My Fourth Trimester Project - by Pia
Welcome to the first guest post in the My Fourth Trimester Project. A chance for parents to share their stories and have their voices heard about those first three months as a parent. I hope you take heart in the honesty and courage they show. Know that you aren't alone - we aren't meant to parent alone.
Breastfeeding is probably the biggest fourth trimester challenge in many ways. It was overwhelming, I remember my Mum telling me it gets easier. I didn't believe her until well after it was. My first baby girl, Aila wasn't able to breastfeed until her 12th day on Earth, prior to this we had been doing tube feeds, I still took pride in learning how to do them myself – but the delayed start certainly made our breastfeeding relationship harder to establish. Conversely, Soren was pulled from me and lifted straight onto my bosom and he immediately started to root around to nurse. I didn't enjoy it in the way I thought I would, breastfeeding can be uncomfortable at first; and for a natural act, felt entirely unnatural. Even though I never learned to love breastfeeding in the way some women do, I cherish having the privilege to support my children physically and emotionally this way and take pride in supporting them through to toddlerhood.
Emotionally there were a lot of ups and downs in that fourth trimester, and there were some stand out things I recall as helpful. Having supportive family and partner was the biggest. The simple act of being offered a drink while feeding a baby who is always feeding made me feel considered, even if I didn't want one. Encapsulating the placenta from my second child was also helpful and I felt helped to keep me 'level' and have more to give to my older child. Having wholesome food in the freezer, never resorting to 'junk' food I felt helped my body recuperation quicker. Having a positive line of communication with my partner to be able to discuss and debrief about the process of birth was also very nurturing. Baby wearing was key, particularly with my second when there was less time to just be and hold each other.
When it was quiet, I remember looking down, awestruck at these tiny little faces, and the sensation of melting into them. Bonding with them, and learning who they are. I know that sounds idealistic, but it really was joyful, transcendental. I am so grateful I had the foresight to trust the process of learning to become a Mother.
I think what makes the fourth trimester so unique is that it can be the best and worst of things all at once, a rite of passage in contrast. In retrospect I recall the long and unending process of falling in love with my children and my husband and myself in a new way. Feeling vulnerable, but also nurtured. Feeling tired, but satisfied, guilty and absolved. The sweet smell of milk and fresh baby and full arms and heart and emerging stronger than I knew I had the capacity to be."
"I can still smell the clary-sage, the fenugreek and pots of soup like it was yesterday and a lifetime ago all at once. Looking back at the fourth trimester of my children's lives feels a bit like a dream, everything was so intense for a while, but at some point, the fog started to lift and I was left with the most stunning, beautiful children. A newly defined idea of myself and who I am as a Mother, and a stronger union with my life partner as we walk down this road together...
I found the physical and emotional healing of the fourth trimester, nothing short of transformational. I really do consider this as the time I stopped being a girl and became a woman.
I had births that couldn't have been more different, my first baby was early and sick, she was born via emergency cesarian and our stay in hospital spanned weeks. My second child was born via VBAC, it was all, normal – text book. Whilst I wouldn't describe either scenario as 'traumatic', it would be remiss to suggest the first experience didn't impact my feelings of the second. And the first little while with my children in my life, was challenging. Most notably, when my second was born, I felt the sense that I needed permission to hold, touch and feed him. My own Mother said I would get to where I wanted to be as a Mum, that there was no right or wrong way to feel and no time line I needed to feel it.
About the Author:
My name's Pia, I'm 26 and have two gorgeous children, Aila & Soren and I live with my husband Ben in the Adelaide Hills, I have a natural parenting / vegan family blog on facebook called Kindred Freedom
Would you like to be part of the My Fourth Trimester Project? Your contribution needs to be between 250-1200 words and can include up to 2 pictures and 1 link to your personal website/blog in your bio. Contact me through my website for submission details or more information.
Prepare for an easier fourth trimester with these 25 Secrets From A Postnatal Doula!
Kelly Harper is the owner of Elemental Beginnings Doula & Placenta Services in Adelaide. She provides sleep consultancy, placenta encapsulation and doula services to families during pregnancy, birth and in their fourth trimester.