Well, baby boy is well over 15 months now but I still have lots of posts I want to share from my pregnancy and the early days of motherhood.
I started writing this ages ago but with these diary style entries I think they’re always better late than never, even if it is a bit of a ramble.
So, with my inbox at 0 (let’s not mention those ‘starred’ emails) I thought today was a pretty good time to finish writing about the fourth trimester.
So, if you missed it, I wrote about my first, second and third trimester along with my birth story in my pregnancy archives. I really enjoyed writing about my pregnancy experience, it was a very happy time for me and I wanted to document as much of it as I could.
As always, I am not a medical advisor and this is simply my personal experience. Everyone has very different experiences of pregnancy, birth and motherhood so it’s important to know that your journey will be truly unique to you, just like mine was to me.
What is the fourth trimester?
I didn’t know there was a fourth trimester ’til the last few months of my pregnancy rolled ’round. I think I watched an Instagram Live where someone was talking about ways to prepare for it. It made so much sense to me that I looked into it a little more.
The fourth trimester is the 3 months following the birth of your baby. It’s a pretty intense time for mother and baby. Your little bundle of joy is getting used to life outside the womb and you’re getting used to life as a new mum, not to mention the psychical recovery after birth and a SO MANY hormone changes.
To put it simply, it’s a time of huge adjustment for all, both emotionally and physically. Oh, and it’s not a simple time at all.
Life outside the womb
I remember holding my baby for the first time after I woke from the general anaesthetic. I felt like he’d always been a part of our lives and after a very long labour I was delighted to finally have him in my arms.
My first night after giving birth was spent in the hospital, as were the following five days. For the very first night I was pretty much out of it from all the drugs I was on from the general anaesthetic. I couldn’t keep my eyes open never-mind hold my baby for long, change him or feed him. So, when Phil left the hospital around midnight (I found this hard so my heart goes out to all the parents and babies born during COVID19) our baby went back into his cot and at some point he was whisked away for bottle feeds. It was a strange and hazy night but as soon as I woke in the morning he was right back next to me.
The following day and night my baby slept on my chest. This was something that would be a common theme once we made it home from the hospital. He didn’t want to be in the cot and who could blame him? He’d spent 9 months hearing my heartbeat from inside my body. The only way to keep that going while he adjusted to the world was to have him sleep on my chest. I wasn’t going to complain, those early days and months were wonderful.
We spent the first couple of weeks bundled up at home. Our baby slept on on us, we did lots of skin-to-skin and fed him on demand.
I LOVED the newborn bubble.
I avoided wearing perfume, lighting candles and used only Water Wipes on baby boy’s delicate skin. It’s strange to think that every little thing was new to him and the scent of food, our home and other people must have been so overwhelming.
We took a 10-20 minute walk each day for the first month and once April rolled around we started to venture a little further from home. We live quite central so it was easy to take the tram to the town and go for a coffee. Baby boy seemed to enjoy these outings but if we were ever out for too long he’d certainly let us know and we’d rush home by tram, back to our cosy cocoon.
It took a little while to get the hang of breastfeeding (FED IS BEST, I’m just sharing my personal experience) but it was worth the hard work in those early weeks. I didn’t know this before, but babies aren’t born knowing how to feed. It makes sense though. Some pick it up right away and for others it can be a learning process. I found it was all down to position and comfort for me. Feeding him in the hospital was hard but once we were home it was much easier.
X lost a lot of weight in the first week or so, so I had to wake him up a little more regularly than usual at night. I think it was every two hours. He would have slept through and not had enough milk if I’d let him wake naturally.
I did a mix of breastfeeding, expressing and the odd bottle of formula here and there. At first I found it hard to feed him when we were out and about so I’d either make sure we were back home in time for his milk or give him a bottle of ready-to-go formula. After a while I realised that all the advice I’d read about what to wear when breastfeeding wasn’t quite right for me. Dresses and shirts were too much hassle but a t-shirt and skirt or trousers was perfect – easy, quick and discreet. Once I realised this I found feeding him in public so much easier.
I’ll talk more about my breastfeeding experience soon.
What about me?
Well, for the first few days I was desperate to get out of the hospital and back home. It was hot, uncomfortable and very loud on the ward. I wasn’t told how long I had to stay in for and despite getting dressed, putting on make-up and asking when I’d leave I was not given any answers. This was frustrating and stressful. I think this also ultimately played a part in the difficulty I had with breastfeeding in the very early days.
When I was finally home things changed. I had comfy pyjamas, fresh bedsheets, a cool bedroom and we were all together. It was perfect and breastfeeding became much easier.
We don’t live near any family and my dad hadn’t been well so we didn’t have any visitors for the first week or so. Although we had time to spend together and bond with our baby I do wish our immediate family on both sides could have visited straight away. It’s so important to have a strong support network, even if it’s just for a chat or to have someone bring you cups of tea and Marmite on toast.
Those first couple of nights after being in hospital I was very tired. I didn’t sleep at all in the hospital (other than the very first night, thanks drugs!) and I’m not exaggerating at all. On the second night I just sat up in bed and decided there was no point in trying to sleep. So I really needed a big sleep when we got back home. Of course, with breastfeeding and expressing milk all day and night and not being someone who naps in the day I didn’t get that big sleep ’til a week or so after.
I got to a point where my eye was twitching and I knew I needed to snooze. Phil had a few bottles of expressed milk and formula and took over the feeding duties in the early hours. Once I finally had a good sleep, I imagined my energy bar filling up, like in The Sims, it made the world of difference and I was good to go again.
Other than needing that first big sleep I didn’t mind waking every couple of hours to feed X. I got used to it pretty quickly and enjoyed those early hours with him. I really enjoyed watching Selling Sunset and doing a spot of online shopping in the early hours of the morning too.
I didn’t experience the baby blues (a lot of people have asked about this) which people say come on the third day after birth. I don’t think everyone gets it but it’s good to be aware of it and to know it is totally normal. Your hormones are all over the place following birth so don’t be surprised if you find yourself crying or feeling overwhelmed. Ever since I got pregnant I have found that I cry much more easily than before.
I did have an increase in anxiety during those early weeks after birth, it happened whenever I thought back to X’s birth. I’ll talk more about this in another post.
We stocked up on quick, easy and healthy meals so that took the pressure of cooking away in the evening. Getting the house organised in advance and having a food shop ready to arrive in that first week made life so much easier too.
It’s so important to take time to let your body heal. I took things easy for the following 3 months after giving birth and for quite some time after that. Although I didn’t have any pain with my c-section and felt I recovered well I still didn’t feel comfortable to go back to my old exercise routine. I walked most days though and found that worked well for me.
While you’re taking care of your tiny new baby it’s so important not to forget about yourself. It’s a time of adjustment for baby, mother and partner, emotionally and physically.
You must take your time and listen to your body. Don’t compare your birth or recovery to anyone else.
There is so much more that I would love to discuss but I will continue this conversation in another post. So, if you have any questions about the fourth trimester leave a comment or drop me a message on Instagram.