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All About the Fourth Trimester

Feb 16, 2022 | 2 minutes Read

Your baby has finally arrived! The next few months are going to be very special. Now is the time to lay the foundations of a beautiful and strong bond with your little one.

The fourth trimester isn’t a technical term. It's more of a concept that describes the 3-month period following the birth of your baby. This is a time when they are still very dependent on you.

This is also a time for your recovery. Your nurses will say that both you and your baby need to be cared for in a gentle, soothing, and calm way for a reason. The first 12 weeks after birth, your baby is still very immature, and you are healing from birth.

Your baby has emerged into a bright, noisy world; what a change for such a little person to go from a warm, dark, and secure place to the loud, outside world.

Calming tips for the fourth trimester

One of the most challenging aspects of the fourth trimester may be getting your little one to sleep.

Below are some common calming techniques to experiment with. However, it's important to remember that every new family is different. Whatever technique works for you and your own little baby is the best option. Remember to never lay a baby to sleep on their stomach or side as this increases their risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Try some of these mom-proven tips to help calm your baby during this early stage:

Keep moving. Your newborn is used to moving with you from their time in the womb. Try taking your little one for a walk in the stroller or in a carrier, or go for a drive and see if that helps them settle.

Hold baby skin-to-skin, even when they’re not nursing. Skin-to-skin contact is heaven for a newborn. Not only can it settle them, but it creates an emotional connection and boosts bonding.

Swaddle your baby. Your little one is used to being curled up securely in your womb. Having lots of room to move may feel distressing to baby. Ask your nurse to teach you good swaddling technique. A swaddled baby is often a calm baby. Babies like feeling snug, but not too tight. Your baby needs some room to move their legs freely.

Make some soothing noise. Babies and even toddlers generally love noise. Since their hearing developed in the womb, they will be used to a muffled version of all noises around them. Experiment with white noises on a white noise player or a mobile while baby sleeps.

Helpful equipment for the fourth trimester

Beginning breastfeeding can be a challenging experience for moms and newborns. With a bit of patience, good support and guidance—and a few handy pieces of equipment—there are ways to make things a little bit easier.

If breastfeeding is proving to be a little more difficult than you imagined, try to have these three helpful items on hand when you feed.

Nursing bras. A breastfeeding or nursing bra will allow you to easily unsnap or move the bra out of the way entirely for nursing. A good breastfeeding bra needs to be supportive and comfortable, but also allow for some extra room when your milk comes in. Your breasts should not be constricted.

Nursing wear, including tops with buttons or zips. Easy access to your breasts will make breastfeeding easier. It may be tricky to get your newborn latched to your breast while you are fully clothed and only have one spare hand.

Breastfeeding pads. Slide breastfeeding pads into your bras to help absorb milk leakage. Some women find they need to wear breast pads all the time; others don’t.

The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.