We know there are only 3 trimesters of pregnancy, but many top doctors, scientists, and psychologists, agree that a fourth trimester occurs outside the womb once baby is born. This busy, and somewhat intimidating, transitional period is a great opportunity for babywearing to truly shine! You can achieve skin to skin contact, breastfeeding on demand and establish bonding- all from the convenient hands-free use of a baby carrier. As an attachment parenting follower, Newborn Babywearing in the fourth trimester was wonderful for me.
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What is the Fourth Trimester
The 4th trimester is a fascinating concept and it begins at birth. Dr. Karp at the Happiest Baby says that the first 12 weeks of a babies life are incredibly different than the time that follows them. Here we are establishing breastfeeding, sleep and waste arrangements for the first time. These are things that my body had provided autonomously while I was still pregnant. My baby had never known hunger, discomfort, fear, or loneliness, while he was nestled safely in my womb for 39.5 weeks. All those concepts were new to him and having a whole person depend on me, a conscious me with my two arms and untested breasts, was an intense change of my daily life. The Fourth Trimester refers to the period of adjustment following birth that moms need to consider special.
Here we are establishing nourishment, sleep and waste arrangements for the first time. These are things that my body had provided autonomously while I was still pregnant. My baby had never known hunger, discomfort, fear, or loneliness, while he was nestled safely in my womb for 39.5 weeks.
Dr. Karp says that human children are naturally born early due to the size of our heads, and that our gestational period would benefit from being longer. We can make up for the shortened internal-stay by treating the first 12 weeks of babies life differently than we might approach the rest of it. Attachment Parenting really helps to duplicate life on the inside. In the womb, baby has access to 24 hour nutrition, and so breastfeeding can be done on demand, instead of a schedule, to develop a strong nursing relationship and milk supply. Baby is also used to constant contact, movement and comforting pressure inside mom’s belly and we can provide that by keeping baby close, in our arms or in our baby carrier as much as possible. Sleeping with baby in a co-sleeper or bassinet at arms reach at night allows you to quickly help relieve any distress or hunger that will occur.
It’s normal for newborn babies to want to be held all the time
You hear a lot of stories online about babies that are independent and sleep through the night on their own from a very young age. My first was one of those babies, and by 8 weeks old he and I were both sleeping a solid 10-12 hours straight. He liked to lay on blankets on the floor as much as he liked to be held. But what if he didn’t? I would have been completely lost, because in 2004 no one was talking about the “4th trimester” or “attachment parenting.” I found out with my 2nd and 3rd children that my oldest was an exception in his independence. The next two needed more reassurance and loved to be rocked, hummed to, held and carried. My littlest, especially, didn’t start sleeping through the night until 9 months old and even now at nearly 1 year he will often wake in the middle of the night for breastmilk.
I love the feeling of carrying my newborn babies on my body. That constant connection was essential for me to bond, and produce milk. I was blessed to stay home for the first year, with all three of my children, and had plenty of time to wear them in my carrier and nurse on demand. If you think this might be doable for you, I encourage you to try it! Every life is different and I totally accept that you may not have the same experience as me. Even if you are not home full time, you can benefit from babywearing when you are able to.
Choosing a Carrier for a Newborn
My personal carrier of choice is a baby sized Meh Dai carrier made by Fidella called a Fly Tai. It adjusts to fit from birth to toddler-hood using simple ties that shorten or lengthen the panels. You can read my review of that carrier here on this post.
There are a few things to consider when choosing a daily carrier for a newborn. You will want something that is comfortable for both of you, can be used for nursing, and takes their small size into account. Many babywearing educators recommend the following types of carriers for newborn babies:
- Ring Slings such as Fidella Ring Sling, Lenny Lamb Ring Sling, Soul Ring Slings, and True North Slings
- Woven Wraps of various lengths from brands such as Tekhni, Lenny Lamb, Fidella and Soul Slings
- Meh Dai style carriers such as the Fidella Fly Tai, Lenny Wrap Tai, Chimparoo Meh Dai and Soul Meh Dai
- Stretchy Wraps such as the Boba Wrap, K’Tan, Hugaloops, and Solly Wrap
- Adjustable SSC (soft structured carriers aka Buckle Carriers) that fit from around 7lbs such as the new Tula Free-to-Grow and LennyUp
- SSC Buckle Carriers that offer Infant Inserts such as the Beco Gemini, Boba 4g, and Tula Standard.
Where to find Help
If you are new to Babywearing or experiencing any issues with it, its important to find educated help. Your best resource will be a local Babywearing group! You can search for one here or try searching on Facebook using your city name and writing Babywearing after it.
Many cities and towns also offer lending libraries! These are a very worthwhile way to try different styles and brands of carriers before you buy one. You can check with your pocal group about access and any fees or deposits involved.
Alternatively, you can consult directly with a certified instructor or educator. The CWBS is a fantastic resource for that or check out wrappingrachel.com, who is herself certified, and operates a super valuable website and YouTube channel.