What is the fourth trimester?
What is the fourth trimester?
Hello friends, I’m back and I am talking today about one of my favourite topics, and that is the fourth trimester – so keep watching to find out more! But as usual, a quick introduction from me.
Hello, I’m Jen. I’m from jenniferbutler.com.au and I’m an early parenting consultant who is dedicated to helping parents enjoy the simple joys and intimate early days and years. I do this by helping you get to know, understand and support your baby and toddler in the areas of sleep and settling, breastfeeding, general feeding and behaviour and emotions. So, if you’re interested in hearing a little bit about what I’ve got to say, head to my website – www.jenniferbutler.com.au – and sign up to my mailing list. When you sign up, I send you a free ‘clean sleeping guide’, and then you also get notified of when I release these new videos once a fortnight on a Tuesday. So head on over!
Ok – so what is the fourth trimester? The reason it’s called the fourth trimester is the whole idea is to get you into the way of thinking that it’s an extension of the three trimesters of pregnancy – and that’s why I really love the term. The idea is that this fourth trimester is transitioning your baby from womb life to room life. When your baby is in your tummy, they have this environment that is absolute perfection for them. They are swaddle and contained tightly in your tummy, they get rocked and swung about [as you move throughout the day], they’re held by you all day and they have a constant food source. They don’t have to ask for it. They’re super warm, and there’s some constant background noise that is just becomes familiar to them, helping to keep them content and contained. It’s like the bees knees of environments!
And then, they are born into this big, wide world, where suddenly everything that was familiar and constant for them is no longer constant, and they have to actually demand it. This can be a huge transition for almost every single baby. That’s why we always hear about the unsettled babies, the colicky babies, the babies that just won’t sleep. There’s just so much that goes on in these newborn days and it’s often just as a result of a tough transition for them from the womb environment to the outside environment.
There’s lots we can do, though, to help ease this transition, which is what I’m going to talk about now.
Ok, so tip number one on helping ease the transition from womb life to room is to babywear! Whether that is physically getting a wrap or a carrier of some description and popping your new little baby safely into one of these devices, whether it’s simply holding your baby while you sit on the couch, chuck on some Netflix and hanging out – whatever it looks like to you, whatever is most practical, I strongly encourage you to just hold your baby. They’ve just come from an environment where they are literally held by you 24/7 and have been for the last nine months. But then for some reason, culturally perhaps, along the way, we have grown this expectation where bub has to go into their bassinet or cot, and just sleep there – independently of mum and dad. Some babies will do this just fine, and some babies may do this for some sleeps, but for so many babies this is just such a foreign concept for them. Then it’s no surprise that they don’t sleep well, or they don’t sleep for long, and they’re really unsettled. I definitely encourage you to hold your baby whenever you can. They’re going to sleep better, they’re not going to be overstimulated, and it’s just going to ease the transition into this new, big wide world for them.
Ok, so tip number two is a swaddle. So in the scenario that you are popping your babe down in another place to sleep – that is safe and set up as per the SIDS guidelines – then one of the best things you can do is swaddle your baby. Just like being held all day, they were in an environment where their little limbs were completely contained. You may have noticed that your baby has quite a reactive reflex where they startle and they bring their arms up suddenly out from the side and inward when they hear a loud noise, when they’re cold, or when they’re picked up suddenly. This is called the Moro reflex – it’s a very normal reflex and actually one of the reflexes we check when we examine your baby. But you can also see that this cheeky little reflex is going to cause a bit of an issue if your baby’s arms aren’t contained. That can potentially lead to them waking more often, not sleeping as soundly, and just disrupting their sleep quality. Swaddle your baby to mimic the way that they were in utero, and most babies have a hand to heart posture when they’re in utero. So trying to mimic this can be the best way to swaddle your baby. I did a video on the angel wrap which is a way to achieve the hands to heart swaddle, and you can find that video here. Make sure to check that out because that is going to be one of the best ways you can help ease the transition into the big wide world for your baby.
My third big tip on helping the transition in the fourth trimester is allow your baby to suck. Now, what this might look like is suckling on the breast, offering a dummy or pacifier so your baby can suck on that, or it could be sucking on a bottle. Babies love to suck and lots of babies actually suck on their fists, fingers or thumbs in utero. So often these babies might come out wanting to suck on their fingers, thumbs and fists when they’re outside your tummy! Even if your baby isn’t doing that, I can assure you that if your offer them something to suck on, if they are a little bit grizzly, if they seem overstimulated – a dummy, breast or bottle or something else to suck on is going to help lull them into a beautiful deep sleep. Sucking is one of the best things that you can offer for your baby to help ease the transition from womb life to room life.
Okay, that is all from me today – my top three tips on how to ease the transition into the fourth trimester to make it as enjoyable as possible for you as a parent, and make it as easy as possible for your little babe. I hope that you’ve enjoyed this video. If you have, be sure to leave a comment below, tag your friends, share it around – do all of the things! And head on over to my website to sign up to my mailing list, so you’re notified of when I release these new videos once a fortnight on a Tuesday.
I’ll be back in another fortnight with a brand new video, so I will catch you then. Have a great week!