The Fourth Trimester - and how it can affect you

Written by: The Circles Team

Jan 19, 2021

The fourth trimester is the 12 weeks immediately after you’ve had your baby. Not everyone has heard of this term, but every mother and their newborn baby will go through it. It is a time of significant physical and emotional change, as your baby adjusts to the outside world and you adjust to your new life as a mom.

Named by pediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp in 2002, the term ‘fourth trimester’ suggests that you should try to recreate the kind of environment your baby had in the womb.

Here are some ideas for how to do that while maintaining your mental health during this sensitive and emotional time:

Swaddling and swaying

Babies spend nine months in a confined and continuously moving environment. There are several ways you can re-create the sense of safety and security your baby felt before they were born. By swaddling your baby when you put them down to sleep, they will feel secure, and you might find they wake less frequently and sleep longer. ‘Wearing your baby’ in a sling across your chest can also feel familiar to them. But it’s essential to make sure you use the sling correctly, since they can cause injury if not correctly fitted. Movement is a great way to calm your baby. Gently swaying or rocking from side to side, walking while carrying them, or even taking a quick car trip can settle your baby.

Skin to skin contact

Cuddling your newborn on bare skin is a great comfort to them. Your smell and the sound of your heartbeat is warm and familiar. This is also something your partner can do.

Bath time

Having a warm bath is often a relaxing and comforting experience for newborns. Floating in the water is like being in the womb. It’s also an excellent way for you to bond, talk, and sing to your baby.

What does the fourth trimester mean for you?

The fourth trimester is a time of significant change. When the baby arrives, the focus shifts to them, and quite often. As a result, many mothers can overlook their health and well-being.

Newborns take up lots of time. It’s perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed in the first few weeks from the demands of feeding, sleeping (or lack of), crying, and looking after a baby. Combined with the physical recovery after giving birth and hormonal changes, it’s no wonder many mothers feel exhausted!

Surround yourself with support

You shouldn’t feel alone during this time. As many new mothers have the support of their partner, and sometimes the help of close friends and family, it’s crucial to make sure that your mental wellbeing is also taken care of, along with your other needs.

At Circles, we have Circles of Support programs for new mothers, where you’ll be surrounded by women who are going through a similar challenges to yours.

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness but strength.

A few family and friends can help by:

  • Bringing meals
  • Helping with household chores
  • Looking after your other children (if this isn’t your first child)
  • Looking after the baby while you rest

Accept help, and don’t be afraid to ask. Find your circle of support and join us.

Eat good, nutritious food.

You will need lots of energy in the first few months, so eating various healthy foods will help give you the boost you need. Some light exercise will also help with your recovery and energy levels. Make sure to give your body time to heal and take it at your own pace.

Sleep when you can

It might sound obvious, but you need to sleep. It’s going to take a while for your baby to settle into a routine, and even then, they will have you up at all hours of the night. If you can, try and sleep when your baby is sleeping or ask your partner or a family member to look after your baby while you get some rest.

Being a new mom - for the first or fifth time - is always exciting, as well as overwhelming. You are not alone, wherever you are. Find your circle of support.

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Community: Together, Even from Afar

Written by: The Circles Team

Nov 08, 2020

So many of us are currently living lives far from what we’re used to.

We may not be going to the office every day, seeing family members in person, or taking that long-planned trip to visit friends across the country. Instead, many of us find ourselves seeing a close network of people and living much of our social and community lives online, through screens. We’ve discovered the joy of connecting with college friends over Zoom and doing family birthday parties virtually. And it is joyful! But it can also be challenging.

As COVID continues to impact our lives and shape our daily routines, we are still getting used to the new normal, even if it takes us a few months! Part of this is recognizing and accepting the importance of community, no matter how we tap into it - virtually or in person.

While meeting people over a virtual platform is not the same as sitting together with them in the same room, so many of us are doing exactly that and realizing that it has the power to forge and cement real connections. Though the setting may be virtual, the relationships are genuine.

So, while we continue being careful about our physical health, we also have the opportunity to be mindful of our emotional health. A crucial part of that is continuing to seek out friends, family, and a support network. One way we can do that today is by taking advantage of the opportunity technology gives us for being together, even from afar.

After all, we can find communities – people with whom we share something in common – many different ways. And the gift of finding a community online is that we can overcome the boundaries of our immediate networks and geography. Think you’re the only one who’s going through a hard time? Does it seem like no one else can relate to what you’re going through? Well, it might be the case for the people in your immediate network. But there are others out there who do know what it’s like.

That’s what we do at 7Chairs. We help connect you to others who know what you’re going through because they’re going through the same thing. Whether it’s dealing with COVID-related anxiety or grieving the loss of a loved one, others face similar challenges. These people can be your allies, your circle of support - your community.

We’re here for you.

Because we know together is better, even from afar.

5 Things Every Parent of a Child with Special Needs Should Hear

Written by: The Circles Team

Jan 21, 2021

You are not alone. There may not be someone else dealing with the exact same constellation of symptoms as your child, but there are people with similar challenges. Find those people and join a circle of support. Surrounding yourself with support can help you get through the challenges - big and small, and just knowing that someone is always there to hear you out can make you feel like you’re never alone.

Self-care isn’t a privilege. It’s a must. It’s easy to put yourself in last place while taking care of others 24/7. However, taking care of yourself isn’t a privilege, and it does not have to come at the expense of taking care of your family. Taking care of yourself is a must for you to feel recharged and ready to go on with your busy days. Ask friends or family to bring a meal by now and then, schedule a pedicure for yourself or a date night, or whatever you enjoy doing. Whatever makes you feel special and taken care of - take the time to enjoy it. You are worth it.

Make time to enjoy your kids. The life of a parent of a special needs kid can be hectic and often overscheduled. It’s essential to take some time just to enjoy your family and your children. Read to them, snuggle with them, engage with them about what’s important in their world. It’s ok to take some time off from appointments and just be a family.

Make time for your relationships. A relationship is hard work, period. Parenting is hard work, period. Parenting a child with special needs is challenging work, period! For those of you who are married or in a relationship, make time for your relationship away from your children. Schedule a date night, spend an hour with your significant other in the middle of the day, choose an activity that’s only for the two of you. Taking the time to be a couple is essential and can bring you back some lost energy.

Remember - you’re doing your best, and you are the best parent your child could have wished for. Our Circles of Support are always here for you.

At Circles, we offer Circles of Support programs for mothers. Join our Circles and be surrounded by support, starting now.

How to Have the Ultimate at Home Self-Care Day

Written by: The Circles Team

Aug 26, 2020

The truth is the best relationship you can have is the one that you have with yourself. Self-care is a critical part of maintaining this all-important and nurturing relationship with yourself.
The truth is – life gets busy. And sadly, self-care is all too often the first to go. You are not alone if your job, family, and household responsibilities take precedence over your own needs.
In fact, studies show that 1 in 3 Americans feels bad about taking time for themselves, even though 67 percent desperately want more time for self-care.

We don’t hesitate to call out of work sick when we have a sore throat or cold. It is acceptable and expected. Our mental health is equally as important as our physical health. Yet, our mental health takes a spot on the back burner. The thought of calling out for the day when we need to relax or feel burned out or run down is looked down upon and not common place at all. With the average American working harder than ever and having relatively little vacation time compared to the rest of the world – taking a “mental health” day every now and again makes sense. In fact, taking a day to care for your mental health will leave you healthier, refreshed and more productive at work in both the short and long run.

What is Self-Care, Anyway?

Self-care is doing good for the mind, the body, and the soul. It doesn’t need to be expensive. It doesn’t need to be luxurious. It simply needs to be time spent focusing on restoring health, reducing stress, and enhancing energy.

The benefits of self-care are far-reaching. They include:

  • Increased productivity
  • Lessened anxiety and depression
  • Increased production of “feel good” hormones
  • Increased happiness and joy
  • Positive physical health benefits

Taking care of yourself is easy. Finding the time to prioritize yourself can be difficult. This week set aside some time for just you. If you don’t have a full day, focus on yourself for an hour. Small increments of less time-consuming activities that focus on just you can be equally beneficial. We hope you enjoy these ten ways to get started with self-care.

  1. Don’t set the alarm. Wake up to your body’s own natural sleep and wake rhythm.
  2. Enjoy a cup of herbal tea and a fresh fruit salad.
  3. Surround yourself with people who make you smile.
  4. Write down at least ten things that you love about yourself.
  5. Take a warm bath with essential oils.
  6. Give yourself permission to draw boundaries and say no the things that no longer serve you.
  7. Take a walk outside. Breathe deeply in the fresh air. Enjoy the sunshine!
  8. Buy yourself some fresh cut flowers or pick your own bouquet.
  9. Read some feel good poetry or inspirational quotes.
  10. Ask yourself: What do I need? And make plans to make self-care a priority every day.

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