Get To Know The Crucial Fourth Trimester

Having a baby offers so many surprises; like finding out if you have a calm or fussy infant, and how well you can operate off a few hours sleep.

Through all the sleep deprivation you will still enjoy all the cuddling, and catering to your new bundle of joy.

And boy are their needs extensive! Babies are practically helpless in the early months, operating just as they would in the womb. This is why the first three months is called the fourth trimester.

The key to making the fourth trimester a success is having an understanding of your baby’s needs during this shocking transitional period your baby is experiencing.

This is, also, a special and meaningful time to bond with your baby, laying the groundwork for a trusting relationship.

Dr. Harvey Karp, author of The Happiest Baby on the Block, is a leading expert in the field of catering to your new addition in the fourth trimester.

On his blog he summarizes the highlights of his best-seller book, Dr. Karp writes:

Before birth, fetuses are lavished with rhythmic sensations: the caress of velvet-soft walls, lots of jiggly motion and loud whooshing from blood pulsing through the uterine arteries (BTW, they don’t hear your heart beat). To give your little one “fourth trimester” care, you’ll want to give her plenty of snug wrapping/swaddling, shushing, swaying motion, holding in the side/stomach position and opportunities to suck. These techniques are what I call the 5 S’s. They will make your baby feel back at home and trigger her calming reflex.”

The calming reflect is a trigger that is reached in the baby’s brain that makes them feel at ease almost instantly.

Using the 5 S’s work well when you have addressed the basic needs of an infant, and they are still not satisfied.

There are essentially four areas to be mindful of when helping your baby navigate this hidden trimester: crying, sleeping, feeding, and growing.

Newborns cry a lot, and it may or may not mean something is wrong.

It is the only communication tool they have at this point so they will cry when they want you to hold them, when they are hungry, when they are in pain, and sometimes just to let off a little steam.

Try not to get too worked up when your baby cries (easier said than done), they are able to feel when you are emotional and it makes things escalate quickly.

Baby Center has some expert recommendations for rectifying a crying baby situation:

The best way to deal with crying in these early months is to respond quickly. You can’t spoil your new baby by attending to her needs – in fact it’ll help her feel more secure. And if you’re there to help when she needs it, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), she’ll probably cry less overall.”

Another thing you will see a lot of in the fourth trimester is sleeping. Newborns will be keeping odd hours the first several weeks, but by 6 to 8 weeks they should be sleeping a little more at night and a little less during the day.

During the day there are things you can do to try to keep the night and day separation more obvious.

Keep window shades open or lights on to highlight daytimes distinguishable characteristic, and bring things down a notch as evening approaches with dim lights and calm voices.

You can begin a bedtime routine when your newborn is a month old. Try a warm bath, gentle massage and a bedtime story; newborns love listening to your familiar voice.

This doesn’t mean, unfortunately, you will be getting a full nights rest. Even when your little firecracker is on a schedule their little tummies will still need to be refueled during the night.

The fourth trimester is where feeding schedules attempt to be established as well.

As your baby grows (entirely too fast), they will not need to eat as frequently, but in the first three months let them eat whenever they want to so they feel their needs are being met.

Feeding on demand also is a great way to increase your milk supply if you are breastfeeding, while you bask in the opportunity to cuddle and get some good gazing sessions in.

Take advantage of your newborn’s nap times by sleeping when they sleep if you are a first-time mom, or having some downtime reading books if you have other small children.

This is not the time where you frantically try to clean the house, and further wear yourself out only to get back in the saddle when your baby awakes.

You can baby wear during this time to keep them comfortably close to your body as when they were in the womb, and to free up your hands if you find the time to prepare a meal or do a load of laundry.

If you are unsure about how to baby wear, or which type of carrier you would want, check out Mommy Underground for some expert recommendations. (

While the first three months can be a trying time of sleep deprivation and endless cycles of cry, eat, sleep, and poop, it is over before you know it.

Take note of the massive leaps and bounds your little one will make during the fourth trimester, where they go from no control to recognizing their movements and objects around them.

Remember that the fourth trimester is exhausting for your infant too, they are being exposed to so many new sights, sounds, and feelings; not to mention the change in quarters.

Be patient with your newborn, and with yourself; while things may not run smoothly, they will be much more fulfilling.

Please let us know in the comments section of you have any good advice for conquering the fourth trimester, or if you have learned any new techniques from this article that you want to try.