The skills you need for the 4th Trimester
I've spent alot of time in the past couple of weeks talking about the 4th Trimester. Emma Evans, my Cradling Hands Doula partner in crime, offers a post-natal service to women, so they can forget all the mundane tasks and focus on their baby. Lazy Daisy's Gemma Bray runs classes for babies from 4wks, which teach yoga and massage techniques - and a chance for new mums to get together and chat. During my Breast Buddy training yesterday there were numerous reminders of how important and yet trying that time can be.
So why can this time be so notoriously challenging? Well, you can start by looking at the tsunami of hormones and the physical changes women experience during what's formally known as puerperium. And of course some women do not have happy experiences during birth, which can leave them feeling physically and emotionally below par (or worse). There are also the well meaning words of advice which can often seem like a confusing wall of rigid 'must's', 'need's' and 'should's' to new mums.
But I was reminded yesterday that sometimes there's a more practical reason the transition to motherhood can be hard for women with careers. The skills you spend years acquiring for your professional life - managing timings; problem solving; always being on your toes - are the antithesis of life in the Fourth Trimester. What your baby wants from you then is calm, warmth and responsiveness. It can feel very much like you're 'not doing anything' - but feeding your baby as and when she wants, following her cues, and just 'being' with her as she adapts to the new world around her is indeed both a skill and a role...and it's the most important thing in the world to your baby.
I'm bound to say it's another reason that hypnobirthing can be so useful - it's not just about birth preparation. The skills you learn for bringing peacefulness and calm (being #calmandrelaxed!) are invaluable during this first 12 wks of your baby's life.
So if you know a new mum, take time to reassure her that sitting on the sofa with her baby nestling into her chest, or letting friends and family do the domestic chores while she feeds her baby for the umpteenth time that day is indeed a great skill, and one that her baby will be extremely grateful for, even if she can't say it just yet.