The Fourth Trimester


The fourth trimester is a thing.

All the moms out there know that childbirth doesn’t end after the third trimester. If you are about to meet your first baby, this one is for you.

You have a baby! Now what? No one talks about the inadequate feelings new moms face in the fourth trimester. We are expected to become the perfect mom right out of the delivery room.

Every baby is different.

What works for one, may not work for the next. We are dealing with humans after all, not machines with training manuals.

However, the closest and most helpful thing I had when I had my babies was the book from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Caring for Your Baby and Young Child. This book kept me from running to the doctor for every weird sound, skin issue, or bowel movement.

This tiny human just spent 10 months inside a womb. Basic things like air and eating are foreign. Even though this child can’t talk and tell you what they want, they know what they want.

If you are hellbent on your own agenda, you are going to stress yourself out.

I know because that was me.

It started with breastfeeding. I am a rule follower. Tell me what to do and how to do it and I will get it done. The lactation nurse told me to feed this baby every two hours from the time she started nursing. She took 45 minutes to nurse every single time. If you do the math, that is nursing pretty much every hour.

I didn’t want this baby to starve, but I was burnt out!

But I was a rule follower, so I did what the nurse said and tried to feed her not long after she stopped nursing even if she was sleeping. That’s what they told me to do.

My baby was screaming and I was crying and feeling like a failure. The fourth trimester is no joke!

Finally, my mom said something that ultimately set me free, but not without hesitation. “Jessi, just let her tell you when she’s hungry.” But what about my rules and my feeding log? What will the nurse say if she sees I wasn’t feeding her every 2 hours?! In hindsight, I see now that I was in a pretty ridiculous headspace and I was driving myself insane.

I was so focused on following the rules, that I didn’t enjoy my baby.

Can you guess what happened next? She actually let me know when she was hungry and we were both able to enjoy each other more. To this day, this child still takes forever to eat. It is pretty amazing how soon you can pick up on their personality traits.

You are going to be tired. It is going to test your patience and your sanity. Just come to terms with it.

Having an infant is exhausting and so is raising them. Babies are trying to get used to life outside the womb and you’re trying to get used to having another human attached to you all the time.

Make life easier for yourself.

I kept my babies in our room until they weren’t waking up multiple times. Everyone has an opinion on everything, but when I am the one that has to get up and feed this child, I could care less about anyone else’s opinion.

Yes, I fell asleep nursing all three of my babies and they are just fine.

I know the pediatrician told you “back to sleep,” but again, are they the one that has to deal with an infant that clearly hates sleeping on their back? This baby is used to being in a tight ball for the last 10 months and now has to sleep on their back.

Some babies may not have a problem, but my first baby was not one of them. Do you want some words of wisdom? Learn how to swaddle. You aren’t going to break them. My friend is a pediatric nurse and makes a very good point: do you see screaming babies in the nursery at the hospital?

If they loathe sleeping on their back, roll up a receiving blanket and stick it behind their back. My second child would not sleep on her back or her side, and would only sleep on her belly (the horror!) My third could sleep anywhere, anyhow. If you are really paranoid or simply want to relax a little bit, get a video monitor. This saved me from freaking out with every baby noise I heard.

Babies make noises and it’s ok.

It’s all going to be ok.

You are not going to do everything perfectly. No one is perfect. What is perfect anyway? You are enough. You gave birth to another human and are raising them until they are adults. For the love, give yourself some grace.

What advice would you give to a first time mom during the fourth trimester?

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Jessi Culyer
Jessi Culyer is a mamapreneur with three businesses to support moms. A recovering perfectionist, human doing, and control freak, she fully embraces personal growth and development to be the best version of herself. She uses her passion for food choices and transformational life coaching to help you become who you were created to be and live your best life. Jessi moved to RVA from NY by randomly choosing a city close enough to the beach, the lake, the city, the mountains, and a great church. She is married to her best friend with three kids 8 and under. Growing up as an Army brat, she loves to travel and embraces change. She is scuba certified and has jumped out of a perfectly good plane twice. She is a professional foodie and her favorite thing in Richmond is trying all the restaurants. Her favorite way to eat is to try a bunch of small plates. She’s been known to choose four appetizers to share instead of having to choose one entree. Variety is the spice of life!