Fourth Trimester Reassurances.by Claire Chircop
We measure moments in pregnancy by trimesters, the first, the second and the third. But once you’ve had your baby, what happens then? The fourth trimester is a time of ups and downs, a learning curve you could say... A time you definitely need a bit of reassurance.
The fourth trimester is often described as the hardest & I wouldn’t disagree. It’s easy to feel like you’re losing yourself or that you’re not yourself. It’s a rollercoaster ride which can often leave you feeling a whole host of new and unexpected emotions. It can be incredibly lonely being a new mum, but I’m here to spread some fourth-trimester reassurance.
My job is to tell you that even if you feel like you’re struggling, you’re doing so well to get through the day. The fact that you’re worrying you're not doing a good enough job, means you’re already doing the best job!
1. Babies aren’t good or bad, they’re just babies.
How many times have you been asked if your baby’s a good baby, or if they’re a good sleeper? I bet you’ve lost count, right?
The questions are never ill-intended, although they can add unnecessary pressure to you and your baby. They can make you second guess yourselves and the decisions you make as parents. The questions, as innocent as they are, can be really damaging & make you feel like you’re not doing what’s best for your baby. The fourth trimester is such a tough time for new mums, we don’t need the added pressure.
If your baby doesn’t sleep too well during the night it has absolutely no reflection upon your parenting skills. If your baby suffers from colic, it has absolutely no reflection upon your parenting skills. If your baby doesn’t latch well when breastfeeding, it has no reflection upon your parenting skills.
You get the gist!
There’s absolutely no such thing as a good baby, or a bad baby, they’re just babies… And 9 times out of 10 they aren’t going to behave like they say in the textbooks, so please don't worry yourself.
2. You’re not going to enjoy every moment, and that’s totally okay.
We’re programmed to think that motherhood is the most wonderful, heart fulfilling, loving thing in the world. And whilst those moments do exist in abundance, they’re not always constant.
Motherhood is all-consuming, especially in the fourth trimester. The fourth trimester can be overwhelming, it can be mind-boggling and it can be really blooming boring. I don’t think enough people talk about how monotonous being a parent can be in the early days. You get stuck in a routine, counting down to their next feed or timing naps.
I’d be very surprised if anyone could hand on heart say they enjoyed every moment of motherhood. Not enjoying every moment doesn’t make you a bad mum, it makes you normal.
3. ‘Success’ is different now.
Success feels easy to measure before we become parents. If we work hard, we could earn a promotion and a pay rise. If we train hard, we could achieve a personal best. Success is easy to measure and feels somewhat easier to achieve.
The fourth trimester is a whole other ball game. Success is totally different and often really difficult to see. It seems that whenever we feel like we’re getting the hang of motherhood, our baby’s decide to throw a curveball. The phrase ‘two steps forward, one step back’ comes to mind. But that’s completely normal when it comes to parenting.
Success in the fourth trimester can mean numerous things; It can mean your first night of unbroken sleep, it can be cutting their first tooth, or being able to drink an uninterrupted cup of hot tea.
Take those successes, as small as they are and celebrate them!
4. You are your baby’s expert.
We’re never taught how to look after our baby’s. There’s no qualification. And like I previously mentioned, 9 times out of 10 our baby’s aren’t textbook babies.
You go through huge physical and emotional changes during the fourth trimester, it’s only natural to second guess yourself and your abilities as a parent. It can be especially difficult when outside parties try to load advice (and add pressure) onto you.
But you are your baby’s expert. Nobody knows your baby like you do.
Listen to what they have to say, take their advice on board, but ultimately you have to trust your gut and your abilities.
5. You’re important too!
Mum guilt makes us believe that every waking second of the day should be spent looking after our babies. But having a baby doesn’t suddenly make us unimportant.
In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
We need to take care of ourselves, so that we can take care of our babies.
Please don’t feel guilty about taking care of yourself. Regular self-care should be part of our day, week, month, whatever works for you. You are so important!... And your baby thinks the exact same!
Time is honestly the greatest healer & even if you feel like you're struggling with the fourth trimester now, just know that it doesn't last forever. Things will always get easier!