ZERO TO THREE Resource: Navigating the fourth trimester in a Pandemic

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For expectant mothers there are books, blogs and even classes that teach women what to expect during each of the three trimesters of pregnancy but few resources on what comes next. While not everyone talks about the fourth trimester – the 12-week period immediately following birth – every mother and newborn will experience it. This critical time for mom and baby to recover and develop physically and mentally is a challenge in the most ideal of circumstances, but for mothers in quarantine, this time can be even more overwhelming and isolating. 

From perinatal depression to the return from parental leave, ZERO TO THREE, a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring babies and toddlers benefit from the early connections critical for development, can shed light on what parents entering the fourth trimester amid the pandemic can expect. Rebecca Parlakian, an early childhood development expert at ZERO TO THREE, can speak to some of the unique experiences parents may have while they’re social distancing from those who would have typically served as a support system during this tough transition, including: 

  • Creating a network of other parents to talk with, complain to, cry with and laugh with. As we make our way though the pandemic, things like socially-distanced park meet-ups and virtual mom groups help bridge the gap for new mothers and create a feeling of inclusivity and support
  • The importance of getting out of the house. While COVID-19 has made trips to the grocery store or local playground increasingly stressful, a walk through the neighborhood can help bust those feelings of isolation and create a connection to the world beyond the four walls of your home
  • Taking time for yourself. The first 12 weeks after giving birth are a roller coaster of emotions, leaving many parents feeling guilty or overwhelmed at the idea of taking time for themselves. Add a global pandemic and those feelings only increase, however, by finding even a few minutes to do something that focuses on your own interests you can reduce a little of the stress that sometimes comes with caring for an infant
  • Bonding with your co-parent. Couples experiencing pregnancy amid the pandemic have forged close bonds, often relying primarily on their partner for support. But what happens when baby makes three? Preserving this adult relationship takes time and energy, but finding ways to nurture each other as a couple can benefit the whole family