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Dear Mama in the 4th trimester

By March 11, 2018Sleep Deprivation5 min read
Ubuntu Baba Baby Carriers | South Africa

Being in the industry that I’m in, I’m exposed to a lot of new Moms and babies. Most often that not, I’m rather surprised at how well they’re coping. Because in comparison to my memory of the 4th trimester, they seem to be doing pretty good. When I think back, it’s always mixed feelings that come up.

I remember feeling constantly overwhelmed, on the verge of tears, starving, unhealthy, overweight, useless, guilty, confused, and mostly cross that it wasn’t all coming naturally to me.

Motherhood and all that it brings

Sleep deprivation literally is like human torture. I remember when I was ‘young and free’, I’d party until 2am, they’d turn the lights on in the club and tell us to go home, we’d hit the 24/7 Engen petrol station, grab a burger and then be up for work at 6.30am the next morning, no problem! That wasn’t sleep deprivation… that was 4 hours of solid sleep – to a Mom in the 4th trimester, that sounds like a freaking holiday!

The thing is, even if your baby decides to sleep for 4 hours straight, you can’t just ‘go to sleep’. What if they suffocate on a fluffy toy? Or on the blanket? You have to be able to actually hear them breathing or you can’t sleep. But how does that work? Hmmm.

And the toll that birth takes on your body. I mean… if I have to see one more Instagram photo where the Mom is 4 weeks postpartum and showing her flat stomach… I actually can’t. Where’s the unlike button? How did she even get 126,723 likes on this image? Because it’s definitely not Moms who know what a postpartum body REALLY feels like, that are liking that photo!

Can we all just agree that the 4th trimester is a hot mess. We’re bleeding, we’re leaking – EVERYWHERE – eyes, boobs, vagina – there are leakages happening people. That woman on Instagram is lying I tell you, lying!

The common thread

There is one thing that always seems to come up with the new Moms I meet, and I remember feeling like that too. I remember feeling that I had so much to learn and that if I didn’t learn it quickly, my baby would suffer because I wasn’t ‘good enough’ for him. I should have known this stuff. As soon as my baby was born, my brain should have switched on the Mom knowledge section so I could draw from it and not Google the crap out of every little noise or turn to some ridiculously opinionated Mommy Facebook group for the answer.

All I can say is that when I look back over the past 3 and a half years with my son, there have been many tough phases of Motherhood, but NONE as tough as that 4th trimester.

I often think about what I would do differently the second time around, not because I want another baby (I’m still debating this in my head) but also because I want to try and draw from my experience to help other Moms thinking that same thought that I did:

“Am I good enough for my baby, doesn’t he/she deserve better than this?”

It’s actually a showstopper for me now. I get sad knowing that I thought that of myself, because I would never think that now. But really – I think that every Mother thinks this thought at one time or another.

So here’s my take:

It’s not just you who is learning, your baby is learning too. You are both learning each other and that is what the 4th trimester is for. It’s meant to be full of tears and craziness – that little soul who was living inside your body for so long, is now ON THE OUTSIDE! Isn’t that just a little crazy on it’s own – I think that warrants a few crazy moments here and there. It’s okay to make mistakes – and really, they’re not mistakes, they’re stepping stones, you’re teaching yourself the way, and you know your own way, every baby and Mama is different to the next. Breathe, sleep, eat, drink, cry, cuddle, take a break and try not to worry so much. Your baby loves you so so much and you are an incredible Mama.

Every single day is progress. And you’ve got this!

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Ubuntu Baba Baby Carriers | South Africa

Shannon McLaughlin

Shannon is the Founder of Ubuntu Baba baby carriers. She is passionate about helping new parents adjust to 'life with baby' through the art of babywearing and talking about the reality of motherhood in the 21st century.


  • michelle abrahamse says:

    gulp, that really hit home! As if you were describing my feelings. After I had my baby, I often looked at new mom’s and wondered how they were coping? Was it all just a show, when they said “everything was fine, they loving maternity leave, its a breeze”. I often wondered if I was the only person that was a complete wreck. 4 years later, I haven’t “forgotten” as they said I would. Another baby is a terrifying thought, but I too think of it as a second chance, to do things differently, with a bit of wisdom that I have gained in the last few years. Mammahood is not for susies! Thank you for sharing your real feelings Shannon!

    • Thanks Mich! I haven’t “forgotten” either – I think I have forgotten a lot of the small things, but definitely not these feelings of hopelessness! I think that as women, we just want to always try and do better, so that thought of having a second baby is almost like a little test for ourselves, to see if we’d cope better the next time around and also because I think we’ll cherish those moments a little more, because we know how fast they are done with, and then onto the maniac toddler years, haha! xx

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