Get Ready for the Fourth Trimester

Mother holding her baby skin to skin in fourth trimesterI am sure you have given thought to the big changes that you will be going through once your baby has been born. But have you given much thought to what your baby will be going through?  Your baby is going through major adjustments as she acclimates to life outside of the womb. This is something to keep in mind as you prepare for your ‘fourth trimester’.

We are all used to thinking about pregnancy being divided into three trimesters (hence the ‘tri’). But have you heard of the Fourth Trimester? This is a term that some people use to describe the first three months of baby’s life outside of the womb.

American Paediatrician Dr Harvey Karp has helped to make the term popular. Dr Karp believes that babies are in a sense ‘born too soon’ and that we need to simulate life in the womb. He has often said that parents should be like a ‘walking uterus’ in the fourth trimester.

I remember in the early days after I had my second daughter I made some comment to my midwife about the baby needing or wanting something from me. For the life of me, I cannot recall what I said. But I will never forget what my midwife said. She said “She thinks she is you.” To me, that idea summarises what your baby is experiencing in those early days. For all of her existence, my baby had been inside of my body. She was soothed by the beating of my heart. She travelled everywhere I went. She was nourished without eating. She was warm. All of her needs were met.

And once she was born she had to adjust to an incredibly different way of life. She had to breathe air. She had new sights, sounds, tastes, smells. She had to adjust to being touched by other people. She had to eat. She had to make sense of having her own separate body.  As the parent of a newborn I knew that I couldn’t spend too much time cuddling my baby. I talked to my midwife about safe co-sleeping and we slept together for the first nine months.  I was encouraged to spend a lot of time skin to skin with my baby. I was supported through an incredibly challenging breastfeeding journey, which you can read about here. I hope that I did a good job of helping her adjust to life outside of the womb and looking at the confident, self-assured, happy toddler that she is today I think I did.

There are things you can do to support your baby’s adjustment to life outside of the womb, and I these will be explored in the coming weeks as the Mindful Pregnancy Blog turns our focus to the Fourth Trimester. Articles will be included to help you and your baby adjust during this intense time. Personally, I know that I did not excel at taking care of myself in the Fourth Trimester and I am here to encourage you to do a better job than I did!

I am excited to have some guest bloggers who will add their voices to the discussion. Be sure to sign up to my mailing list to get your weekly reminder when the blogs are posted.

Are you preparing for your Fourth Trimester? Please leave a comment to let us know what you are planning, or have done in the past.

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