Your guide to preparing for the fourth trimester: Part one
This article has been written by Aimee Revill, Clinical Nutritionist at Flow Holistic Nutrition.
Congratulations mama! If you are reading this it is likely that you are pregnant or cradling your new babe in your arms. Just to pause for a moment, take a deep nourishing breath for yourself, now take another nourishing breath for your baby. Feel how this moment allows both you and baby to soften a little? The physical connection you have during pregnancy extends well beyond birth.
The fourth trimester
The first three months after birth you and your baby are in your fourth trimester, a period of time in which you are both going through the motions of trying to establish your flow. For your baby, this big, bright, new world is a shock after residing in the warm waters of your womb for the past 9 months.
During this time it may feel like you can’t put your baby down, you can’t get your baby to sleep, you can’t get your baby to stop crying. However, understanding that it’s ok to hold your baby close to you at all times, it’s ok if you can’t settle your baby even though he/she has been fed, changed, cuddled and rocked and it’s ok for YOU to cry, to ask for help and to want a break.
We put our everything into planning for the birth of our babies but have you planned for your early days at home?
As a clinical, holistic nutritionist I see many pregnant women right through to their postpartum period. I know that optimal nutrition during pregnancy, as well as mental, physical and spiritual preparation for the fourth trimester helps mamas and their little babes get into the flow of things.
How can you prepare? During your third trimester of pregnancy set aside a little time each day to do something that future you, will thank you for.
Here are my tips, as both a mama and holistic nutritionist, to prepare for your fourth trimester.
1. Optimise your nutrition throughout pregnancy
I totally understand how hard it can be with morning sickness, weird cravings and fatigue. Unfortunately, cravings during pregnancy often indicate nutrient deficiencies and an imbalance in blood sugar levels. This can be avoided by snacking frequently on small, nutrient dense foods such as bliss balls, smoothies, bone broths and veggie sticks.
If you are suffering from morning sickness, reflux, heartburn, cravings or you just want some advice for healthy eating during pregnancy, consider seeing a tertiary-qualified clinical nutritionist.
Want a free recipe ebook of quick and healthy snacks?
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2. Prepare your body for birthing
I’m not talking about your birth plan here – although having an open, flexible birth plan is super important!
I am talking about getting your body ready for the physical marathon that is birth. I recommend either pregnancy yoga or pregnancy pilates classes at least once a week to all of my pregnant clients*. These classes are invaluable; you build strength, resilience and knowledge of your body and the added bonus is that you get to meet other mamas-to-be. I also recommend a 20-30 minute walk each day at a manageable pace. This is a great way to clear your mind, get some fresh air and Vitamin D.
*Please ensure your class is run by a certified instructor who specialises in pregnancy, as the hormones you are producing can make you more susceptible to injury, particularly if the exercises are performed incorrectly.
3. Foods to have ready for labour
During the first stage of labour, it is important to eat and drink to maintain your stamina and to prevent you from feeling entirely depleted once your baby is in your arms. It used to be the case that women were advised against eating and drinking during labour, however, most health care providers now encourage you to snack and drink regularly (be aware there may still be situations in which your midwife/obstetrician advise against this for medical reasons).
I like to give my clients a list of drink/snack ideas for labour and suggest that it can be the birth partner’s responsibility to pack labour snacks for themselves and the mama-to-be.
If you are home birthing it’s good to have everything ready in one area for convenience and so that your birth partner knows where to find the things you might need.
Here is my list of drink/snack ideas for labour:
- Full water bottle with straw- for drinking easily in different labour positions
- Multi-mineral powder (this can be recommended by your nutritionist) to be mixed into water OR coconut water to maintain mineral and electrolyte levels.
- Raw, local honey and a teaspoon as you may not always feel like eating (this can be a quick energy source)
- Ginger and/or chamomile tea bags which can be made into an iced tea for nausea
- Bliss balls- these little nutrient dense snacks are great for labour! Small, easy to eat and full of protein, good fats and natural sugars to keep you going. You can check out the recipes on my blog for some ideas
- Falafel- you might not always feel like sweets, these chickpea bites are an excellent balance of carbohydrates and proteins as well as being super easy to eat.
- Raw nuts- salt them yourself with a little Celtic sea salt
4. Your first postnatal meal
The cold sandwiches on offer in hospital are usually not going to cut it in the nutrition or satisfaction stakes. Check with your healthcare provider about access to a fridge/microwave for your own food. If not an option, organise for a family member to be on call to bring you a hot, nourishing meal. Don’t be afraid to ask! If it means they get a quick peek at your new tiny person they won’t mind at all. Light, easy to digest, warm meals such as soups and broths are best as your first postpartum meal.
Stay tuned for part two of this guide, which will include preparing your postnatal care kit, calling in your village and prepping your postnatal pantry.
If you would like further information on how you can support yourself, your little babe and your family with nutritional medicine please visit Aimee’s website.
Aimee is a clinical nutritionist with a BHSc in Nutritional Medicine. She is also a mother, a yogi and passionate foodie. Aimee enjoys helping mamas, their little babes and the whole family during the ‘fourth trimester,’ a special time that is equally exciting as it is daunting. Aimee can create a personalised nutrition treatment plan for you with invaluable resources, as well as ongoing support and coaching.
You can visit Flow Holistic Nutrition here.
This post is sponsored by Flow Holistic Nutrition.