Being pregnant is exhausting. Everything about your body changes, from the way you look to the way you walk, sleep, and even go to the bathroom. By the end of the third trimester, most moms-to-be can't wait to have their baby living outside of their bodies. They are so ready to start feeling like themselves again. What they probably don't realize, however, is that the first few months after delivery are a transitional period for both mom and baby. There are several things to know about the fourth trimester that can prepare you and your baby for life outside of the womb.
How great would it be if after having your baby, your body suddenly looked and felt like it did before you got pregnant? A lot of new moms picture this scenario, even if intellectually they know that their bodies and minds need time to adjust to motherhood. But what they may not realize is that their little ones also need an adjustment period. When babies are born, they have no idea what is going on. They've never had to eat, breath, or poop. They've never felt cold or been alone. Basically, babies have to learn how to be babies, and the fourth trimester is when they develop those skills.
Here are some other things that happen in the fourth trimester.
1. You Will Leave The Hospital Still Looking Pregnant
When I packed my very first hospital bag, I took a long time picking out a "going home" outfit. I finally decided on a cute top and a pair of non-maternity jeans that I'd worn for the first couple of months of my pregnancy. Less than an hour before I was discharged, I realized that there was no way those jeans were going over my hips. I didn't pack a back-up outfit, so I ended up going home in the same maternity clothes I had worn to the hospital.
Somehow I missed the memo that it's just not that you still have some extra weight on you after giving birth, you straight up still look pregnant. According to Fit Pregnancy, it can take anywhere from one month to 9 months or longer to lose the weight around your midsection depending on your body shape and how much weight you gained in your pregnancy. Even if you are back to your pre-pregnancy weight relatively quickly, the muscles in your abdomen may not cooperate, and you can still have a tummy.
2. Your Linea Nigra Hangs Around
Around 75 percent of pregnant women develop a dark line from the pubic bone to the belly button – though for some women it can extend to just below the breast according to Fit Pregnancy. This linea nigra, or black line, is caused by hormones in your second trimester. For most new moms, the linea nigra sticks around during the fourth trimester and can last up to a year after delivery.
3. Your Baby Wants To Be Held (All The Time)
Parenting Expert and author Sarah Ockwell-Smith wrote on Huffington Post that babies are born incredibly ill prepared for life outside of the womb. They are used to being in constant movement and in a cocooned, warm environment. After birth, they spend a lot of time on their backs, still and alone. Because of this, babies feel safer and cry less when they are being held.
4. You Are Constantly Nursing
Babies are being continuously nourished in the womb, so as soon as they start eating and digesting, they will experience a new sensation called hunger. Belly Belly suggested feeding your baby on demand which helps accommodate growth spurts as well as creates a safe and comforting environment. The site warned that breastfeeding schedules can, at worst case, can lead to failure to thrive.
5. You Let Go Of Sleep Expectations
One of the worst things parents do to themselves is expect their baby to sleep through the night within the first few months after birth. In fact, according to Baby Center most babies do not sleep eight to 12 hour stretches until they are around nine months old. In order to catch up on sleep, you may have to change your own sleep habits in the fourth trimester. If your baby goes down for her longest stretch from 8 p.m. to midnight, you may have to follow suit.
6. Postpartum Depression Can Strike
According to Postpartum Progress, postpartum depression (PPD) can strike anytime in the first 12 months after having a baby, a miscarriage, a stillbirth, or an abortion. Most often, however, it begins in the fourth trimester, around three months postpartum.
7. You Don't Need To Do It All
Western moms tend to feel as though they should be able to take on the world on their own immediately after giving birth. This can cause a great deal of physical and mental strain.
Contrastingly, many Asian and Latino cultures have a traditional belief that for the first 40 days postpartum, a new mom should only be dedicated to caring for her baby and herself. Relatives typically take charge of cooking, housework, and the care of the other children in the household. Sex is also a no-no during this time.
By the end of the cuarentena, how this period is known in Spanish, your postpartum bleeding should have subsided, your baby should be settled into a routine, and because you've been well fed and taken care of, your body and mind should be ready to return to your normal daily activities.