4th Trimester is a concept which is popularised in a number of parenting books, and particularly refers to the first 3 months of a baby’s life, when they are typically fairly helpelss, especially in comparison to our mammalian cousins who quite often can walk around just minutes or hours after birth.
Newborn human’s on the other hand are much more physically needy.
The reasons for this could be because we are born too early!
By that I mean, because of our superior intellect as children and adults, baby humans are born before the brain becomes too big to exit the pelvis.
This idea suggests that a baby should really be in utero until 12 months gestation, and this may have been possible if we were still on all fours, but as we aren’t baby’s are born at 9 months gestation.
Bearing this in mind, it is useful to think about the conditions the baby is used to in the womb and how you can practically reciprocate these on the outside.
A newborn baby is used to a fairly confined space and the warmth of another human. To mirror this as closely as possible you can offer them skin to skin contact.
You can do this just in a cuddle or you can use a fabric sling, which would also enable you to walk around easily with your baby.
Using a sling is a great way of mirroring this closeness without the skin to skin contact too.
Not only do they have your warmth, but they can hear your heartbeat and feel your breathing.
Both of these are really important and
Premature babies are often recommended to use Kangaroo care as much as possible in order to offer extra support that can be really life enhancing.
Additionally babies tend to be happiest when they are able to sleep next to someone or on them.
For that reason you may like to look into safe ways of co-sleeping, after all 50% of families will “resort” to this at some point during a baby’s first few months whether they have made a conscious decision to do so or not.
The book ‘Three in a bed’
has a wealth of knowledge on the subject which really makes sense.
A newborn baby is used to the constant noises of the inside of his / her mothers body. To mirror this you can provide a variety of sounds for the baby.
Slings are great way of providing this for your baby – the closeness to your body and all its noises is really helpful.
Articifically you can create a similar effect through white noise.
You can download these from the internet or even get the vacuum cleaner out, or hold them near to the working washing machine.
You can recreate it yourself too using a loud shhhhhhing sound.
The book and DVD Happiest Baby on the block offers more insight on the subject
A newborn baby is used to getting all the nourishment it needs 24/7. To mirror this as closely as possible is to offer a feed everytime a baby seems to want it for as long as s/he needs in a timely fashion, this is sometimes called demand feeding or baby led feeding.
The majority of breastfeeding organisations will advocate this method of feeding for a positive continued breastfeeding relationship. For more information on breastfeeding support see my Breastfeeding page, and check out the book reviewed here - in my humble opinion, the best all encompassing breastfeeding book which is really readable and good fun.
A newborn baby is used to being trusted to know what it needs to do to develop and grow.
That bond of trust needen’t stop there.
This relationship can grow and develop as the baby grows and develops.
Trusting your instinct is also crucial in making the decisions which best suit you and your baby.
We are put together in way which encourages us to nurture our offspring so that we offer them the best possible opportunities to grow and develop in a physically and emotionally positive way.
My favourite book on the subject is ‘Letting Go As Children Grow’, which I have reviewed here.
The ideas discussed here are taken from the books I have read and reviewed here, as well as my own journey into parenthood.
I love being a mum, and like the majority of parents out there, I want to the best for my children.
I have thought long and hard about what I do, and crucially WHY I’m doing it.
Following my instincts in this journey has not always been easy… I’ve had plenty of opposition from those close to me as well as complete strangers, which has made me stop in my tracks and doubt what I am doing.
Thankfully I have used a number of resources to pick me up from my indecision and doubt and get me back on track with what I believe is the best for my baby and child.
The popular childrearing manuals, many parenting internet forums as well as the majority of people on the street may have the opinion that you need to get your child to be independant by not responding to them, and leaving them to play on their own etc.
However, don’t let the deluge of advice you willl undoubtedly be given put you off from doing what you feel is the right thing for you and your baby.
Here are the people, places and things which
have really helped me:
Friends / family – not all of them, but ones who are sympathetic to
these ideas, and often those who follow them too.
I found it easiest to not discuss issues with all of my friends as they wouldn’t
always be able to be a listening ear to my problems, rather preferring to tell me to “stop breastfeeding”, “put him down”, “let him cry it out” etc.
It is useful to remember that if you choose to do something differently from other people, in whatever sphere of life, they can feel affronted, and want you to do it their way.
Sometimes they can feel that because you are doing it differently you are saying to them that what they are doing is wrong.
People will always choose what is best for them at the time with the information they have available to them.
Accepting these things, and addressing it with them can often help people feel more settled with what you are doing.
All the books that I have reviewed in my book review here
A local Sheffielder shares her journey into parenting here… interesting reading
Ivillage forum - this was the first place I was during pregnancy and early mumdom… the ideas I heard on my Due Month board drew me to this attachment parenting board Natural Mamas – this forum was where I progressed to when I caught the sling bug.
I have found it invaluable for loads of different issues which I’ve encountered on my parenting journey