Stories for Mothers

What is the Fourth Trimester?

4th trimester | Ampersand Mother

Have you heard the term "fourth trimester"? 

Did you know that those first 3 months after having a baby is a sacred time in a new family's life as they adjust to their growing family? 

It is a time to rest and bond with your new baby. It is a time for your body to heal after the incredible changes it went through over 9-10 months, plus the intense process of birth. It is a time to create a new normal and learn who you are in your new skin. 

In many cultures, there is a season of 40 days where nothing is expected of the mother except healing, resting, and bonding with baby. Having a new baby is hard. There is nothing quite like that adjustment you will go through - you will be tired and covered in milk. And while the exhaustion and mess is so worth it, it is so important to hold sacred those early days.

Be gentle with yourself.
Give yourself grace.
Rest. Rest. Rest. 
Feel the emotions and embrace the change. 
Ask for help.
Limit the visitors to your house.
Be proactive in pregnancy to get the support you need so you don't need to be cleaning, cooking, or running errands in those first few weeks. 

You are not alone. You can do this. And slowly by slowly you will feel comfortable in your new skin. Welcome to the tribe, Ampersand Mother!

May these words from fellow Ampersand Mothers encourage you:

Merrill and newborn picture
"These days are raw.
The afterpains remind me that my baby and I are now our own. I feel a loss by that separation and with it, a sense of grief. I am still fragile as I process that intense journey and I must be gentle on myself. Healing and bonding will occur as my body and soul contract. And it will take time. I am transforming as my emptiness brings a new wholeness. In this hormonal, physical, exhausting shift, there is daily joy and so much happiness. 

These early postpartum days deserve protecting and intentionality because they are the foundation to my new family. So I will not set any expectations or create any to-do lists. I will receive deep rest and help from the community surrounding me, and allow every emotion to flow as I hold my baby against my chest. 

Peace and grace in the wait, the birth, and the rest. And what a beautiful, stronger mother you'll be on the other side." - Merrill Durham

Felicia Ampersand Mother

"Thoughts from a journal entry back when Ezra was just a wee one, a newborn maybe just a month old and me starting to realize postpartum depression was butting her head in. It's so beautiful and still warms my heart to think about this moment I hope I forever cherish.

Wanted, needed

Somehow those beautiful dark brown eyes convey deep emotions. I don't remember letting Harper in this much, feeling loved to my core by this little being.  I was probably too caught up in the new-to-motherhood worries to be present. 

I laid there with Ezra on my chest in the bath, reminded of the feeling of having him laid on my chest after birth. A warm comfort of being a nurturer. All this baby wants, needs, is me. His little body stretched out along my stomach where he once called home, his eyes gazing up at mine, and the sweetest suckle at my breast. A timeless moment when time seemingly stood still." - Felicia Dougherty

{Check out Felicia's beautiful photography here!) 

"I'm learning how important it is to embrace the 4th trimester. I am learning to be patient with my healing body. It went through so much trauma and part of me can only laugh when it takes 10 minutes to just sit down or 3 people to help me out of bed. Slow and steadily, my body will fully regain all its functions. I'm giving myself grace as I jump back into newborn parenting. Nursing, diapers, baby care. I keep asking myself, "am I doing this right?" And then I look at the peace in my son's sleeping face and I know that all stress will work out. I'm learning to reconnect with my toddler who seems so old and grown up!
The change is hard on her and my heart is learning to love two humans equally. She is more dear to me than ever! I'm embracing the deeper love I have for my husband. I could burst into tears thinking about how important he is to me and in this vulnerable season, his gentleness is helping to heal me physically and emotionally. I'm learning to lean on my friends and family when I no longer have strength. They have seen me at my rawest, dirtiest, weakest and they still love me tenderly. They have listened to me process the pain I've endured and helped me put words to it all. The fourth trimester is easily the hardest part of pregnancy but I am embracing it for what it is and taking it an hour at a time. Grace is the word I keep speaking over myself." - Lauren Reese

"This isn't the most glamorous or perfectly filtered photo, but it represents something huge for me so I wanted to share. It was in this moment (last night at 1 am) that I realized I could enjoy my daughter. That might sound awful, since she's six days old, but that's my truth and I feel strongly about sharing it. My body is currently healing from three days of labor, pushing, AND a major surgery. I am a fraction of a human and have been charged with keeping this other human alive. It has been the darkest, hardest week of my entire life. No one told me this might be the case, so add some major mommy guilt into that and it's been the perfect storm of awful. I share this both in hopes that we've turned a corner and to share the reality that life with a newborn is HARD. My husband has said multiple times that he feels he is literally being ripped apart. It's exhausting and frustrating and the "this is totally worth it" moments are few and far between. 

I have a fantastic support system, friends that are moms and nurses and lactation consultants, family and friends taking care of us near and far, and I am still BARELY hanging on. I shudder to think of those not as lucky as me. I feel honored to be a parent but know now it is NOT a decision to take lightly. This girl is our responsibility- forever. We love her and are so proud to be her parents, but man this is tough. Please don't feel alone if you're struggling with the same things and if you have struggled in the past, reach out to a new mama and share with them that WHATEVER they are feeling- good bad or ugly- is valid. And normal. That's all. 

Oh, and isn't she cute?" - Abigail McIntyre

"Daisy's first week was spent mostly like this. Family life moved up to the bedroom. Freya had some serious colouring and book marathons. Our bed is now covered in felt tip pen, and we are definitely snuggling up with some major toast crumbs but it was such a special time. My girls are so dreamy! 💕 #4thtrimester " - Kathryn Wegenast

When I was thinking about what I wanted to paint to represent the 4th trimester, I wanted something intimate, yet simple. I chose to paint a doe and fawn because of the innocence it portrayed. And I have them cuddled together to emphasize the importance of rest. I kept the background all white without any details, because in those raw months after birth, all that truly matters is healing and connecting with the little life you just brought into the world.

You can purchase your own print in my shop!

4th trimester deer | Ampersand Mother
4th trimester | Ampersand Mother
Fawn and Doe Watercolor | Ampersand Mother