12 things we wish we knew about the fourth trimester

If you’re nearing your due date, or have just brought your precious little love home from the hospital, you’re probably wondering what to expect in those first few weeks and months. Nothing truly prepares you for it.

The fourth trimester is a beautiful but challenging stage. Every baby is unique, and every mother experiences this stage differently. Some parents thrive and enjoy the newborn bubble, soaking up the snuggles, while many find that it’s exhausting, difficult, frustrating, and overwhelming.

All feelings are valid. To help you emotionally prepare for the fourth trimester, we asked Newborn Baby’s community of mums what they wish they had known about it. We hope you find some comfort and reassurance from their advice.

12 things we wish knew about the fourth trimester

1. That there is actually a fourth trimester!

Some first-time parents aren’t aware that there is a fourth trimester and feel that there’s not enough education about it. We hope to change that, so please check out our articles, starting with:

2. That it’s the hardest trimester.

Compared to pregnancy, it might be surprising just how much harder and more emotional this trimester is. You’re not alone if you don’t enjoy the postpartum stage. There is support out there if you’re struggling, or experiencing depression and/or anxiety. For more information about available resources, please read:

3. That some visitors who come to ‘help’ don’t really know how to.

Some visitors just want to come and hold the baby, but the help that many mums want is for people to clean, cook, do groceries, and laundry while mum spends time with her baby and doesn’t have to worry about getting everything else done. When you ask for help or people offer help, give them a specific job. Can you start this load of laundry? Can you bring dinner? Can you watch the baby so I can shower and nap? It’s ok to ask for those things. It should take a village to raise a baby, and here is how to find that village:

4. How hard it is to ask for help and admit you’re struggling.

It can be hard to even ask for help in the first place. Doing so doesn’t mean you are failing. You may be tired, overwhelmed, emotional, but not failing and you need to recognise that you can’t fill bub’s cup if yours is empty. If you don’t have a support network, and are in the position to pay for help, read:

5. To celebrate the little wins 

There might be days that you feel are good days because you get to shower and brush your teeth twice. Here are some more milestones to celebrate:

6. To take one day at a time

While it feels never-ending in the thick of it all, it actually passes really quickly. It eventually ends and the sun shines again. Hang in there! You might like to read this reminder:

7. Breastfeeding is hard and it doesn’t come naturally for everyone.

Women don’t give birth to their first baby simply knowing how to breastfeed. It’s a skill that both mother and baby must learn together. Even though it’s instinctual for babies, it requires practice, patience, but most importantly, support. It isn’t usually easy, so it can help to adopt this mindset:

8. It’s ok to tell well-meaning people that their advice is overwhelming you.

Everyone has advice for new parents, and not all of it is helpful. Some recommendations are even outdated and harmful. It’s okay to tell people ‘thanks, but we’ve made our parenting choices’.  Here are some other ways to handle these difficult conversations:

9. How debilitating and painful the recovery can be. 

Many new mums wish there was more information given to them in the hospital about what post-birth recovery is like and how long it lasts. It’s a good idea to find out more about it during pregnancy so you know what to expect and how to prepare. This is great place to start:

10. How hard it would be on your first child.

Every older sibling reacts differently to the newest addition, depending on their age and temperament. Many don’t cope very well with this big change in their lives, and understandably so. Their world as they know it has been turned upside down. We’ve got some tips here to help them adjust:

11. That your partner should take off more than 2 weeks if possible. 

Many new mums find that two weeks of parental leave just isn’t anywhere near long enough. It can be incredibly daunting to suddenly be left alone to cope after such a short time. Even if it’s your second bub, and you think you can manage because you did the first time, you’re not going to know what this new baby is like or how the firstborn will react. If you have a partner, and it is a possibility, try to keep them home longer. If they’re not able to, is there a trusted family member that could come and stay and take over the help? Here is how your partner can help during the postpartum period:

12. That there can also be the 5th, 6th, and 7th trimesters.

This is a great thing to know about having a baby. They don’t just miraculously become easier, cry less, sleep longer stretches, and become more independent after the newborn stage ends. Infancy actually lasts three years neurologically. This means that their brains undergo huge development in the first three years of life, so they are never ‘too old’ to be so dependent on you for protection, security, comfort, and co-regulation. Pick them up, cuddle them, and nurture them. They won’t stop needing you for so many things for quite some time.  Read:


If you’d like to add something to this list, or if you would like to share your experiences or ask a question, feel free to send us a message over on our Facebook page

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