What Is the Fourth Trimester and How - Woodmam

Did It Become Missing?

In this story, each man described a part of the elephant. Yet, he was so sure his view was the whole truth, he didn’t consider the possibility that there was another explanation that could account for all the different observations.

Similarly, wise men and women trying to solve the mystery of colic have focused on single bits of truth. Some heard grunting and thought gas was the culprit. Others saw a grimace and thought it was pain. Still others noticed that cuddling helped and assumed the infants were spoiled.

In recent years, colic has been blamed on pain, anxiety, immaturity, and temperament. Yet, while each is a piece of the puzzle, colic can only be understood by viewing all the pieces together. Only then does it become clear that the popular colic theories are linked by one previously overlooked concept: the missing fourth trimester.

Your baby’s nine months—or three trimesters—inside you is a time of unbelievably complex development. Nevertheless, it takes most babies an additional three months to “wake up” and become active partners in the relationship. This time between birth and the end of your baby’s third month is what I call your baby’s fourth trimester.

Now let’s see what a baby’s life is like before they’re born, why they must come into the world before they’re fully mature, and the ways great parents soothe their babies by imitating the womb for the first three months of their baby’s life.

The First Three Trimesters: Your Fetus’s Happy Life in Your Womb

Did you think your baby was ready to be born after your nine months of pregnancy? God knows you were ready! But in many ways, your baby wasn’t. Newborns can’t smile, coo, or even suck their fingers. At birth, they’re really still fetuses and for the next three months they want little more than to be carried, cuddled, and made to feel like they’re still within the womb.

However, in order to mimic the sensations he enjoyed so much in your uterus, you need to know what it was like in there. Let’s backtrack to the time when your fetus was still in the womb and see life through his eyes. Imagine you can look inside your pregnant uterus. What do you see? Just inside the muscular walls, silky membranes waft in a pool of tropical amniotic waters. Over there is your pulsating placenta; like a twenty-four-hour diner, it serves your fetus a constant feast of food and oxygen.

At the center, in the place of honor, is your precious baby. He’s protected from hunger, germs, cold winds, mean animals, and rambunctious siblings by the velvet-soft walls of your womb. He looks part-astronaut—part-merman as he floats weightlessly in the golden fluid. Over these nine months, your fetus develops at lightning speed. His brain adds two hundred fifty thousand nerve cells a minute, and his body grows one billion times in weight and infinitely in complexity.

Let’s zoom in on your baby’s last month of life inside you. It’s getting really tight in there. Like a little yoga expert, your fetus is nestled in, folded and secure. However, contrary to popular myth his cozy room is neither quiet nor still. It’s jiggly (imagine your baby bouncing around when you hustle down the stairs) and loud (the blood whooshes through your arteries, creating a rhythmic din noisier than a vacuum cleaner).

Amazingly, all this commotion doesn’t upset him. Rather, he finds it soothing. That’s why unborn babies stay calm during the day but become restless in the still of the night. It’s an ideal life in there—so why do babies pack up and pop out after just nine months, when they’re still so immature?

The Great Eviction: Speculations on Why Our Babies Can’t Stay in the Womb for a Fourth Trimester
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