The 4th Trimester isn’t really something that is talked about a lot. Infact, I didn’t even know it was a thing until our second baby. I thought you just birthed your baby, and wham, back to normal life. But the thing is, life suddenly isn’t what it was before and there is a butt load of adjusting that not only you need to do as a new Mum, Dad and family, but also your body, your mind and those splendid hormones…I mean, wowsers.
After having four babies and experiencing four different pregnancies and 4th trimesters – 2 of which I had the most debilitating post natal depression and anxiety – I’ve gathered up a bunch of information, set out some game plans, and just come off the back of the most amazing 4th trimester of all. So here are my five top tips to rocking the socks off YOUR 4th trimester.
I once read a story about a lady from a tribe in Uganda. After the births of each of her children, her mother and her aunties took care of her and her baby while she rested. The relatives taking care of her and the baby stay until THEY see that the mother is strong enough to carry on. (mentally and physically) They do everything! Washing, cleaning, and cooking deeply nourishing food for the mother.
Let me tell you another story about a lady from Korea. In her culture, a new mother sleeps all day and eats and THAT’S IT for the first three weeks. All the relatives help her by cooking and cleaning and if not, then the neighbours will help her.
There are stories from many different cultures with a very similar theme…the new mother is nourished and nurtured through her 4th trimester and every bit of responsibility (other than feeding her baby) is taken off her. These are ancient traditions that have seemingly dwindled out in the western world and many Mums are suffering for lack of support.
(These stories were read from a book called Mothering the New Mother by Sally Placksin)
So here are a few things I did differently this time and my top tips for a better 4th trimester.
1. Be patient with yourself and don’t rush
With my last three births and postpartum I rushed to get back into life as usual. I wanted to keep up with everything and everyone, I wanted to bounce back to life and back to being me because that’s what our culture expected, and I thought I would be weak if I didn’t.
What is that anyway? Keeping up with life? Work out your priorities, what are the essentials that you need to do to keep your family thriving, and shelf the rest till a later time. If all that is, is feeding your baby and dropping off your kids at school each day, than there is no problem with that. Not one at all. (Just don’t forget to pick your kids up from school as well ok?)
2. Have a person
Ok, so when I say, have a person, I mean, have someone you can trust, who you know can be there for you. Someone who you can call when your crouched up in a corner sobbing on the kitchen floor in your undies while your baby cries and your other kids are ripping through your house riding the broom and the vacuum cleaner like they are Ned Kelly on a gold heist.
Have a person you can call on when you are at the end of yourself (or preferably before you get to that point), who can help you back up to your feet, remind you of the boss Mum you are, and will even just check in on you from time to time. Because who knows that all too often we don’t admit we’re not ok, until someone actually asks us.
3. Nourish your body
I could talk about this for pages! Giving birth is actually a big deal for your body…and it needs good, good food to fuel it, and help it heal and recover. So now is the time to go for all those beautiful, warm comfort foods. I know it’s so hard to try and cook a nice wholesome meal when you spend about 100% of your time tending to your new little spawn, but hear me when I say your bod will thank you for it.
4. Probiotics and essential oils
Many women end up having antibiotics in the fourth trimester…whether it’s during labour, for a c-section wound infection, or mastitis, you may end up having some. You’re probably aware that antibiotics kill every bad and good bacteria you have so it is immensely important that you replace all the good stuff! Probiotics are not only great for you, they support your new little baby too if you breastfeed, so get on them! Good gut health will often result in good mental health…chances are, if your gut bacteria are out of whack, your mental health may be a little off as well.
I have had some really great success using essential oils and I love them! As soon as I got home from having our fourth baby I started using a women’s blend designed for balancing and supporting hormones…and it has made such a huge difference in my recovery…cannot recommend it enough!
5. Set boundaries
Sometimes it’s actually harder to take a step back, lay out some boundaries and give yourself care than it is to just power forth and keep up with life.
I have not always been a great boundary setter, but when I was pregnant with our fourth baby, I started learning the art. It can come easy for some and not so for others, but I think it’s one of those things you just gotta do! Set your boundaries to what you know you can handle, and learn to say no. It doesn’t mean you have to say no to everything all the time, it just means, you’re saying, not yet, and giving yourself the space you need to rest, recover and rock your fourth trimester.