The term the fourth trimester is used to describe the first three months after birth. It is a time of huge transition for a new baby that previously was snug and safe inside the womb.
There is research that states that human babies could benefit with a further three months gestation in the womb and that this is not possible because of the size of the human head. Babies are born totally dependent on their parents and need to learn how to function in the big wide world. Animals, on the other hand, are often born ready to walk and move a few hours after birth.
The concept of the fourth trimester helps us to understand the transition that a baby must go through during the first few weeks of their life. Used to a constant dark, warm and secure environment inside the womb, the outside world must seem cold, bright and noisy when they first arrive into it!
They also now start to experience feelings of hunger and thirst. How they deal with these new cues will be a learning curve for them and for you!
HOW TO HELP YOUR BABY ADJUST TO THE FOURTH TRIMESTER
“During the first three months of life (the fourth trimester), it’s impossible to spoil your baby by letting them suck or stay in your arms for hours. Does that surprise you? It really shouldn’t when you remember that you were lavishing her with these sensations twenty-four hours a day – until that moment of birth. Even if you hold your baby twelve hours a day now, it’s a giant reduction from her point of view.” – Dr Harvey Karp, The Happiest Baby on the Block
The fourth trimester is a period of adjustment. Newborns only have their instincts and their reflexes to help them control their behavior and movements. Your baby needs you to help them adjust through this time of huge change and development.
HERE ARE A FEW WAYS THAT YOU CAN HELP THEM ADJUST TO LIFE OUTSIDE THE WOMB.
Crying is the way that your baby communicates. Babies cry more in the fourth trimester than at any other time in their life. Crying is the way that babies survive and thrive, it also helps them to relieve tension – blocking out background noise and stimulation.
Pick your baby up and soothe them. Babies can never have too many cuddles!
There is a reason that skin to skin is recommended straight after birth. It is a brilliant way to calm an unsettled baby. It also stimulates blood flow, which helps to release oxytocin – also known as the happy hormone. Great for helping to get mamas milk flowing too. Your baby will be soothed by the warmth of your body and the familiar sound of your heartbeat.
A newborn has a very small tummy, and it doesn’t take much to full it. Newborn feeding is baby led – they will let you know when they are hungry and need a feed. Watch for feeding cues, like opening their mouth, turning their head towards the breast, or sucking their fingers. Babies find sucking comforting and will often feed to help settle themselves.
The great thing about feeding, whether it is breast or bottle is that it is the perfect time to bond with your baby.
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