This is not a typo – our member in Belgium, Ligue des Familles, highlights in its article the importance of the fourth trimester and the necessity to talk and name it in order to “make it exist”.
Mothers who have just given birth know this very well: the weeks following the birth of their baby are overwhelming. Because caring non-stop for a small, immature and completely dependent being is demanding. A crazy responsibility! Because their bodies need to recover. Because they discover themselves transformed. What if this period was as special and intense as pregnancy or childbirth? What if she deserves our full attention too?
The fourth trimester starts when the baby is born and Ingrid Bayot, a midwife and trainer in perinatal care and breastfeeding, explains what it means: “Because it gives reality and temporality to a series of processes that have a strong physiological basis. There are two major actions in progress just after birth. “De-gestation”, first of all: all changes in the female body during pregnancy gradually regress and will lead the mother to a ‘non-pregnant’ state. It is not a question, for her, of finding her former body, but rather of taming this body which has transformed very quickly and which will progress towards a new balance, it is a whole work of adjustment.
The second area is “post-gestation”, intensive mothering during the first weeks after birth, including breastfeeding, but not only: there is also skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby, proximity during the day and at night, all sensory interactions… The gestation continues, in a way, outside the womb. The human newborn is the most immature of all baby mammals, it has a physiological need to be carried, touched and wrapped.
Ingrid Bayot goes on in talking about maternity leave, the change of a mother and her body after birth, community, a father’s involvement and more.