Welcome to the World: The Fourth Trimester
The fourth trimester is the time immediately following your baby’s birth until the time they are around 6 weeks old. The fourth trimester is a time of getting to know each other, a time of learning what your baby needs are. It’s the time in which your baby is getting used to the world, and you are adjusting to your new role as his parent. It is also the period when his body matures so it can function efficiently outside the womb. Babies that are given a gentle introduction to life outside the womb early on seem to settle into a peaceful routine easier, are calmer in general and cry less.
Consider the environment he left behind versus the environment he faces after birth. Noise, light, smells, touch sensations – it can be overwhelming. You would cry too. Many of your baby’s senses and organs are not fully developed at birth. You will want to create a low stress environment while they adjust to their new life.
Ideally you would want your baby to be born in a calm, quiet, dimly lit room. The less stress, the best. Create an environment of warmth and love. Keep him skin to skin as much as possible. Handling him gently and respectfully can help make his transition of the outside world easier for both of you. You can not spoil a baby in the fourth trimester. In these weeks, you literally can not hold your baby too much.
All babies are different, even in the same family with similar birth story . Their needs are as individual as they are. Some babies need to be held 24/7; some nurse every 1-2 hrs; some like to be swaddled or held skin to skin often. In meeting your baby’s needs early on, you make parenting your baby easier in the long term.
Starting a routine early will help your baby settle into the world. By routine I mean creating a pattern of activities (bath-massage-rocking-nursing or routine bath-dress-sing-nurse), rather than a strictly timed schedule which can lead to stress. Babies are not designed to be on a strict, timed routine with feeding or sleeping early in their development, Remember, they are still adjusting to our world. So keep the routines activity based instead of clock driven. Attempting to make a newborn conform to a rigid routine would not be meeting his needs (and would not be good for your sanity either) .
The babies I see whose needs are met early on are content, happy babies that cry less. Their parents are more confident because they understand their child. It really makes a difference.