April 2016: The 4th trimester

Most women prepare mentally and physically for pregnancy and delivery , but we sometimes forget the port-partum period, or what I like to call the 4th trimester. This period is very important for the mothers emotional and physical health, successful breastfeeding, creating attachment and helping families adjust to the new addition. The 4th trimester last about 3 months but varies from one woman to another and from one pregnancy to another.

This guide has been created for a peaceful 4th trimester through preventive measures. Some current problems in this period are extreme fatigue, anemia, pain, breastfeeding issues and post partum depression. If you recognize these symptomes, ask a health professional.

Nutrition is the first preventive measure. Foods that are healthy and easy to digest will help maintain your energy levels. Ask loved ones to bring you good homemade foods! If you have already filled the freezer before baby’s arrival, that’s even better. Breastfeeding can burn over 500 Calories per day, this is no time for dieting!

You have all heard it: Sleep when your baby sleeps! This can seem harder said than done, but do not underestimate the time spent relaxing in bed! Us 21rst century women have a need for efficiency that must be totally supressed during the 4th trimester. If you do not have family that can help with daily chores, the services of a post partum doula can be necessary!  The higher the quality of sleep of ALL members of the family, the easier it is to create a cooperative family routine. For some families, this means co-sleeping, for others it means sleeping seperately for a while!

During pregnancy, your spine and soft tissues go through one of the biggest changes of their lives. They have 9 months to adapt to the weight gain and the new plus one physiology. The second part of this change is the return to the pre pregnancy physiology. This change happens much more quickly; the babies weight having disappeared and the mother integrating all the new postures of mommyhood. Many symptoms like headaches, neck pain, upper back and shoulder pain, pain and numbness in the hands and fingers, reflux and constipation are due to the stress of this rapid change.

Many health professionals can help your body adapt to these changes.

  • Chiropratic realigns the pelvis and spine, which in turn relieves stress on the nervous system. Chiropractic care is highly useful after a difficult birth with perineal tearing. During the first weeks of integrating breatfeeding, chiropractic can relieve tensions in the neck and upper back. Transporting a baby in a car seat also wreaks havoc on a mother’s back!
  • Acupuncture is used to support the healing of the tissues that have been stretched or torn at birth. Whether it is a vaginal or cesarian birth, a high levels of energy are needed for the healing process. Acupuncture can be of help to find your energy balance.
  • Osteopathy balances the tensions in the tissues, optimising blood flow and nerve influx to different organs. This therapy can help many of the forementionned symptoms.
  • Kinesiology is not well know, but necessary! Many women want to get back into shape quickly and do more harm than good! It is important that your return be overseen by a qualified professional. This will help protect your perineum while gaining higher levels of energy!
  • Physiotherapy specialized in perineal rehabilitation is a judicious choise when dealing with urinary or fecal incontinence, pain during sexual intercourse or disconforts in the pelvic region. Know that these symptoms can be normal in the 4th trimester but should disappear.

Femme post partum

We have touched upon the physicial impact of the 4th trimester but we must not forget the psychological side. As a preventive measure, activities with other mothers will help relieve the feeling of isolation that you might be feeling. If you feel distressed, do not hesitate to get in touch with a psychologist or sexologist that can give you tools. All these professionals are qualified to support you during your 4th trimester. so do not hesitate to ask for help!


Link to Pathways article: http://pathwaystofamilywellness.org/The-Outer-Womb/the-fourth-trimester-a-guide-to-healthy-postpartum-recovery.html