Parenting 101: The Fourth Trimester
By: Isabel Belen-Dizon
Your baby’s fourth trimester start from the moment she/he is born and last up to three months old. A time when your baby is adjusting from outside of your womb. It’s filled with a tremendous amount of changes and development for the baby and is becoming more and more recognized as an important phase of a little one’s early days. But how about the parents? On this article let me share to you my experience on my fourth trimester.
For me, my newborn stage is not easy, It’s tough and frustrating. I dreamed of snuggling a peaceful newborn baby for hours and then gently placing him in her bed while I tended to the other responsibilities of being a wife and mother but it’s the opposite of what I expected.
The fourth trimester for me is like a big smack on my face that being a mom is not that easy as ABC. Sleepless, Exhausting, frustrating, stressful, plus a baby who is fussy. Emotionally, Mentally and Physically indeed, it is tiring.
Breast feeding is the most frustrating part for me, at first, I thought it’s easy, I can save from the formula milk costing plus I do not need to wake-up during middle of the night just to make a milk into the bottle. But first, you need to master the art of breastfeeding and overcome the challenges to make it. I have inverted nipple, plus my nipple cracked. The pain is no joke!
I’m in pain for four weeks. Every time my baby is crying out to feed, I’m also crying because of the pain and I complain a lot because my baby is non-stop on feeding. I thought my milk is not enough because my baby is always fussy, then we found out that our baby is having a stomach ache due to colic.
Aside from my inverted nipple, another challenging part of my breast-feeding journey is that my baby’s stomach is not yet matured enough to digest high protein food. Since I breast feed her, I must avoid dairy products like milk, butter, bread, chicken, egg etc… I must be aware on every product ingredient before eating and I almost give-up. My mind is telling me that “I thought breastmilk is the best for my child, but why it discomforts her, and causes her stomach ache?”
Her pediatrician told me to make a food diary for my daily meals, so I could know what are the food that causes her colic, then it turns out those dairy and seafoods that makes her fussy. Later, after three months I could try to eat those foods again and observe if she becomes fussy it could lead to a life-time. Thankfully, it wasn’t! her stomach is now fully matured to digest and now I can eat all I want.
Aside from food deprivation, there’s also sleep deprivation, thankfully my husband has a 30 days paternity leave and it’s a big help for me. I express milk for him to feed our baby, so I could take a nap. We need rest mommies! You’ve given another life to this world. Our health is the most important than anything else especially when there’s someone who depends on us, our child.
Self-time seem to be impossible.
I cannot do anything every time my baby is awake. My new definition of my “Me time” is the moment I could take a bath. Before, it only takes twenty to thirty minutes. But after baby was born, it became three to five minutes!
Every time I need to do the number two, my baby always wakes up and look for me. Well actually it’s not me, it’s her milk that she needs. Consider getting help for this time. Aside from my husband I have my in-laws with me. For this case, I ask help from their extra hands during those times and it’s a great help for us, especially for those things that we cannot control and need to be done. If I need to have a minute of break I ask my in-laws to look after my baby, so I could have a break, eat, and do some stuff that my body needs.
My After-Birth Body
After birth I became emotional, so there’s a time when I go to the salon to have my pedicure done, my pedicurist greeted me, and she said “wow, you give birth already! Congratulation! What happened to your body? Your so big compare before, take a diet, do not breastfeed you can do mix feeding because it’s exhausting” Guess what happened next? I replied “I just give birth, what do you expect? A body con posture? Look at yourself, you even didn’t give birth, but you look wasted” and I walked-out. My goodness, I lost my temper! Even though she’s a good and expert I didn’t comeback at all up until now. Well, those kinds of people will demoralized us but thankfully I have my husband and my in-laws who motivated and encourage me. Social media sometimes didn’t help especially those artists who just give birth and yet still on their sexy posture. On the other side it motivates me to be like them but no pressure at all. I know there might be no bounce back. If my body will not get back to my “used to be figure” that’s fine with me, I’m a mom and it’s normal.
Another thing of my Fourth trimester journey is being irrational, having a negative mindset that cannot help our parenting. Let me share this story, my husband used to do our baby’s laundry and at that time, I don’t know what is wrong with my mind. I admit I must be insane. I want to do the laundry and keep on arguing with my husband. Maybe I cannot do the job well done that’s why he does not hand over those things on me. Now, I am doing it by myself and asking him to help hahahaha! I must be insane right?
Another one is the guilt and overthinking, maybe I’m not a good mother, I cannot give her everything I want for her, I saw those products and it’s pricey I cannot afford it. On the other hand, I realize that those brands are just good in advertising. It’s better to double check every item from the materials, manufacturer, do some research and check the reviews. One time I want to buy a carrier with a hip-seat the price is too expensive! Then I found out that it wasn’t recommended by the experts of baby wearing. Study shows that our mindset has a big role on our body it produces the good cells that help us to be healthy. Being irrational is normal for every mom after birth of their child due to hormonal imbalance. All we can do is to fight and be strong. Keep that on mind, every decision we take is not only for ourselves anymore but also for the family we have now. Always see the good sides and not the bad one so we could fight this emotional thing we experience.
Every baby is different
Do not stress out yourself on your baby’s behavior and avoid comparing him to other baby. Whether your baby is not sleeping, crying all day and the baby next door seems to be perfect. It’s not liked your little one is not doing fine, he’s adjusting himself from the outside of your womb. In your womb he’s fed without effort, from the warm darkness he is suddenly surrounded by lights and movements.
I used to compare my baby to other baby, I even think of our genes and my husband’s genes. Maybe, it’s from the genetic factor that’s why she’s a fussy baby. I don’t accept this sentence that every baby is different when I am hungry and sleepless, but this sentence is true. It takes time to adjust and stick to your daily routine, but it will happen. All we can do is to pe patient.
Having a best pediatrician in town is a MUST
When our bundle of joy was born we tend to bring her into her pediatrician every other day, she’s crying all day even though we did everything we can, but our first pediatrician wasn’t good enough to explain every detail we need to know so we decided to find a best pediatrician near us. Thankfully, we found one from Manila Doctors Hospital, she is breastfeeding advocate and one of the senior heads of the pediatrics department. She is so detailed when it comes to our baby’s development. As a parent, we have this instinct if our child wasn’t doing fine and we tend to depend on our doctor’s opinion for their health and safety. Trust me, having a trusted pediatrician can ease your mind and give you a peace of mind.