The Fourth Trimester

By Erin McGuigan - Birth Doula -

It’s Mother’s Day on Sunday. For those mothers out there, do you remember those weeks just after your baby was born, hazily even? Some authors on baby and child development say humans are not supposed to be out after just three trimesters. They say that babies are still developing and need that womb like environment to get it right.

The Fourth Trimester

Dr. Harvey Karp coined the term “the fourth trimester”, a time when humans still have a biological need for their environment to be just like it was in the womb. This is the trimester when baby is actually earthside, but doesn’t realise it yet. Baby doesn’t realise she’s not still part of you, and that’s why she sleeps best on your tummy, chest, or against you in a sling. Baby doesn’t realise that she doesn’t have a constant supply of nutrients coming her way via the umbilical cord, which is why she needs to feed all the time. We all did when our tummies were the size of marbles! Baby doesn’t realise that the world can be so quiet/noisy and can get agitated when she can’t hear your heartbeat or the shusshing noise of your blood flowing through your body, which is why she can so often be soothed so easily when you blow dry your hair or run the hoover. Baby doesn’t realise that the world can be still and she again gets agitated when whatever is cradling her isn’t rocking anymore, just like how your belly did when you walked down the street or tossed and turned in bed to get comfy at night.

Things are so different outside. The temperature outside is sometimes too cold or too warm, not just right like it was in the womb. Her arms and legs flail about with her moro and startle reflexes, it’s not all cozy and snug any more like in the womb.

Harvey Karp recommends soothing your baby by recreating that environment for her. As your baby makes sense of the world outside the womb, the parent’s role is to gently help her in this transition. Through observation and patience, you’ll grow to understand and empathise with your baby. She has feelings and needs just like all the other humans in our life: your partner, your siblings, your friends. Just as you may reach out to any loved one in a time of need, you’ll learn how to reach out to your baby and respond appropriately to her needs.

It is around 6-8 weeks that babies emerge from the 4th trimester, and there’s a new development, growth spurt or mental leap happening nearly every few weeks. That final trimester is now over, but your babymoon doesn’t need to end. Our babies are a treasure that sparkle in our eyes forever.

You can find out more about Dr. Harvey Karp’s method of soothing a newborn here.

To read more about Erin click here.

Here are some wonderful products that make a wonderful gift or treat for new mum and new baby in our health shop.

What did you think of this post? If you liked it please SHARE the love.

If you have any comments, we’d love to hear them so please leave in the box below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Information on this website is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.