Jour­ney’s end

Di­eti­tian Aoife Hearne is ready­ing to give birth to her third and fi­nal child in five weeks. She dis­cusses the jour­ney of be­ing a mum and what she’ll miss as they grow

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Parenting -

TO­DAY marks the last in­stal­ment of my eight-week col­umn — where has the time gone? It also marks five weeks un­til I give birth — for the last time. I could never have imag­ined with my first baby that I would have a feel­ing of con­tent­ment know­ing I would never be preg­nant again. My friends had told me “you just know” when you are fin­ished adding to your fam­ily. I fi­nally get it.

One thing that no­body men­tioned to me be­fore I had kids was the fourth trimester — and what to ex­pect from it.

The fourth trimester starts the mo­ment your baby is born and lasts un­til s/he is about three months old. This is a pe­riod of mas­sive tran­si­tion for your baby, who has lived all of its life up un­til birth in your safe, con­sis­tent and cosy womb and has now made this tran­si­tion into a bright, new, and noisy world.

Some mas­ter this tran­si­tion with rel­a­tive ease, while oth­ers take a lit­tle longer to adapt. But un­der­stand­ing what a huge tran­si­tion this is and be­ing more em­pa­thetic to your baby will likely make it eas­ier. Your baby will need to de­velop in many ways over the first 12 weeks of life, need­ing to get used to the va­ri­ety of noises, smells, lights, and sen­sa­tions of this new world. A baby also con­tin­ues to de­velop their sense of sight, hear­ing, feel­ing, and neu­ral path­ways. Along with all of this, you are learn­ing too — you are get­ting to know this new lit­tle per­son in your life and fig­ur­ing out who you are now that you are a mother.

Just like ba­bies, some make this tran­si­tion bet­ter than oth­ers. In some ways, I feel I made this tran­si­tion rel­a­tively well, es­pe­cially on ma­ter­nity leave. The re­ally dif­fi­cult time for me was when I was mak­ing the tran­si­tion back to work. Be­fore I had my first son, I was very fo­cused on work. Af­ter I had him, work was the last thing on my mind. Get­ting to know this new me was def­i­nitely a slow process.

I’m from an era where I have heard time and time again not to hold your baby too much or you will cre­ate ’a rod for your own back’ or you don’t want to ‘spoil’ that baby. So let’s get a few things straight. Your baby wants to be in your arms, crav­ing the se­cu­rity of feel­ing close to you as they have done for their en­tire life in your womb. And while for many of us, the big pur­chase pre-baby is a travel sys­tem, it is def­i­nitely worth­while in­vest­ing in a sling/ wrap to keep baby close. The beauty of the sling is that not only is baby happy and con­tent, but you also have your two hands free.

There is no doubt that hav­ing a new baby can be over­whelm­ing. It is nor­mal to have con­cerns. Is my baby sleep­ing enough? Is my baby eat­ing enough? Am I do­ing things right?

Th­ese con­cerns are not helped by of­ten well-mean­ing com­ments from friends/fam­ily/peo­ple you may meet while out and about. If I got €1 for ev­ery time some­one asked me if my baby is ‘good’ I would be a mil­lion­aire by now! I just don’t get it — is there such thing

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