I hear you… surely 3 trimesters are more than enough! What is the 4th trimester? Well, I’m in the middle of it so I’ll tell you! My little sugar lump baby spent approximately 9 months in his little bubble. He was kept snug and warm, in a low lit environment with lots of background noise and never hungry. Then all of a sudden, he gets squeezed and squashed through hours of labour, and BOOM – he’s projected into a whole new world where it’s bright, cold and loud. Is it any wonder that he wants to stay close to me? This is why skin to skin is so effective in calming a newborn.
With my first baby, I was keen to get into this illusive routine of baby feeding and sleeping to a clock so I could get stuff done and get sleep. I remember trying to get baby to sleep in the moses basket at night – the walking around the room rocking baby to sleep at 2am and then as soon as he touched the moses basket – the eyes would be wide open and the bottom lip would start to tremble… wahhhhhhhhhh. We eventually cracked it by using a hot water bottle to warm the moses basket and then remove it just before baby would go in. We were effectively fooling the poor baby into thinking he was next to one of us with the warmth.
This time round, we didn’t even have a moses basket, I had decided that baby was going to sleep beside me in the bed. I did spend a fortune on a Sleepyhead for him to sleep in when in the bed but 9 weeks in and he has yet to sleep in it at night. In fact, it now stays on the couch in the living room and he might settle in it the odd time during the day (10 minutes max!). A lot of people are nervous about the concept of co-sleeping with baby but once safe co-sleeping guidelines are followed it really is a no brainer when you are breastfeeding. I get far more sleep now than I did on my first. When baby is hungry, I turn on my side, latch him on and go back to sleep. That’s it, he’ll feed and fall asleep on the breast and we’ll both wake up when he stirs for his next feed usually around 3 hours later.
Getting back to the 4th trimester. What is it? The 4th trimester is the first 3 months of a baby’s life where they are trying to adjust to being outside the womb, They need the reassurance of being close to mum or dad as much as possible. My little guy spends around 80% of his day in a sling or a carrier where he is happy hearing the sound of my heartbeat and keeping warm from my body heat or his dads. At night, he feeds and sleeps beside me and even when he is asleep, he will still have a hand on my arm or chest at all times as if making sure I’m still there. The only time he really cries is in the car – he’s ok in his carseat in the house or in the travel system when he can see one of his parents but rear facing in the car is not a happy place for him!
I’m sure you’re thinking “what a nightmare this 4th trimester must be” and “how do you get anything else done?” and “why would you want a velcro baby?”. I have to confess I actually love it. Looking at my big, independent 19 month old toddler makes me realise just how quick they grow. The baby stage is such a fleetingly short time in the grand scheme of things. I’m making the most of every snuggle. And the carrier or sling makes it possible to get loads done as you have your 2 hands free! I can go out for a walk with baby in sling and toddler in buggy. I can get hoovering done as baby loves the noise. I can play with the toddler. I can cook dinner. And so much more.
The 4th trimester lasts until baby is approximately 12 weeks old. I’m 9 weeks in and already seeing so many changes in my baby, He’s starting to enjoy his bouncer and watching his big brother. He loves to give smiles and baby chat all day but especially first thing in the morning. He’s growing and starting to become aware of his surroundings, Still, he’s happiest safely beside mum or dad. So it means it’s difficult to go out in the car and there’s been no date nights but this time will pass all too fast so it’s ok.
I’ll happily keep my velcro baby close for as long as he needs it. So if you have a baby due soon or you’re in the 4th trimester right now, go with the flow and try to enjoy the moments.