Everything You Need to Know About the Fourth Trimester
While the first few months with your baby can bring a kind of love and joy you’ve never experienced, it can also be overwhelming for both yourselves and your baby. These first 12 weeks after birth is often referred to as the “fourth trimester,” where the whole family is going through some pretty major adjustments.
During the fourth trimester, your baby is adjusting to life outside the womb, and you and your partner are adjusting to life as new parents. To make it through this time, here’s what to expect and how to make this additional trimester easier on everyone.
What Babies Experience in the Fourth Trimester
Inside the womb, your baby was warm, content and cosy. They didn’t have to worry about being abandoned, they didn’t feel hunger, and they were never too warm or too cold. Outside the womb, your baby has to adjust to our world’s sights, sounds, and smells, which is a huge transition that takes time to get used to.
How to Soothe Your Baby in the Fourth Trimester
To make the transition from womb to world as gentle as possible, parents often try to mimic the womb in their everyday lives. Creating this womb-like environment can help keep your baby calm as they adjust to their new reality. Here are a couple ways to do so:
Wear your baby
Inside the womb, your baby is constantly moving with you. Since they aren’t too used to being completely still, walking or swaying can be comforting for your baby.
Swaddle your baby
Your baby was snug inside the womb and now they have so much space around them that it can be overwhelming. Swaddling can help recreate the sense of safety and security your baby felt inside the womb.
Indulge in skin-to-skin
You and your partner can both share skin-to-skin contact with your baby. Being against the warmth of your skin and feeling your heartbeat mimics what they were familiar with inside the womb.
Take baths together
You can take skin-to-skin one step further by taking baths with your bub. Baths can recreate the environment that your baby was so used to inside the womb. Just make sure to keep the water between 36-38 degrees Celsius.
Use a white noise machine
Life outside the womb is loud. When you add a white noise machine while your baby sleeps, you can help replace the soundtrack of the world with the noises they were familiar with in the womb.
What Parents Experience in the Fourth Trimester
Babies aren’t the only ones going through major adjustments – mums and dads also experience challenges in the fourth trimester. The day your baby is born, you have to hit the ground running as new parents which can result in a whirlwind of emotions. Not to mention, mothers will also be recovering during this demanding time.
What Parents Can Do to Make the Fourth Trimester a Bit Easier
Stock up on postpartum supplies
Mums will be recovering for weeks or even months after childbirth. To help your recovery journey, make sure you stock up on postpartum supplies and take the time to focus on yourself and your recovery.
Know the signs of postpartum depression
After birth, your hormones change drastically. This can lead to the “baby blues” (which may last a week or so) or postpartum depression (which is more intense and can last longer). Knowing the signs and getting help when you need it are extremely important during the fourth trimester.
Keep up with self-care
When you’re running on empty, it can be challenging to meet the needs of your baby. Mum and dad should take extra care to eat healthy, drink enough water, get out of the house, and do things that bring them joy.
Accept help when you need it
As you navigate parenthood in the fourth trimester, accepting help when you need it can make a world of difference. If someone reaches out to help, give them a task like bringing over some groceries or ask them to come over for an hour while you sleep.
The Fourth Trimester & Beyond
The fourth trimester ends around three months postpartum, but this doesn’t mean that your baby will be completely adjusted to the world and you’ll be completely adjusted to parenthood. It more so means that…
- Your baby will be a bit less fussy since they’ve gotten more familiar with the world (fingers crossed)
- You will have gained some confidence as a new parent having survived the fourth trimester.
While the fourth trimester is demanding, remember that it is also a time of bonding and watching your baby grow in miraculous ways. One day, you’ll miss all the extra cuddles that your baby wants during this time!