have your favorite dinners batch cooked, portioned & frozen. No one wants to be cooking when there's a few days old baby to be settling into the real world, but it is also so important for the birthing parent to eat as nutritiously as possible to help with their healing. Having a baby, whether it's vaginally or surgically, is a lot of work! And well done to you for going through it! Now it's time to fuel you body to allow it to heal. Hearty, nutritious meals that can be heated up quickly is the order of the day. Alternatively, you can set up a meal train. This is where your family & friends take it in turns to cook a meal for the new family & drop it off. There are loads of apps out there to help manage this.
Another tip in relation to food shopping, and this is one that I found super helpful, is to set up your favorites list on your favorite supermarket app before baby arrives. This way, you can do a very quick & easy Click & Collect shop, that you can have anyone who is willing to pick up for you. No need to get out of those PJ's & no need to leave the house.
2: Get a Wrap/Sling or Carrier.
Now, I know what you're thinking "Gill, you're a babywearing consultant, of course you want us to buy one of these!" And, you are kinda right, but there is a method to my madness, I swear! For the 1st 12 weeks of your baby's life they probably won't want to be put down, they will probably be happiest in your arms & will probably only want to sleep on your chest. Sounds exhausting, right!?! Here's is where your wrap, sling or carrier comes into play! By wearing your baby you are responding to their need for physical closeness, helping them to adjust to the outside world by keeping them in the familiar environment of your body & alleviating any anxiety that you may have by knowing that they are calm, happy & well looked after in the safety of you sling. I have an Instagram Highlights of my favorite newborn wraps, slings & carriers. You can always book a Babywearing Consultation before baby arrives, making ti possibly the most useful tool in your new baby tool kit :-)
3: Let people know that you don't want millions of visitors
This is a very tough one for Irish people. Everyone we know, and everyone who knows our parents want to some & meet the baby. And they expect to be waited on with tea & cake when they arrive. It is perfectly ok to tell people that you are not having visitors today. Or any day until you are ready to have them. I told our parents & siblings & left it up to them to pass the word on. If people are visiting they should be bringing a meal with them for the family. They should make their own tea & they should do the dishwasher while they are stood in the kitchen. They should ask the birthing parent if they need to grab a shower or a nap while you are there. You & your new baby are not a zoo exhibit. You are 2 people trying to get used to your new relationship earthside & that is more than enough work for anyone to deal with.
4: Organise Postpartum Help
Again, of course I'm going to recommend that you book a postpartum doula. Sure, it's what I do! It's who I am :-) But I am also very aware that it is not financially possible for everyone.
- Ask your mum, mother-in-law, sisters, cousins friends, to stop by on a certain day to give you a hand for an hour or 2.
- If you have older kids, ask one of the mums to to the school run for you for the 1st 8 weeks at least. My pal Mags did this with Sebastian for me & it was such an amazing help. I'd have been lost without her!
- Don't do any of the BIG washing at home. I still don't! Send all the towels & bed linen to the launderette for a wash & dry.
- Get a cleaner. even if it is only for the first 3 months, 1.5 hour once a week to do the floors & bathrooms for you.
- Organise Play Dates for the big kids. Big kids need to let off steam too. I found having Sebastian feel like the centre of attention & like he was getting spoiled was really helped him. And it helped me because her was out from under my feet for a few hours, letting Penelope & I rest & feed.
- Set up a gift registry with your postpartum doula.
- Now, I know that this one can be a bit controversial, particularly with Irish families, as in Ireland we haven't fully embraced the Registry concept. BUT, hear me out!
Most of us like to buy our own baby gear. We like to shop for it, pick it out, and would feel very uncomfortable accepting any money for these big ticket items. However, if when asked "Do you need anything for the baby?" you respond with " I have an account set up with my doula. If you could buy us a voucher for her, that would amazing & so helpful" how easy would your postpartum be!!??!! And yes, I do have the facility for your friends and family to buy a monetary value voucher or pay into your account :-)
These are just a few tips & hints for making your 4th Trimester a little easier. I will be doing more posts on what happens to your body & your baby's during this time.
Why don't you join the Mummy Hub community? I can let you know when the next blog post is up & when our next in person meet is :-)