You’ve read all the baby books and know exactly what to expect in the first, second and third trimester. But what about the fourth trimester?
Um, wait, I thought that there were only three trimesters. There are. But the first three months of your baby’s life are an important time of change and development, which is why it has been named the “fourth trimester.” And some people, including pediatrician and child development expert Dr. Harvey Karp, think that babies are actually born too soon (hard to believe that nine months isn't long enough, we know) and that the first three months of life should be considered an extension of the third trimester.
So what should I expect in the fourth trimester? If you think about it, your baby had a pretty sweet deal going on in the womb. There was no hunger, she was warm and snuggly, there was constant white noise and darkness and she was frequently rocked—it must be quite a shock coming into the real world! During the first three months, don’t be surprised if your baby cries a lot, sleeps constantly (although it may be difficult to find a sleep routine) and needs frequent feeding. And although your kid’s brain and senses are well developed at birth, they’ll continue to grow and improve rapidly during this time.
What can I do during the fourth trimester? To help babies transition to life outside the womb, many experts recommend trying to recreate the womb experience. Things like swaddling, feeding on demand, gentle swaying or rocking and skin-to-skin contact (she’ll love the familiar sound of your heartbeat) may be extra soothing for your newborn. But remember that every baby is different—you may have to try a few different techniques to see what works best for your family.