After the 3rd trimester, there is something we go through that few speak of – the 4th trimester.
The 4th trimester is real and begins from the moment you bring your baby home. There is such a challenge because you are not yet feeling like yourself. There’s a shift that has taken place. Mom and baby both have just been born and you both are beginning to adjust to your “new normal”. Adjusting can be hard; the focus now goes from you to the baby, who needs lots of attention. However, a healthy baby is not all that matters during the 4th trimester. A healthy mom also needs to be part of the narrative that we speak and share on, since you too as a new mom require attention too.
During this time, your emotions are complex — your hormones are all over the place, and your body is feeling and looking different. Add to the mix a tiny human looking to you for survival, and it can leave you feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and drained. This is why it is important to think of your tribe for after birth. Invest in having a doula — this was the best gift my husband and I could gift ourselves. Doulas specialize in the 4th trimester and aim to empower and support moms during this vulnerable time of change and shift. Without the support, it becomes challenging to do any form of self-care and very quickly you learn firsthand why sleep deprivation was used for so many centuries as a form of torture.
Black moms are facing a higher risk of postpartum depression and having no tribe makes us more vulnerable. PPD is a silent epidemic in our community. Honor your spirit by giving yourself the time to heal. After all, you are magic and just birthed a human, some of us birthed really big humans or multiples (twins/triplets etc.)! Remember you both have just endured a spiritual transformation. What you normally would be able to endure, it is now completely normal to struggle through because you haven’t been able to get much rest, and bigger than self-care right now is that you need all hands on deck for support. As black women we feel more of a financial burden receiving post- partum care. We don’t have the luxury to take extended time off from work where it isn’t affecting our cost of living. Nowadays we have to work to keep our kids in daycare or have someone watch over our children. It is no longer the norm to have the support of grandma in the household. I am fortunate I live in this type of family structure but even with the support of my teenage stepson, mother in law, husband, and grandma, I still find it challenging.
Black moms also don’t have the immediate access and quality care post birth that we deserve. My doctor went on a full vacation when I gave birth – a timeframe she knew of for 9 months. This is the reason she was so adamant about inducing me if I went 1 day past my due date. My Doctor had somewhere to be, me and my baby’s needs were not met, recognized or prioritized. When I went into labor I was assigned another doctor who was on call to deliver my baby, and after 45 hours of labor I was able to deliver my healthy baby boy, Cuba. Even though I was full of gratitude for being able to deliver a healthy baby, scoring a 9.9 on the APGAR test, a tool in place to measure baby’s color, heart rate, reflexes, muscle tone and respiratory effort, I never heard from my original doctor — who I had been seeing for the entire journey of my pregnancy. Processing this trauma and lack of empathy made me very emotional post birth. Especially since I know my original doctor got paid for my birth. Our care as black women should not be linked to money but to community.
What the 4th trimester has ignited in me: Sit in your journey. Sit and ponder all that it took for you to become pregnant. Sit in gratitude. Know whatever your journey, it is a magical one. It is a blessing. Remember who you were before your baby but honor the woman and mother you are becoming. You are no longer the same person. That is okay. Growth will do that to you. That is the point. With any type of experience that changes you, you come out of it anew. I cannot stress enough that support from your tribe during this time, which may last quite a while, is absolutely critical to your spiritual healing. There’s a reason why the saying “it takes a village to raise a child” is in place. Without support, your spiritual, physical and mental health takes a toll. Tap into your ancestral power of all the women before you. Know you are not alone. Then ask yourself: Who is in your tribe?
4th Trimester Mantras to get you through:
- I am the strength of my ancestors!
- I can do it because I AM doing it!
- Create your Tribe – You need extra hands on deck
- Nutrition is important – drink as much water as possible! Smoothies are awesome 😊
- Get into Nature! – Vitamin D will help you shine in the 4th trimester!
- Find ways to love on your body – mani + pedis, massage, enjoying your favorite activity etc.
- Talk Therapy – know its ok and encouraged to talk to your spouse, close friend etc. about the transition into new mommyhood. Adjusting can be hard for everyone, even pets!
- Know you got this!
About the Author:
Dee Davis is a Health educator that resides and services The Bronx. She is a wife, mother to a new born baby boy, step mom to a teenage son and doggy parent to an American Bulldog. In addition to family life she’s a mompreneur, and world traveler: South America, Caribbean, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Through spirituality and tapping into her ancestors, she navigates this journey of motherhood and life. She is also an alchemist, transforming whatever lead she receives into gold. Keep up with her motherhood journey on Instagram @Noble_rasta. And be sure to checkout her Etsy shop “LiveNoble” for creative, spiritual and cultural items!