Top 9 Tips for New Parents During the 4th Trimester

What is the Fourth Trimester?

The fourth trimester is a way of describing the 12-week period immediately after you’ve had your baby. Every mother and their newborn baby will go through this, but not everyone recognises it. It is a time of great physical and emotional change as you adjust to your new life as a mum and as your baby adjusts to being outside the womb.

Calm young mother embracing her baby.

This is an often-forgotten period, but it is just as important as pregnancy itself. Although the “fourth trimester” is not a scientific term, it is an extension of pregnancy and a time of significant changes to a mother’s body, some of which can be unexpected.

My Top 9 Tips in the Fourth Trimester:

  1. Ask for Help

Having a baby can be the most exciting experience of your life, but it can also be daunting, scary and lonely at times. Remember communication is key. Talk to family, talk to friends, talk to your GP. You are not alone, but you may need to ask for help.

  1. Sleep When You Baby Is Sleeping

Tiredness often comes hand in hand with having a newborn. It can exacerbate many physical and psychological symptoms which makes life harder. To try and reduce tiredness try and sleep when you baby is sleeping, consider sleeping in a different room to your partner so you can both try and get some good quality sleep. Even considering a night nanny/friend/relative to look after your baby occasionally at night can give you some respite if needed.

  1. Look after Yourself and Keep an Eye on Your Mood

20% of mothers suffer from postnatal depression, which occurs mostly commonly within the 2 – 8-week period after birth (although can occur up to a year postnatally). It is therefore important to ask for help if you are feeling down, anxious or unable to cope.

Exhausted new mother suffering with postnatal depression.

As well as counselling and medication, self-help therapy can be helpful. This could involve online therapy programmes through the IAPT service, Reading Well books on prescription, or various apps through the NHS app library (such as Calm and Headspace). The following websites may also be useful:

  1. Partners Can Get Postnatal Depression as Well

Partners should not be forgotten, as it is thought up to 10% of partners can also suffer from postnatal depression.

  1. Make Sure You Attend Your 6–8-week Check with Your GP for Both You and Your Baby

This is a check-up for both mother and baby that GPs do at about 6-8 weeks after birth. It is to ensure there are no problems after delivery and to answer any questions. It covers physical, psychological and social issues.

To get the most from your appointment:

  • Take a list of questions with you to ensure everything is covered and all your questions answered
  • If possible, take somebody with you to help with your baby
  • Ask reception to see if they can book you with somebody experienced in postnatal health
  • Bring any hospital letter from you birth and medical with you to the appointment
  • Remember to bring the red book for you baby

Doctor listening to a baby's heartbeat

  1. Do Your Pelvic Floor Exercises

In the three months following childbirth, a third of women suffer from urinary incontinence, but it can be embarrassing to discuss with your GP. In addition, bowel incontinence should not be forgotten as it can severely impact quality of life, long term health, relationships and employment. It is important therefore to talk to your GP about these issues as there are options to help including doing pelvic floor exercises or being referred to a women’s health physiotherapist. A useful app called Squeezy can help remind you to do pelvic floor exercises.

  1. Don’t for Get to Think about Contraception

You can have sex as soon as you and a partner both feel ready, there’s no ‘right time’. Having a baby can be both physically and emotionally demanding, so don’t feel pressured or put pressure on yourself to have sex before you’re ready. However remember you can get pregnant again from 21 days post birth. You can get contraception at the time of delivery, from a postnatal ward, at your 6-week GP check (or make an earlier appointment with your GP) or from a contraception or sexual health clinic.

  1. Exercise

Exercise is important to improve both physical and mental wellbeing. It can help you lose weight, improve back pain and strengthen pelvic floor muscles to reduce the risk of incontinence (leaking urine). It can improve mood and energy and reduce the effects of postnatal depression. Start with gentle exercise, such as walking, Pilates or yoga, as soon as you feel ready, as well as continuing pelvic floor exercises. If your bleeding gets heavier or you feel very tired, you may be overdoing it. It’s sensible to wait until your 6-week check before starting anything more strenuous. It’s also important to check whether your tummy muscles have separated, as this can be made worse by certain exercises.

Post partum mother doing yoga.

  1. Remember to Eat Well

Postnatally, good nutrition’s important to help strengthen and repair your body as well as giving you the energy to look after your baby. It can also help with mood, tiredness, weight loss and breastfeeding. In addition don’t feel pressured to lose weight immediately, your body needs time to recover after the birth. It’s realistic to aim to be back to your pre-birth weight within 6 to 12 months of the birth. The best way to lose weight is to eat varied, healthy foods, start gentle exercise and set achievable goals that work for you. If you’re breastfeeding, this can also help with weight loss.


Giving birth is a life changing event, even more so during a pandemic. As a GP and mother I want to help raise awareness of the postnatal period (also known as the fourth trimester) and support other mothers during their postnatal journey. I have written an information booklet with the Family Planning Association for both GPs and mother and we are in the process of publishing one focused on the newborn. 


Interested in learning more about the author?  Read more articles from Dr Eloise Elphinstone:

Women's Health

Finished reading? Now find your perfect clinic.

Search our industry-leading directory for over 20,000 healthcare providers and clinics.

Search now

People also read

February 11, 2022
Finding Peace Over Pleasure
Finding Peace Over Pleasure

What are your first thoughts when you hear the words ‘peace’ or ‘pleasure’? For some, the words may be associated with each other even possibly used interchangeably, but in reality, there is a very distinct difference as observed by Jay Shetty.

July 23, 2021
UK Governing Bodies & Health Regulators Explained
UK Governing Bodies & Health Regulators Explained

At HealthHubble we understand just how important it is finding the right clinician, therapist or professional for your individual needs.

May 12, 2020
Training During Lockdown: How Much and What Kind?
Training During Lockdown: How Much and What Kind?

As lockdown continues, and we face another few months of life without access to our traditional gym settings, I have been inundated with questions regarding training strategies that can be implemented at home.

Featured Clinics

Venturi Cardiology | Expert in Angina, ECG & More | HealthHubble
Venturi Cardiology

Venturi Cardiology is an independent cardiology clinic based in the North West of England with over 30 years of combined expertise in preventative cardiology, cardiac imaging and invasive cardiology.

London Orthodontics
London Orthodontics

Dr Simon Manara is a specialist Orthodontist and completed his speciality training in 2001, practicing in the Harley Street Medical Area since 2002. Dr Manara offers treatment in a personal and caring environment using the latest techniques.

The Health Suite | Private GP With Broad Expertise | HealthHubble
The Health Suite | Private GP | Specialist Consultants | Complementary Therapists

The Health Suite is a Doctor-led private clinic in Leicester offering a wide range of medical and complimentary therapies. Their extensive and collaborative multidisciplinary team are on hand to support patients' unique health needs.