Childbirth is both the end of your pregnancy journey and the beginning of a new life chapter. The next phase is filled with immense physical and emotional changes for you and your baby.
While other cultures have traditions to celebrate and support birthing people in early postpartum, our society doesn’t adequately recognize a mother’s recovery during this time.
The standard postpartum check-up doesn’t happen for at least six weeks. At this point, many women have already navigated common postpartum challenges from mood swings and the baby blues to breastfeeding problems. Unfortunately, this is often without support from a healthcare professional.
Many people aren’t aware that the first 12 weeks after childbirth are classified as the fourth trimester. And it’s no less essential than the other three.
Fortunately, the conversation in the U.S. is starting to catch up with the reality of postpartum life. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) has called for a greater focus on the fourth trimester specifically through the lens of maternal health to support consistent postpartum care.
Let’s take a look at all that happens during the 4th trimester for mother and baby, and how it’s observed around the world.
The fourth trimester is the transitional time between childbirth and 12 weeks postpartum. During this time your baby adjusts to life outside the womb and you adjust to life with your newborn.
Your newborn isn’t the only one experiencing rapid growth and change.
It isn’t uncommon to experience mental health challenges amid this whirlwind of emotions and physiological changes. 80% of new moms experience mood swings, sadness, crying spells, and anxiety — referred to as the baby blues — for a couple of weeks starting around 2-3 days after childbirth.
As many as 1 in 5 women experience postpartum depression (PPD), which is longer-lasting and more severe than the baby blues.
PPD is characterized by ongoing mood swings, fatigue, and other symptoms that can affect your ability to take care of yourself and your baby.
Other cultures have long recognized the significance of the 4th trimester, with traditions that celebrate the birthing person, and newborn, and provide support during the transition.
While the fourth trimester is accompanied by many physical and emotional challenges, there are ways to prioritize your care and well-being.
Asking for help is important in early postpartum. Support from friends, family and trusted birthing professionals such as a doula or lactation consultant can ease the transition.
Ask A Doula by Ruth Health is a new service that offers unlimited texting access to a doula. You can get personalized support with postpartum planning, feeding, and anything else pregnancy or postpartum-related. Spaces are limited, so sign up today!
The first postpartum check-up is typically scheduled for six weeks after childbirth.
Our team has used the following resources to navigate their own postpartum journey.
At Ruth Health, we understand that nobody knows what you need better than you. We’re here to help you prioritize self-care while navigating the fourth trimester and beyond, and to ensure that you’re never alone in this journey.
We provide expert, evidence based maternal advice so that you can make the best decisions for yourself. Learn more about pregnancy, postpartum, and everything in between at ruthhealth.com.
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