We discussed the fourth trimester in our previous blog for those who are just tuning in. Today, we want to share some tools to help navigate this fragile and often demanding time.
As you have probably guessed by now, the best way to help baby adjust during the fourth trimester is to recreate womb life. This could be a tall order, and sometimes baby needs just the right combination. Don’t worry, we have a huge assortment of techniques for you to try, and we feel confident that you will figure out the sweet spot of combinations your baby likes best. (And don’t be surprised if they change day to day. Anything goes in the fourth trimester!)
WARMTH: Wombs are warm, cozy and even at times, restrictive in how much baby can move. Swaddling baby is a perfect help for this, and is the safest practice to keep baby warm without loose blankets in the area. Another really great way to give baby this warmth is to do skin to skin. Sometimes when we are out and about or have other little ones who need our attention, this can be hard to fulfill, which is where baby wearing comes in handy.
FEEDING: Babies are not used to this new feeling of hunger. In order to help them, they develop a sucking reflex, which provides comfort to them. This can be especially hard on mothers who choose to breastfeed as often, they feel they are attached to their baby 24/7 in the beginning. Staying on top of baby’s feeding and recognizing feeding cues will help to make sure baby is nourished before the hanger kicks in, only leading to more frustration for all parties. Watch for signs such as rooting. If baby is not hungry, a pacifier or even a clean, trimmed pinky finger turned up can be great aids to trigger this comforting sucking reflex for babies to feel safe. Staying on top of gas is another way to ensure this comfort. Burping baby, doing bicycle legs and perfecting baby’s latch on the breast or using a good quality bottle can all help baby to not have too much gas.
MOVEMENT: In the womb, baby was used to mom’s movements as well as the waves of the water that surrounded him/her. This can easily be mimicked either by rocking baby or by investing in a quality swing. Many babies are even calmed by the feeling of a bath.
NOISE: Baby also got to hear certain sounds in the womb that were calming to him/her. A white noise machine can be a great asset to keeping baby calm, but there are also plenty of apps that will get the job done as well. Music, singing to baby or even a simple “shhhhhh” sound spoken either at length or rhythmically (“sh sh sh sh shhhhhh”) can help baby to feel as though the womb still surrounds him/her. If there was a song you listened to when baby was in the womb, give it a try and see if he/she remembers it!
AMBIANCE: Remember, the womb was a dark place. Sometimes, lights can be a little too stimulating for baby. With dimmed lights or even full darkness, you may find a better response. Phone screens, flickering lights and even strong smells.