All mums-to-be are well versed on the changes and challenges that come with each of the three trimesters of pregnancy, but should you be considering the 12 weeks post birth as a fourth?
There's a growing parenting theory about how to help your baby to adjust to the outside world after months in the womb. Pioneered by Dr Harvey Karp, author of The Happiest Baby on the Block, the idea is that parents treat themselves as a ‘walking uterus’ in the first three months after birth.
‘Our babies aren't like horses. They can't run the first day of life,’ Karp says. ‘And so we need to recognise that they're evicted from the womb three months before they're ready for the world.’
Parenting expert Sarah Ockwell-Smith adds, ‘To empathise with our newborns feelings we need to put ourselves in their place, to imagine experiencing their world – but which world? The world they have spent most of their life in, their ‘womb world’ or the world they are in now – our world.’
We need to put ourselves in their place, to imagine experiencing their world
So how can new mums go about helping their babies adjust? These are the five stages recommended for the fourth trimester:
Babies spend months enclosed in the womb, so whilst they get used to all the space around them in the first few months, swaddling is a great way to recreate that feeling and help them feel safe. The best material to use for a swaddle is 100% jersey cotton as the natural elasticity in this material allows your baby to move, flex and stretch.
READ MORE: HOW TO SWADDLE YOUR BABY SAFELY
Babies love different sounds, but in the first few months it’s actually white noise that’s the most calming; recreating the sorts of noises they’re used to hearing in the womb. Shushing also imitates the continual whooshing sound made by the blood flowing through arteries near the womb.
Babies are used to feeling the movements of the mother in the womb, so it’s understandable why newborns love feeling attached to their mum when they’re out in the big wide world. Carrying your baby around in a sling is a great way to recreate this safe womb feel and they’re able to tune into the calming sense of their mum’s heartbeat and breathing. The bonus for mums is that it frees up your hands!
READ MORE: SLINGS AND BABY CARRIERS – THE DOS AND DON’TS
Karp recommends placing a baby on her left side to help with digestion, or on her stomach to provide reassuring support. Once the baby is sleeping peacefully, you can turn her onto her back, which experts say is the safest sleep position for babies.
READ MORE: THE 12 BABY CARE SKILLS ALL NEW PARENTS NEED
Every movement a pregnant mum makes feels like a swinging motion in the womb as your baby, so swinging your baby in your arms, having a jig or placing them in a rocker imitates this safe, recognisable feeling. It’s a great way to bond with your baby, too.
Have you tried the fourth trimester with your baby? Let us know your views on it below.