The 4th trimester is that whirlwind period when you and your newborn are acclimating to your new lives together. Your baby’s immature body is adjusting to being away form the comfort of your womb, and you are learning to care for your precious baby. It’s a grand time of growth and development for you both, but not without its challenges.
Today we’re sharing ways you and embrace the 4th trimester to help your baby thrive and keep yourself on a path to happy motherhood.
Helping Your Baby During the 4th Trimester
During the 4th trimester, you can help your baby cope by recreating that glorious womb-like experience she is missing so much. Dr. Harvey Karp recommends the 5 S’s: shushing noises (either by mouth, hair dryer, vacuum cleaner, sound machine, etc…), swinging movements (rocking, swaying, baby-wearing, etc…), swaddling, side-lying and sucking (breastfeeding topping the list!). These five sensations help your baby feel more at home as she works to overcome her longing for everything she had just a few weeks or months earlier.
Over the course of the 4th trimester your baby will cry, eat and sleep a lot. Usually newborns do best when they are allowed to breastfeed and sleep as they please, postponing schedules for later in infancy. They also want to be held a lot, which will help build a strong connection between you and your baby. This is the time when your little love is learning that she can depend on you for anything, now and for a lifetime.
Your baby will slowly learn to handle more and more of the real world day by day. She will cry less, learn daytime and nighttime sleeping rhythms, enjoy a variety of stimuli, control her involuntary reflexes and begin to move with intention. This is the best time to expose your baby to as much as she can take without overwhelming her because she’s developing synapses that will help her learn and absorb more throughout her life.
The 4th Trimester Experience for New Moms
The 4th trimester is a period of transition for moms as well. While pregnancy can take its toll, your life can continue as it did before. Once you have a baby, life is altered forever. The aspects of your day that once defined you will probably never be the same. You’ll see everything through the new lens of motherhood.
Many moms have difficulty adjusting to this change, especially during the 4th trimester. You may be recovering from a difficult childbirth and you certainly don’t have much time to rest as you learn to care for your newborn. Hormones are rebalancing from pregnancy to ramp up for breastfeeding, and breastfeeding happens around the clock with little time for breaks.
Your emotions may be all over the map, from elation, contentment and hopefulness about your new beautiful baby, to exhaustion, depression and feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility of parenting. With the newness of motherhood, it’s hard not to feel like this is what your entire parental experience will be, which itself can be daunting.
The 4th trimester is a time for mothers to learn, grow and develop too. And that takes some of the same techniques that babies need: lots of cuddling, soothing, sleep and meeting basic needs as they arise, leaving longer term plans and schedules for another time. Slowly, mothers start to feel more like themselves, or at least discover a new normal that makes them feel whole. Motherhood is often a wonderful time to redefine yourself and adjust your goals to create happiness within your new family.
Embracing the 4th Trimester
Whether you’re a carefree kind of gal or a face your problems promptly and fiercely kind of person, the advice for caring for your baby and yourself during the 4th trimester is the same: embrace this time of growth and development by laying low, learning your baby, breastfeeding a lot and restoring energy. Staying at home for plenty of cuddle time will help you and your baby ace the 4th trimester!
Sources: Baby Center and Parent Map