by Rebecca Stone (founder of Parent Prep)
The 4th Trimester is the name given to the first three months of a new baby’s life. It refers to the idea that in many ways a newborn human baby is not ready for the world. A baby animal can often be born and be up on it’s feet after only a few minutes. In comparison, human babies remain defenceless and dependent on their caregivers for a much longer time. It is not usually until a baby is nearing the 3 month mark that they start to smile and interact more with their caregivers and come out of their sleepy newborn state.
Thinking of a new baby still as a foetus and treating them as such, has it’s benefits. If you think of the sensations your baby has grown used to living inside your body for the last 9 months, you may unlock the key to settling and calming them in the outside world.
They have been wrapped and held firmly by the uterus. The wide open space outside coupled with the ‘startle’ reflex babies are born with, can make a new baby unsettled if not held or wrapped. They have been living inside someone else’s body and that is noisy! It is estimated to be louder than the volume of a vacuum cleaner inside the uterus, so a quiet nursery is not a familiar place for a new baby. They get moved and jostled all day as you go about your daily activities so rhythmical movement is comforting for them. It is usually when you stop moving and lie down at night that they become active and ‘wake up.’
A new baby does not yet know that they are separate from you. Keeping them close, holding them or ‘wearing’ them in a carrier or sling will help to calm them if unsettled. Mimicking the sensations of being inside the uterus will help baby through the transition from the womb to the world. Over time you can slowly wean baby off these supports as they grow and mature. Remember baby has no concept of the future, they live entirely in the present. You cannot spoil a small baby so hold, kiss and cuddle them all you want.
Rebecca Stone is a Registered Nurse and Mother of two. She founded Parent Prep in response to the experience of the birth of her first baby and now works alongside expectant and new families, helping educate and empower them in their own early parenting journey. Visit her on Facebook and Twitter. To see all of Rebecca’s articles, click here.