What Is the Fourth Trimester?
A fourth trimester (the first 3 months of a baby's life) of cuddling is the birthday present your baby really wants! You may think your peaceful nursery offers your new baby the perfect environment, but from her point of view, your home feels like it's part wild Las Vegas casino...and part dark closet!
I always tell my patients that babies are born too soon. I know what you’re thinking: Are you kidding? Too short?! For many moms, the last month of pregnancy seemed interminable. Heartburn, puffy ankles, stretch marks and peeing every 2 hours can take all the shine off that pregnancy glow.
But while you couldn’t wait to finally hold your baby in your arms, your baby would definitely have voted for a few extra months inside if you had given her the choice.
Remember—your baby’s brain was so big that you had to “evict” her after 9 months, even though she was still smushy, mushy and very immature. As a result, she isn’t quite ready for the big, bad outside world.
So, for the first months, it can help to think of her like a fetus…outside the womb.
In fact, grandmas, nurses and nannies who are gifted baby calmers all have one talent in common: they’re really good at mimicking a baby’s life in the womb.
To be a good womb impersonator, you first need to know: “What was it like in there?” Warm? Sure. Dark? Actually, fetuses see soft red light as the rays of the sun pass through your outer skin and muscle. Quiet and still? No way!
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.