Unlike a newborn deer that pops right up ten minutes after birth and starts walking seven hours later, human babies come into the world with a whole lot more developing to do. To be frank, they’re completely and utterly helpless.
Wondering why mother nature would do something so cruel? Well, there’s a method to her madness... The thing is, a woman’s pelvis can only stretch so much - birth is already pretty darn demanding - and a baby’s brain gets REAL big.
If a baby stayed in the womb as long as they actually should (in theory)…. well, let’s just say it would be a problem. Next time you see Mother Nature, give her a knowing nod. So, they use the first three months of their life, typically months 10 to 12 - yep, we were awful clever with our company name ;) - to get caught up. This means they develop tremendously.
Plus, it’s a big adjustment period. The womb is a warm, dark, happy place. Sharp sounds are softened by the padding of mama’s belly, which is also impervious to strong light. Baby’s food and drink needs are consistently met - zero waiting time. It’s just a wonderful aquatic world…. And then baby gets pushed out, exposed to shifting temperatures and scads of sights, sounds, and smells.
It’s majorly overwhelming… Cue comfort from mama. Here are seven ways to recreate life in the womb and reduce the utter shock of the “fourth trimester” for your littl’ dumplin.
1) Crank up the skin to skin time
Doctors typically recommend that parents have skin to skin contact with their baby upon arrival, but that shouldn’t stop after birth.
Hold your naked wee one close to your skin as often as possible. This is the closest your baby can get to being back in the womb.
Skin to skin time doesn’t just initiate better bonding, from relieving pain to promoting better lung development, there are actually a lot of health benefits for your baby. Here’s a great article from Baby GooRoo for further reading: https://babygooroo.com/articles/10-benefits-of-skin-to-skin-contact.
2) Wear your baby and take a stroll
Having your baby in a sling or front-carrier positions them up against your body, allowing for close contact, which makes your baby feel a whole lot more secure. That means less crying and and fussing - amen to that. It’s especially great for collicky babies. When you strut down the street (fresh air does wonders for babies too) it creates a rocking motion, like they’re right back in the womb.
And don’t be afraid to shake your groove thang when wearing or holding your baby - just make sure they’re in there tight.
3) Swaddle... with legs out
Swaddling mimics your touch, making for a happier baby that sleeps. Of course, you want to make certain you’re doing it correctly.
You should always place your baby on their back when swaddled. The swaddle should not be too tight or make it hard for your baby to breathe. When your baby starts attempting to roll over, you should stop swaddling. (HealthyChildren.org) There’s a reason why your baby kicked you frequently during your pregnancy. One, it was a shout out - “Hiya, Mom!” And two, because your baby had just enough room to shake his wiggles and jiggles out.
Leg movement is essential for proper hip development. So it’s best to leave room for your baby’s hips and legs to move in the swaddle, or find a swaddle sack, such as a pucksack (Germany’s version of the swaddle), that’s promotes healthy hips.
4) Get splashin’Coming from an aquatic world - within your uterus - it’s no surprise that babies LOVE water. Putting them in a kiddie pool (attended to at all times, of course) tends to provide insta-calmness - and giggles.
5) Strike a poseOften including things like baby massage, mini-stretches, and game playing, baby yoga is a great way to strengthen the connection between you and your baby. It also brings the added benefits of stress reduction, better sleep, better self soothing skills, and better digestion for your baby. (Care.com) Plus, you get to bust out some asanas of your own.
6) Get cozyCreating a cozy environment in the fourth trimester is crucial. Lounge around with your baby often. Get in plenty of those sweet snuggles. And make sure your baby’s blanket and cuddle toys are SOFT. Not a good time to skimp on the fabric.
7) Be a giverYou can’t spoil your baby during the first three months. Really, it’s not possible. So feel free to shower them with fun, love, and comfort.
The Truth About the Fourth Trimester
Now, let’s be honest, being a new mama ain’t for sissies. And not every moment will be magical for you or your wee one.
All you have to do is your best, and your baby will be a happy camper - despite having a brain that’s growing rampantly and not having the words to say “feed me NOW!”
When you do have one of those moments that brings you total joy and makes you feel like it’s all worth it, where your baby is blissful and seems to be grateful for your dedication to making everything as perfect as possible, be sure to share it with us and our community of new mamas on Instagram using the hashtag #newmamamoment.