Fourth Trimester Essentials

“What’s a fourth trimester, and what are fourth trimester essentials?” I hear you cry. Or at least, I did when I heard the term, panicking that I might be pregnant for another four more months or something silly.

The term “fourth trimester” does relate to your baby’s developmental stage but specifically refers to the first three months after your baby is born. It’s those beautiful but fairly stressful newborn days.

It's time to get prepared. Once your baby arrives, there are a few essential items that will be invaluable in helping you navigate those initial weeks.

Recovery and Perineal Hygiene

First and foremost, it's crucial to prioritise self-care during the fourth trimester, focusing on postpartum recovery and maintaining perineal hygiene.

I recommend My Expert Midwife’s Birth Duo Recovery. The Spritz for Bits offers instant relief from perineal soreness. Its natural oils with anti-bacterial properties will also help address stretched skin, bruising and swelling and aid healing. 

For those who’ve had a C-sec, the Recovery Duo relieves soreness and keeps things clean once your dressings are removed. Soak for Bits will be your number one bathtime companion. Containing Epsom salts to help soothe aching bodies, its essential oils boast anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties—all the good stuff. 

Maternity Pads and Comfortable Underwear

Maternity pads and comfy underwear are a must. We’re talking Bridget Jones knickers. If you’ve had a C-sec, you won’t want your panty line sitting anywhere near your scar. And you can say goodbye to those G-strings for a bit - ouch, to even think about it! 

Pelvic floor leaks are usual after birth, as is the post-birth bleed, so you'll need something you can wear a pad with. When it comes to underwear, breathable fabrics like cotton or bamboo are best.

Don't forget to invest in a few quality nursing bras. Bravado is your go-to for all shapes and sizes. Their bras are super comfy and come in flattering designs that look great. Oh, and ditch the underwire; it can cause pressure around the edges of the milk ducts, which can cause blockages. 

[Read more about maternity pads here]

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Pain Relief

Stock up on the paracetamol in case you need it during the first couple of weeks postpartum. According to the NHS, you can take normal doses of paracetamol (one or two 500mg tablets every 4 hours up to 4 times in 24 hours with a maximum of 8 tablets in 24 hours) if you are breastfeeding. Paracetamol is a first-choice painkiller during breastfeeding because it passes into breast milk in very small amounts. 

Baby Feeding Essentials

If you’re transitioning your baby from breast to bottle, you’ll need a reliable pump to support your breastfeeding journey. I rented the hospital-grade pump from Medela, which is great at home but by no means portable for when you’re out and about. 

Again, Medela has some brilliant options here, including double and single-electric breast pumps. There’s also their new wearable pump, designed to rival Elvie’s. Both brands are well worth a look.

[Read more about feeding essentials here]

Nipple Cream

Breastfeeding can be challenging at first, especially in the first two weeks. I always felt as though it was a nigh-on impossible task until my baby’s mouth grew a bit. During that time, the nipples do take a bit of a beating, so you’ve got to have nipple cream on hand. 

Lansinoh Lanolin Nipple Cream is the most popular, and you can pick up a tube pretty much everywhere. Burt’s Bees Soothing Nipple Cream is also really popular, and it’ll arrive the next day if you’ve got Amazon Prime.

If you are struggling with the latch or breastfeeding in general, get help. Go back to your midwife or health visitor, who'll be able to advise where best to find a lactation specialist. 

Nursing Pillow

A fantastic pillow for pregnancy, the Dreamgenii Maternity & Nursing Pillow is built to last, and it's perfect for the fourth trimester and beyond, too. The uniquely designed pillow is the only patented pregnancy positioning pillow recommended by UK Midwives, so it’s worth the investment if you’re reading this early on in your pregnancy. 

Nursing pillows are great for propping baby next to you (as long as it’s safe!). We found ours a lifesaver for both of our reflux babies. 

[Read our list of the best pillows here]

Baby Carrier or Sling

Keep your baby close and enjoy hands-free time with a baby carrier or sling. Don't just buy blind. There are so many to choose from.

Find a sling library near you – usually, you can pop along to discuss your needs with a trained consultant or even arrange a home visit. You can try on various slings and carriers and even hire them before you invest. While recommendations from friends are great, everybody is different, and there’s no single best sling or carrier for all. As your baby grows, their needs might change too, so it’s worth getting some advice on what will work best for your family. It took me ages to find the right baby carrier. I found a lot of them incredibly difficult to use, so don't worry if you find yourself completely confused. Been there, done that, got the confusing baby carrier! 

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The Blissful Baby Expert by Lisa Clegg, and  Geraldine Miskin’s Breastfeeding Made Easy were both fourth-trimester essentials after the birth of both of my children. 

Lisa covers everything from the importance of introducing a bottle early to how to get your baby into a routine. 

Geraldine’s book offers step-by-step breastfeeding advice with easy-to-understand illustrations that help you figure out exactly what you’re doing when it comes to boobing your baby. 

[Click here to read more about books you need to read while pregnant]

Healthy Snacks and Online Food Delivery

It can be so tempting to eat rubbish in those newborn days. There's little time to prepare and think ahead when your hands are full. Try to get organised with an online food delivery so you don’t have to go to the shops in person. 

Stock up your larder with healthy snacks - you’ll need to keep your energy up. Bone broths, veggie soups, eggs, whole grains and oats, dark chocolate, healthy fats, full-fat dairy, fresh fruits and veg are all brilliant fourth-trimester fuel. 

If you're feeling fancy, why not sign up for a meal delivery service - even just for the first few weeks?

Local Support Network

Being a new mum is a wonderful and memorable time in life, but oh my god, it can be isolating. If you didn’t join an NCT group and you don’t have friends in the same boat, it’s worth doing a bit of research as to which local baby groups/mum’s groups operate in your area. Peanut is a brilliant app if you’d like to make local friends with babies of the same age. Be brave. It's so worth it. 

Other Useful Apps

The Wonder Weeks is excellent for keeping track of your baby’s milestones, leaps and growth. It’s the ultimate baby tracker app. It’ll calculate when your baby will make a ‘leap’ and give you insights into what the leap is all about. 

It's really useful during the fourth trimester, especially to understand the big changes your baby is going through, which often reflects the mood they're in. 

CALM or Headspace are both worthwhile subscriptions. Whenever you can find a moment for yourself, try one of their guided meditations or sleep stories to help you relax and find a bit of rest. 

Prioritising self-care is essential for new mums, as it's the key to finding balance and overall well-being, which is crucial in navigating and enjoying those first few weeks with your baby.

Online forums can be great, too. Your Baby Club is brilliant for connecting with other parents and seeking support and advice.

Professional Help

The fourth trimester is a rollercoaster, and it's really common and totally normal to experience a degree of 'the baby blues.' If these feelings escalate, or you want to talk, don't be afraid to seek help. Get to know your Health Visitor, contact your GP for advice or reach out to any of the organisations below. And don't forget - you’re doing a great job, Mama!

PANDAS Foundation– a UK-based charity that offers support to parents experiencing pre and postnatal depression.

Mind– a mental health charity that provides information, advice, and support for anyone experiencing mental health problems.

Maternal Mental Health Alliance– an alliance of professional and patient organisations committed to improving maternal mental health in the UK.

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