The fourth trimester is the 12-week period immediately after you have had your baby. It is common to make a birthing plan when you are expecting a child. Why not do the same for the time afterwards? The time after pregnancy can be challenging to plan for, just like the birth itself. It can be good to be prepared and have thought through what is to come.
Below you can see some points that may be good to think about before birth:
Do you want to breastfeed or give a bottle? How do you feel about this? Have you read a lot and feel well prepared? Do you know where to turn if you need support?
Parental leave - Are both parents planning on taking some time off? Do you want to take time off together or separately to be home with your newborn? How long should you take time off from work? Is there an option to return later, work part time or from home?
Sleep - do not be surprised that the beginning will be characterized by a few hours of sleep. If you are two, you can take turns and take night shifts and early morning ones. What can you do to help each other in the best way? If you are on your own, who could you ask for help if you needed it?
Food, drink and nutrition - can you prepare nutritious food and meals at home in advance? Maybe friends and family can help?
Visit - how does the new family want to handle visits? When do you want visitations and by whom? Do you first want to have some time together before you invite visitors? Do not be afraid to say no, you need to rest and get to know your baby. If your baby is being held and is upset, please do not feel you cannot ask for your baby back, they need you and your family/friends will have time to cuddle him/her later.
Siblings - are there siblings at home? When is it appropriate for the first meeting to take place? Should siblings stay home or go to daycare or school? Who takes care of the siblings when you are at the hospital or birth center? Can family or friends help with siblings when you come home with your newborn?
Pain and discomfort - it is helpful to have painkillers at home such as Tylenol or Advil. What are some of the reasons that you should be concerned postpartum and when to reach out to your healthcare provider for further advice?
Take the time to think about what your expectations, hopes and fears are. Talk to each other about your strengths and where to turn if you need support. Be humble, things may not always be as you intended, but they can be good nonetheless.
Sources: - Savage JS. A Fourth Trimester Action Plan for Wellness. J Perinat Educ. 2020 Apr 1;29(2):103-112. doi: 10.1891/J-PE-D-18-00034. PMID: 32308360; PMCID: PMC7159799.