The fourth trimester is a way of referring to the first 12 weeks of your baby’s life and how it is actually an extension of life in the womb for them.
Understanding and utilising the differences between life in the womb and life in the world can help you to calm your baby, gently adjusting them to the world outside of the womb and helping you to cope with the first few weeks as new parents.
So, what is different?
Whilst in the womb your baby never experienced:
- Loud Sounds
- Fluctuating Temperatures
- Trapped Wind
- Reduced Contact
- Not being Held
Your baby’s environment was constant, their every need was catered for and they always had the reassurance of rocking movement and familiar voices. Once born baby has quite a shock.
Their life as they know it has completely changed.
Newborns are unable to fend for themselves, so when their needs aren’t met, they cry – their only form of communication.
So how can you help them (and yourselves)?
- Skin to Skin – Hopefully you have heard this term before, but probably just for those precious moments, hopefully hours after birth. Well, don’t stop there! By baby being directly on their parents skin they are provided with warmth and reassurance. It can also regulate their body temperature, heart rate, reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) and create oxytocin (the love hormone). So keep it going, skin to skin continues to have benefits long after birth.
- Demand Feeding – However you choose to feed your baby, feeding them on demand is key to not only their happiness but also their growth and well-being. Don’t be worried if baby seems hungry of doesn’t have what you would consider a ‘full feed’. They are the experts when it comes to how much food they need.
- Baby Wearing – Using a sling allows baby to be close to you, enabling them to spend more time in the state of quiet alertness, which is the time when they learn. So keep them close, and talk to them, go about your daily business. After all, babies learn about the world from you. Simply watching you and picking up on your emotions is a great place to start! It’s never too early.
- Movement – Your baby has always been used to your movement so they find it hard to adjust to being still. If you’re bored of simply carrying your baby try walking, rocking, dancing or swaying. Not only will your baby love it, it could be fun for you too. A sling will also make this so much easier for you.
- Co-Sleeping or Bed-Sharing – Sleeping with baby close can allow you to tend to their every need through the night and reassures baby that they are safe. Their parent is right there, they can smell you and even touch you.
- Swaddling – This can give your baby the sense of security they felt in the womb, and help them cope with the moro and startle reflex.
Many of these methods of recreating the womb-like environment for your baby can be used in conjunction with another. Sometimes one will work where it didn’t yesterday, and one parent may find something that works for them but not the other one. All of this is ok. These are tools to add to your growing parenting toolkit and nothing will unilaterally work for all babies and all parents in all situations. And that’s ok.
Don’t forget your world has changed too! While this early postpartum period is a time of great joy for many, it can also be a very vulnerable time. New families experience substantial physiological, social and emotional changes. So make sure you get help if you need it, find some local support and gain guidance before and after baby is born.
We discuss all of this in more detail in our antenatal workshops and baby classes. So, if you’re pregnant, or have recently had a baby get in touch.
Daisy is here for you! You’ve got this!