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
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