The fourth trimester

Posted on 01/02/2019 by Antenatal Online | Leave a Comment

The fourth trimester if Iím honest is something I hadnít heard of until recently and having asked some close family and friends found that they hadnít either although this is not a new thing! It is not the latest craze or something we do for fun, it is real part of pregnancy, birth and beyond, yet why is there so little information and help out there?

When I knew I wanted to pursue a career being a postnatal doula it was suddenly something I was thinking a lot about and more importantly why did I seem to know so little about it? And why hadnít my own midwife given me any information about it?

 

Having had two children of my own I have certainly experienced the fourth trimester but had not had it put to me in such a way that I thought about how the fourth trimester would pan out for me, what would it be like? How would I know what to do with my new baby? What help is available for me if I struggled? What food or drink is best for regaining my strength? Who will support me mentally? Who will support me physically? And with my second child how would I cope with a toddler and a new born?

 

I am a lucky lady, I have an amazing family and husband that supported me throughout both of my postnatal experiences mentally, physically and emotionally. One of the best things my nan told me was to get to know each of my babyís cues, their likes/dislikes and their little personalities so that I knew the best way to help or soothe them and of course I wasnít always right but thatís how we learn.

This is the reason I feel so passionate about supporting other women/babies/families during the postnatal period.

 

The fourth trimester starts when your baby is born and continues until she is about 3 months old. It is called the fourth trimester because it is a time of change not only for you and your life but for baby and her development and the changes that take place for you and your baby now she is in the outside world!

Your new baby learns and changes so much during this time and because your new baby relies solely on you for care, attention and love it makes this time very important.

The fourth trimester is a time where your baby must get used to the new noises, lights, smells and sounds of the world. Going from mumís cosy womb, to a noisy, bright and cold world and this is a massive change for baby.

Once baby is born her senses are quite limited and are still developing. Baby has sight but it is all blurry. She can hear, but itís hard for baby to make out certain sounds or voices. She can feel, but the lovely, snug and warm comfort of your womb is now a big scary open space.

 

During the fourth trimester your baby will cry a lot! sleep a lot! And feed a lot! But at the same time your babyís senses and physical development are coming on in leaps and bounds! Your baby's brain is like a sponge, soaking up everything that happens to him/her. The more babyís brain is stimulated, the better the connections in babyís brain will become.

New babies love to be held and cuddled, they love the sounds and movement that comes with growing inside you for 9 months and they are so used to being snug and warm inside the womb.

 

Outside of the womb you can try these to comfort your baby:

  • Skin to skin: This helps to calm and soothe your baby. She will be reassured by your warmth, your voice and your smell, and the sound of your heartbeat helps to regulate babyís too. Skin-to-skin also encourages your baby to latch on for breastfeeding. It can also give dad a chance to bond too.
  • Feeding on demand: Giving your baby nourishment whenever she needs it, whether youíre breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, helps baby to have her energy needs met and lets baby know that she is well looked after.
  • Babywearing: Using a sling helps to create the movement and cosy comfort that your baby felt in your womb. If your baby is fussy, carrying her across your chest may soothe, as she hears your heartbeat.
  • Swaddling: Safe swaddling gives a feeling of containment, just like in your womb. It may help your baby to sleep better and soothe her if she's been crying.
  • Swinging and movement: Walking around while holding your baby may be more soothing. In your womb she was gently rocked by your movements. Creating this swaying and rocking may help to comfort your baby if she is crying.


And the fourth trimester isn't just about baby! Next time on the blog I'll tell you how to look after yourself in the weeks after you give birth.

Rachel

Rachael Velvick, Postnatal Doula
www.facebook.com/rachaelvelvickpostnataldoula



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