Encouragement and tips for embracing and surviving the fourth trimester. Each fourth trimester has been different. Surviving the fourth trimester is a balance of finding the joy, letting go of expectations, and finding your own rhythm in motherhood.
When we talk about pregnancy, most people know that morning sickness, acid reflux, and an inability to see our feet are part of that process.
Most people are even familiar with the three trimesters.
But as every Mama- and Mama to be– knows there is a fourth trimester, and it can be the sweetest, most unpredictable, and most difficult of them all.
In a single day, your life flips completely upside down.
Your large, round belly becomes a deflated piece of mush that somehow feels tiny and massive all at once. You cry at the drop of hat, swell with anger for no reason, and weep tears of gratitude all while laughing uncontrollably.
Aside from this new, healing body with thoughts that seem to move without your direction, you suddenly also have this tiny new baby fully reliant upon you.
Through blistered nipples and lips still chapped from labor, you sit rocking a new depth of love well into the night.
Everything is new and different, and yet eerily familiar. Some part of you craves the routine and simplicity you used to have, while some other piece of you can’t believe how blessed you are to be here- right here in the fourth trimester.
Embracing a New Season
I have a friend who absolutely hates when someone talks about the “seasons of life,” but I think it is really the best way to describe the phase of life that we are in. And the fourth trimester is just that- a season.
It is a 12 week period defined by the newborn stage and the healing process that follows birth. Just like every natural season of the year, it is brief and filled with new adventures and new beauty.
This makes my fifth fourth trimester- try saying that five times fast.
The truth is surviving the fourth trimester looks different for every single Mama and every single pregnancy.
Every birth, every body, and every baby is different, so there is no ‘one size fits all’ way to embrace and overcome this season.
There are, however, a few tips that you can alter to fit your personality, your season, and your lifestyle to encourage healing, bonding, and mental health during this final trimester.
If you are a first time Mama, it is important to know that your healing process may take longer as your body is just learning how to recover from the birthing process for the first time.
The same can be said for those who have had C-sections, traumatic births, or complications with an epidural.
Comparison is the thief of joy. Please, please don’t let the 2-week postpartum mama posting gym videos discourage you.
Everyone handles this season of life in their own way, but there is no rush to heal or get back to normal life.
Learning to listen to your body is crucial during this time. Again, it is a season, so if it feels overwhelming- remember it won’t last forever.
6 Tips for Surviving the Fourth Trimester
1. Nourish Your Body as Well as Your Baby’s
After my first birth experience, I felt like I was living in a shell of who I used to be.
I went home to the same house- the same husband.
But everything was different.
My body was unfamiliar and sore.
It hurt to go to the bathroom.
It hurt to breastfeed.
Pumping was new, foreign, and essential.
There was a sense of dread and worry because suddenly I had this new love and a new purpose- and I had to protect him!
I will never forget my sister coming over and asking me what I had eaten that day. It was well after lunch time. I sat raking my forgetful Mommy brain before finally realizing- nothing. I hadn’t eaten a thing. In fact, I couldn’t even remember the last time I had eaten.
The fourth trimester can be marked by extreme hunger or no appetite.
After other births I was starving and devouring anything and everything in sight.
Mama, you need nourishing foods. They help us heal- especially those rich in iron and vitamin K- like grass fed beef. We can get so fixated on the baby’s schedule and making sure the baby eats and gets the best breastmilk or formula we can give them that we forget to nourish ourselves.
If you are breastfeeding your baby, your diet is your baby’s diet. This is a taxing season on your body- nourish it well with whole foods, vitamins, and lots of water!
This is also a great time to indulge in some of your favorite foods or things you don’t get very often. Enjoy brunch, snacks, and embrace those cravings- it is probably something your body needs!
Your body has been through a lot, nourish it well!
2. Do what you feel like doing, not what others expect
I remember reading a magazine article once on all the things you should do during your 6 weeks following delivery.
There were a lot of fun ideas like brunch with friends, coffee shop outings, and daily afternoon walks.
The truth is though, those aren’t fitting for every mother.
When your pelvic bones are coming back into place, afternoon walks aren’t always fun.
And to the Mama who has a baby in the middle of RSV season, coffee shops and brunch look about as whimsical and fun as an urgent care waiting room.
Do what you feel like doing.
If you want to go to the park with your family, go to the park.
If you want to visit the farmer’s market and grab a coffee- enjoy every minute!
And if you want to sit at home and just enjoy your family- do it!
It doesn’t matter if your family thinks you should bounce back faster than you are or if your great grandma thinks you shouldn’t leave the house for 6 weeks after having a baby. (I have been told that and as much of a homebody as I am, I would have cabin fever if I stayed in for 6 weeks.)
This is a season to focus on your baby, your family, and healing yourself. It may not look the way others expect it to. It might not even look the way you envisioned it would, but that is okay.
Embrace this season for what it is and do what you feel like (and enjoy) doing.
3. Sleep Peacefully
Read that heading again.
I said “Sleep peacefully” not “sleep when your baby sleeps.”
That was not a misprint.
I said that on purpose.
When I was pregnant with Isaiah we attended a community baby shower that one of my husband’s friends had helped to organize. We walked in to a room draped in pink and blue and full of pregnant women. Across the front of the room were clotheslines hung like banners- each one was weighed down by tiny little newborn onesies with names on them.
A woman greeted the room and informed us that each of these onesies represented a baby in the area that had been lost because of SIDS or unsafe sleep.
So guess what I- as a round, expectant Mother– did?
Yep, I panicked.
So when Isaiah was born and placed on my chest- I vowed to never sleep again.
I don’t know that I did sleep the entire first month. I was miserable and exhausted, but I was determined that he would not be a name on a onesie to warn other Mamas.
Oh my sweet friends, if you are living in that mindset like I was, please take that worry to Jesus and leave it there.
You cannot watch them every moment of every day.
And you will drive yourself crazy trying.
Sleep is so important- especially for new Mamas. It is essential that you find a way to sleep- peacefully.
That may be with your baby close by in a crib or cradle, that may be by having your spouse watch the baby while you rest, or that may be co-sleeping.
(I personally am a fan of co-sleeping; however, if you are a very heavy sleeper or if you are on pain medicine while you heal from birth this may not be a safest option.)
4. Be Patient with yourself and your body
I “bounced back” much faster from my third and fourth pregnancies than I have my fifth. And after my first, it took me about 9 weeks to even start to feel somewhat normal again.
I’m certain at some point you will be supermom (you were when you brought your sweet bundle into the world), but that doesn’t have to be in the first couple weeks of your baby’s life.
This is a time to be patient with yourself and your body.
Your body has just spent 9 months enduring ever changing pregnancy symptoms, expanding, and growing a new human.
Then comes a time of labor and delivery and whether you are cut open or open naturally- another human has been expelled from your body.
For some reason, we tend to expect women to immediately move on as if nothing has happened.
But that is not reality.
In the real world, we will bleed for the next few weeks.
Our organs will shift into new positions seeking the home they possessed before our uterus evicted them.
Our mid-sections shrink into soft mush as stretched ligaments regain their structure.
One day you may feel great and even put a home cooked meal on the table, and the next you may spend the day in tears for no reason.
That’s the fourth trimester.
It is chaotic, beautiful, unpredictable, and hard at times. Be patient with your emotions, your joys and sorrows. Be patient with your healing process.
Remember you are surviving the fourth trimester while embracing a completely new role and a completely new life.
This is a season and it will pass.
5. Cuddle, Cuddle, Cuddle
The highlight of the fourth trimester is certainly not bleeding through mesh panties and yelling at your husband.
But there is a massive gleaming silver lining to the fourth trimester: your precious new baby.
(I mean seriously, did you ever think anyone could be so perfect?!)
Becoming a Mama is so much more than gaining a title or getting cards in mid May.
Your entire world shifts.
Your purpose in life changes.
Suddenly you have this new ministry- this precious arrow that God has trusted you to raise up and aim at Him. .
There is so much joy in this season.
There is also a new weight of anxiety, worry, concern, and struggle. Not to mention the hormone swings that take you from tears to fears to anger in seconds.
But we have one advantage over all of that: oxytocin– the love hormone.
This is the hormone that initiates labor and lactation.
There is something inside of a new mama that says “cuddle your baby”. That is God’s design for us as Mamas in the fourth trimester. The more you cuddle, snuggle, sniff, and nurse your baby- the more your body contracts, heals, and releases those feel-good hormones.
This helps with milk production, bonding, and your overall mood.
So cuddle, cuddle, cuddle, and cuddle some more.
Baby snuggles are the best remedy for the fourth trimester. (Baby snuggles are definitely my drug of choice!)
Need breastfeeding support? Click here!
Speaking of after birth contractions, check out our ‘shop this post’ section down below for the best natural remedies and fourth trimester must-haves!
6. Have someone to talk to
Okay, now let’s address the elephant in the room:
Postpartum depression (PPD) and baby blues.
I wish these were not associated with the fourth trimester, but we live in a fallen world so this is our sad reality.
First things first, if you are battling feelings of depression, dread, anger, or hopelessness after having a baby please, please know that it is not your fault.
You are not a bad mother.
You cannot help it.
Unfortunately, this is just the hand some of us are dealt following the birth of our baby. And it is so unfair.
I know you want to be happy, to sing songs of gratitude, and look and feel like the Pinterest Mom.
It hurts to struggle.
It hurts to be so down in a season when you want to be overwhelmed with joy.
I know it feels unfair to you, to your baby, to your family- but you are not alone.
Nothing prepared me for facing baby blues after my first pregnancy.
I remember sitting in the floor of the shower and begging God to kill me and send someone else to raise Isaiah. All I could think was he deserved a cheerful Mama- and I wasn’t her. I felt alone, hopeless, and desperate.
He was so perfect and I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just accept that and be happy. I never told anyone how I felt until after those emotions had passed and I felt like myself again.
Do not do that.
There is nothing to be ashamed of.
You cannot help the thoughts, fears, and emotions that come about after having a baby.
Talk to someone everyday.
Speak openly and honestly with someone you trust. Someone who will help you, love on you, and pray for you. If you have no one like that around you, reach out to a local church or counselor.
If you have no one local, message us!
Do you know someone in the fourth trimester? Reach out and check on them daily.
If you or someone you know have thoughts of suicide call your (or their) doctor or midwife. Or dial 988 for crisis prevention. Don’t suffer in silence! There is so much help available, and this, too, will pass!
The Upside to the Fourth Trimester
I’ve said it before but it needs to be repeated; the fourth trimester is unpredictable.
There are some really hard moments and some struggles that come along with it, but there are also some major upsides.
In the chaos of a busy life, a new baby always causes us to slow down and focus on the things that really matter.
Those big eyes locked on you in the middle of the night.
The smell of milk in their precious neck rolls.
The grunts and groans in their throat when they nurse.
Suddenly the dishes don’t matter.
The ever expanding laundry pile is a reminder that your family is growing and well cared for.
Work can wait.
The to do list will eventually get done.
But for the next 12 weeks you have a newborn, and nothing is more important than that.
Soak it up Mama. Breathe in the sweet aroma of new life and let this season wash over you in waves. Jot down some memories, engrave them on your heart.
Ballet recitals and soccer games will come in time.
Busy schedules and daily chores will take back over but this is a precious season- a season of slow. Embrace it. Enjoy your growing family- everything else can wait.
Happy Fourth Trimester!
If you are a new Mama- a new Archer– then let me start by saying Congratulations and welcome to the greatest adventure of your life!
We would love to walk with you through the Battlefield of Motherhood as you learn to aim your precious arrows. Subscribe to our email list and get our FREE ebook Bible Study sent directly to your inbox!
Shop This Post- Essentials for Surviving the Fourth Trimester
After Ease- All natural supplement for soothing after birth contractions
Rael Organic Cotton Liners (these are ideal after the first few days, when bleeding has slowed slightly)
Yeti Mug (If you’re a morning coffee drinker, you’ll thank me for this!)
Coconut Oil From sore nipples to diaper rashes, treating thrush, cradle cap, and everything in between- coconut oil is a must!
Comfy clothes- I won’t add links here because everyone has their own preferences on cozy postpartum outfits, but I will add it to this list because they are in fact- essential!
*This post contains amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon associate, I earn a small commission off of every purchase made through our website. This is at no extra cost to you, but it is a blessing to our family!