The continuum is a period that is still too often misunderstood! This fourth postnatal trimester, however, must be taken into consideration for both the baby and the mother. Because at birth, the symbiosis between the two beings remains, still for a time. Physical and psychic proximity, period of retransformation of the woman's body... Here is everything you need to know about this particular trimester, where everything is turned upside down.
4th trimester of pregnancy: origin and principle
Jean Liedloff, an American author, was one of the first to evoke this fourth trimester of pregnancy, in 1975. In his essay, The Concept of Continuum. In search of lost happiness, she testifies to her past stay in the Amazon jungle among the "primitive" Yekwanas and Sanemas tribes, whose members she finds particularly fulfilled and happy. By observing the "natural parentality", she comes to this conclusion: at birth, physical and psychic mother-child contact must be maintained until the child can detach himself from it, in confidence, alone.
According to her, "what the baby encounters and experiences immediately after birth will determine his or her perception of life. The baby has not been prepared by nature, by its continuum, to find itself in nothingness, in the "non-life", lost in a basket filled with cloth or in a plastic box (editor's note: the maternity basket) without movement, sound, smell or feeling of life".
She explains that the visual, auditory, dynamic, gustatory and olfactory sensations experienced in the mother's arms act on the baby's eager senses of experience.
In short, the newborn needs to create a stable and coherent bond of attachment, and adapts more easily if he finds sensations of intrauterine life.
4th trimester of pregnancy: listening to your instincts
Find your bearings, listen to your needs and those of your baby, don't let yourself be disoriented or made to feel guilty by social pressure. This is the objective of this postpartum period in order to find a new balance.
Even if this notion of adaptation is still too little taken into account, many health professionals (midwives and therapists) are now helping to prepare for an extra trimester, right after the birth.
The need for intense bonding between mother and child during the first three months of the baby's life is very real.
For those who wish to regain this feeling of union, it is quite simply advised to follow their instinct, almost mammalian, to mother their newborn: breastfeeding on demand, cododo, sling carrying, skin to skin... All these practices make it possible to take into account the needs of the mother and the baby, according to their own feelings.
However, it should be noted that each woman and each mother experiences different emotions, desires and sensations. If you do not feel this need for symbiosis with your baby, there is no need to feel guilty! The important thing is to be able to detach yourself from the obligations and restrictions imposed on today's mothers and to listen to yourself: follow your instincts, your needs and those of your newborn.
Because outside of the mother-child bond, the mother must face many physical and emotional upheavals during this fourth trimester.
4th trimester of pregnancy: period of retransformation of the woman's body
Adapting to this postpartum body is far from being simple.
For Ingrid Bayot, midwife and trainer in perinatal care and breastfeeding, this continuum is experienced as an "ectopic pregnancy". At the time of childbirth, the mother "is no longer pregnant with the baby, but her whole body is still in gestation; and the progression towards a new equilibrium will take from six weeks to three months. Breastfeeding is also a facilitator of these processes, especially at the level of maternal sleep: prolactin, one of the hormones of breastfeeding, increases deep sleep, and thus cellular recovery and regeneration".
As for the discovery of this new intermediate body, neither pregnant, nor "as before", it can be disconcerting: the belly is still a little rounded, because the uterus has not yet returned to its initial size, it can also be a little flabby; the breasts are subject to milk rushes, can change size and appearance; a caesarean section can result in a painful and unsightly scar ...
And the praise of the smooth and firm body from magazines and advertising does not help a young mother's image of her appearance. Yet, as the midwife says, "in this body that has given so much, a new work begins after birth, not to return to the body of before, but to progress towards a new balance, integrating the bodily adventure of pregnancy and childbirth".
The author of the book The Fourth Trimester of Pregnancy adds that the continuum is "a very intense moment for the mother but also for the father: new rhythms, discovery of the baby and his needs, new constraints and responsibilities, starting lactation... Nothing is obvious".
This is why this post-natal period, which is prone to depression, must be well prepared. The affection and support of family and friends is essential here.
4th trimester of pregnancy: advice to follow
Questions, worries, doubts... When a child is born, everything is upset. To recover and live this period of continuum as well as possible, live at the baby's rhythm. Try to rest when he sleeps and fill up on vitamins and healthy food.
Feeling overwhelmed? Ask for help to relieve the strain, but don't blame yourself. Delegate certain tasks when you can and ask those around you (family, friends) to talk, share or be pampered. Go shopping with your best friend or your mom from time to time, have a meal prepared for you, organize an outing with or without baby... Keeping a social life is imperative in order not to sink. Also listen to your heart and take care of yourself. Breathing for a few hours will do you a world of good.