Fourth Trimester- You and Your Baby

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Fourth Trimester- You and Your Baby

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You must be familiar with the three trimesters of pregnancy, but have you ever heard of the fourth trimester? If not, then we will tell you all about it, no need to worry. Not everyone has heard of it, but every mom and baby go through the fourth trimester. The fourth trimester is a period of transition during which a new mother learns to adjust to her new routine as a mom, and the newborn tries to adjust to the outside world.

What is Fourth Trimester?

A mother and her baby just after delivery

The phase that starts right from the baby’s birth and lasts until the first three months of the baby’s birth is termed the fourth trimester. The development taking place in the womb is quite a challenge for the foetus, coming to terms with a totally new world outside the mother is an even bigger one for the newborn.

All the senses are at its peak and information begins pouring in torrents in the form of sight, sound, touch, smell, and many others. Your baby will start experiencing hunger and discomfort for the first time when he is outside of your womb and will barely have an idea of how to cope with it. The warm and quiet environment inside the womb is replaced by a loud and not-so-warm surrounding, which can be quite unnerving for the baby. This marks one of the most important stages of the child’s development.

Why Is the Fourth Trimester Important for a Newborn Baby?

Babies take their time in coming to terms with the world and the first three months of their birth are crucial. A baby’s senses are not developed fully when they are born, and it takes some time for the senses to develop completely. Having spent all the time inside the womb, those were rarely needed. Your little will be able to see but not very clearly, he will hear but may fail to distinguish one sound from another, he can sense touch but is quite rough and irritating as compared to the amniotic fluid he has been in throughout. The brain of the baby has developed fully but it is yet to reach its peak functioning ability. This occurs during his growth in parallel with processing what’s happening around him and coming to terms with it.

Over the period of three months, babies begin to learn how to breathe properly and settle into a rhythm. The pangs of hunger and the impulses to sleep start organizing themselves in a schedule of sorts. He begins to know how to cry out for attention and also learn to spend time by himself. He understands the presence of other people in his life and might start recognizing specific sounds and smells.

Development of the Baby in the Fourth Trimester

Throughout the growth of the baby in the fourth trimester, there are certain signs around his behaviour that can be termed as important markers to monitor your baby’s development and check if everything is right on track.

Sleep

Sleeping is the most essential activity for a newborn since that is when the most internal growth takes place. Many babies sleep for extended durations during this time, which allows their brains to sort out all the information taken in.

Establishing a routine around this might take longer than usual. Your baby is just getting used to the concept of brightness and darkness and will take a while to understand how to induce sleep to oneself. This is why most babies stay awake through the night or struggle to sleep in the day. That being said, it is necessary to ensure they get enough sleep, even if it means letting your little one sleep in the morning itself. Every baby behaves differently and this is where parents start getting to know their child, too.

Crying

Crying is the only way a newborn baby can communicate anything at all. Most babies continue crying for a month or more and later might reduce in those instances as they start to get a grip on things.

Whenever a baby feels hungry or ends up wetting himself or faces any discomfort or even just feels alone, stressed, or anxious, the only way he can let somebody know about it is by crying. It is necessary to attend to his cries as quickly as you can in the initial months since your baby needs all the support he can get. Newborn babies are not susceptible to getting spoilt by too much attention. In fact, they need it more than anybody else.

Feeding

Newborns need to be fed every two hours. If your baby is hungry, he may cry in order to let you know that he is hungry.

But not all types of cries indicate hunger. Over time, the pattern of cries start changing and hitting a schedule as well, some indicating hunger while others indicating a wet diaper. The best sign to check for hunger is to gently touch their mouth. Most babies have a suckling reflex which triggers the moment they notice something close to their mouth. Newborn babies also need to learn to drink milk from the breast properly and it could take numerous feeds before both the mother and the baby find something that works for them. This is a great time for bonding together, too.

Senses

The fully-developed senses of the baby start getting sharper and improving throughout this phase.

The first to be noticed is the sight as your little one will begin to see your face clearly over the span of the trimester, reaching full clarity by the end of it. This can also be combined with the sense of hearing as your child’s eyes will try to locate the direction of the sound by looking around. Listening to various sounds and, especially, the mother’s voice is calming and soothing for him. He instantly feels safe and comforted.

With smell, taste and touch, these ones develop just as rapidly. After numerous feeds, your baby starts getting used to the smell of your body and the area near the breast. This is why, even when half-asleep, most babies recognize a breast close to their face and will latch on to it to start suckling. The skin-to-skin contact at this stage further strengthens the bond, creating a sense of familiarity.

Physical Development

Newborn babies can barely move around or support themselves. All their movement is limb based and reflexive.

Over the trimester, you can help your baby spend more time on the stomach and use his arms to push himself up. This starts letting your child lift his neck as well to look straight ahead. Repetitive exercises of these sorts are necessary for developing the strength for further development milestones.

Tips to Calm and Support Your Baby During the Fourth Trimester

The baby requires a lot of support and love during this period to feel safe and comforted. This can be achieved in various simple ways.

  • Help Your Baby Sleep in a Bassinet

Your little one will enjoy sleeping in a bassinet as he will feel snug and comfy.

  • Wrap Up Your Baby Properly

Wrapping your baby with a soft piece of cloth or wrapper will provide him with a sense of security and keep his limb movements in check.

  • Take Your Baby Outside

A small walk outside, or a short car drive, can be helpful for your baby as a change in the environment.

  • Opt for Breastfeeding at all Times

Don’t refrain from giving your breast to him, and let him have a quick feed if he asks for it.

  • Sleep in the Same Room or the Same Bed

Let your little one’s crib be in the same room as yours and right next to you.

  • Give Your Little One a Nice Bath

Giving a bath to your baby before bedtime will soothe him and help him sleep better.

  • Encourage Skin-to-Skin Contact

This helps the baby breastfeed even better and start establishing a communication channel with the mother.

How to Take Care of Yourself During This Period

Along with the baby, it is necessary for the mother to take care of herself during this period as well.

  • Make sure you get enough rest and don’t stress yourself in your recovery phase.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help and let your partner share the duties with you.
  • Keep some time to yourself and make time for activities you enjoy. Read a book, or take a walk in the park, without worrying about the baby for a while.

Essential Equipment in the 4th Trimester

With breastfeeding being the core of the baby’s growth throughout the fourth trimester, it is necessary for nursing mothers to have a few different types of equipment at hand.

  • If you have engorged breasts, make use of breastfeeding pads to help soak the milk leakage.
  • Opt for blouses or tops that have buttons or allow easy access to the breast.
  • Go for breastfeeding bras that not only support your breasts but allow the baby to feed easily as well.
  • Consult a gynaecologist for suitable contraception.

What Do You Learn in This Trimester?

The fourth trimester is a learning experience for both the baby as well as the mother in different ways.

  • Breastfeeding is Not Easy

Feeding a baby is not easy, and you and your baby may take some time to be comfortable with breastfeeding. The body needs time to match the production with the demand and it is necessary to not worry about it too much.

  • Hormonal Changes Occur all Over Again

Just like pregnancy, the body undergoes different changes of motherhood, resulting in hormone levels changing again. This can result in mood swings and cause postpartum depression, too. It is necessary to be aware of this and keep your spirits high.

  • Sleep Deprivation is Real

Your baby will keep you awake at night, and you may not get enough sleep. You will have to learn to sleep at other times of the day and make sure you are rested enough as well.

The initial months after delivery is where a newborn baby is coming to terms with the new world. At the same time, the woman is coming to terms with the responsibilities of motherhood as well. With enough support and love, both can find a place for each other and lead the entire journey happily.

Also Read:

How to Breastfeed a Baby
Baby Latching Techniques
Newborn Caring Tips for Parents

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