The fourth trimester is the 12-week period immediately after you have had your baby.
It’s an exciting and turbulent time where things move very quickly, and being prepared for both you and your baby’s fourth trimester will make things go a lot more smoothly.
There’s so much education on pregnancy and childbirth yet during this twelve-week period you are often left to fend for yourself when it comes to the information provided for preparation.
But we’re not having it. Below is all the information you’ll need so that you know what to expect for your fourth trimester.
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What To Expect During The Fourth Trimester
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First, Let’s talk about What To Expect During The Fourth Trimester with your baby.
Your baby will do some crying during this time. That’s a given.
Most babies will cry up to three whole hours a day, but some with especially strong endurance can cry for much longer.
The crying typically peaks around six weeks after childbirth and usually comes down to about an hour a day by the twelve-week mark.
Crying is your newborn baby’s way of communicating needs and feelings so they spend a lot of time doing it.
Some things your baby may be trying to tell you are that they’re hungry, tired, uncomfortable, sick, or in pain.
Sometimes they cry out of sheer boredom and they want to be stimulated. Other times they may cry just to make sure you’re there so they feel safe. It’s instinctual.
If your baby cries like he/she is in pain very often while awake they may be suffering from Colic.
Colic is frequent, prolonged, and intense crying or fussiness due to the Digestive system not being fully developed, the Imbalance of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract, and Food allergies or intolerances. Overfeeding, underfeeding or infrequent burping are also possible causes.
If you think your baby has colic, it’s a good idea to get a check-up with your pediatrician to rule out medical causes for crying.
How to deal with crying-
The first thing to do is to check whether your baby is hungry, tired, or uncomfortable.
You might be able to respond to your baby’s crying by feeding him/her, offering a nap, or changing your little one’s diaper.
If that doesn’t work offer a change in scenery, or rock your child in a rocking chair or baby swing for movement and stimulation.
You could also try a warm bath or a little massage. Touch will help soothe your infant.
You can swaddle your baby or offer a pacifier as well for comfort.
You can sing or turn on a sound machine, or dim the lights if you think your baby is looking for less stimulation.
Make sure you remain relaxed and calm while interacting with your crying baby. Babies can sense your energy and how you’re feeling.
If you are stressed they will feel this and it will only make things worse. Remain as calm as possible, take deep breaths, and try to relax. The crying will pass.
If you Google baby sleep, during the first twelve weeks you’ll find ‘ Sleep Scedules ‘ for your baby.
Scratch those. You can try to create good sleep habits for your newborn, of course, but keeping them on a strict schedule will be impossible.
Baby sleep can vary wildly during the first twelve weeks from child to child. Every baby will be different.
In the first week, he/she will be full of melatonin from your body because the baby stores it in their system before childbirth.
So that first week is about nothing but sleeping with quick wakes for feeding and diapers.
Here’s what to expect, generally speaking:
- Your baby will sleep on and off all day long and all night long.
- The total amount of sleep will vary between babies — it can be from around 8 to 20 hours a day.
- They will sleep off and on and wake up only to be fed or changed for the most part.
- Newborns sleep very lightly for the first twelve weeks or so.
- For those first six weeks, your baby will not know night from day. It won’t matter. After that, they begin to develop more of a sense of this. Exposing them to light will help the process.
Here are a few good posts for helping your baby sleep better:
During the first week of life, your newborn will eat every two to four hours with around eight to twelve feeding per every 24-hour period.
Your baby typically sleeps all the time during this first week and only wakes to feed. If your baby has lost a lot of weight, is small, or has jaundice you may need to wake them to encourage taking a breast or bottle.
He/she will typically take two to three ounces if bottle-fed at a time. After the first week, they’ll move up to four ounces and continue to go up as your baby grows.
If your baby is breastfeeding they will simply eat until full or falling asleep.
A baby will display certain hunger cues that you can learn to look for.
Some typical hunger cues in babies are licking their lips, Sticking their tongue out, Rooting (moving jaw and mouth or searching for the breast), Putting his/her hand into their mouth repeatedly, Opening their mouth over and over, general Fussiness, and Sucking on anything they can find.
Many newborns begin cluster feeding in the evenings, so they may nurse every hour for several hours or remain on the breast for several hours at a time.
Cluster feeding is when your baby wants lots of short feeds over a few hours.
If you plan on breastfeeding it’s good to educate yourself during the third trimester. You’d think breastfeeding would come naturally to both you and your infant, but it definitely does not.
Latching your infant to the breast takes practice and technique. If you are unfamiliar with what to do you will end up with very sore nipples and a hungry baby.
There’s an online course you can take that is quick and easy and it’s only $27. It takes just a couple of hours to go through and will teach you everything you need to know about how to breastfeed and latch your newborn correctly.
The breastfeeding course is called Milkology and you can find it here. It gets rave reviews and it’s the best course of its kind on the subject.
When babies are born they are prepared to live outside of the womb for the most part. But they are not fully physically developed.
There are things that still need to grow and adapt to be fully functional.
It will take the first 3 months to get your baby’s digestive system running smoothly, for one. Their eyesight needs to develop more, the nervous system, reflexes, and more.
Your baby will rapidly develop over those first three months, gaining all of these bodily skills and more.
In the first 8 weeks, your baby has no control over their movements; the movements are an involuntary reflex.
Sucking, grasping (holding something tight in the hand), and startling (‘jumping’ when there is a loud noise or when they’re suddenly moved) are all reflexes.
From about 8 weeks, your baby will begin to watch their hands and feet waving in the air, and to wave their fist towards your face or something they want. Your baby’s starting to get the idea that they have a body that moves, feels, and has skin all around it, and that they have some control over what it does.
Your baby will start to work out how to lift their head when lying on their tummy and kick their legs.
There are some things you need to know about safety in the first 3 months.
For starters, always put your baby on his/her back for sleep. This will help prevent SIDS. You can learn more about SIDS here.
The bassinet and/or crib should meet current safety standards and you should keep items such as pillows, comforters, quilts, and stuffed toys out of the bed.
Keep your child’s bassinet/crib positioned away from windows, heaters, lamps, and other furniture.
When changing your baby keep all changing supplies within arm’s reach of the changing table.
Do not leave your baby unattended on the changing table, and be sure to use the safety strap.
Even though your baby can’t roll yet, they can wriggle and kick, so never leave them alone on a high surface such as your bed or the changing table.
Bathe your baby in a specially designed, slip-resistant infant bathtub. You can find a great one here.
Buy a really good car seat for your infant so they will be securely protected in case of an accident. You’ll need this to even be allowed to leave the hospital. Here’s a great option with excellent reviews.
Go ahead and childproof your house as well so you don’t have to worry about it later.
Now let’s discuss What To Expect During The Fourth Trimester for you
What It Will Be Like Physically
These first three months will be super exhausting but also exhilarating beyond belief.
Your baby is here! So many new and beautiful experiences to have.
But your body has been through some really rough stuff and you’ll be recovering, yet you’ll be fueled with little sleep.
The physical part of your recovery can be quite brutal and it’s important that you are well-prepared for what’s to come, and for some reason when being educated about pregnancy and having a baby the postpartum period for the mother is left out of the conversation.
There’s a lot to go over for vaginal care/c-section and everything else to expect so I’ve listed our most important postpartum posts below. You should go through each, then you’ll have a solid knowledge of what to expect. The post titled what nobody tells you is particularly important, and so is the one about vaginal care.
There are a few other important posts added as well:
- How To Survive Postpartum Pain Without Crying!
- What Nobody Tells You About The First Few Weeks Postpartum ** A Must Read
- Postpartum Survival Kit | Everything You Need To Minimize Your Pain
- Postpartum Vaginal Care
- What To Expect The First Week Home With Your Newborn
- Postpartum Survival Kit | Everything You Need To Minimize Your Pain
If you choose to breastfeed your baby you’re in for a really beautiful experience. The bond created by breastfeeding is like nothing else. I myself breastfed all three of my babies for several years each. I was a long-term breastfeeder.
But it doesn’t come as naturally as you’d imagine. In fact, it’s quite difficult for both you and your baby if it’s your first child and you don’t have experience from the past.
Latching on is the most challenging part. It takes a very specific technique and if you do it wrong it causes tremendous nipple pain, frustration, and hunger for your child.
Some hospitals will offer you a bit of help with a lactation consultant while others leave you to fend for yourself.
Either way, it’s very important that you educate yourself beforehand if breastfeeding is the route you’re going to take.
The first three months after your baby is born you’ll be on one heck of a ride.
Your body is trying to reach a hormonal balance in the first few weeks and it is really difficult. Especially if you’re breastfeeding.
You will feel really strange, and sad too, this is very common. You’ll also be so very exhausted due to lack of sleep.
It’s hard to get through. But after a few weeks, you’ll start to feel a bit better and it will continue to improve from there.
But just a fair warning, it can be difficult. Get as much rest as possible. Prepare your home and any loose ends up before the birth to make everything as easy as possible.
Read this post to help prepare yourself.
What To Do To Make It Easier
Below are some ideas on how to make those first three months easier on you so you’ll feel ready.
Be Physically Prepared
To prepare yourself physically for the first three months you’ll need to be educated on what to expect.
Read the posts I listed earlier in this article to start. Make sure your home is fully prepared.
Create Freezer meals you can thaw and warm so you don’t have to cook much the first month. I suggest you freeze a lot of prepared food for this time.
Make your partner aware of the emotional and physical challenges so they’ll understand what to expect.
Fully prepare your home in every possible way. Pay bills ahead of time, just anything you can think of to make the whole thing easier on you.
Stock your home with the needed items like economy-size packs of diapers and wipes. Put everything in easily accessible places.
Read The First Year
There’s a book called The First Year you can pick up right here.
It will help you prepare for the first year with your baby. Especially the first three months. It’s a great educational resource that every mother should own.
In the end…. The fourth trimester can be exhausting, exciting, and painful, all at once. It will be a real whirlwind of emotions and challenges. But preparing for the fourth trimester will help things run as smoothly as possible.
We hope this information helps make you feel a little more ready for the big challenges ahead.
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