Your body and soul have just been through the mammoth task of growing and birthing a baby into the world. Now you need some serious resting and healing time!
For many mums the fourth trimester, or newborn stage, is filled with both some of the highest highs, and the greatest challenges of our lives.
For new mums there can be enormous emotions involved as we traverse through uncertainty, self-doubt and anxiety. Combine that with recovering from birth, fluctuating hormones and often exhaustion, is it any wonder this can be a fragile and pressured time.
Read on to discover how you can choose a different path & THRIVE through the 4th trimester.
Postpartum Healing and Emotional Recovery
With the way our current standard practice of birth is so medicalized and very often interfered with, many women are coming out the other side with unacknowledged trauma, both physically & emotionally.
Hospitalized births tend to be very sterile and lacking in emotional support. They can be disempowering for so many women since it has become the norm to hand over control of the birth process to medical staff.
The message is that as long as both mum and baby come out alive and physically okay at the end of it then what goes on behind the closed doors of the birth
ing suit doesn’t matter.
But it DOES matter.
It means the difference between coming out of the experience feeling disempowered and often diminished somehow, or empowered and awed, supported and connected.
Many women are actually coming out of the birth experience carrying unacknowledged, unhealed trauma and I believe this needs to be acknowledged before it can be healed.
How do you feel about your birth experience?
- I don’t really want to think about it, my baby is with me now and that’s all that matters
- I never want to give birth again
- I feel like a train wreck
- I am disappointed with how things turned out but my baby is with me now and that’s all that matters
- I haven’t felt like myself since
If you agree with any of those statements, you are carrying a degree or more of birth trauma.
We have not been taught how to deal with this kind of experience and trauma emotionally, so we tend to want to forget about it and move on. The problem with this is that when big emotions are suppressed we are very prone to depression and anxiety.
Moving Through Postpartum Depression and Anxiety
Depression is suppressed emotion, and there is just about always something we are angry about which we’re not allowing ourselves to just FEEL angry about.
Let me just say that it’s okay to feel angry, and many women do actually come out of birth feeling angry. But this is so misunderstood and generally not an acceptable way to feel when we’ve just been through the miracle of birth, right?
But the truth is many women feel angry with the way it turned out, angry with how they were intervened with, angry about feeling powerless, angry at their partners for whatever reason.
It’s OKAY! Let’s just be real about it!
Emotion is energy in motion. We don’t stay angry when we just let ourselves feel it.
We don’t need to hang onto the reason, we don’t need to give the story of it any power at all. It doesn’t matter what triggered it, all that’s important is that we honor it.
Its only when it’s denied and pushed down that it becomes problematic.
The fact is that birth is an emotionally triggering event and most births take place in an emotionally unsupportive and unsafe environment so the feelings are suppressed
So, this is Step 1 Mumma’s! The first step to both surviving AND thriving the 4th trimester!!!
Would you like the rest of the steps???
Here they are, my 7 steps to Thriving & TRULY enjoying your 4th trimester with your bundle of joy
1. Honor How You Feel
Whatever it is, start by acknowledging it and either talking about it, just stating the truth of how you feel, or journal about it.
Give yourself permission to express it emotionally in a safe space, as it emerges naturally for you.
Sometimes this is enough to slowly process through things in our own time, but if you feel you need additional support to move through something that has emerged for you, this is a vitally important gift to give yourself, and now is the time.
2. Find the Balance
Us women have been taught that love means self-sacrifice. But we need to find the balance between our babies needs and our own. Your own needs are just as important.
Yes, the 4th trimester is a time where our babies needs are highest to support them to transition into this world.
And yes, forming a secure attachment is really important. But not at the expense of our own wellbeing
This article explores how to provide secure attachment in a balanced way, without burning ourselves out.
3. Find What Nurtures YOU
Self-care and being kind to yourself is SO vitally important during this time.
Go here for some ideas and inspiration.
4. Let Go of Perfectionism and High Expectations
Lower your expectations and go with the flow!
Your baby doesn’t need to be in a routine or sleep trained yet and they are not ready to self-soothe so don’t worry about creating bad habits.
He is transitioning into this life and needs you to just go with his flow and follow his lead. Relax and let your baby show you.
But at the same time, you are his guide too so we need to trust our instincts.
You will be a nocturnal creature for this period of your life, and it WILL change 🙂
Let yourself live in your jammies and look like you’ve just had a midnight pillow fight. It’s okay!
I felt pretty much like a milk machine living in a bed for the first months.
Whatever it is that works for YOU go with that.
5. Cope with Exhaustion
Every mum goes through sleep deprivation, in these early months especially.
It can be so intense for some mums that they can find it hard to function. I know I suffered with exhaustion and fuzzy brain.
But I believe that with the right supports, the broken sleep doesn’t have to hammer us so hard.
- Nap whenever you can.
- Regular exercise, even 5 minutes of opening yoga stretches can get the energy flowing again.
- Eat superfoods (concentrated nutrition) & whole foods.
- Avoid junk food, overeating, alcohol & sugar. All of these things deplete us.
- Accept all offers of support.
- If feelings of exhaustion are extreme & become debilitating talk to your health practitioner as there may be an underlying cause
6. Spend Time Getting to Know This New Person
This big soul in a little body!
I remember making this little shift inside of myself where I decided that when my baby needed me through the night it was a beautiful opportunity to bond with and enjoy some special quiet time with him.
Instead of thinking about how exhausted I was and the sleep I was missing out on, I decided I was going to go with the flow and I started to really enjoy being there for my baby when he needed me.
It was precious time, in the peaceful, slow, quite dark of night.
This is precious bonding time for you and your baby.
Enjoy getting to know your little one by gazing into each other’s eyes, cuddles, singly softly to him, just spending as much time as you can resting up with him.
7. Welcome the Tears
Or at least try not to stress about them 😉
Just know that when your baby cries, this is 2 things:
- The only means your baby has for dealing with sensations that are overwhelming to him at this point and communicating his needs.
- His way of processing trauma and his environment.
Outside of communicating and meeting his needs, I knew intellectually that my baby needed to cry, but I felt an overwhelming compulsion to help him feel better. I felt I needed to do SOMETHING to ease his suffering.
Nothing prepares you for how strong this compulsion is but just know that babies need to cry.
We need to learn to listen and watch the early cry cues because often your baby is communicating a need (hungry, tired, needs burping or uncomfortable somehow).
The Dunston Baby Language method is really interesting to check out, and can help to take out some of the early guesswork.
Outside of these basic needs, sometimes your baby just needs to process through trauma & stress, and once they have, they will often be happier, more peaceful & sleep more deeply.
There you have it Mumma’s!
If you’d like more hot tips and educational resources on Holistic Living and Parenting, check us out here.
Enjoy thriving through that precious 4th trimester!