The fourth trimester is the first three months of your baby’s life where they transition from the womb into the world. During this transition a baby may become over stimulated with loud noises, bright lights and unfamiliar smells. It’s sensory overload.
What really helps a newborn baby settle into the world are the 5 s’s……
Although not recommended by health professionals due to sleep risks, swaddling in a safe way can recreate the contained feeling in the womb. It serves to replicate the feelings of warmth and protection and the snug fit experienced whilst in utero. Swaddling also stops your baby’s uncontrolled arm and leg flailing that is all thanks to your baby’s moro startle reflex which is one of the newborn reflexes.
When you are swaddling remember these safety tips:
- Never cover your baby’s face
- Use a light blanket such as a cellular blanket or large muslin
- Keep the swaddle loose over your baby’s hips and legs
- Don’t leave a swaddled baby unattended
Lay your baby on her side or stomach, with your baby’s arms at their centre. This containment hold replicates the position in the womb, makes them feel less vulnerable and more organised.
You may think that in the womb it is very quiet. However it is rather loud due to the blood flowing through the mother’s arteries. White noise such as the vacuum cleaner, the hairdryer, the washing machine, the car engine, etc all recreate the noises heard by your baby whilst they are all snug in the womb. White noise apps are readily available on smart phones and there are many toys available on the market that contain a white noise. Failing that, shushing your baby whilst rocking is very effective.
Rhythmic movements such as swaying, rocking and swinging all help to stimulate the vagus nerve which is responsible for lowering the resting heart rate and making babies more relaxed. Babies were gently swayed during their time in the womb and you no doubt noticed that whilst you were up and walking around, your baby would be still but as soon as you were still, your baby would wake and you would suddenly feel their movements. This is because your movements would rock your baby to sleep, making the swinging a go to move during the fourth trimester.
A newborn baby has a strong suck reflex and research has shown that sucking reduces cortisol (the stress hormone) in a baby’s brain. Sucking on a dummy, a nipple or their hand can comfort and soothe a baby.
Babies miss the rhythmic, hypnotic sounds and movement that they experienced in their watery, dark and warm home. Recreating the womb can help your baby transition from womb to world, reducing colic episodes.