The fourth trimester is described as the moment your baby is born until they are about 3 months old. For the most part, when doctors and health providers talk about the fourth trimester it is in regards to your baby. Their whole world has changed. They’ve gone from being nice and cozy warm inside your womb to the outside world which can sometimes be cold and very bright. From the moment they are born they are learning and growing. The fourth trimester is also a time of huge growth and change for the birthing person.
“The moment a child is born, the mother* is born also. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother never. A mother is something completely new” – Osho
I can vividly remember being three days post-partum. My husband was lovingly snuggling our baby. I was googling how much a baby should eat at 3 days old as I felt she wasn’t eating enough. Google told me she should be eating every two to three hours. I couldn’t remember the last time she had eaten. Naturally, I stood up and demanded the baby back because she was CLEARLY starving! She was fast asleep on his chest.
During the first 3-4 months of Hailey’s life, I felt many things. Some good, a lot not so good. I felt elated when she first arrived. As my midwife wheeled me out of the hospital I looked up and said: “When can I have another one?” After a few days, I was struggling with breastfeeding and started to feel inadequate. My friends all breastfed their babies. “Breast is best” I read. “Formula is unnatural” I heard. I felt like a failure as I stood in the formula aisle trying to decide which formula was “the Best”. I was trying to pump. Stressed because though I was on the highest dose of domperidone I still wasn’t producing enough milk. And then she would look at me a coo or smile and I would feel those good feelings again.
My sweet baby is almost a year old and I finally feel like I am getting the hang of this mom thing. I have always been drawn to children and them to me. I thought this meant I was meant to be a mom and I would be a natural. Let me tell you… No one can prepare you for the transition from non-mother to mother. All of a sudden you live and breathe another person. You know you need self-care but how on earth will anyone else be able to care for her. She needs you. Things you used to enjoy without a second thought suddenly became a little more complicated.
Hailey was born the week before Christmas. On New Year’s Eve, my mum and aunt babysat her while my husband and I went out for dinner. I had so much fun which made me feel guilty. I worried about her and whether my mum could “handle” feeding her a bottle. Hailey was having some trouble gaining weight which added to my worry. If she didn’t drink the bottle I worried about the stress I would feel when my midwife said: “she hasn’t gained again”.
Thinking back to all the appointments (because I just HAD to breastfeed), all the stress, all the worry and all the anxiety I cannot believe we made it through. Looking back it seems like a lifetime ago but yet like it was yesterday. So mama, my advice to you… Put your phone down. Quit googling, quit researching and just breathe. Take a deep breath and repeat after me “You are enough. You know what they need. You are their mom”. Enjoy this time with your baby. You will stress and worry but try to take in the little moments. The smiles, and coos. You will long for this time back.
*I am using the term mother for ease of understanding. People of all genders may be the birthing or non-birthing person. In this case, “Mother” does not necessarily denote a female person but the person who has given birth.