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Prepare yourself for the fourth trimester with Renata Lardelli

Prepare yourself for the fourth trimester with Renata Lardelli


We spend so much of our pregnancy preparing for our one day of birth and little thought is often given to life after birth or as we know it... The fourth trimester. We caught up with Renata Lardelli who is a Registered Nurse and Registered Midwife pasionate about educating and guiding mothers through their Fourth Trimester. She shares her story below and how important it is to have a plan in place for the fourth trimester.

I have 3 sons who {at the time of writing this} are 11, 5 and 4 years old. Let me tell you - three boys is WILD, capitals necessary but they’re also WONDERFUL. In 2010 after the birth of our first son Eli I looked over at my husband and said “what on earth do we do now” - it was in that moment I had a sinking realisation of how unprepared I was. I’d prepared for his birth, we all prepare for that moment don’t we?! Hours and hours of pinning, online reviews and price comparisons, reading books/magazines/blogs and pregnancy apps - this list goes on but I really hadn’t thought much beyond that and I’d failed to consider the realities of motherhood!

We know a lot about the three trimesters of pregnancy but an alarmingly large portion of women know very little about a critical time in their lives that desperately requires our attention; the fourth trimester. The newly touted “fourth trimester” is the first 12 weeks of life on the other side of pregnancy and modern motherhood has begun to shine a floodlight on it! It can be a whirlwind as you and your baby navigate this uncharted territory together, the transition to motherhood is the most wild but also the most wonderful adventure of all time.

Every woman's journey to motherhood is unique, the same can be said for her postpartum experience but there is a commonality that lies within pregnancy, labour and birth - they are all temporary moments. Despite these moments being temporary you can make the experience, however brief it may be, that much easier to navigate if you just prepare. So, my challenge to all expectant mothers is to spend an equal amount of time investing in the fourth trimester as you do preparing for pregnancy and birth.

How can you prepare? I don’t know that you can truly 100% prepare for anything - there will always be curveballs and exceptions to the rules but I’d like to offer you 2 things you can do that WILL help you find your footing as you transition from woman to mother in the fourth trimester;

  1. Have a postpartum plan for adjusting to life with a new baby
  2. Have a plan for your pelvic floor, mental health and your fridge

Many new parents are underprepared for the challenges that come following the birth of a baby, there is an unawareness of the demands of caring for a newborn and healing from childbirth and coupled with a lack of sleep; oftentimes it can all feel a bit too much. So, just like we have a birth plan I would encourage you to have a postnatal plan, it’ll help you prepare for a smooth transition into adjusting to your new dynamics as a new family of 3 {...or more}. A postnatal plan can help you set realistic expectations in those first few months and set up a sturdy support network before it’s needed, this will greatly reduce stress and help you ease into motherhood as you consider things such as…

  • Support for help and rest - during the early days and weeks adjusting to a new sleep routine {aka. much less sleep than you’re used to} can be tough so support for home help and rest in the early days can be incredibly valuable to ensuring you can meet your needs for sleep and rest.

  • We know that being able to talk to someone who can relate to our experiences can validate how we’re feeling, normalise our problems and make them more bearable. Curating a list of friends who have babies or small children to act as your sounding board will bring you comfort. If you don’t have any friends who are parents, strategize places you can meet people in a similar phase as you, such as antenatal classes, fitness classes, work or church for example.

  • We should never underestimate the positive impacts of consuming good food. In my experience people are dying to know of ways to help you so let them bring you good food. Also, spend some time preparing meals for your freezer - you’re future self will be very grateful for your efforts.

  • Breastfeeding often looks much easier than it is when first learning, it does not always come naturally so knowing where to get help will save you time and worry. Find out about the services available to you in your area such as lactation consultants and La Leche League.

  • Carving out time for yourself and your partner “me and us time” is crucial, I cannot emphasise this enough - you cannot forget the “you” and the “us”! It can be tricky to find the time so this can require some planning, negotiating and effort.

  • Welcoming a new baby to the family is a time of transition and adjustment for older children {and pets}. It can also be a juggle managing their needs, activities and commitments with a newborn so preparing for that can help it run more smoothly

I’ve created a printable Postpartum Plan that you can download and fill in HERE, take some time to fill it in then tack it to your fridge in preparation for your sweet babes arrival.

Our current health system does its best but falls slightly short of supporting women postnatally - because of this in addition to your postpartum plan I urge you to create a safety plan for your pelvic floor, your mental health and your fridge;

  • Your Pelvic Floor - Right now only women with 3rd or 4th degree tears are referred for an assessment by a physiotherapist, there is no acknowledgement of the trauma attained by childbirth of any other kind. You’re gonna want to be able to jump on the trampoline with your child someday without any consequences so I encourage you to put aside money to see a physiotherapist who specialises in pelvic health just like you put aside money for a cot, pram and carseat. You shouldn’t have to, it should not be a privilege, it should be a right that all women have access to but right now this is the system we have and one that is being asked to change.

  • Your Mental Health - Stigma is the number one reason women don’t seek help for postnatal depression, let's squash that right here, right now! There is no room for shame, I’m sending you a giant ball of love and courage for wanting to be the best version of you, for yourself and for the people you love. Knowing the signs and symptoms of PND will empower you - feelings of worthlessness & hopelessness, feeling so unhappy that eating & sleeping routines change, feeling anxious, panicky or overwhelmed, feeling detached from your baby & other family members, thoughts of suicide are what you’re looking for. If you can recognise these in your life then please know that there is help and treatment available for you, start by talking - tell someone you trust how you’re feeling and engage your GP or a psychiatrist. PND is often a two-pronged approach made up of medication and therapy - your doctor or psychiatrist will work with you to formulate a treatment plan just for you. There are also things that you can do to help deal with your thoughts, feelings and behaviour. We know that looking after your body with physical activity, good food and sleep will also help you to look after your brain. Removing stressors from your life can assist you to deal with everyday situations and connecting friends and family can help you feel better faster and stay well longer. Depression.org has a list full of inspiration for you to explore.

  • Your Fridge - One of the fondest memories I have after having my babies was the food, it's as if people cook their best dish or bring you something from their favourite cafe {nom nom} so make a rule, no visits unless you bring food. It’s very easy for hours to pass, heck - even the entire day to pass and you realise you’ve barely eaten anything nutritious so, the postpartum you will thank the pregnant you if you spend some time preparing some frozen meals. Creating a Meal Train is another fabulous idea, don’t be proud - start one yourself or ask a friend to set one up on your behalf. Bellyful know how hard those first few weeks and months can be as a new parent and have created a service offering free meals to families with new babies who are in need of some support. They don’t want to take away from all of the wonderful support forms available to families instead stepping in when none of those exist. There is no catch to accessing their service - if you need a meal then click HERE.

 

Generally speaking birth is only ONE day, yet we spend our entire pregnancies preparing for it. I hope this has inspired you to prepare yourself for the fourth trimester too, a crucial part of the journey that too often we deeply under-prepare for - I wish you well in preparing the umbrella before it rains. 

If you’d like to dive a little deeper Renata is offering $15 off her Online Fourth Trimester Workshop - it’s everything you need to know and what thousands of women before you wished they’d known! Enter the code HOTMILK21 at the checkout. Expires December 31st 2021.

Renata Lardelli is both a Registered Nurse and Registered Midwife, she practices as a core midwife at Waikato DHB where she has been employed since her career began in 2008. Renata has 3 sons of her own who fuel her desire to help new mums find their footing as they transition from woman to mother. In addition to her work as a midwife Renata and her husband Jeremy founded a boutique brand named Lila Jasmine Nutrition which is committed to nourishing both the mind & body with fourth trimester education and New Zealand's only lactation bar. You can follow Lila Jasmine Nutrition on Instagram and Facebook

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