Looking after yourself as a new mum
You’ve made it! Pregnancy is done and now you’ve got your tiny bundle of joy
What is the fourth trimester?
The fourth trimester marks the first 12 weeks of your newborn’s life when they adjust to the world outside the womb and go through some huge developmental changes. As well as getting to grips with feeding, learning night from day and coping with new sounds, smells and sights, they will of course also be getting to know you and your partner!
The first three months will be different for everyone but it’s safe to say that most people will be struggling with less sleep and energy than usual, while adjusting to the demands of a tiny human who relies on you for everything. We know this can be very draining and after the adrenaline high initially you may well find your mental and physical health take a bit of a hit.
Here are a few realistic tips to help you look after yourself at this time.
Tips for feeling good physically:
Food and drink:
Cooking when you have a newborn baby may be the last thing on your mind but try to make sure you are eating nutritious, balanced meals - don’t feel guilty asking friends and neighbours to help out! If you’re breastfeeding you may have noticed your appetite has increased so make sure you have lots of tasty snacks to hand to keep the hunger pangs away.
We know it’s hard when you’re operating on what feels like zero sleep and reaching for a coffee is often the default! The advice, especially if you are breastfeeding is to hold back (1-2 cups a day max) - not because they want you exhausted but because caffeine is a stimulant and can make your baby restless. Worth noting it isn’t just in coffee - energy drinks, chocolate, coke all have caffeine in them.
Exercise can be a great way of clearing the cobwebs and getting your energy levels back up after having a baby. It’s best to wait until you’ve had your six-week check with the GP before you start leaping back into action with anything too strenuous, especially if you had a c section. But a gentle walk with your baby in the buggy or sling really can do wonders for both your mental and physical health.
Many babies also love the movement so you may also find the added benefit is your little one sleeps!!
We all become obsessed with sleep when we have a baby! It’ll be all you talk about with other new mums and we know the night waking during the fourth trimester (and after…) can be a real shock to the system.
Don’t put any pressure on yourself. If you have a terrible night’s sleep, have a day on the sofa, ignore the household chores and just concentrate on feeding yourself and your baby and resting.
Resting is of course much easier said than done, but it really is worth trying to take advantage of nap times if you can. Take up offers or ask your partner, a relative or a friend to take the baby for a walk to give you some space to rest and recuperate - even 20 mins can make the world of difference to your day and the energy you have to give your little one.
Tips for looking after your mental health:
- Don’t get stressed about routine. There’s plenty of time to think about that later (if you want to have one).
- Share your feelings with friends and family and ask for their help if you need it.
- Try to get some fresh air every day - even if it’s just a walk around the block.
- Don’t have too many visitors in the first days and weeks. Set a time limit for visits so you don’t get too tired or overwhelmed.
- Try not to compare yourself to other parents - in real life or on social media. Having a new baby is one of the most challenging times in life, and trust us, no one finds it easy!
- Speak to your health visitor or GP if you need support with your physical recovery, feeding or other issues. They’re there to help you.
So what happens after the fourth trimester? Does life get easier? We’re not going to say that everything will have magically fallen into place but hopefully you and your baby will have found your groove and the fun times can really begin!
You can read more about the fourth trimester here