Fourth Trimester Guide: What to Expect Postpartum
Every trimester has its own traits, from how your baby is developing to symptoms you are feeling. The fourth trimester of pregnancy is one filled with many lifestyle changes and both the excitement and stress of having a new baby to care for – but it is all worth it as you finally get to meet and form bonds with your little one.
Unlike tracking your fourth trimester by weeks like the first, second, and third trimesters, postpartum is more of a broad approach to the few months following birth. As a new parent, use this guide to learn what to expect postpartum during what some call the “fourth” trimester of pregnancy!
An Overview of Your Fourth Trimester of Pregnancy
During the fourth trimester, you’re embarking on your postpartum phase. The fourth trimester includes the first three months after birth. Your baby spent nine months in the comfortable home of your belly and is now a tiny little thing in a great big world. So, let’s focus on two separate ideas: How to help your baby accommodate during the first three months of their life, and how to heal your body during these next three months of recovery.
Throughout this time, you may experience fourth trimester postpartum symptoms such as:
- Hair loss
- Postpartum depression
- Skin lightening
- Swollen breasts
- Thinning hair
- Vaginal bleeding
- Vaginal soreness
During this stage, you are likely feeling pretty overwhelmed from all of the new changes in your life while also handling recovery. With the right resources and a good understanding of your fourth trimester and postpartum care, you’ll feel more confident as you start your new parenting journey.
What to Expect Postpartum: The Fourth Trimester for You
The changes your body endures during pregnancy are nothing short of a miracle. The mere fact that women’s bellies expand in order to house their little cohabitant is astounding. But these changes and the physical endurance we need to give birth take a serious toll on our bodies. For mothers, the fourth trimester should be dedicated to the physical, and mental, recovery of your body.
It is also normal to feel a range of emotions as a new parent. One moment you’ll be elated, the next you’ll question your ability to raise a child. The fourth trimester is a bumpy ride full of highs and lows. During those first few weeks, many birth parents will experience a fleeting case of the “baby blues.” Postpartum depression, on the other hand, sticks around and can have a completely oppressive presence in a new parent’s life and should be immediately addressed with professional help.
Your Postpartum Care
- Assess and strengthen your abdomen and pelvic region after birth
- Boost serotonin
- Be prepared with supplies for yourself
- Regulate your digestive system
- Use nutrition supplements
- Find a physical therapist
- Utilize breastfeeding support
- Sleep whenever possible
- Immediately seek help if you believe you are experiencing postpartum depression
- Accept help when needed
What to Expect Postpartum: The Fourth Trimester for Your Baby
In the fourth trimester, your baby is going through a massive environment transition. During the nine months of pregnancy, your baby was cradled in its amniotic sac and fluid. Now that they’re here in the world, that environment is gone – and that takes some getting used to. During the first three months postpartum, your baby will be experiencing a ton of change. This change is often expressed in three ways: crying, sleeping, and eating.
To help your newborn transition into this new environment in the fourth trimester, you can recreate feelings of their ‘prior home.’ Recreating your baby’s belly environment doesn’t mean sticking your baby in a bath 24/7, but it does mean we can evoke the same comfort and security our baby was used to feeling in the womb.
Baby’s Postpartum Care
- Encourage skin-to-skin contact
- Perfect your swaddling technique
- Interact as much as possible to promote brain development
- Feed your baby often
- Soothe your baby to sleep when needed
- Keep an eye out for colic
- Be patient and learn the reasons for their cries
- Calm fussiness by gently putting them on their sides or stomachs
- Shush quietly to soothe and mimic the sound of the womb
- Use a swing to help promote sleep
Navigating Your Fourth Trimester
Your fourth trimester is an exciting time when you get to finally enjoy your baby’s company in person, but it can also be a complex mix of emotions as you navigate recovery and adjusting to parenthood. The parenting journey is a wonderful experience, and being prepared at the start of it can help you feel more confident and comfortable through it.
Every experience is different, so don’t fret if your approach isn’t the same as others – as long as you love and care for your baby, we promise you are doing a great job. As Dr. Alison Stuebe, the medical director of lactation services at UNC Health Care, says, “Eat, sleep, and feed the baby. If you’ve done all that, you’ve won the game.”
If you have just given birth after a battle with infertility, congratulations on your new addition and healthy, growing family! Red Rock Fertility Center is always here to help you through every stage of your pregnancy, from conception to postpartum.