Guest post! From Emily Graham in the US
Challenges During the 4th Trimester
Most healthy pregnancies have three trimesters in which the baby develops in the womb. Each trimester is marked by particular milestones for both the parent and the developing child. However, another period that is often overlooked is referred to as the fourth trimester. The fourth trimester is the period of a few months directly after the baby is born. Here are some of the challenges that mothers face in the lesser-known fourth trimester.
Experiencing Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression is a common condition that can occur after someone has a baby. Some of the symptoms of this condition include:
• Feelings of shame and guilt
• Mood swings
• Loss of interest in things you once enjoyed
• Losing or gaining a significant amount of weight
• Difficulty bonding with the new baby
Like with general depression, there are many different things that can cause postpartum depression. It is important to speak to a professional if you have any of the above symptoms, as there are several treatment options available for those with postpartum depression. Speaking to a mental health counselor can be helpful for many new parents during this time period.
Preparing to Leave the Hospital
It is important to prepare for going home after giving birth at the hospital. One way to prepare is to ensure that you have the necessary clothing, including comfortable slippers, socks, and a robe. You may also wish to have underwear and pads that are made specifically to wear postpartum, as well as a nursing bra and gown to wear at night. It will be easier to acquire these items ahead of time rather than have to look for them after the baby is born.
Bonding With the Baby
Many mothers worry that they will be unable to bond with their newborn child, and this is the case in some instances. However, there are some steps to take to help with the bonding process, such as:
• Having a virtual assistant to help with your new schedule
• Letting coworkers know that you may need to take some time off
• Enlisting the help of willing family members when things get tough
If you are having trouble bonding, remember that that is normal and refrain from beating yourself up about it.
Adjusting to a Different Schedule
Babies are known to require a lot of attention and to be fed often throughout the day. This will likely require some significant changes to the schedule you had while pregnant and before you became pregnant. If you are able to do so, make sure that the other parent or close friends and family members can assist during this important time.
Seeing Physical Changes
In addition to experiencing potential mental health changes, you may also see some physical changes to your body postpartum. Some of these changes include larger breasts, discomfort from a vaginal birth or C-section, and bleeding nipples from breastfeeding. All of these changes are normal, however, a medical professional can give you advice on ways to be more comfortable during the postpartum period so you can focus on the new baby. Always talk to your doctor if you are having unusual symptoms or are experiencing severe pain.
Staying healthy is especially important for moms in the postpartum period, as it strengthens your body, improves your mood, and helps you better handle the stress of motherhood. Begin with gentle exercises like walking and yoga before progressing to routines that involve weights or cardio machines. Additionally, eating nutritious meals with plenty of fruits and vegetables can provide necessary vitamins and minerals for proper recovery after childbirth.
Hire a Postnatal Doula
Having a postnatal doula on hand after the arrival of a bundle of joy can help new mothers in so many ways. Postnatal doulas can provide around-the-clock practical and emotional support to mothers, as well as their infants, helping them adjust to their new lives as parents. They understand how difficult it can be to maneuver motherhood and become a source of information, comfort and assurance.
When you know what to expect during the fourth trimester, you can better prepare for this time period when it arrives, whether that means spending less time at work, seeking mental health care, living healthier, or something else.
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