Fourth Trimester- You and your Baby

A mother holding her newborn baby

On hearing this term for the first time, most women wonder if there is a fourth trimester in pregnancy. As troublesome as that might be, this is usually a medical term that is used on rare occasions. Trimesters are considered as markers to track the growth of the child and monitor whether he is achieving all the milestones as expected. In the similar vein, this progress needs to be tracked once the baby is out of the womb as well, giving rise to this phase called as the fourth trimester.

What is Fourth Trimester?

A mother and her baby just after delivery

The phase that starts right from your little one’s emergence into the world and up to completion of the first three months, is generally termed as the fourth trimester. As 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 since his development and has barely any idea of how to cope with it. The warm and quiet environment inside the stomach has been replaced by a loud and cold world, which is quite unnerving for a little baby. This marks one of the most important stages of the child’s development.

Why is 4th Trimester Important for Your Newborn Baby?

Babies take their time in coming to terms with the world and cannot start living normally from the get-go. All a newborn has to rely on is his instincts and the hope that he will be taken care of.

Not all the senses are developed fully. Having spent all the time inside the womb, those were rarely needed. Your little one can see but not very clearly, can hear but fail to distinguish one sound from another, 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. Right now, your child’s brain is an open box taking everything in without filters.

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.


Sleeping is the most essential activity for a newborn child 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 child is just getting used to the concept of brightness and darkness and takes a while in understanding 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 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 crying out loud. 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.


Newborn babies have no concept of a routine and will ask for food whenever their stomach is empty. This is not helped by the fact that their stomach is small. So most women can be seen breastfeeding their babies numerous times throughout the day and night.

Not all cries of a baby indicate hunger. Over time, the pattern of cries starts 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.


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. Which 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 child 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.

  • Let Your Baby Sleep in Hammocks

Hammocks feel a lot like sleeping in the uterus for your little one, being all snug and comfy.

  • Wrap Up Your Baby Properly

It provides a sense of security of being held together and also keeps their 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

Playing in the water provides a soothing feeling to the child, as well as encourages skin-to-skin contact with the mother.

  • 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 not stress yourself with the duties of a mother while recovering from the pregnancy.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help and let your partner share the duties with you.
  • Keep some time to yourself and 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.

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 your child requires a sync to take place between you and your baby and that can take anything from a few days to a few weeks. 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, leading you to 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 Babies?
Baby Latching Techniques
Newborn Caring Tips for Parents