Rachael’s story: reflecting on the fourth trimester

Obviously supporting new mums’ wellbeing is a high priority and something the Cheshire Parenting Collective team is passionate about as well as focusing on the newborn. When I signed up for the Fourth Trimester course I thought it would be helpful as I had no idea what to expect with a newborn baby. My gorgeous baby girl Charlotte was a little late so when I first attended the course she was only a week old. Some people think this was bonkers but it was the perfect time to go as my husband was still on paternity leave and could support us getting out of the house.

After the first session, I was hooked for more. The sessions were light and informal, babies take the lead – so if you need to feed or change this is encouraged. There is also a lot of discussion rather than being preached at and the group as a whole was very supportive. We had plenty of laughs and even shed a few tears at times. For me, the hardest part of having a newborn was when she was 3 weeks old. Everything suddenly became extremely overwhelming. Charlotte had bad reflux, wind, struggled to settle, screamed a lot and I was so sleep deprived. Also, my husband had just gone back to work and breastfeeding was extremely painful. This course has firstly encouraged me to get out of the house and drive early with a newborn. Something I think is positive and now I am extremely confident with getting out of the house and all the equipment.

The sleep session was very helpful as it gave me lots of tools to try and eventually some of them worked and we both got some sleep. Also with breastfeeding during the feeding session it was picked up that we had thrush. This completely explained the issues we were having with feeding and we promptly got treated. What I found most helpful was that there was a lot of focus on your wellbeing too. In the first session, Ellie was very open about baby blues and I never expected it to hit me. But it did and thanks to this course when it did I recognised it quickly and got help straight away before things got worse. Mine was only very mild but I definitely think it could have got much worse.

Focusing on yourself is not something that comes naturally with a newborn but thanks to how much self-care was encouraged I think I have managed to address things quickly. She is now a healthy, happy and very responsive 2 month old. Reflecting on our fourth trimester now, the course was definitely one of the most helpful things we did.