For approximately 280 days (give or take a few days) your baby sits comfortably nestled inside of your body. He thrives from your very being. Your life is so interconnected that the same blood that circulates through your body circulates through him as well. He wants for nothing and every need he has is immediately satisfied.
The womb is a very safe, secure, and cuddly place to live. When I understood the concept of the fourth trimester – the first three months of babies life outside of the womb – a whole new world opened up for me. I was able to become a better mom, simply because I understood my baby. It gave me an entirely new perspective.
It’s a Total Adjustment
For his whole life, your baby’s every need has been met. He hasn’t had to think about food, his temperature is completely regulated, and he sleeps and wakes whenever he wants. You might say, he doesn’t have a care in the world. Contentedly, he floats around tucked away in your belly and just grows without any aggravation.
In a complete transformation – he goes from being snugly tucked inside of his comfortable home to being a part of the outside world in an instant. He has to breathe air for the first time. He has to learn how to eat. Of course, he will need clothes, or at the very least a blanket and probably a diaper. The world has noises he’s never heard, sights he’s never seen, smells he’s never smelled and so on.
The world has noises he’s never heard, sights he’s never seen, smells he’s never smelled, and so on. It is a complete and total adjustment for him to live outside of the womb and it happens in a moment. Your baby will learn how to adjust in many different ways in the fourth trimester.
Babies Cry A Lot
Your baby will likely cry a lot in the fourth trimester. And that is completely normal.
He doesn’t have any other way to communicate his feelings with you, and crying is the best way to garner your attention.
Babies cry for many reasons. The single most important so that they don’t starve. When your baby cries he is letting you know that he needs food and it’s okay to feed him as often as he wants.
Babies also cry as they learn how to adjust to the world around them, and believe it or not, babies can feel stress and tension. Crying is a baby’s way to release this tension.
He may cry from discomfort to let you know that something is wrong.
Don’t be alarmed if your baby cries a lot.
Obviously, check for any noticeable signs of something being wrong. But once you’ve given your baby a good revision, just remember that in the fourth trimester, he is adjusting to his new life outside of the womb. (If his crying becomes incessant, there are many ways to treat colic.)
Babies Sleep Patterns Are Different
It would be so nice if babies came with an already set schedule, but they don’t! Remember that your baby didn’t have any sleep schedule while he was comfortably nestled inside of you.
No one was trying to put him on a schedule, and he could sleep whenever he wanted.
It’s very common for babies to continue little to no schedule during the fourth trimester. Rest assured that there will be a day when he sleeps on a more regular schedule, but for now, know that it’s okay for your baby to have his own schedule.
You may find he sleeps a lot. Or he may not sleep much at all. Variations in schedules are different from baby to baby.
Babies don’t have any concept of day or night and as a result, he will sleep when he’s ready and he will wake up when he is ready. Reassure yourself that this is a normal part of his development outside of the womb.
You will more than likely find yourself getting up to feed your baby many times throughout the night. Comfort yourself with the fact that there will be a day when you asleep again! I promise! But in the meantime, if you can remind yourself that this is a normal part of the fourth trimester.
Babies Have Different Eating Patterns in the Fourth Trimester
Babies have very tiny stomachs and when they are first born they will nurse more often than when they get older.
Gradually, you will notice a switch in his eating schedule. And eventually he won’t need to eat as often. But for now, remember that the fourth trimester is a time for him to learn how to be alive in the world and eating is a normal part of learning that.
Stay away from trying to schedule your baby and let him eat when he needs to. Also expect there to be hurdles as he learns to consume nutrition through his mouth. Remember that he has been eating through his belly button for the last 280 days or so.
Be patient as he learns the new concept of eating.
Babies Are Not Developed Physically
A new born baby is completely helpless. He depends on you for every need he has. He can’t even hold up his head when he was first born. Newborn babies can’t sit up or support their own weight. He can’t even hold anything in his hands.
During the fourth trimester, your baby will have movements that seem unusual and bizarre. I remember when I brought my first baby home from the hospital. He made the most unusual sounds and movements that scared me at first. Once I understood that it was perfectly normal to do these things, I felt confident that he was okay.
Newborn Babies Want to be Held
You cannot spoil a baby! Despite common beliefs, you really can’t.
Your newborn baby has spent almost an entire year physically connected to you and that tie should not be severed abruptly. Though you aren’t his life source via an umbilical cord anymore, he still needs your comfort and love.
Holding your baby is sometimes all he needs to feel secure and can be enough to calm a fussy baby.
Don’t be afraid to hold him as often as he wants you to. He needs to know that you are there to reassure him. If it’s not practical for you to hold him constantly then considered babywearing. There are many baby carriers available that make baby-wearing enjoyable. The Ergo Baby is a great baby carrier if you are not sure which one to buy.
How Does This Help Me?
It wasn’t until I had my sixth baby, who happened to be my high maintenance baby, that I even heard of the concept of the fourth trimester.
It helped so much for me to understand that the actions I was seeing in my baby were completely normal. As a result, I didn’t feel bad cuddling my baby or feeding him when he needed it. Even if it meant doing so all night long.
Hopefully, having an understanding of what your baby is experiencing will help reassure you. It may help explain why your baby is crying when you just fed him or why you have to wake up so many times during the night to feed him.
Remember that he is adjusting to the outside world, and the fourth trimester is his time to do that. There will be bumps in the road and that’s okay.
Some babies make a very smooth transition and glide into life smoothly. But most babies take time to adjust.
Knowledge is power and the reassurance that comes with understanding will help you feel better when you aren’t sure if what your baby is doing is normal. The chances are, it’s just a normal part of the fourth trimester.