Following on from Amy’s
brilliant guest post about surviving the first 12 days with a newborn
, I’m going to share with you her latest post about the phenomenon that is ‘The Fourth Trimester’.
Over to Amy…
If you’ve no idea what the fourth trimester is, you’re not alone. Three babies in and I’ve only just discovered it. Here’s what new mums need to know and why we should be keeping it front of mind.
‘What, there’s another trimester?’
In case you’re thinking that the fourth trimester is another 12 weeks of pregnancy that no one told you about, relax. It’s not.
The fourth trimester is the first 12 weeks of your baby’s life and your new life as a mum. It’s the period in which your baby adjusts to life on the outside and you begin to recover from nine months of pregnancy, the physical trauma of labour whilst coming to terms with the reality (shock) that your life will never be the same again.
It’s a time when you are supposed to mimic your baby’s environment inside the womb, outside. When you are encouraged to nurture your baby as your body did. With feeding, cuddling and soothing, without the fear of instilling bad habits that plagues so many new mums. ’You can’t spoil a newborn.’ Apparently.
It’s a crucial period for you both. So why on earth aren’t we being told about it by medical professionals? Why aren’t we being advised to treat those first three months in the way we treat the rest of pregnancy? Preciously.
Why am I only just finding out about it on my third child?
When society expects too much.
Beyond those first couple of weeks, when you’re being fussed over (hopefully), your partner is on paternity leave (hopefully) and you’re revelling in the gorgeousness of your new baby (hopefully), there aren’t many provisions for a new mum.
All being well, your midwife signs you off at 10 days. Sob. Your other half returns to work. Sob. And you’re left to your own devices. Sob.
New mums are surrounded by so many pressures. The pressure to feel good. To look good. To have a baby who sleeps well. Feeds well. Settles well. And the frantic pace of life means that we almost expect these things to happen overnight. Like everything else in our lives.
Add to this pressure hormonal changes and sleep deprivation and it’s no wonder that so many new mums really struggle in those first few months.
But if we tapped into this fourth trimester lark, it could all be so different, couldn’t it?
Because if someone said to you, ‘For the first three months (at least), you’re going to feel like X and you’re doing to need to do Y,’ you could relax a bit, cut yourself some slack and let yourself off the hook. For the first three months, at least.
And focus on the most important thing of all.
Recovering. And enjoying your baby.
You’ve just had a baby.
It might seem obvious. That after nine months of pregnancy it’s going to take time to heal. That your baby is going to take time to adjust to the outside world.
But for every rational thought like that, there’s an irrational thought to counteract it. From sheer lack of sleep. From another mum whose baby is sleeping through at two weeks. From a book you read. From a well-meaning, passing comment that you look great when actually you feel dreadful.
Anything that undermines you. That lulls you into a false reality.
When the reality is this. You’ve just had a baby.
Remembering there is a fourth trimester reminds us that in the first three months anything goes.
There is no right or wrong. You might feel good one day and rubbish the next. It’s an unpredictable time and all you can do is live in each moment. And it’s perfectly ok if you don’t enjoy every moment.
I wish someone had told me this when I had baby no. 1 and baby no. 2.
I wish someone had told me to stop worrying. To slow down. To put the Gina Ford book away. And stop rushing the whole process.
Because the process is there for a reason.
Hormones and sleep deprivation.
The physical trauma of pregnancy and birth is huge. We conveniently forget this because it’s a ‘natural’ occurrence.
Oestrogen levels play a big part in the way women feel after giving birth. After reaching a peak in the third trimester, in the 24 hours after labour, they drop drastically and return to pre-pregnancy levels.
If you decide to breastfeed, your oestrogen levels remain low (oestrogen inhibits milk production) and you may experience menopause-like symptoms such as night sweats, hot flashes, joint pain, mood swings, anxiety, depression, fatigue and insomnia. Yay!
It helps to remember this. That there is an actual reason why you’re waking up stuck to your duvet with a 1980s perm. Why you’re feeling like you’re losing the plot. You’re not. And you won’t be like this forever. That’s reassuring to know, if nothing else.
On top of hormones, you’ll also be feeling sleep deprived. And there is little worse than sleep deprivation, right? It causes brain fog, an inability to concentrate, mood swings and a desire to disembowel your other half. Who’s slept through the nightfeed. Again.
No wonder it’s used as a form of torture.
Feel it, don’t conceal it.
(I know, I’ve been watching too much Frozen. Sob.)
So, what can you do to thrive in the fourth trimester? A lot, actually.
You can lower your expectations. You can accept that you will feel up and down. You can simply allow yourself to feel how you feel in any given moment. There’s no need to pretend otherwise or put on a brave face. The fourth trimester is your friend. It’s there to protect you.
You can keep reminding yourself.
‘I’ve just had a baby. Of course I’m going to feel like this.’
This too shall pass.
Nothing lasts forever. Nothing.
One day soon the tiny little baby you’re holding in your arms will be a feisty toddler or a determined preschooler.
Whilst this thought won’t make you love them any more at 3.00 AM when you’re up doing the dreaded nightfeed, it might just make you cherish the fourth trimester for what it is. A permissible period of time to make the transition to motherhood.
Not to mention 12 weeks of newborn cuddles, eating chocolate cake, wearing big pants and cutting yourself some serious slack.
(Big pants optional.)
A huge thanks to Amy for once again allowing me to share her brilliant way with words. You can follow her and her fabulous musings on motherhood on facebook and twitter.
Recently the lovely people at Fisher-Price very kindly sent Phoebe a Kick & Play Piano Gym to put through its paces and now that she is slightly more interested in her surroundings (and stays awake for more than 45 mins at a time!), she has been utilising it more and more.
So far, so good. She is captivated by the bold colours and it entertains her long enough for me to pop and make a Fennel Tea which I am very grateful for!
Fisher-Price was founded in 1930 by Herman Fisher, Irving Price and Helen Schelle in East Aurora, New York with the basic principles of intrinsic play value, ingenuity, strong construction, good value for the money and action at their core.
Today, under their parent company Mattel, Fisher-Price is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of babygear and preschool toys and they continue to grow around the world, conducting business in 145 countries and producing toys in more than 37 languages.
This colourful gym comes with four modes of play to grow with your baby:
1 // The ‘lay & play’ mode – your baby can kick at the piano keys and look up at a toy-filled arch.
2 // The ‘tummy time’ mode – the toys can be brought down to the mat via re-positionable loops and your baby can enjoy looking at her/himself and discovering her/his reflection in the large mirror while also grasping at the variety of toys in front of them.
3 // The ‘sit & play’ mode – the piano swivels up so your baby can enjoy lots of musical fun in a comfortable sitting position. (You’ll be pleased to know it comes with a volume control with 2 settings and 4 different tunes!)
4 // The piano can be used separately from the rest of the play mat when your little one is more mobile.
Phoebe isn’t quite old enough to try out the bottom 2 modes yet but seems to thoroughly enjoy the ‘lay and play’ and ‘tummy time’ modes. She lies quite comfortably on the cushioned mat and stares intently at the hanging toys (a safety mirror, hippo teether, scrunchy zebra, roller ball frog and elephant ‘clackers’) whilst making lots of noise kicking her legs on the piano!
Developmentally the Kick & Play Piano Gym is brilliant and I like how every aspect of it is aimed at stimulating your baby’s senses through play.
- The hanging toys enhance hand/eye coordination and awareness as your little one grasps and bats at them.
- The piano being kicked is great for learning cause and effect, as is the ball on the frog that spins around when you hit it. It also helps strengthen gross motor skills as your baby stretches and kicks.
- The music, bold bright colours and patterns and mirror all help to stimulate your baby’s senses.
The Fisher-Price Kick & Play Piano Gym is available in 2 colours; a blue/unisex colour and a pink colour
For the number of modes the Fisher-Price Kick & Play Piano Gym has and the lifespan of the product (birth to toddler), I think it is priced very reasonably at £44.99. It is available from numerous retailers including Argos (click here).
The Fisher-Price Kick & Play Piano Gym is one of the toys in Fisher-Price’s ‘The 10 Faves’ bundle. The toys are 10 of the toy brand’s top playtime favourites and most loved toys. They’ve been chosen to help you feed your baby’s natural curiosity, encourage exploration, stimulate imagination, and help learn, discover and grow through play.
The Fisher-Price 10 Faves include: Rainforest Friends Melodies Mobile, Rainforest Jumperoo, Stroll Along Walker, Laugh & Learn Love To Play Puppy, Laugh & Learn Say Please Tea Set, Laugh & Learn Cookie Shape Sorter, Laugh & Learn Click ‘n Learn Remote, Chatter Telephone, Little People Fun Sounds Farm Playset and the Kick & Play Piano Gym.
I can totally see why the Kick & Play Piano Gym has been included as an all time favourite toy. It offers brilliant value for money for a high quality product that is definitely built to last. Its versatility and longevity make its stand out from the ‘baby gym’ crowd and your little one will have enormous fun with it
The only thing I would have liked to have seen included is a little head pillow ( like the older Rainforest Mat used to have) – this would be the perfect addition for reflux babies like mine!
*Disclosure: I was very kindly sent this item free of charge for the purpose of this review, however all opinions are my own.
The lovely People at Fisher-Price have very kindly given me a Kick & Play Piano Gym to give away!
For your chance to win, comment on this blog post, telling me who you would like to win the Kick & Play Piano Gym for and in what colour (blue/unisex or pink) and then enter via the Rafflecopter widget below. Full Ts&Cs are below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Terms and conditions:
- Entry is open to UK residents aged 18 and over, excluding anyone professionally associated with Hello Baby Blog or Fisher-Price.
- The prize is non-transferable and there is no cash alternative.
- The prize draw starts at 12.00am GMT on 17th August 2014 and closes at 12.00m GMT on 1st September 2014.
- Entry is free and must be made by commenting on this blog post and filling in the Rafflecopter widget. Entrants can gain bonus entries by following Hello Baby on facebook, @hellobabyblog on Twitter, tweeting about the giveaway, following Fisher-Price on facebook and then completing the Rafflecopter widget featured in this post.
- The name of the winner will be published on this website within 14 days of the competition closing.
- Hello Baby Blog’s decision on all matters is final and binding on all entrants. No correspondence will be entered into.
- By taking part in this competition you agree to be bound by the competition terms and conditions.
- Hello Baby Blog reserves the right to disqualify any entrant and / or winner in its discretion and without any notice in accordance with these terms and conditions.
- One the winner has been selected at random using Rafflecopter, I will inform Fisher-Price of the winner’s name and address, they will then send on the prize. I’m sure this won’t happen but I cannot be held responsible for prizes being lost in the post or arriving late.
Finding swimwear that looks good is difficult enough when you’re not ‘with child’, but when pregnant it can seem an impossible task. The good news is that there are plenty of maternity swimsuits out there that work with all body types and to suit all tastes.
For some women, pregnancy gives them more confidence in their bodies and they love nothing more than embracing their new found curves and revealing them in skimpy bikinis. Others aren’t so comfortable with their changing form and are looking for maximum coverage. My top 6 cover all bases…
1 // New Look - Mamalicious Navy Diamond Geo Print Tankini
2 // Figleaves - Marine Spot Halter Maternity Swimsuit - £35
3 // Asda – Animal Print Maternity Swimsuit - £14
4 // Jojo Maman Bebe – Navy & White Stripe Maternity Halterneck Swimsuit – £28
5 // Marks and Spencer – Maternity Spotted Swimsuit – £22.75 (in the sale currently)
6 // Seraphine – Black & Bronze Band Maternity Bikini – £39
This week (1 – 7 August 2014) is World Breastfeeding Week which will be marked by 175 countries worldwide, so I thought I would share my breastfeeding essentials with you.
I feel very lucky to have been able to successfully breastfeed both my two as I know what a challenge it can be for many. It’s not been plain sailing with either of them but with a lot of perseverance I managed to last nearly 5 months with J (he then refused!) and so far we are 6 weeks in with P.
So here are the things I couldn’t live without…
a // Medela Swing Breastpump - Once you have established a successful feeding schedule with your new baby, you may need to miss an occasional feed or you may be returning to work while still breastfeeding. If you don’t want to rely on formula, a breast pump is an essential investment. For infrequent pumping, manual breast pumps are inexpensive and can provide relief for engorged breasts or allow you to pump milk to add to baby’s rice cereal or oatmeal, but if you plan on returning to work or want to stockpile your breast milk, an electric breast pump is your best bet. (A full review will be on the blog soon).
b // Bravado nursing bra – Super comfy and practical, I wear these day in, day out. I even sleep in them. Read my review here for more info…
c // Lansinoh breastfeeding products
- Lanolin cream - It’s not uncommon for nursing mums to experience dry, cracked nipples and it’s painful!! For relief, I use Lansinoh HPA Lanolin that’s safe for baby so you don’t have to worry about washing it off before feeding baby again and it really does soothe the pain away.
- Lansinoh nursing pads – Until you establish a consistent feeding schedule with your newborn baby, unfortunately there will be leakage! I’ve tried various nursing pads over the years and these are by far the best. They aren’t the cheapest but you really do get what you pay for. They stay put, don’t chafe your nipples and are super absorbent.
- Lansinoh storage bags – These have been developed specifically for the freezer without using plasticisers, meaning there is no risk of any harmful substances leaking into your breastmilk. They are leak proof, pre-sterilised and have a handy double zipper for a secure seal.
- Lansinoh Therapearl 3 in 1 Breast Therapy – These are reusable packs designed to be used hot or cold to help relieve engorgement, blocked ducts, mastitis and also to encourage milk let-down.
d // Faye & Lou rainbow muslins - I adore these muslins. Not only are they practical but they look great too. (A full review of Faye & Lou products will be on the blog soon).
e // Fennel Tea – Fennel Tea is a great ‘go to’ for new mums as it has been know to facilitate breastfeeding by boosting your milk supply, improving let down and it can also benefit your little one if they are particularly gassy.
f // Bebe au lait Nursing cover - I love my Bebe au lait nursing cover as it spares my blushes when breastfeeding in public. The open neckline holds the cover away from me and the little one, allowing me to see that she’s properly latched on and ensuring there is an airflow so she doesn’t get too hot!
g // Theraline Maternity and Nursing Pillow - This has to be one of my most prized possessions now i’m breastfeeding. It was handy in the latter stages of pregnancy but since I’ve been nursing, it has been a godsend! (A full review will be on the blog soon).
It is an exciting stage of a child’s development when they make the transition from a cot to a bed. It’s important to make sure this move is as smooth as possible.
Many new mums may wonder when the time is right to make this move, but there will be natural signs that indicate this. There is no set age that a child should make this progression; some children will be ready from as early as 18 months old and others three years old. If your child has started to climb out of the cot and is using the toilet during the night, it may be time to start looking at purchasing a bed for your child.
In order to help the move from cot to bed go without any tears or tantrums, follow these top tips:
- Try to get your child involved in the change so that they feel excited about it. Allow them to choose their new bed, bedding and accessories. Build their excitement up about growing up and them having their ‘own big bed’.
- Put your child’s teddy bear in the bed in order to keep them comfortable within their surroundings. Keep with the same bedtime rituals and routines, such as reading a story with your child in their bed. Be positive with your child and praise them for sleeping in their new bed. Be patient and reassuring if your child takes a gradual liking to their bed rather than an instant one. Even if they are not fussed on it, stick with it and be encouraging.
- Children like routine and to feel secure, so only make the transition at a period when no other big changes are happening at home, such as a new baby arriving on the scene, potty training or a house move. Keep the new bed in the same place as where the cot was, so that the change does not feel too big a deal.
Some people choose to get a toddler bed, which can help provide a stepping-stone between having a cot and a proper, single bed. There are lots of varieties and styles of toddler beds, some which are particularly fun and appealing to children.
If your child is moving into their own bedroom from yours, they may be scared of the new surroundings especially in the dark. Light up the room with a bedside light which will make them feel much more confident and safe.
Remember, this is a huge change for a young child so remain calm, patient and encouraging.
There are some parents who feel that their child was not ready for this move from cot to bed, to which there is no harm in returning your child back to the cot.
*Disclosure: This has been written in conjunction with www.childrensbedshop.co.uk