My baby always want to be on me...
Updated: Jun 30, 2021
What is the Fourth Trimester?
This trimester is the 12 weeks from the day your baby is born. It’s a transition time and one for huge change and development; fine-tuning senses, responses and reflexes.
Your baby has spent 9 months in the womb (more on the environment later) and has a ‘journey’, some tougher than others to arrive in their new outside-world.
Imagine a crazy Tim Burton film – a loud, bright, sensory overload. Full of countless first-experiences.
There is also the train of the thought (according to Dr Harvey Karp) that babies are born too early. The womb-like-conditions will offer security, comfort and assurance in the fourth trimester that the new outside world is safe and their needs will be met.
How it shows up?
For a moment, I’d like to think about the environment your baby has come from and where they come into …
WOMB WORLD Dark Light Muffled sounds Loud noises Constant warm temperatures Fluctuating temperatures Constant food Hunger & thirst Confined space Lots of space Aquatic Air Inability to smell Lots of different smells Constant contact with mother Reduced contact Constantly 'held' Held for less Naked Clothed Soft and warm Hard and cold Environment stays the same Environment differing daily (source: Sarah Ockwell-Smith)
Baby’s have their womb-world for a long 9 months. Birth disrupts this environment and baby spends the following weeks trying to regain sense of their outside-womb-world. In order to have their ‘needs’ met, they act or behave in certain ways for their caregivers to meet baby’s needs. (Dr William Sears)
In terms of 'behaviour' you may see:
- More feeding
- Erratic sleep - sleep cycles develop more around 3-4 months
- Need closeness for security & assurance
- Baby doesn’t want to be put down/doesn't like to sleep in certain places
- Crying peaks somewhere in the middle of the Fourth Trimester
When baby’s needs are simple, they can be thought of as an ‘easy’ baby however if baby’s transition is not so seamless, they can be thought of as ‘difficult. In this instance, maybe take your time to learn from your experience, cues & cries to help both of you.
Babies are dependant on their mother the longest out of all the mammal world. Some animals are up walking at birth. This is not the case for humans. It is thought babies become more in control of their sense, reflexes around 3 months onwards.
How to work with it?
There are settling techniques you can use when your baby is 'reacting' to getting their needs met:
· Responsive feeding – bottle or boob. Baby will feed for food, thirst and comfort. If you are bottle feeding you could also try a dummy to help settle if need be.
· Movement – babies likes movement and this mimicks their time in the womb
· Swaddling – helps with a feeling of closeness, snuggled and can be used at night times to aid better sleep (look up the correct way to swaddle)
· Slings – a sling is your friend in the early days. Keeps baby close you whilst you are free to get on and do things you need it, or enjoy that feeling of closeness too!
· Skin to skin – there are huge benefits for mum and baby - warm, sense of touch, encourages breastfeeding, regulates temperature, breathing and heartbeat, immunity and for mums' it will increase your feel-good with the hormone oxytocin. Full list here. Enjoy the special time of cuddling, bonding and closeness
· Safe sleep – check out Lullaby Trust or Basisonline for safe sleep guidelines. Keeping baby close to you at night should see baby settle much easier and allow you to get some sleep too
· Position – how you hold your baby could offer comfort and help settling especially if baby has reflux
· Sensory overwhelm – babies need to be stimulated but too much - it general ends in overwhelm and tiredness. Look for cues such as turning head away, yawning, fuzzy-type cry, eye contact
· White noise – a good go-to. Either white noise using an app/phone ( I went through two hairdryers) or ssssshhhiiinnnggg as part of the 5’s (Dr Harvey Karp*)
· Bathing – typically babies like warm water (aquatic feeling from womb) and will help comfort
· Routine – try to go with it in the early days as baby has had a routine-free time whilst in the womb. They do not know about day & night yet, they don’t know about the books we are encouraged to read. Of course, you can get into your flow with schedules a little later on
· Go outside – this seems to act as reset button for babies and I use this when things have got hairy (and because it's good to walk with baby) – perhaps the fresh air, movement across pavements and wrapped up combined help babies calm and fall asleep.
*The 5’s are from Dr Harvey Karp and he believes if you do 3 out of the 5 you activate the calming reflex – The 5's are ssshhhinng, suckling, side-lying, swaddling, swaying.
These are ideas that can work well. Some of them may not suit you both and it’s about finding out about each other and learning your own way.
To finish; whilst the Fourth Trimester often comes with it challenges and can be exhausting, it is a magical time! With every baby born, a new mum is born too. This is a time of change for you also. To adjust to your new ‘role’, emotionally, mentally and physically.
You will navigate the fog and haze of the newborn stage and start feeling differently. I've had mums say they feel like someone has turned the light on. You will get into your flow.
Try to relax and go with it. There are lots of phases with babies; it's not your forever, just for now. You may hear it's a bad-habit-you-will-spoil-them. I believe tune into your instincts. You know your baby best. And I know it’s likely you will speak to other mums to find out what’s going on with them - knowing you are going through similar phases and getting ideas can really help. Just leave the rest, the things that won't work for you and doesn't suit you and your baby.
I wish you all the very best and do reach out for support should you need to.
For free postnatal support: www.facebook.com/groups/stridingintomotherhood
Fourth Trimester Support Program: www.aprilknell.com/fourthtrimestersupportprogram
5 must-do's for Postnatal Planning: www.aprilknell.com/resources