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The 4th Trimester, a gentle transition to the world.

Your pregnancy is split into 3 trimesters; first, second, third. This helps us to understand how your baby is growing, what stages they're at, what symptoms you might be experiencing...

But there is a fourth forgotten trimester that isn't logged in your perinatal notes, that doesn't come with a little red book, and when you are discharged from your midwife at around 10 days postpartum, can feel very lonely and confusing.

The fourth trimester is the first 12 weeks of your baby being born and represents a time of immense physical and emotional change, healing, and transformation. In many cultures around the world it is a sacred time, one to be respected, in which new parents are treated delicately and gently. Many cultures will observe the 40 day lying in period, which involves the new parent resting and recuperating, being fed nutritious foods and teas, and focusing on caring for their new baby and establishing feeding. White, western culture doesn't treat new parents with the reverence they deserve, and we are often expected to bounce right back after having a baby, getting back to our normal daily routines as quick as possible is a competition of sorts sometimes. This can lead to a widespread misunderstanding of normal newborn behaviour and higher risk of postnatal depression and anxiety. The fact is, babies don't know this, and they'll be going through this fourth trimester whether or not we expect it to happen.

So what does the fourth trimester look like?

Your baby will want to be held all the time BY YOU.

Since the beginning of their existence, they have known nothing but you. Your smell, your heartbeat, the sound of your voice. All of a sudden they've emerged into a world where they can experience hunger, cold, brightness, loud noises, and their primitive brain which is hard wired for survival has not been given the memo that they're safe in their moses basket, or with great aunt Edna. All they want is you. They feel safest and happiest near you. This might mean every time you put them down they cry, or they don't last longer than a few minutes in the pram or in their cot.

Your baby will want to feed often.

In the womb they are fed 24/7 and have yet to have to ask for food or comfort. When they are born, they now need to ask for food and for connection and they seek this from their parents' milk. It takes time for them to work out their own routine that best suits their needs, and they have a huge boost of oxytocin (the love hormone) every time they feed. Since this hormonal boost makes them feel loved and safe, it is only normal that they want it often. We need to remember that we are carrying mammals, too. This means that, unlike horses, or elephants, for example, our young aren't born with the ability to walk or fend for themselves and they rely on us to stay alive. We are more like apes, our babies need to be carried, then need to be close to us, and they can achieve this by feeding often. If they're feeding, they're close, and that keeps them safe.

You might be experiencing a hormonal rollercoaster.

It is perfectly normal to feel delicate and vulnerable in this period. You might find yourself wanting to hibernate almost. Remember the nesting feeling as your baby arrived (whatever this looked like for you)? This can continue after the baby is born. You've (metaphorically speaking) built the nest, so now your instinct is to lie in it. You might feel sudden bursts of energy, to then feel drained and tired. You might be teary, you might also not want to be apart from your baby and feel concerned that this is anxiety or something else. The truth is that, just as our babies brains are wired to want to be near us, so are ours! Humans have evolved this far because of that beautiful instinct we have to keep our newborns near us.

Ok cool but, like, how do I survive this?


This is normal*. This is healthy. If you expect baby to want to be on you all the time, it feels easier and less of a shock. Lower your expectations of what you will be able to do and focus on meeting your basic needs and being with your baby.


I have a blog post here for your family members and friends so they can help you in a way that is actually useful. You can ask for specific help that you will benefit from. If someone is asking to visit, you can ask them to swing by the shops first and get you food, or bring you a cooked meal over. When people offer a gift, ask them to pay for an hour of a cleaner, or to come and run the hoover round, or do some laundry for you. This is NOT you being difficult, or controlling, this is you being honest and prioritising your needs and your baby's needs.

If you have the option, consider hiring a postnatal doula, or someone to support you with feeding if you are struggling.


Asking for help will mean you can rest. However you have given birth, your body and mind has just been through a HUGE change, so give yourself time to rest. Feet up, with lots of fluids, and keep your baby on you. You deserve to take it easy and do tiny bits of things. I know sometimes help is unavailable, perhaps you have no family nearby, or your friends can't support physically, or maybe you have older children, so if you must do things, take things slowly and break each task into tiny steps. You don't have to put the whole bucket of laundry away. You could just fold enough clothes for the family for one day. They can even stay in those piles so you don't have to move from your bed or the sofa. You don't need to clean the kitchen, you could gently wash what is needed for the next meal. You don't have to make a whole meal, picky dinners are fine and fun! For every 5 minutes you are active and completing something, try and then take another 5 minutes sat down with baby.