Our Top 9 Tips for Surviving the Fourth Trimester


 Newborn baby laying in a rattan bassinet wearing a cloth nappy

Phoar, parents! What a ride this parenting thing is and it’s only just the beginning! What’s that saying? The days are long but the years are short. Well, it couldn’t be any truer, you’ll be planning the first birthday in the blink of an eye, celebrating the heck outta yourselves for getting through the first year, alive!

The first few months are full of all kinds of experiences and emotions, some way more intense than others… most of which we can’t predict BUT I am a massive fan of preparing in a way that feels-good for you!

So, with this in mind, I have put together some tips and tricks to help you navigate through these newborn days.

Please know you are not alone, so many have been where you are now and so many will come after you too. You are allowed to feel what you are feeling and, always, always ask for help. There ain’t no medal for doing struggling through it!

  1. Trust Yourself

You are not meant to know everything. You will learn as you go and you will seek information as you need. Don’t judge yourself or your baby with unrealistic expectations… you are both learning what being earth-side is all about, together. We live in a world where a wealth of information is available to us at the click of a button (not always a great thing). So be sure to find people, specialists, experts, doctors (whoever) that you trust and that align with your values. If anything feels off, if something just doesn’t feel right, trust it and act on it. You are the number advocate for your family!

  1. Keep expectations in check

Of course, we all want that newborn bubble of bliss we see in the movies. Oxytocin is the real MVP and while it happens for some families, it doesn’t for others! Sometimes you need time to bond and connect with your baby. This is all okay. It will happen. Whether it takes a few days, weeks or even months, it is all completely normal and will not define your parenting journey. Take all that pressure off yourself and take it minute by minute!

  1. Ask for help

Always easier said than done, but it so important that I literally will yell this from the rooftops! If you need support, someone to hold your baby while you shower or take a walk around the block or just a home cooked meal - ask. It wasn’t just your baby that was born, you as a mother were born too. You are allowed to be held, nurtured and cared for too. Lean on your support team if you have them, you can always return the favour later!

  1. Get those priorities straight!

Legit, there are 2 (or 3) priorities! You, your baby and your partner! Nothing else matters in the grand scheme of things. You get to put your family needs first full-freaking-stop. Take time and space to breathe when you arrive home. There is plenty of time for family and friends to visit! People who get it will fully respect this!

  1. Find the grey

As mentioned in #2, keep your expectations of yourself and your new family super low-key. Flexibility is a mad skill, that actually needs practice. Like daily practice. Everything is new, some things are more challenging than others, some days easier than others. There is so much noise in parent world, but I am telling you, it doesn’t need to be ALL or NOTHING, not much in parenting is black and white! You can chuck a change card in at any time. You don’t have to push yourself towards a breakdown. Flexibility will protect everyone’s mental and physical wellness! You are a great Mum and your baby is SO blessed to have you!

  1. We can calm down about crying

Babies cry, we can’t avoid it, it’s the only way they can communicate that something needs sorting out. Your baby isn’t broken, you’re not messing anything up. Tick off those basics; Hungry? Tired? Wet? Uncomfortable?

Take a look at Dunstan’s Baby Language – there are YouTube videos you can watch. This can be a game changer when trying to figure out what might be upsetting your little one.

As long as you are responsive to these cries, for the most part, your baby is going to be A-Okay! If you find the crying is too much for you at times, it is okay to place your little one down somewhere safe and take a walk out to the letterbox to clear your mind and take a big deep breathe. After a few minutes of feeling calmer, you will be able to support your baby far more effectively.

Crying has a powerful effect on the mind, it sends us mums into a spin but please don’t judge yourself. This is so normal. Be sure to lean on your people for those well needed breaks.

  1. Be the dream-team

If you are parenting with someone else, be kind to each other. Cut each other some slack. You are doing the best you can with what you know. Again, you are all learning together so work together. Lighten the load wherever you can for each other. Discuss how you want to parent your child, consistency across parents makes the journey so much sweeter (and far less confusing for your kiddo). So, read some parenting books together, chat them through and find what aligns for your family. Recommendations at the end of this blog.

  1. Don’t forget to laugh

Laughter will lighten even the hardest of days and smooth the bumpiest of roads. It can also stop an escalation in it’s tracks. Raising kids can be hard but it doesn’t have to be a constant sh*t show, you can have a laugh about all the things! You will make mistakes because perfection isn’t possible. Be gentle with yourself and keep things light, your little one will benefit from this immensely.

Note – obviously this is not referring to sarcasm, belittling, poking fun or at the expense of others okaaaay!        

  1. The last point to make is; do not ignore depression

Many new mums (and Dads) experience unhappy feelings intruding soon after birth. If you are feeling this way, this is not your fault. If you feel this way for longer than 2 weeks you need to reach out to your healthcare provider for support! Depression is a medical illness and you are no more responsible or deserving of guilt than people who suffer from allergies. Please reach out for help!

As promised, here are a few resources to get you on your way!

  • Maggie Dent is an outstanding author and voice on Parenting. Her book, 9 Things (Birth to 8 years) is a fantastic back-to-basics approach to the first 8 years, which we know are the most pivotal in development.
  • I highly recommend Momma Zen by Karen Maezen Miller! I absolutely love the approach to parenting Karen shares and found myself referring back to it in the early months for reassurance and a shift in perspective.
  • Dr Daniel Siegel is an incredible author, he has a number of books but I would recommend these two as your first step; The Whole-Brain Child and No Drama Discipline

Written by Courtney Nightingale from The Parenting Edit (www.theparentingedit.co)

Courtney is a Parenting, Behaviour and Sleep Specialist, Registered Teacher and Mum to 2 little ratbags. Over her 12 years of teaching she has taught children with a range of behavioural and medical diagnosis, in specialised education settings.

When Courtney became a mother, she dived into the wonderful world of sleep. She came to see very clearly how pivotal sleep was for development and the overall wellbeing of a child and the whole family.

Courtney provides support via 1:1 Sleep and Parenting Packages, Programs and Guides for families all around the world.

She is passionate about seeing families Raise Feel-Good Kids, with Feel-Good Parenting.

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