The curious case of the fourth trimester

11-week-old Maise Averie

Until I was pregnant, I’ve never heard of the term “Fourth Trimester”. And even then, it’s shrouded in some kind of a martyrdom mystery for moms.

But I was certainly fascinated why the term was coined beyond what I’ve always known of the period after birthing a child as simply “postpartum”. Dr Harvey Karp coined the term to broadly place emphasis on how babies are born three months early for life outside of the womb. Having just completed my fourth trimester, I can stand to say: The baby’s fourth trimester is also the mom’s fourth trimester.

Yet unlike the pregnancy trimesters, there are plenty of public knowledge and literature on newborns in this time, but limited knowledge or care strategies for the very caregiver of the newborns — the moms! I was appalled to learn it’s expected of moms to take the baby to the pediatrician within 48 hours after the baby is discharge. Depending on how traumatic one’s birth experience was, it just sounds like utter disregard for the mom’s well-being.

I mean also why should this Frida Mom commercial be banned from showing during the 92nd Oscars’ three-hour broadcast — which coincidentally I was well in labor at that very time (Maise is an Oscars baby!) and already had a stash of Frida Mom stocked in my postpartum recovery tool kit. They were part of the self-care strategies I had in place that enabled me to swiftly heal and be pretty much back in pre-pregnancy shape, up and running within two weeks postpartum. So why all the hush-hush?

It’s a feat to grow and ‘pop’ a human out (C-sect requires healing too!) why should women then be made to feel like postpartum is like a mysterious martyrdom to suffer through? Much of the picture painted of the fourth trimester and the ensuing advisory we received (from both our parents generation and our own) were usually pretty gloom and doom. Or, riddled in Hollywood fantasy. And as someone who champions to thrive in life and not just be getting by, it was all very unsettling to me.

I’ll be first to put my hand up that I was clueless what to do or how to survive the fourth trimester, so there was a lot of fear going into it. But with fear, comes faith. I believe there is a heaven breathed Kingdom-solution for the crises, problems and epidemics in our world especially as it relates to people and pain.

There was no question in my mind that motherhood is hard work, but not quite unlike any other “hard working” thing I’ve had to do in life be it in school, sports, work, career, missions, etc. Yet there was always a way to thrive, and in the same way, I had to believe my season of mothering little people could be equally so.

Maise turns three months old today on mother’s day and she has truly thrived in her fourth trimester. She eats well and gained good weight, is teething, attempted her first rollovers and is able to sleep 12 uninterrupted hours through the night (8pm to 7:30am) without a feed by week 12 — I did not know it is possible this early on — though I am still figuring out how to get her to nap well independently in the day, instead of in our arms!

But by far, motherhood has been pretty kind to me by His good grace. And it also probably went down to both my super chilled say-no-to-hustling-nor-worrying personality and my postpartum tool kits I was made aware to prepare prior to entering my fourth trimester.

In my next post, I look forward to putting together some of these postpartum curation that made me, and I other women too, feel a little more seen in our fourth trimester and beyond.

Let’s thrive together.

(And Happy Mother’s Day.)