Wednesday, February 26, 2014

{{The 4th Trimester}}

I 100% believe in the fourth trimester and really wish I had done some reading on the subject before giving birth to my son. I feel like it should be talked about more. It should be brought up in birth classes and by friends. I am no expert, but I wish someone had shared this with me beforehand. It makes so much sense and I just want to share my thoughts with my friends who will be becoming mommas soon.

What is the 4th trimester? The idea is that the first three months of a baby's life are an extension of their time spent in the womb. For three trimesters they've had everything they've needed 24/7, no ifs ands or buts. They have had constant food, warmth, darkness, motion/rocking  and someone constantly "holding" them. Not to mention the sweet sounds of momma's voice and heartbeat. 

They've never been without and have never had to "communicate" that they need something. Suddenly they're born and their world is flipped upside down. They've gone from dark to light, warm to cold, muffled noises to loud, abrupt noises, constantly being rocked or held to not nearly as much. They've gone from being naked to having to wear clothes and diapers and they've had their constant food source stripped away. All of this, among a few other things and we expect them to just deal with it. Well sort of, mostly we just don't understand why they're so irrational. But can you imagine having all of this happen to you all at once and being able to cope with it? I can't and understanding all of this helped me understand why my baby needs me(so often). He's been through a lot. Birth alone is hard on babies, not just the mommas. Babies unlike most other mammals don't have the brain capacity or development right when they're first born. That's why the first three months are crucial. A baby seriously grows and develops in those first three months. You will see huge changes and milestones along the way. 

So here's the deal. Your baby is going to cry. He will want to be held, probably a lot. If you're busy or have other children a wrap or carrier is your best bet. As I said before, babies don't have the brain development to self-soothe, so the cry-it-out method is too much for them in the early months, that's what you're for. I know most people don't have the time to sit around and hold a baby all day and even if you do, sometimes it's just exhausting to do all day (Believe me, I KNOW!). So wrap that baby up and carry her on you. She needs you, your scent, your heartbeat, all of you.They really do need that physical contact and interaction. I know it's cliche and you don't want to hear it, especially in the moment, but those early weeks FLY by. Enjoy holding that bundle of joy. 

At first you will need to feed on demand. It doesn't matter if you're breastfeeding or formula feeding, your baby is used to constant nourishment and will need to eat frequently for proper growth and development. It's a lot in the beginning and if you're breastfeeding there will likely be struggles, but your baby needs you. 

Sleep will be wonky for a while. Unfortunately sleep isn't like roll over minutes. All those extra naps we took during pregnancy aren't reserved for sleepless newborn nights. (Why doesn't it work that way??) Even if you have a decent sleeper, it will be an adjustment. Most babies have their days and nights confused so it will be a slow transition to get them switched. 

You will spend many hours trying to soothe your baby in those first few months. 1.) Know that you aren't doing anything wrong when baby is crying. If baby has been fed, burped and changed, she may just need a good cry. 2.) Babies aren't capable of self-soothing. Knowing these two things are important. For help with soothing you can try tips from The Happiest Baby on the Block. This will teach you how to swaddle, position and shush your baby. You can also try baby-wearing, a pacifier, white noise, co-sleeping or another good one is skin to skin contact! 

The last two things that I'd say would have helped me in the 4th trimester would have been to let go of any schedule and try not to stress or worry about bad habits. Babies love routine, so make that your plan, not a schedule. Things are going to change from day to day for a while, so don't have any sort of expectations as far as a schedule goes. As far as bad habits go, they say you can't spoil a baby, especially a newborn. They are going to change their habits often. I can't tell you how many things have changed with Henry. Even though I nursed him to sleep(including naps) in the beginning, he's already outgrown that stage and he's only 4 months. So do what works best for you in those early weeks or forever for that matter!

Just remember the changes your baby has gone through to be brought into this world. You're not the only one who has had your world turned upside down, but you are the one who has the means to get you both through it. A little help never hurt anyone either, so if dad or grandma need to hold or feed that little nugget for you, call in reinforcements.

AGAIN, I am NO expert, I just wish I had a little more knowledge when I was pregnant. I've lived through the "4th Trimester," and it was rough at times. I doubted myself at least once everyday and I really wish I had just let go, trusted my instincts and known that my baby wasn't a "needy" baby, but that he did need me.

One more thing. Everyone will tell you that, "It gets better," and you'll want to slap them because that is not one bit helpful, buuuuut it does get better. Heehee. :)
Melissa Loren

1 comment:

  1. Yes, yes, yes all so true. I wish I had a better understanding of the 4th trimester as well when my baby was born. I do think it is easy to understand theoretically but when your child actually comes out and you see the fear in his or her eyes like, "whoa what is this crazy world??" (and crying ensues) it all really makes sense. Very informative post, thank you!
    Angela :)


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