My 4th Trimester is over!
Yes, my new baby is a whopping 3 months old. I’m torn between sadness and joy as I think about that. He’s getting so big and aware. I’m also in trouble, he’s already rolling and scooting around, I’ll be having another early walker…
But this time around, I did my own version of “the 4th trimester” when caring for my baby and viewing his needs.
I realized that for 9 months of his life, he’s had every need and want immediately taken care of, and he needed some transition time. He was used to constantly feeling my warmth, being rocked, hearing my voice, never feeling hungry.
So, I started by having him sleep with me. There are very safe ways to co-sleep. In my house, that meant a bedrail installed on my side of the bed with a rolled up baby quilt covering the gap. It meant a small pillow between him and my husband if he was in-between us due to me nursing. It meant more sleep for us all as none of us had to wake fully to nurse…I could sleep while nursing (it’s a little weird waking up 3 hours later fully exposed, but that was some quality sleep!). Co-sleeping is natural and will happen, because falling asleep while nursing happens, so make sure you’re safe. Babies sleep deeper and longer having their mother right beside them. There are many other benefits of bed-sharing.
If you don’t feel comfortable with your baby in bed with you, there are some great “co-sleepers” that install right next to your bed, or if you have a handy husband you can have him make you one. If I had a bigger room, I’d totally have my husband make me one. At a minimum, consider having your baby’s bed in your room…for about a month now my son has been fully sleeping in his bed, but we still don’t have to fully wake up as we hear him when he’s starting to wake up and he knows his needs will be quickly met.
I baby wear. Especially in the first 2 months, he was not happy unless he was being held. It’s still true at times, but now that he can control his arms a bit more, he’s happy for awhile on a playmate or in an exersaucer. Wearing him in a sling or a carrier was natural for both of us. He got the the comfort, rocking and closeness that he was used to, and I got free hands. As he grew the sling got uncomfortable, but there are some awesome carriers that distribute the weight well…I use the moby wrap. I’ve also heard great things about the ergo. The one of the benefits to baby wearing a tiny one, is that you can have the convenience of going places, but you can control people touching your baby when his immune system is still forming. I was up and around less than a week after he was born, but no one got to touch him for a few weeks unless we were at home and I could control the circumstances.
And I nursed on demand. In utero, a baby’s every need is immediately met. They’re not used to feeling hungry, or having to eat a certain amount. So, I didn’t worry about how much he ate, or when he ate (unless it had been more than 4 hours during the day or 6 at night). Guess what, he grew just fine. I occasionally have my husband feed him with a bottle so that he gets used to it for occasional trips out…it was very nice to get to go out kid-free for our anniversary a few weeks ago! It’s also so nice to not worry about a feeding schedule, how many ounces he ate, etc. And we are naturally finding a routine (same as with sleeping).
I don’t know if it’s because of viewing these last 3 months as a 4th trimester, or because I’m staying home, because I’ve done this before, or just my son’s personality, but everything seems so much more laid back this time around. He sleeps better because I’m not worried about a schedule. I sure wish my other 2 had slept this well when I was working! He’s happy laying down for awhile because he knows I’ll pick him up and hold him when he cries for me. He knows his needs will be met right away, so he is generally happier.
The time will come (much to quickly) when he can do things for himself, he’ll be able to put himself to sleep and feed himself, but all he knows is me doing it for him, so I’ll keep doing it until he can do it on his own.