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Lottie's Letters

FEB 2021

Sleep & rest – the 4 Trimesters 

Yes, you read the title right. If you look it up on the NHS website, they will list we experience three trimesters. However, more recently, society and new mothers (including myself) are starting to pick up books, blogs and articles that include a fourth trimester! (who knew?) I am so glad I discovered this ‘hidden trimester’ as I had a better understanding of what a newborn baby needs and wants in those first few months of motherhood. 

Throughout your trimesters your sleep will change for a number of reasons. So, let me take you on a journey through my experience of sleep & rest. From the initial stages of finding out we were pregnant with Freddie to the illusive fourth trimester.

 

First Trimester – Morning Sickness

I didn’t really notice much change in my sleep in the first month or so. Until 8 weeks hit and my goodness, the nausea set in and, to say the least, it was horrendous! Every morning before sitting up I reached for my packet of ginger biscuits and water before doing ANYTHING else. The first trimester is when your body is having to adjust to all these new hormones so take your time, be kind to yourself and rest as much as you can – even if you can’t sleep – sitting down or doing some relaxing breathing is still better than over doing it. 

 

I also couldn’t stand tea (which I usually love) so pretty much everyone knew what was up the duff by the time I told them….typical. That’s what you get working in an office full of women who have been there! 

Second Trimester – hello bump! 

All of a sudden, I felt so much more conscious of my sleeping position! And why? Because of my bump! Now was the time for my body to start adjusting my body to different sleep positions. It is advised that sleeping on your left-hand side is the best side to sleep on to aid blood flow from a major artery that runs parallel to your spine on your right-hand side. Now, I naturally like to sleep on my front and back and I would end up on my back A LOT! Fine for now…. But I knew the big bump was coming! It was time to start looking at pregnancy pillows! Personally, I’d highly recommend a firmer pregnancy pillow if you can as you use it EVERY night in different positions, so you don’t want a soft one that loses shape. I went with a generic big one to start with but switched to the Purflo Pregnancy Pillow as it was much firmer and more breathable and I LOVED IT!

 

Another MASSIVE benefit of a pregnancy pillow is they help with is your bad backs and hips so much! I really suffered with this in the second and third trimester, so looking into what treatments or support you can get whilst pregnant for back and hip pain before you have it will really help if you struggle – trust me! 

Even with all of my sleep changes, these months brought a new burst of energy and enthusiasm. Make the most of this now – book a babymoon (I didn’t do that and wish I had now), start baby shopping, pram shopping and of course nursery furniture shopping to get you ready for nesting. 

 

Third Trimester – “You’re glowing!” Yeahhhhhhh right?

So, how many times do you think you need to get up for a wee in the night?!? I counted 4 times one night! I looked at is as my body getting ready for what was to come – but be sure to rest up in the day if you can, you’re going to need it! I found in this trimester, I went extremely tired and ended up starting my Maternity Leave a month early. 

 

Some Mums are able to work right up to the day of or the day before, kudos to them, but I am so glad I didn’t. You have to do what is right for you! With achy hips I wasn’t getting the best night’s sleep and had consultant appointments every 2 weeks. I just felt the of pressure of work wasn’t helping and I needed to take time for me. And boy am I glad I did!

 

If you can, I’d highly recommend it!

 

Wow, after the 6 month mark, baby movements really start to kick in (literally). I really noticed it when just getting into bed, first thing in the morning or whenever I laid down. In the third trimester, I found this was a key time to just take stock of baby’s movement, how I am feeling and just checking in with myself. If I had a pretty busy day, I wouldn’t really notice if Freddie had moved. If you’re on your feet, and quite active, sometimes its hard to notice the smaller movements so try and fit in some time in your schedule to sit down with a drink and just listen. I can’t stress how important this is as your baby should always be moving throughout this trimester and throughout labour – do not wait if you are not sure! You are not wasting anyone’s time – call your midwife’s office and get checked out. It happened to me and I am so glad I got checked out as I got the reassurance that he was okay. No such thing as a stupid question.

 

Fourth Trimester – Hello Baby! 

So…. Here we are, the fourth trimester is the transitional period from birth up to 12 weeks of your new little sleep taker. Please let me reassure you now. 

 

EVERY BABY IS DIFFERENT – EVERY BABY SLEEPS DIFFERENTLY – YOU ARE NOT DOING ANYTHING WRONG 

 

There we go. I wish someone had told me that abit earlier. I needed it drumming into me. People obsess with how a child sleeps and as a society I strongly feel we need to stop. Just stop. It is not normal for a child to sleep 12 hours solidly. It’s okay for them to stir…a small majority will nod back off to sleep, but the majority need help and that’s where you come in Dad or Mum! 

 

So much pressure is put on new parents, it can be or some a big transition from just the 2 of you to having a little one who relies on you so talk to your friends, your family, people you trust about any concerns or experiences. 

 

In the fourth trimester my key tips for you are:

  • Take time for yourself. I am still SO SO rubbish at this 18months on but it will help your mind on those fuzzy days. 

  • “Sleep when baby sleeps” advice is rubbish. Hormones don’t help some Mums and so it can be impossible to switch off. Just rest, chill out, read a book or call a friend. Honestly the laundry and house cleaning can wait. (We are still in lockdown anyway so no one will see it) 

  • Get outside – honestly nature is incredible and settling a baby and you (why do you think calming apps have nature-based sounds on there) 

  • Work as a team and check-in with each other. 

  • Voice any grumbles early so they don’t all come out and once

  • Remember…it won’t be like this forever! 

 

Lastly, I want to remind you that you will do a FANTASTIC job. There is support there for you if you need to reach out for it. I am here if you need to talk to someone outside of your family/friendship group. 

 

Love,

Lottie xxx