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The Fourth Trimester: Life With A Newborn

We are all familiar with the three trimesters of pregnancy. We all understand that the first can be rough, the second glorious and the third, well the third is an exhausting countdown. But once I had my baby I learned that there was one more ‘trimester’, the fourth​, writes new mom Sinead O'Moore.

For me, the fourth trimester was the most important one, because it marks the biggest transition that mum and baby makes together. And once I learned more about this amazing phase, it made complete sense of what is a crazy few months. 

Read Next: Pregnancy Survival Guide The First Trimester

What Is The Fourth Trimester? 

The fourth trimester begins the moment your little one is born and carries on until they are three months old. It’s a phase of massive development for you but more importantly your baby. After nine months of being snuggled up within you, your baby is now out in the world with light and dark, noise and quiet, smells, touch, hunger, tiredness and an overwhelming range of sensations. 

Baby is relying purely on natural reflexes and instincts and is learning to trust that the world she has been born into is safe, that the arms she was placed in will care for her and essentially keep her alive. All this while you are recovering from childbirth, existing on shocking levels of sleep, hormones in overdrive, learning to feed your baby, responding to their cries and minding your own mental health. 

You can soon see why this stage should be more understood and moms supported through it. 

What’s happening to baby during the fourth trimester?

You & Baby Are Still One

Or so your baby thinks. You know that you’ve given birth and that baby is no longer in your womb, but your baby hasn’t got a clue where she is, or what just happened. And so you can forgive her for being afraid and only feeling safe in your arms. Give your baby time to adjust and to feel secure while she figures out the new normal. You’ve held your baby every second of every day for nine months and now is the time to hold your baby in your arms as often and for as long as you can. 

Your Baby Is Completely Dependent On You

Sounds obvious but so important to remember when you are feeling overwhelmed or when your baby is scared and having a hard time adjusting to the outside world. Your body has cared for your baby 24/7 in the womb and your baby can’t figure out why this would change overnight. From changing temperatures to feeling hunger for the first time, your baby is scared, vulnerable and learning to trust that the parents she has just met are here to look after her. Help your baby learn to trust that she is safe by responding to her cries, hold your baby skin to skin and just be patient, it won't be long before the cries turn to smiles. 

Your Baby Can Only Communicate By Crying

Your baby's cries are key to her survival – and not a beacon telling you that you’re not doing a good job, although it can feel that way sometimes. During the fourth trimester your baby will cry more than any other stage in her development but remember it’s because it is all she has to work with. She can’t yet babble or smile, laugh or screech. Crying is all she has to communicate with you. 

Never be afraid to respond to your baby, to hold, to soothe, comfort and show attention, affection, security and love. You simply can not spoil a new baby! And don’t listen to anyone who tells you otherwise. 

Your Baby Has No Understanding Of Day & Night

All she knows is the relative darkness of your womb, snoozing whenever she liked and now all of a sudden she has to conform to our clock. Where routines and sleep solutions can be hugely beneficial for older babies, right now in the fourth trimester appreciate that your baby is adjusting to night and day. Tricky when right now you need as much rest and re-cooperation as possible after childbirth. And so in order to survive and be the best support you can be for your baby, be kind to yourself! 

Resisting the natural impulses of this phase are futile. You’re not the same as you were pre-baby and so your not expected to function in the same way. So melt into this delicious phase. Stay in bed all day. Cuddle your newborn. Nap while they nap and conserve energy for what’s important right now. 

Your Baby's World Is Completely Different

Imagine being curled up in your warm water bath with the muffled reassuring beat of a heart and then arriving into this crazy world? Terrifying! It’s so helpful to remember that your baby is experiencing the world in a completely different way to how you are in her first few weeks. 
  • Although your baby’s eyesight develops rapidly, in those first few weeks her range is so limited, she can only see your face when cradled in your arms.  
  • Your baby is born with an amazing sense of smell helping her seek out breastmilk within hours of birth. Help your baby feel more secure by giving scented perfumes and body lotions a break and allow her to learn and recognize your natural motherly scent. 
  • Your baby has heard your voice for months and will feel instantly at home when you sing, talk and soothe her. 

This phase will pass, these days are precious. They are tough, they are demanding, they are overwhelming and emotionally draining. But no matter how hard it may feel for you, understand that it's even harder for your new little love. 

You are a team. You’ve come this far together. And by sticking together now you’ll quickly learn that the fourth trimester is when the real magic happens. Enjoy it. 

About the Author

Fun, creative, caring and committed, Sinead O'Moore is our Head of Content & Brand Strategy at eumom and passionate about publishing supportive content for our community of moms. She is also navigating the twists and turns of being a first-time mom! Say Hi by contacting 


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