We've all heard of the first, second and third trimester during a woman's pregnancy. But have you heard of the fourth trimester?
A baby's fourth trimester begins the moment he is born. It encompasses the tremendous transition that a baby makes from his mother's womb to the overwhelming outside world.
Life inside your womb was warm and everything was consistent - such as temperature, nutrition, contact and space. Once delivered, Baby's entire life does a 180 degree turnaround with loud noises, bright lights, fluctuating temps, hunger, smells, and most importantly he's no longer in constant contact with you!
There are ways to make this period during the first three months of life an easier adjustment for your little one, while he develops and grows.
Babywearing - before he made his appearance, your baby was in constant motion inside you. Too often we put our infants down while we run around taking care of day to day responsibilities. Consider taking Baby through the motions with you. Whether just holding him or using a sling or carrier to keep your hands free, chances are the movement will feel familiar to him. Keep in mind the following safety guidelines when babywearing:
Skin to skin contact - Just as he's been used to your movement, Baby has also been in constant contact with you. Take some time for skin to skin contact with your little one. It will leave him happier and calmer. His temperature, heart and breathing rates will be more stable, and his stress level will drop.
Swaddling - Nothing feels more normal to a baby than to be wrapped up and snug - ideally cuddled in your arms, but for those times when your hands are busy, swaddling is a good option. This can be very soothing and help promote sleep, but just as with babywearing there are safety guidelines you must follow when swaddling your baby.
American Academy of Pediatrics Safe Sleep Recommendations
- Place your baby on her back to sleep, and monitor her to be sure she doesn’t roll over while swaddled.
- Do not have any loose blankets in your baby’s crib. A loose blanket, including a swaddling blanket that comes unwrapped, could cover your baby’s face and increase the risk of suffocation.
- Use caution when buying products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS. Wedges, positioners, special mattresses and specialized sleep surfaces have not been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS, according to the AAP.
- Your baby is safest in her own crib or bassinet, not in your bed.
- Swaddling can increase the chance your baby will overheat, so avoid letting your baby get too hot. The baby could be too hot if you notice sweating, damp hair, flushed cheeks, heat rash, and rapid breathing.
- Consider using a pacifier for naps and bedtime.
- Place the crib in an area that is always smoke-free.
- Stop swaddling by 2 months as babies may start to roll over at this age.
Baby will make both mental and physical leaps and bounds during this time, and these changes are just as important as those taken during the previous three trimesters. Alertness to his needs is key!