What is the fourth trimester and how do I manage it?

The fourth trimester is the first three months after giving birth. It’s an interesting fact that this is a relatively new expression. When our children were born in the 1970s there was no such thing as the fourth trimester. I do think there is much more said about it now, however, it’s nothing to worry about.
Here are some of the things that parents may worry about:

1. Not coping
2. Tiredness
3. Will I bond with my baby?
4. Feeding
5. Routine
6. Baby sleeping
7. Postnatal depression
8. And of course, registering my baby

Let’s chat about these things and others in the fourth trimester that may be worrying you.

Life After Hospital

I think one of the most important things is to make sure you have enough help when you get home. This of course can be your partner but if you’re a single mother then maybe a parent, sibling, or friend.

If you’ve had a straightforward delivery then your stay in hospital may only be a few hours after birth and you will be able to go home. It’s really important that you can rest when you get home. Sometimes a newborn baby will sleep for several hours after birth but sometimes they will be born hungry and want to feed on and off for hours! This can be exhausting.


If you’re breastfeeding your milk will not come through straight away but the baby will have colostrum. The more you feed will help your milk supply. Make sure you have the baby latched on properly, it is a good idea to get that checked before you leave the hospital. If you’re bottle feeding then feed baby as and when he needs it for the first few days until he settles down into a routine.

Bonding With Baby

Bonding with your baby usually happens quite quickly but not for every mother. So please don’t worry if you don’t have that overwhelming sense of love for baby when you first see him, it will come as you get to know him. If you’ve had a very long difficult birth It can sometimes take a while for a real sense of love for baby, but it will come.

Managing Baby Blues and Postnatal Depression

Many mums worry about postnatal depression and often muddle it with baby blues. Baby blues are quite normal when you feel very tearful, particularly when your milk comes in around day three. Even if you’re bottle feeding you can still feel tearful and overwhelmed with it all. It’s really important you have good family support and can rest well. Having someone who can take baby for a walk while you have a rest is a great idea. I can’t overemphasise how important it is to have rest. Try and go back to bed in the day to sleep for a couple of hours if you can. 

Postnatal depression is much more than just baby blues. You will find sleep is difficult, your appetite goes and you feel anxious about many things. Please seek help from a doctor or your midwife if this is how you’re feeling. 

Registering and Routine

You will also need to register your baby during the first six weeks after birth. But your partner can do this and you don’t need to take baby with you. 

During these first three months, you will probably want to ease your baby into a nice flexible routine. If you’re breastfeeding your milk supply will be established and you will find feeding much easier than in those first few weeks after birth. If you’re bottle feeding then baby will be well established with feeding, and you will know how much he’s having. You may want to demand feed in these first few months and let baby feed and sleep when he wishes. 

I prefer to have a nice flexible routine and teach baby to settle well and sleep well from the early days after giving birth. I always say do try and get baby into good sleeping habits before he is 6 months old as it’s so much easier to sleep train a younger baby. They haven’t got into too many bad habits as they can do when they get older!

Enjoy the Fourth Trimester

During these first few months, you will see how baby changes from a little newborn to a little person who smiles and begins to chuckle and respond to you when you chat to him. This is such a lovely phase as baby gradually becomes his own little person.

Please do reach out to me if you ever find yourself asking “what is the fourth trimester?” or if you’re struggling with any of the things we’ve talked about as I would love to help you through it. It’s always so rewarding to help mums who are going through a tricky time, and it’s very common to need some help at some stage. I always say there’s no training for parenting!

You might also like to buy my book for newborns called The Baby Book – How to Enjoy Year One. This covers all you will need to know for your baby’s first year of life.