Fourth Trimester, What’s that?
From the moment you learned of your pregnancy you have been focused, if not obsessed with the idea of the “Trimester.” In your first trimester, you anxiously waited to “be in the clear” to share your news with your friends and family. During the second trimester, you became fascinated with your growing belly and how quickly your baby changed into an identifiable human being. Finally, at some point in your third trimester, perhaps you became consumed with the thoughts of “I cannot wait to meet my baby.” Or, even, “get this baby out of me.” And then it happened.
The first three trimesters came and went faster than you ever expected, and your baby was born. You confirmed ten fingers and toes, but you find yourself consumed with the thought of “now what?” Your baby is here and fully developed, but there is still so much growing and developing to be done, in a very short amount of time. This period of time, between birth and three months, is your baby’s fourth trimester.
For many new moms, the term “Fourth Trimester” seems odd; it is not a phrase you may have heard before, and likely won’t be a phrase you use out loud (other than with your babies provider). But this three month period is just as important as the three month periods that take place during your pregnancy, the fourth trimester just prefers to let the others take all the credit!
During the fourth trimester, your baby will undergo key development changes, which include getting used to all the new noises, smells, lights, sounds and all the other new sensations that he did not experience inside the womb. This is a huge change for a little human. Your baby is going to need lots of love and support in this new bright, noisy, and sometimes cold world! And with your help and comfort, your baby will adjust and transition much easier.
Why is the fourth trimester important for you and baby?
From the moment your baby is born (and arguably long before), your baby depends on you totally and completely for your love, care, and attention. When they are born, senses are still developing, sight is blurred, and though they can hear you, it is difficult to distinguish between different sounds and voices. They have been evicted from a dark, cozy, quiet home, to a big open space, but with your support and reassurance, they will learn to adapt to this change.
While your babies brain develops a great deal in the womb, their neural pathways and nervous system are not nearly as developed as they will become over time. A lot of these changes to your baby’s nervous system will take place during the fourth trimester. In addition to neurological changes that take place during this time, your baby will have changes in respiration, improved social skills, improved sleeping and eating patterns and plenty of other changes. Your baby will grow and develop so quickly in the fourth trimester, that you may find yourself wishing time would slow down and longing for just one more day during those early trimesters.
For more information about the specific developmental changes your baby will undergo during the Fourth Trimester, and your role as a caregiver during this time, visit the helpful links & resources below:
The Atlanta Birth Center is a great resource as well! They offer postpartum care, lactation and nutrition support, naturopathic medicine, women’s support groups, psychotherapy, and counseling. You can find them online, on Facebook and Instagram.