The Fourth Trimester: What You Should Know

By Vanessa McFarlane

August 6, 2019

Pregnancy is often talked about in three segments. The first, second and third trimester, however we often forget about the fourth trimester. This article will explain what this trimester is and how to navigate through these early days of motherhood. 

The fourth trimester is described as the first three month’s of your baby’s life outside of the womb. Some health care professionals suggest that the reason a baby is born around the 40ish week of pregnancy is to allow the baby to fit through the birth canal. But in the first 3 months postpartum, an infant continues to develop significantly. This suggests that they would happily continue to develop in the womb if they had the choice. This theory explains why our babies are so helpless in those early days and mimicking the mother’s womb is the best way to navigate through this stage. 

Four tips for mimicking the mother’s womb include:

1) Making their sleep space dark

Utilize black out blinds for sleep time at night to encourage baby’s circadian rhythm to adjust to being outside of the womb. Nighttime feeds should be done with a soft red or yellow light. Expose baby to natural daylight during the day when they are awake and keep it dark for naps and nighttime. 

2) Utilize a white noise machine

Baby’s are used to having constant noise listening to their mother’s voice and heartbeat while in the womb. White noise during sleep is calming for newborns. During the day, caregivers can use a steady “shhh, shhh, shhh” noise to mimic the mother’s heartbeat. 

3) Motion

Babies are used to constant movement inside the womb. Using bouncing and rocking is a wonderful way to help babies calm when crying. If you are working on developing sleep skills, I suggest trying to lay baby down in their sleep space while drowsy. If they start crying, try lightly jiggling the mattress to mimic the womb motion!  

4) To swaddle or not to swaddle?

Over the years, swaddling has become controversial. But there is no surprise that babies enjoy being confined in the early months due to their experience in the space-limited womb! When you are monitoring baby, safely swaddle by ensuring blankets cannot come loose over baby’s face and that the swaddle is not too tight. Talk to your health care provider prior to swaddling. 

 

Lastly, it is important to remember about your experience during the fourth trimester! Once your baby arrives, they often take the center stage. It is important to remember about how the fourth trimester affects you. These three months are spent healing from your delivery, learning to breastfeed, managing hormone fluctuations and sleep deprivation. This can be an emotional time for many mothers so it is important to have someone you can talk to during this time.

Prior to delivery, stock up on products that will help with healing. Remind yourself on a daily basis that it is ok if your plans change, you are doing an amazing job and self care is required. Never be afraid to ask for help and research the services in your community that are available to mothers for the postpartum period! 

 

We’re always here to help mama. If you have any questions regarding, sleep, feeding, allergies and more, reach out to a Mama Coach in your area. 

You Got This Mama!

 

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