fourth trimester

9 Tips for Surviving The Fourth Trimester

The 12-week postpartum period right after birth is called the “Fourth Trimester”. It is a time of great emotional and physical change as your baby adjusts to life outside the womb, and you adjust to your new life as a mama. It can be pretty overwhelming if you are not prepared for it.

fourth trimester

What to Expect in the Fourth Trimester

You and your baby are getting used to new situations. Your baby is getting used to this cold and loud place while you have to let your body heal, adapt to being responsible for a newborn and navigate the major changes that come along with that. Your body took 9 months to grow into a baby, so it will take at least that to feel back to yourself. The fourth trimester is a transitional phase for both parents and babies. It affects you mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Changes that Mom Experience

Your body is recovering from childbirth, which is a HUGE DEAL! Rather you had a vaginal delivery or a C-section, your body needs time to heal. Don’t underestimate the toll this can take! Give yourself time and grace to adjust to parenthood and love your baby.

  1. Learning to breastfeed; if you’re not using formula.
  2. Your hormones are all over the place.
  3. Postpartum bleeding and a possible perinatal tear or c-sections scar can be uncomfortable.
  4. Your organs are loose and shifting back to their original place.
  5. Fatigue and sleep deprivation caring for your newborn
  6. Baby blues is real, it is NOT Postpartum Depression. It’s “feeling stressed, sad, anxious, lonely, tired, or weepy.”
  7. Your breastmilk is coming in
Photo of Tiana Lashae Taken by Jennifer Mason
Photo of Tiana Lashae Taken by Jennifer Mason

Changes that Baby Experience

In the fourth trimester, your newborn baby has shifted from the familiar comfort and noises of your warm, dark womb to a bright unknown territory full of startling new sights, sounds, smells, and sensations, as well as shifting temperatures. Some of their senses are still developing, and they have to start learning to interpret the sensory information that’s flooding in.

  1. Daytime and nighttime mix up.
  2. Demand feeding, sleeping in random intervals, diaper changes, and holding around the clock.
  3. They will likely cry more during the 4th trimester than any other phase.
  4. Breathing more steadily, startling less, and developing more controlled movements.
  5. Learn to self soothe
  6. Your baby will gradually gain control of their head, lifting higher and higher.
  7. Your baby’s vision improves
  8. Breathing more steadily, startling less, and developing more controlled movements.
  9. Settling into more consistent sleep and feeding patterns.
  10. Interacting with family members or toys with greater attention and for more extended periods

Throughout the fourth trimester, your babe will go from a gazing newborn to a happier infant who likes playing, imitating some of your movements, smiling, and making silly facial expressions.

mom in her fourth trimester

Tips to Survive the Fourth Trimester

  1. Ask for Help: You don’t have to go at this alone. Let your partner, relative or close friend help care for the baby, while you rest.
  2. Make a plan: Think ahead about ways you can practice self-care, and jot down specific people who are willing to lend a hand. Who can help you with grocery pick up, cooking hot meals, picking up older kids from school, house cleaner, and designating time for you and your partner?
  3. Talk to your doctor: what resources can they provide, when is your postpartum visit scheduled, if you’ll need to adjust any medications during that period, and what you can expect in the weeks following your baby’s birth.
  4. Watch for signs of PPD: (postpartum depression) Including but not limited to Constant anxiety, Eating more or less than usual, Disinterest in your baby, family, and friends, Sudden irrational anger, etc. Click here for more signs of PPD
  5. Understand that it’s okay to not feel normal: Intense mood swings and periods of weepiness are normal after having a baby. Pair that with the sleep deprivation, and you’ve got the potential for a mountain of emotions.
  6. Take care of yourself: Eat healthy foods like fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and whole grains, and limit the “bad” snacks. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and get out of the house when you can, even if it’s just taking the baby for a walk.
  7. Find a group of moms with kiddos the same age to have a space of your own where you can vent, get advice, arrange playdates, and make genuine friendships.
  8. Got to your postpartum visits. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that new moms have their first postpartum checkup with their OB/GYNs or midwives within three weeks of giving birth and receive ongoing care as needed, plus schedule a comprehensive exam within 12 weeks of delivery.
  9. Have photos taken to remember this stage in life because it will become a blur. Photos can be therapeutic and healing.

Being a mama of 4 plus 2 bonus babies, I can attest to the struggle of postpartum life. My youngest will be one very soon and I vividly remember feelings of “not being good enough” and feeling like I had PPD. It was just the baby blues. I wish had been educated about the fourth trimester before experiencing it. I am very grateful for the support of my husband, relatives, and my local community of mom friends and perinatal professionals.

If you like to schedule a postpartum session to capture the raw and intimate life of early motherhood, please contact me. I have the most wonderful photos taken of me during the most vulnerable times in the NICU and when we came home. Without those photos, I would not have been able to clearly remember those foggy days.


I am a wife, Mama of 4 + 2 bonus babies, adventure seeker, and chocolate lover!  I was born in Chicago, raised in Detroit, and currently living my best life here in Toledo.