What is trimester 4
Often when I describe the pregnancy subscription boxes we offer, I talk about offering products for Trimesters one to four. While it is becoming a more common phrase, I thought I’d explain it a bit more for those who don’t know what it really means. If you haven’t heard it before I can understand why it doesn’t make much sense - given that the “tri” in trimester means three, yet I’m referring to a fourth one!
The Fourth Trimester
You might have heard this referred to as something like The First Forty Days, or something like that. It basically refers to the period of time after the birth, approximately 3 months in length (like the other trimesters). While it’s a pretty new thing in western culture, some form of the concept has been around in eastern cultures for a really long time. How each culture embraces the fourth trimester might be different, but the overarching theme is the same. Women need time to heal and bond with their babies after the birth. I read a quote recently that I truly love:
“It really does take a village, not just to raise a child, but to nurture a newborn mother”.
Fourth Trimester in Other Cultures
In Indian culture, Ayurvedic principles keep a woman at home, in bed, and nourished with warming foods for the first 40 days after the birth.
In China, it is referred to (translated) “sitting the month”. Japanese women know it as "Sango no hidachi" and Koreans as "Samchilil", which means "thirty-one". In Latin American countries it is called la cuarentena, i.e. "forty days" (the source of the English word "quarantine"). In India it is called jaappa.
Translated into english I have noticed friends of Asian heritage call it confinement.
Whatever you may call it, each culture has the same idea - to nourish the mother.
Fourth Trimester in Australia
In Australia, there’s a culture of snapping back as soon as you can. An expectation that when visitors come, they come to hold your baby, maybe take some instagram pics, and you serve them as you would have hosted them before you’d given birth.
Not only is this harmful for the baby in creating bonds with the mother, it’s also harmful for the mother to be up and pushing herself so hard while healing from birth.
I recently read that the wound from the placenta attachment in the womb is the size of a dinner plate! If we had a wound that size on the outside of our bodies, we would most definitely be resting as much as we could. Instead, because it’s internal, there’s this mentality that you’ve got to get back to it straight away (and lose your pregnancy weight while you’re at it).
And that isn’t even touching on the emotional aspects, whatever they may be for each individual mother. Giving birth changes you on an emotional level, and many women need time and space to be able to process these emotions.
Fourth trimester for baby
What about the baby in all this? Well, we all know what babies need… they need the comfort of their mother, milk, nappy changes, and sleep. That’s about it! While they are highly dependent creatures, the newborn baby is also quite a simple creature.
When we focus on the mother, allowing her to rest when she needs, nourishing her with healthy and nutritious foods, creating a calm space for her and her baby; we are also enabling the attachment and comfort of the newborn baby too.
What can you do to support a woman in the fourth trimester?
Many women may not want to be resting for forty days. But that doesn’t mean you can’t help them heal and slow down anyway.
Here are my ideas:
Bring food, or organise a meal train with friends
Come over and help clean the house
Come and play with her older children
Leave your expectations at the door
Be a shoulder to cry on if she’s having a hard day
Overstay your welcome
Take the baby out of her arms without her permission
Bring colds or germs with you
Focus on the baby without asking how she is going
While we do have some baby-specific gift bundles available, the majority of our gift bundles are for pregnant or new mothers. We also like to combine both mother and baby products, or create custom gift bundles. Check out our shop page for more details.