Fourth Tri (1)
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  • Obstetrics | Pregnancy
  • 22.03.21

Preparing for the fourth trimester – adjusting to life with a newborn

A chat with midwife, Katie Atkins

Typically, pregnancy is broken up into three trimesters, however the term ‘fourth trimester’ is used to describe the first 12 to16 weeks with your newborn baby. 

We had a chat with midwife, Katie Atkins, to talk about the fourth trimester and hear her suggestions on how you can prepare yourself and your partner for this exciting (if somewhat exhausting) time in your life.

So, what exactly is the fourth trimester?

As a midwife, a mother and an educator, I have learnt that women and their partners are not prepared for the fourth trimester, I know I certainly wasn’t. 

The fourth trimester is known as the first 12-16 weeks you’ll spend with your newborn baby. Every day during this time, you and your baby will learn a little more about each other. 

This first three months postpartum is a whirlwind. With the support of the Grace Private team behind me, I help new parents embrace this time. As a midwife, I believe part of my role in the fourth trimester is to empower new mothers to let go of unrealistic expectations, ask for help if it’s needed and help their baby adjust to life outside the womb.  

Baby (1)

What do you think is the most common misconception about the 4th trimester?

It’s common for new mothers and their partners to feel lots of pressure to have everything worked out in the first 12 weeks. 

I can assure you, there will be days you have it all worked out, and there will be other days when you feel overwhelmed, tired and wanting to pack it all in. And that’s all ok. 

How can new parents overcome this?

I always emphasise that it’s ok to admit when you don’t know something. 

For first time parents, and even parents juggling newborns with older siblings, it’s a major life transition. This, combined with additional challenges such as postpartum pain, feeding issues and fluctuating hormones, can make the fourth trimester a testing time for everyone. 

I have always said to the women I care for; it takes a village to raise a baby! So, I encourage you to create your village! 

Who should be in your ‘’village’?

Your village can be made up of family, friends, your midwife, GP, child health nurses and other people you can call on to ask for help. 

Remember, the washing, the cleaning and the shopping can wait. If someone from your ‘village’’offers to help, they’re offering because they want to, not because they must. 

Newborn babies don’t know the difference between night and day and it’s going to take them time to learn this.

What does a newborn need in the 4th trimester?

Newborn babies don’t know the difference between night and day and it’s going to take them time to learn this. As parents you can help them adjust their sleep habits and teach them the difference between night and day. 

During the night, all your baby needs is: 

  • cuddles, with soft voices
  • warmth and love
  • to be fed in a dimly lit room
  • placed softly down to sleep 

During the day spend time with your baby: 

  • reading, talking, singing
  • feeding breast or bottle
  • cuddling, smiling and bonding. 

Above all, keep it simple. You’re learning, whilst getting minimal sleep, while trying to manage a little human that requires your constant attention. 

Is white noise important in the 4th trimester?

Yes, definitely. Prior to your baby being born, your baby felt safe, comfy and cosy, warm and loved. Inside your uterus your baby had the comforting noise of your heart constantly beating, your muffled voice, digestive and bowel sounds and the soothing background noise of every breath you took. 

In these first few weeks you will learn that ‘white noise’ will help your baby adjust to life outside the uterus, helping your baby to settle. 

Any final tips?

Remember these 5 simple tips, then together you will love and learn the joy and privilege that is raising a baby.

  • all babies are different.
  • when newborns are awake, they are usually feeding.
  • be flexible.
  • comfort your baby to help them feel safe and loved. 
  • and most importantly, you can never spoil a newborn baby with too many cuddles!

Whether you dream of having a baby, or are newly pregnant, with the midwives and specialists at Grace Private you’re in safe, experienced hands. Ask for ‘Grace’ when you next visit your GP. 

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  • Obstetrics, Pregnancy