The Fourth Trimester
The fourth trimester is a transitional time from birth to the first three months postpartum. It’s a time of immense adjustment for both the mother and the baby. When the term was first named, it referred mostly to the baby’s transition from birth to the first few weeks of life.
‘Named by paediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp in 2002, the term ‘fourth trimester’ suggests that you should try to recreate, for another 3 or 4 months, the kind of environment your baby had in the womb.’
In 2017, author Kimberly Ann Johanson published her book ‘The Fourth Trimester: A Postpartum Guide to Healing Your Body, Balancing Your Emotions, and Restoring Your Vitality’ which helped raise awareness about what this period means to the mother.
This is a time in which both mother and baby require support. For nine months, the baby has been floating in the mama’s warm and dark womb. Through the umbilical cord, the baby has been receiving food without having to do any work for it, and the mother’s comforting heartbeat has always been there.
Once out of the womb, there is a completely new environment awaiting. Between gravity, light, sounds, and vast space the baby is busy taking it all in. The newborn is also learning how to feed, breathe, and be away from mama. The way in which this transition happens creates blueprints in the newborn’s subconscious mind that will last a lifetime.
As for the mother, it’s a time of immense healing and transformation. There are changes happening on every level: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. After giving birth, her body changes completely, and it’s neither the body she had before or while pregnant. Her hormones are adjusting and her body is flushing itself from unnecessary fluids so she keeps on bleeding for the first few weeks postpartum. The mother is also recovering from either natural birth or a c-section, and both methods come with their own set of issues.
Aside from physical changes, emotions run high during this time. No matter how hard birth was, seeing her baby for the first time is unforgettable and uplifting. Oxytocin, the love hormone is in the air as mama steps into her new role. All of these love feelings come with protective instincts that can cause worries, anxieties, and excess preoccupation which can lead to various unnecessary stresses potentially getting in the way of healing.
As for the spiritual changes, Ayurveda sees the First Forty Days as a Sacred Window: a time in which a window opens and a woman is connected to the most sacred aspects of life. She is raw, open and as vulnerable as her newborn baby. Many cultures around the world understand the importance of taking care of the mother so she can move through this transition feeling safe, cared for, and supported.
In the west, most of the care given to the woman while pregnant is redirected to the baby after birth. Oftentimes, the woman is dealing with the household duties, visitors, and cooking while also caring for herself and her baby. It is unfortunate that many women do not receive the necessary support to move through this delicate short season.
That’s why I created a program that cares for the mother during the fourth trimester. Some of our Postpartum classes are catered to a pregnant woman who is about to enter the fourth trimester. We help her prepare for it, as well as support her while she is moving through it. I break down the fourth trimester into phases, and explain what’s happening to her throughout each stage. Having this type of help can make a world of difference in both her wellbeing and the wellbeing of her baby. If you are already postpartum, you may benefit from my postpartum relaxation techniques course or from my nutritional guide which includes recipe ebooks, grocery lists, and educational videos from a holistic approach.
At Good For Mama, we believe that preparing ahead for this transformational time can make a positive impact on how a mama deals with the immense changes happening within and all around. I hope to be of service during this beautiful, unique time in your life.
Check out "The Fourth Trimester: a Postpartum Guide to Healing Your Body, Balancing Your Emotions, and Restoring Your Vitality" on Amazon:
Edited by: Lily Zara