The Truth About The 4th Trimester

4th Trimester image of Purelan, ibuprofen, baby toys and flowers

As I pulled yet another clump of post pregnancy hair out of my hairbrush, I realised that there are some things that nobody warns you about when you are pregnant that would actually be quite nice to know. Everyone always tells you about how little sleep you are going to get once the baby arrives, but nobody tell you that at some point almost all of your hair will fall out and your skin will resemble your 13 year old self. I get it. No one wants to be THAT person, but I spent far too long after pregnancy googling things thinking I was abnormal only to discover that I wasnt (thank goodness).

So I wanted to write a post, featuring lots of my favourite bloggers who have also had babies this year sharing things that they were shocked or surprised about after giving birth. The types of things that no one told them or warned them about in the hope that by creating a really honest warts and all post like this about the so called 4th trimester, it might help to normalise and re-set some of the expectations and preconceptions that we have of ourselves and our bodies after giving birth.

So to kick things off, one of the things that surprised me about the 4th trimester was the difference having an episiotomy makes to things like the healing process and intercourse, and I didn’t even realise that until I had my second baby! At no point during labour when the doctor said that she would have to give me one, or after birth when I was seen by a number of midwives and health visitors, did anyone tell me that an episiotomy would make things feel different, and for a very long time. It was only after having my second baby and having a natural labour with no intervention that I realised just how much difference it makes. All in all, I’d say it took a year for things to feel normal again after my episiotomy.

 

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Liane from Rosy Cheeks and Muddy Feet

After two babies, being pregnant with my 3rd, I had heard all of the stories about making sure to do your kegel exercises to help with your bladder control. Thankfully I had never had an issue with my bladder so I didn’t take much notice of the advice. What nobody told me was that these exercises would also help with your bowels! I was one week post-partum after my 3rd natural delivery and everything was going well. when I went to use the toilet and I suffered a prolapsed bowel! I was shocked, horrified and so scared! After screaming for my husband, it took me ten minutes to show him the problem, out of embarrassment. One ambulance ride and two doctors later I was sent home with an appointment to see a surgeon, lactulose and the advice that it will probably continue to happen now that those muscles have been weakened by labour. Needless to say I am now religiously doing my kegel exercises!

 

This Mama Life

Sarah from This Mama Life

How bloody hard and heartbreaking breastfeeding can be – I struggled massively with breastfeeding with both my kids. I didn’t manage more than a week with my daughter and I am now four weeks into breastfeeding my son, but my god it’s been a hard journey! It’s not as natural and easy as it is made out to be and for a lot of us it is emotionally draining and involves a lot of tears (from both parties!). I got all the support under the sun but until my baby decided to latch on (at three weeks), I was having to exclusively pump which was incredibly tiring. At the end of the day, fed is best and it doesn’t matter whether your baby is breast or bottle fed. As long as they are happy and you are happy, you’re doing the right thing.

Secondly, how amazing baby wearing is! – I’m not sure why I never baby wore with my first child. I think it still had a bit of a hippy image attached to it at the time. This time around I have about four baby wraps to choose from and I am absolutely loving them all. They let baby feel safe and secure, whilst allowing you to get on with things, hands free. I’ve managed to do the bath and bed routine with my toddler, go food shopping, go out for lunch, go for walks, do the washing and tidying, all without a peep from my newborn. It’s like some form of magic! And a complete god send and essential product whilst trying to juggle a two year old and a four week old.

 

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Sarah from Run Jump Scrap

The one thing no one told me about the aftermath of pregnancy is the night sweats. I woke up dripping convinced I had mastitis and a fever. It was a bit scary and slightly gross. Changing Pjs and pillow cases all the time was a joy. This lasted a good week or so and I have had it again second time around.

 

What Katy Said

Katy from What Katy Said

I really struggled going to the toilet after my second labour. I was really constipated and in the end I had to have lactulose solution to help move things along!

If you breastfeed then your nipples will feel like they are on fire! Proper toe curling moments for the first couple of weeks. Hang in there it does stop eventually! Hydrogel pads are your friend!

I had really bad knee pain for the first month, it hurt to stand up and I felt about 90 years old. I got some cheap knee supports from Boots and they really helped until my hormones settled down.

You will lose fistfuls of hair! Don’t panic, it is just the hair that didn’t fall out during pregnancy. It does get everywhere though so keep an eye on toes of baby grows and socks so they don’t wrap around little toes.

 

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Amy from All Things Amy

Hair loss and baby brain are two things that I’ve suffered with the most in the 4th trimester. All that lovely glossy hair I grew in my pregnancy is now shedding everywhere. No one ever told me hair loss happens, I remember laying in the bath with a handful of hair thinking something was wrong with me. Alas, it’s totally normal.

Something I thought would stop once I’d given birth was baby brain. Oh how wrong was I, it’s actually ALOT worse and some days, I’m sure I’ve lost my mind! Lost something? Check the fridge, it’s usually in there; even the kettle (I’ve done that a few too many times). 4th trimester is a crazy ride, especially with a newborn but it’s also the best journey ever.

 

Babies and Beauty

Emily from Babies and Beauty

I didn’t really know much about ‘after pains’ when I was pregnant, in fact I think I heard them mentioned once, you envision having your baby and that every single ache and pain is gone away as soon as you birth them. In truth, about 3 hours after my second son, I felt like I was having horrendous cramps and was about to birth some sort of phantom twin. I now realise these were the dreaded ‘after pains’ (more like ‘after contractions’ they hurt that much) they’re actually super common with subsequent pregnancies and apparently get worse each time – yikes! It’s totally normally to feel a little like your body has been through a tumble drier, child birth is a crazy thing and I feel like it should be talked about a little more.

 

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Jules from Pondering Parenthood

I wasn’t expecting my c-section scar to behave how it has. I’ve never had a large scar before. I rather naively thought it would just be a red line, which would quickly turn white. Fortunately, I’ve never had an infection in it, and I’ve been told it’s neat, but it’s still very pink and raised, nearly six months on. It itches a bit too, but I think that’s where the hair is beginning to grow back through (apologies for the overshare!) Bio oil helps, when I remember to use it!

No one told me how creaky my body would be after having a baby. My knees, ankles and especially hips are really bad and for several weeks after having my baby I’d get pins and needles down my legs if I sat in the same position for too long. This eased after the first twelve weeks.

 

Lucy from Mrs H’s Fave Things

One of the things I struggle with the most after having a baby is the compete gamut of emotions that I experience in one day. My gorgeous children can make me laugh, smile, cry and scream all in the space of 10 minutes. I can be filled with the most amazing love for them one minute and then the biggest sense of frustration a minute later.

My opinions of myself as a mother and a person also vary widely. At 10:00 I may feel on top of the world and that I am totally winning at parenting two small children. But by 10:15 these feelings are replaced this by a sense of failure and a belief that I am the worst mother in the world and everyone is judging me. It is complete paranoia. And it purely stems from having two little people who are dependant on me and the huge adjustment this is.

 

Kaye from Hello Archie

I remember the one shocker I had after having my first was the sheer amount of bleeding. It shocked me to the point I was constantly asking if it was normal to which of course, the midwives constantly insisted it was totally fine, I just had no idea! So try not to worry about that, I suppose it’s just our bodies way of clearing out the womb and it will slow down before long.

 

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Hannah from Budding Smiles

After I had Toby I wasn’t expecting that the whole ‘rush of love’ thing takes time. Like falling in love with your partner, it doesn’t happen in the blink of an eye and although I loved Toby instantly in a mama lion/protective way, the bond took time.

With Martha I didn’t expect that my hormones would be even more crazy than the first time. All of a sudden it was like everything that had been difficult the first time around came flooding out with the hormonal fluctuations of establishing breastfeeding, the sleep deprivation and trying to figure out how the heck to be a mum of two. It’s not as natural as I’d expected.

 

Illustrated Teacup

Rachel from The Illustrated Tea Cup

For me the biggest thing was getting used to my new body. After 9 months developing it to hold a small infant, it was starting to deflate. But nowhere near as fast as magazines and the internet would have you believe. Also did you know that when giving birth you trade your bowling ball belly for some semi-set jelly? It is singularly the oddest feeling in the world. And don’t get me started on the stretch marks!! The thing is I really believed once baby was out, I’d feel like I had my body back. In actual fact I felt worse! A bump is cute. A deflated one not so much. And my body felt just as foreign as before.

But remember, you gave birth. You carried a small, or maybe large, baby in there safely for 9 long months. Unfortunately we don’t just ping back. And that’s OK. You’ll come to terms with the new you. And the new you is stronger than you could have ever imagined!

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Chloe from Sorry About The Mess

I had trouble getting my first to latch successfully – he’d come on and off lots during a feed and get very angry about it! I remember tearfully feeding my one week old baby in the middle of the night, wondering if everyone found breastfeeding this challenging in the beginning and why didn’t anyone talk about it?? Breastfeeding can be straightforward, but there is usually an adjustment period at the beginning – it’s a skill that you and your baby are BOTH trying to learn. I didn’t know if our issues were normal, or if we were doing something wrong. It turns out that we did need a bit of help with his latch and tongue tie. I wish I hadn’t felt so silly about asking for help.

 

Fran from Back With A Bump

After giving birth it’s completely normal to feel grotty. Suddenly a nice firm bump has turned into a wobbly, empty tummy and you feel like you’re weaning a nappy. It’s not a sexy time but remember your body has just done something amazing and it will all go back to normal before long. Enjoy those nice hot baths again and paint your toes now you can see them for a little boost.

 

Sabrina from The Mummy Stylist

No one told me that after I gave birth, whenever I breastfed the baby I would get what felt like ‘period pains’ – it hurt so bad. I asked the midwife what this was, and she said it’s the uterus shrinking back to its normal size and the pain is worse with each child you had! For me the pains stopped 72 hours after birth. So be prepared for that when you have your second baby!

 

Life As Mum | UK Baby, Parenting & Lifestyle

Beth from Life As Mum

After giving birth to my third baby I suffered with severe after pains, something I didn’t get after my other two pregnancies. It stopped me doing a lot of things and waking me up during the nights. My first pain was not long after giving birth and the pain felt just as bad as early labour. I had to make sure I took paracetamol every four hours but even paracetamol didn’t work sometimes. It took around six weeks for me to feel kind of ‘normal’ again and for the pains to go. If you ever suffer with this during the 4th trimester, I would advise you to rest as much as you can.

 

doyounoah

Aba from Do You Noah

One of the things about post pregnancy that surprised me was that you still look pregnant after having a baby. I’m not talking about weight but specifically how much your stomach changes. Belly button changes, stretch marks and worst of all the dreaded tummy pouch. I didn’t put on much weight during my pregnancy, in fact I only went up one dress size. So foolishly I thought I would be back into my old jeans/dresses/tops once baby was born. How wrong was I! It’s very common for women post pregnancy to have a stomach that looks like they are still carrying and this could last for months. Some might have a small little tummy pouch, others a belly that looks much bigger than they are used to, but without a doubt there will be a pouch in one way or other. But do you know what? It’s ok, you have just spent 10 months growing a small human being, what do you expect? I had no idea just how much my body would change but I’m slowly accepting this is just part of motherhood and learning to embrace these changes. And besides, if I’m honest, I wasn’t really ready to give up all my maternity clothes. The other thing no one tells you is how much you will miss those elastic waist band jeans – you will most certainly still wear them in the 4th trimester as they are just too comfortable to let go!

 

So that’s it! 16 lovely new mummies and their invaluable 4th trimester experiences shared to give an insight into what real life looks and feels like after birth. What did you experience in the 4th trimester that shocked or surprised you?

 

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39 Comments

  1. November 15, 2016 / 10:02 am

    This is such a brilliant post and I feel very honoured to have been included among so many of my favourite mummy bloggers. I was nodding along to everything written here. I too have experienced Post baby body blues. And my need for sugar and caffeine to stay awake does not help with the tummy pouch. Thanks again for including me lovely. Hugs Lucy xxxx
    Mrs H recently posted…Christmas outfits from JoJo Maman BébéMy Profile

  2. November 15, 2016 / 10:52 am

    Yes to the night sweats! I don’t remember having them with my first two but this time around they were horrendous! I’m still getting them now even though it’s been 4 weeks!
    Thank you so much for asking me to take part in this post!

  3. Tina
    November 15, 2016 / 6:40 pm

    This is a great post! I’m 35 weeks with my second and definitely thinking after pains might be an issue this time.
    My biggest surprise last time was post partum thyroiditis which I’d never heard of but is surprisingly common. Luckily it resolves within 12 months but was a real shock!

  4. Ema J Lowe
    November 15, 2016 / 8:06 pm

    ive never heard of the 4th trimester and ive had 6!!

  5. November 15, 2016 / 9:10 pm

    This a brilliant post and I’ll be sharing it with all the mummies-to-be that I know. I wish somebody had warned me about the night sweats. After having my first baby I was worried there was something wrong with me because I was waking up every night completely soaked in sweat. I’m due baby no.2 any day now and this has been a good reminder of all the things that I had forgotten (mentally suppressed!) I never had after pains with my first child and I’m dreading getting them this time around – I hope I’m one of the lucky ones who doesn’t get them. They sound awful!

  6. November 15, 2016 / 10:01 pm

    Great post! Really interesting reading other Mum’s experiences of the 4th trimester. Thanks for including me lovely.
    Life as Mum recently posted…Siblings {November}My Profile

  7. November 21, 2016 / 6:50 am

    Oh gosh this is all the absolute truth isn’t it?! You think oh what a magical time it will be with my newborn but it’s not just having a baby you’re adjusting to! #MarvMondays
    Kat recently posted…Dream & Sparkle Linky #3My Profile

  8. November 21, 2016 / 8:32 am

    I love this post! It is so reassuring to read all these stories and know that things that happened to me after birth are totally normal. I’m 4weeks in with my second baby and the after pains during breastfeeding were such a shock, thankfully they’ve stopped now but now my hair is falling out I stead!Ah well, our little ones are definitely worth it xx #marvmondays
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  9. November 21, 2016 / 9:09 am

    The after pains after my third child we really bad, It was like I was in labour again. And they never tell you how much blood there will be. I was having to change every hour #MarvMondays
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  10. November 21, 2016 / 9:33 am

    This is such a great post to share with new mums or mums-to-be – the stuff that no-one talks about but pretty much everyone will go through! I had the worst night sweats, but at the time thought it was just due to it being summer, but now realise it was due to hormone changes! #MarvMondays
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  11. November 21, 2016 / 9:40 am

    FAB post! I had no idea about after pains, nor that they got worse with every baby. After I had my fifth I swear it was like I was about to give birth again the pains were that bad, I even asked the midwife if it was possible for a twin to be hiding away and appear any minute, ha! Oh and the hair loss, that came as a huge shock with my first! Even now my hair has never recovered! #MarvMondays
    five little doves recently posted…Christmas is coming, £150 festive giveway courtesty of Lights 4 YouMy Profile

  12. November 21, 2016 / 10:53 am

    A great post. My baby is 5 months old now with my daughter also 19 months old and the baby sling was a life saver. After my first I was surprised by just how much blood there is the following week! I was sure I was dying haha #MarvMondays
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  13. November 21, 2016 / 12:00 pm

    My son is 18 months now and I had forgot about some of these things. It’s amazing how quickly you forget all this and broodyness sets in again #marvmondays
    Michelle recently posted…The great dummy debateMy Profile

  14. November 21, 2016 / 12:12 pm

    Such a brilliant post and a great one for new mums to be. I am still shocked by my c-section scar, it is still very red and raised and that’s three years later. Also if I roll over without thinking about it then it pulls at the scar and hurts a lot! I didn’t know about that! #MarvMondays
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  15. November 21, 2016 / 2:38 pm

    A lot of these sound very familiar! The one that shocked me the most was the after pains. I knew the uterus had to contract back but the day after we got home with our daughter was when they really kicked in for me. I was doubled up on the bed and my husband actually called the midwife, Turned out I was also coming down with a stomach virus (thanks hospital!) which probably didn’t help! #MarvMondays
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  16. November 21, 2016 / 4:31 pm

    I love this post and I love how you’ve got lots of other bloggers involved to share their take on things. Such a glamorous time the 4th trimester isn’t it lol. I think the reason people don’t really talk about all the nitty gritty of pregnancy and child birth is that if you know the full truth beforehand, nobody would ever want to do it.
    Thanks for hosting #marvmondays
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  17. November 21, 2016 / 5:53 pm

    There were so many things I wasn’t expecting when I had Baby Bee. The after pains, the poor bladder control, that bonding takes time – but the biggest shock for me was the intensity of the baby blue. No oe warns you how bad they can be – I thought I was going crazy!
    #Marv Mondays

  18. November 21, 2016 / 7:29 pm

    Such a brilliant post as usual! I love how you managed to get so many other mummy bloggers to get involved on this one. 🙂 My hair is still falling out – 6 months postpartum and still going… funnily enough though it’s still really thick haha (just means more hair loss, really) and yes those postpartum after pains were a nightmare this time round. It was definitely worse than after first baby! #MarvMondays

  19. November 21, 2016 / 8:03 pm

    Excellent post, I could relate to all of these! How hard breastfeeding is really surprised me. In fact, how hard it all is! Also, how unattractive I felt. I didn’t LOVE my bump like some people but I was pregnant, I felt like I was doing something. Now I find it hard to accept my new body with stretchmarks, mum-tum and giant boobs from feeding. It takes a lot of telling myself that it’s alright to look like that some days and that’s without factoring the hairloss and hormonal mood swings! #marvmondays
    Devon Mama recently posted…The Lust List: November EditMy Profile

  20. November 21, 2016 / 8:30 pm

    Fantastic post, and very eye-opening and honest. I had an emergency c-section and was completely taken back by the pain that I was in afterwards. Not being able to lift my baby from the cot was heartbreaking. I also didn’t realise how big the scar would be, and that it could hurt – even to this day. I have a little pouch too, where they sewed me back together. It’s not flattering but you do get used to it! #MarvMondays
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  21. November 21, 2016 / 8:51 pm

    Thanks for featuring me hun. The pain when breastfeeding like Sabrina said, I totally forgot about…I was moaning like a loon to the midwife…she must have thought I was mad after giving birth!! xx Thanks for shosting too xx
    Sarah Howe @runjumpscrap recently posted…The Truth About Being a Mum of 2My Profile

    • November 21, 2016 / 9:28 pm

      Ha, ha! I had the afterbirth pains too. Didnt have them the first time round, but definitely the second and they werent pleasant at all!

  22. November 21, 2016 / 9:15 pm

    I love reading posts like these as it gives me an insight into something I’ve never gone through but am fascinated by! Part of me is pleased I didn’t have to go through any of it (adopting sounds way easier in comparison) but part of me wishes I could have experienced it too! #marvmondays
    Cherry – The Newby Tribe recently posted…Wonderful Winter At Waddesdon ManorMy Profile

    • November 21, 2016 / 9:17 pm

      I can imagine it must sound like such a crazy thing to put your body through, although I think most of us go into it quite blindly. Even though I’ve had two pregnancies, I also find it fascinating to read what other women have experienced. Some things of course are the same, but lots of things are different and it just amazes me!

  23. November 22, 2016 / 7:43 pm

    I hate the hair loss! It is literally everywhere and just won’t stop even six months post baby!
    I’m also still bleeding to the point I’m having investigations done even though they’re trying to tell me it’s implant related (I have a history or irregular bleeding anywho but never this bad)
    Please tell me the hair loss stops!
    #marvmondays

  24. November 23, 2016 / 3:57 pm

    Hurray for the brilliant honesty in this post! I read so much about pregnancy and about what to do with the baby when he or she arrived, but was totally unprepared for what would be going on with me for those post natal months. The bleeding, the afterpains, the breastfeeding, the lactulose, the episiotomy recovery…. yes yes yes to all of the above. Fantastic collection which any new mum would benefit from reading. xx #MarvMondays

  25. November 23, 2016 / 11:39 pm

    I guess it is true there is a lot we don’t know to expect after the baby is born. I had my first two naturally and my third was a c-section. I too was surprised by how my scar gets itchy and also when I scratch it I can’t feel it, it is numb to touch. Funnily I expected breastfeeding to hurt, but it never did, babies all latched on perfectly. What Iw wasn’t expecting was to not make enough milk and have to top up each feed with formula which was emotional painful. #MarvMondays

    Awesome Post!!!!
    Mackenzie Glanville recently posted…“hang on a minute, I need help” . . and I am not apologising for thatMy Profile

  26. November 24, 2016 / 7:20 pm

    I loved reading this post Emily, it bought back so much for me. I think the 4th trimester can be worse than the pregnancy. I still have a raised red c-section line 16 months later, I don’t think it will ever disappear. For me it was a feeling of sheer utter fear, how would I cope with this baby, and where had my life gone. It’s so great to read what other bloggers had also been through. Claire x #MarvMondays
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  27. November 26, 2016 / 12:09 am

    Such a brilliant post with so many lovely bloggers 🙂 the 4th trimester is the hardest in my opinion – agree with all of these! It’s a good job all these babies are cute 😉 ox
    #MarvMondays
    Amy recently posted…Dr Brown’s Options Bottles* | ReviewMy Profile

  28. December 2, 2016 / 3:22 am

    I’m right in the middle of 4th trimester at the moment. Yes, yes, yes to so many things in your posts. Good (and terrible) to hear I’m not the only one going through these things. And I had already forgotten about the cramps during breastfeeding!
    Michelle recently posted…Comment on Beauty Day Out At Capitol Piazza by MichelleMy Profile

  29. December 15, 2016 / 6:49 am

    A very brilliant and informative write up you have here.I’ve indeed learnt something new.
    Thanks for sharing.

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