What is the fourth trimester and why have I never heard of it?
The fourth trimester is a term used to describe the first 3-4 months of a baby’s life, it’s not a medical term and is not commonly used in western cultures, yet babies in the UK and other westernised countries seem to have the greatest difficulty adjusting to life.
When I researched infant behaviour I looked at what is biologically normal, i.e what most human babies expect when they are born before they are ‘conditioned’. If you try to imagine what life is like for a baby and see things from their perspective you will be able to empathise with their struggles. I’ve discovered the key thing for each parent is to watch and listen to their baby, the more in tune you are with your baby the more you will be able to understand the subtle cues they use to try and communicate their needs; Babies only cry if they are in pain or have unmet needs.
The issue is: when parent’s do listen to their baby and respond with compassion, (as you would expect them to do with any other family member or friend), they are often mocked or chastised by family, friends or health professionals. They are warned about ‘creating bad habits’, ‘a rod for your own back’ or told that their baby is ‘manipulating’ them as the baby stops crying when they are held.
“Babies do not have the brain capacity to manipulate or intellectualise situations, they simply have a need, communicate that need and expect you to meet it.”
The history of the fourth Trimester
At birth the human brain is less than 30% the size of the adult brain and the least mature of all mammals, therefore the needs of a new-born remain fairly similar to that of a foetus. It is estimated that a human foetus would have to remain in the womb for a period of 18 to 21 months to be born at a neurological and cognitive development stage comparable to that of other mammals, this is why infants are so highly dependent on adults for all their needs for much longer.
Disclaimer: I’m just going to say it now: ALL BABIES ARE DIFFERENT, THERE IS NO ONE SOLUTION FOR ALL BABIES hence why I say look and listen to your baby.