Ah, the so-called ‘fourth trimester’. Yes, baby is physically on the outside of you, but they’re still attached to you in more ways than one. Indeed, they’re attached to you most hours of the day (and night!)
I joke that my two are both “Velcro babies” – they just love to be close to mama. And it’s wonderful, but it can be tough on you, your boobs, your ability to eat and go wee…basically tough on your overall sanity!
As I traverse the fourth trimester with my new little bundle of joy then, here are a few things that have really been helping to keep me sane. After all, a happy mama = a happy baby.
#1 – Baby Wearing
Honestly, this has been an absolute life-saver with both my babies. My first child HATED being put down – it was shocking as a new mother, and I spent my first couple of weeks solo with him absolutely starving since even making toast was a feat! Today, of course, that baby has become a toddler (and an ACTIVE toddler at that). I NEED my hands free to manage him, so I wear baby-girl. Millie also just loves being close – she’ll snooze and watch her surrounding, and just generally be a content little thing as we spend our days close to each other.
I bought all my baby carriers from Luxe Carriers and I’ll soon be sharing a special post about baby-wearing, and some of Luxe’s top tips – keep watch!
#2 – Family Support
I could try and be a martyr and do this whole baby malarkey on my own, but it is exhausting. And I don’t want to! I have needed the help, but living thousands of miles away from my “village” causes a problem. Members of my village therefore came to me – my parents, my in-laws. We’ll also be spending two months at home close to them (and I WILL be sending my toddler for stays at Nana’s so I can have a break). I know my limits and I know that I need breaks so I don’t break!
A supportive partner, to me, is absolutely vital too. A routine seems to have naturally fallen into place in our house where we’ll do the bedtime routine together (babies cleaned, teeth brushed, pyjamas on, nappies on, etc). I will then stay upstairs and settle Mr toddler to sleep with stories and snuggles, while hubs takes baby-girl downstairs for a cuddle to sleep before later transferring her to her crib. It’s working well so far. Daddies are absolutely more than capable (never let them tell you otherwise!)
#3 – Placenta Pills
Yes, I have been eating my placenta…in pill format. I heard wonders about placenta encapsulation while I was pregnant, and knowing I would need all the energy I could get, I decided to go for it! Jasmine Collin of Love Parenting UAE handled the encapsulation process for me (which, as usual, was brilliant – she had the pills back to me in 24 hours!) There are many supposed benefits to consuming your placenta, but I found this point in Jasmine’s info very interesting –
“During and after birth women lose 1/8-1/10 of their blood supply from the bleeding wound left inside the uterus where the placenta was attached for 9 months. We believe the mammal placenta was made to be consumed and make up for this loss by giving the new mother essential fats, proteins, vast amounts of iron and essential hormones to heal the wounds and aid the body in self recovery after birth.”
Yes and yes! I recovered incredibly fast and have had an abundance of energy compared to my first birth (though I am possibly a little less shell shocked this time too!) Day to day too, if my mood is low or I have a headache, a couple of pills can help clear the fog so I am on better form to get through and enjoy the day.
#4 – Nipple Cream
For me, THIS IS ESSENTIAL. My-bloody-god do sore nipples hurt! And when you’ve got an insatiable piranha-baby munching away at them day and night, some form of pain relief is vital! I have been lathering on the Calendula Remedy by Four Cow Farm, which is a natural balm for soothing irritated skin. I love its rich, buttery texture and apply after each feed so it has absorbed by the next. *Soothing ahhhhhhhhh*
I received mine (and a ton of other lovely organic mama goodies) from the natural skin boutique, Balmessence.
#5 – Baby Massage
Millie, unfortunately, has a posterior tongue tie, which basically causes her to unlatch slightly during feeds and suck in air. She has been really really suffering with gas and tummy pains as a consequence. While we’re taking steps to ease it (I have been given tongue massages to try and loosen it before we schedule to have it released), I have also been giving her daily tummy massages to try and break down the air bubbles and relieve her pain.
I use Tiddley Pom Organic Massage Oil (also available from Balmessence). And since getting out the house to any classes with a busy toddler in tow is near impossible these days, I have been following the Tiddley Pom Baby Massage and Aromatherapy DVD from the ease of my laptop (which, brilliantly, has also been great for getting Zachy involved with caring for “baby-sister” too).
#6 – Peekeboo Nursing Cover
I am a huge breastfeeding advocate! And while, yes, admittedly I had a hard time getting up the courage to nurse in public with my first baby, I have had a lot more confidence to do so with Millie. It’s totally natural and it’s totally within our right as mothers to be able to feed our baby whenever, wherever (and don’t let anyone tell you different!) I’m absolutely delighted to be sporting a rather rocking nursing cover from Peekeboo, and frequently get asked where it’s from! It’s large, easy to whip on, and has a solid nursing neckline so I can see Millie, and also make sure there is enough air flowing to her. She always looks so cozy and content down there! Beautiful!
#7 – Beautiful Maternity Bras
I was a little dismayed at all the frumpy maternity bras on offer when nursing Zachy. Yes, perhaps they did the trick, but I never found them particularly supportive for ‘the ladies’, and they really didn’t look nice either. Since then, however, I found the lovely Loretta behind the gorgeous online maternity store, Blush and Bloom. I paid a visit while pregnant with Millie, and came away with Cosabella and Stella McCartney designs (which I chose for the softness for the early-nursing days…refer to point #4!) I have since returned for more Cosabella lingerie sets (in different colours), because they just look so so lovely on!
Loretta is incredibly helpful and insightful, and finds the best items for your particular needs at that particular time (aka I am already eyeing up the Heidi Klum range for when Millie and I are a bit more established on our nursing journey…) Who says you can’t look and feel sexy being a nursing Mama!!
#8 – Stokke, Stokke, Stokke
I really really love this brand. The products are high quality, the designs are sleek. And with products designed to grow with your baby, they can be used for a long time.
I’m planning to do a broader post on these Stokke products, but I just wanted to mention here that Millie has been using the Stokke Xplory pram with newborn Carry Cot, the Stokke iZi Go Modular by BeSafe car seat, which also integrates easily with the pram base when out and about mid-snooze, and also the Stokke Flexi Bath with newborn support.
All three products are very safe and easy to use, and they’ve really helped the transition from one to two children…particularly when time and spare hands are in short supply!
#9 – Coconut Oil
Millie got hit by pretty nasty baby acne…or was it eczema…I am really not sure! What I do know is that her face was red raw with nasty spots for almost two weeks (it near broke my heart to see her perfect face so devastated by it). Those spots then crusted and dried her skin. I had done my very best to follow all advice around baby acne and “just leave it” – use no product, wash with warm water, wait it out. But it was just getting worse. So one day I caved and smothered her face and hair in organic coconut oil.
My gosh, the difference in just a few hours was remarkable – the redness went down, it hydrated the crusty dryness, and she looked more like my beautiful baby again! I kept using it and it had all but gone within a couple of days!! Her scalp is still a little dry now, so I’ve been putting it on her head and covering with a hat at bedtime which seems to help a lot). I am so delighted my smooth, perfect baby is back. I honestly just find coconut oil magical!
#10 – Co-Sleeping
It’s no secret that we’re a family of co-sleepers. It just kind of happened with Zachy (see The Accidental Co-Sleeper). In his early days it really helped us all get more sleep. At almost 3 he is an excellent night sleeper (though naps are another matter for Mr Active!) My fundamental belief is that it is normal and natural for parents to sleep close to their babies (but should of course be done safely!)
He is still in our room, but now sleeps the majority of the night in his toddler bed (which sits at the end of our bed). He is free and welcome to clamber in for a snuggle with us whenever he wants – usually in the early hours.
We purchased a rocking crib for Millie (rather than a big static thing like Zachy had and ultimately rejected). She is a chilled baby and has taken to it well. She goes down easily, and I can usually place her back and rock her after she has had a feed. By the early hours though, she often just wants a comfort cuddle, so yes, I do welcome her in bed next to me since I believe it is safer than accidentally falling asleep with her somewhere.
My main worry is that Zachy is close by and he has a tendency to kick. To keep her safe then, I lay on my side with my back to Zachy (who is usually in his Daddy’s arms) to shield any stray toddler feet or hands. I then lay Millie on her back or side facing away from me and pop my hand on her tummy, keeping me sharply attuned to her movements.
It’s working well and I am getting enough sleep most nights now. She is definitely another snuggle bug, and like her brother, we will give her all the cuddles in the world!
What products or practices did you find essential during the fourth trimester?