After a long pregnancy and three trimesters, most people believe that this period is over. However, the fourth trimester is the first 12 weeks after the mother had her newborn. The fourth trimester can be wonderful and intense simultaneously, as the baby and the mother need to get used to their new lives.
What do we know about the fourth trimester?
The fourth trimester is a term coined by Dr. Harvey Karp, and it is the period after the baby is born up to his 3rd or 4th-month anniversary. During his years of research about babies and their development, the pediatrician concluded that the fourth trimester is when the baby learns how to adjust to the new world. He estimated that around 20% of infants cry for more than three hours daily during the fourth trimester. Over 50% of infants cry for around two hours a day during the fourth trimester. Many first-time parents feel exhausted, scared, and worried when their infant cries and fusses for so long.
How can we help babies and parents adjust to their new life?
According to Dr. Harvey Karp and other pediatricians, the first step for parents to take is to understand that the baby goes through many changes to adjust outside the womb. At the same time, colics appear, and the baby starts to become fussy. In the past, doctors would only tell parents that it was a temporary situation and that they could use colic medicine to help the babies. After intense research, Dr Harvey Karp concluded that this transition period can be understood better and that other ways, other than just drugs, can help infants and their parents.
Skin-to-Skin contact and cuddles
By cuddling with your newborn and practicing skin-to-skin contact, babies feel relieved as they can hear your heartbeat and recreate the feeling of being inside the womb. Your smell and love will help the baby adjust, and it is a great way for fathers to build a relationship with their babies.
Rely on your family and friends
New parents can feel exhausted by the whole process, and it is great to ask friends and family for help. They can bring your food and help clean the house while you and your partner focus on the baby. This way, parents can nap at the same time as their baby and try to gather some energy. Do not be afraid to ask for help, as many women experience baby blues during the first days after having the baby.
Be informed and prepared
Many new parents feel overwhelmed during the fourth trimester because they had no idea what to expect. By reading more about the infant stage and preparing a set of questions to ask medical providers and more experienced parents, some of the stress might go away. It is a fact that not all colic treatments work the same in all infants, and many times, the doctor might prescribe different medicines to help the baby. Another way of reducing your baby’s anxiety is by trying to remember feeding the baby on time, rather than waiting for the baby to cry because of it. There are plenty of books and articles about the fourth trimester and the good news is that we know more now than our mothers and grandmothers in the past.