The Fourth Trimester: Baby’s First 3 Months
The term “fourth trimester” can be a bit confusing, but rest assured, we are not talking about being pregnant for an additional three months.
The fourth trimester simply refers to the first three months of your bub’s life. The reason it’s called the fourth trimester is because it’s a period of great development for your baby.
Compared to other mammals, humans are born very immature.
Newborn humans are completely reliant on their parents for every little thing, literally incapable of doing anything for themselves.
This is very different than most mammals that are born able to do much on their own often including walking.
That allows most baby mammals to be able to actively seek out their mothers when they need food or comfort.
Our babies, however, are born unable to do anything other than cry to let us know what they need.
Why Humans are Born Immature?
So, you may be wondering why our pregnancies don’t just last an extra 3 months or so to allow our babies to develop more before being forced to adjust to life outside the womb.
Well, think about giving birth to a newborn the size of a 3-month-old…Yikes!
See, the reason that humans are the top of the food chain is not because we are stronger or faster than animals – it’s because we are smarter.
We have a larger brain to body ratio than other animals.
Because of this, in order to achieve successful vaginal birth, our babies must be born at around 9 months gestation before their heads become too large to exit our bodies.
Luckily, our extra smarts also give us the ability to properly care for such immature little babes.
Why Newborns Want to be Held Constantly?
The womb is an extremely secure feeling environment for your baby.
It is designed specifically to provide every need and comfort possible to your little one.
While in the womb, all of your bub’s needs are met before your bub even knows it.
They don’t feel hunger, they are never too cold nor too hot.
They don’t have the discomfort of dirty nappies.
They have the constant calming sounds of your body, your heart, and your voice.
So, you can imagine how shocking suddenly being thrust into the world with all of these unknown discomforts must be.
Your baby is dealing with a huge amount of adjustment and development during those first three months, and all they want is to have their needs met.
Those needs include more than just eating and having their nappy changed though.
They require consistent love and comfort as well.
They need to feel comfortable and safe in your arms.
Recreating the Womb for Your Baby
One of the best things you can do for your baby as well as for yourself during those early months of parenthood is taking steps to recreate the womb for your baby.
By doing this, you will help your baby to be comfortable and calm.
Your baby will cry less and be less stressed, allowing all of their energy to go into the very important developing they do during this time.
Having a content baby will also do wonders for your own happiness and sanity.
1. Meet Your Baby’s Needs Immediately
Whenever possible, you should make a strong effort to meet your baby’s needs as quickly as possible.
In the womb, your baby never had to wait for any of their needs to be met; they were just automatically met for them.
If your baby is hungry, don’t put off feeding them.
If your baby needs a change, don’t wait. Anytime that your baby cries, it is for a reason.
They are crying because some need of theirs isn’t being met.
Sometimes, they may simply need to be held, rocked or shushed, but if they are crying, they need something from you.
Meeting all of a baby’s needs whether physical or emotional is crucial for your baby’s proper development.
2. Wear Your Baby
A wonderful way to bond with your baby while meeting their needs for comfort and security is to wear them.
Wearing your baby holds them snugly against your body providing them with the security they need.
It also allows you to keep them close while having your hands free for other things such as eating or cleaning.
There are a ton of different baby carriers out there so be sure to choose the right carrier for you and your baby.
Another benefit of babywearing is that having your baby so close allows you to meet their needs more efficiently.
3. Feed Your Baby Often
The amount that a newborn eats can feel a bit overwhelming and sometimes even unnecessary.
Keep in mind though that at birth, your baby’s stomach is only about the size of a marble.
That means that their tiny tummy empties quickly and therefore they need to eat very frequently to stay satisfied and receive proper nutrition.
The best way to deal with this, especially with breastfeeding, is to feed your baby on demand as much and as often as they want.
It can feel overwhelming, but if you try to understand and accept that this is just how it will be at first, it makes it much easier on everyone.
Frequent nursing also helps to establish a good milk supply.
4. Swaddle Your Baby
Another wonderful way to help your little one feel secure is through swaddling.
Swaddling your baby provides snug comfort and warmth.
The snugness and limiting of their movement helps recreate feelings from the womb.
Swaddling has many benefits if practiced properly and can help improve the sleep of the entire household.
5. Skin to Skin Contact
Having skin to skin contact with your bub has all sorts of lovely benefits.
Not only does it provide comfort and security to your little one, but it helps them to regulate their breathing, heart rate, temperature, and even blood sugar and blood pressure.
It also helps to promote successful breastfeeding and establish a good milk supply.
6. Give Your Baby a Bath
Before your baby was born, they were carelessly floating around in amniotic fluid.
A warm comfy bath can help to recreate this feeling for them and help them to feel content.
You can even join your baby in the bath to provide extra comfort and get in some good skin to skin time.
Keep in mind that not all babies enjoy baths, especially since the air on their wet skin can be cold and uncomfortable.
7. Try Movement to Soothe Your Baby
While in the womb, your baby experienced near constant movement.
Replicating this movement can help to calm your baby.
You can try rocking or bouncing your baby to replicate this movement.
You may also want to consider investing in a baby swing.
Another way to use movement to comfort your baby is by going for a ride in the car.
The vibrations and bumps of the car can help to soothe your baby.
Some babies, however, do not like their car seats at all, so it won’t be effective for all babies.
Just Focus on Your Baby and Yourself
Your baby’s first few months of life are a precious time that you can never get back.
Your biggest focus during this time should be meeting your baby’s needs and meeting your own needs.
It’s okay to let things like housework get a little behind.
When you look back on this time, you’ll remember the precious first moments of your bub’s life and not the pile of unfolded laundry.
Just spend this important time bonding with and getting to know your little one while you recover from pregnancy and birth.
Also remember that regardless of the well-meaning advice you may get from others, you cannot spoil a baby with too much love and attention.
Giving your baby every bit of attention they desire helps to promote proper development and leads to independent and well-adjusted adults.