Surviving The 4th Trimester

I wanted to wait at least a week before posting to see if it was really happening….but I have really great news to share: Everyone that said “you just have to survive a screaming baby, I  mean “high needs” baby, until 12 weeks” was right! Almost to the DAY he turned 12 weeks, which was a week and a half ago, my baby boy seems like a different person all together. He still has his moments, but they are drastically different, less frequent and much shorter in duration. His smiles and coos now fill much of the day and we are all just so much happier. Although, his older brother still leaves the room the moment the baby starts crying and doesn’t want to be in the same car as him due to the crying (yes we have considered taking two cars to the same location). I guess those habits were quick to form.

What got me through these last 12 weeks? Family and friends. I am so grateful for having such a great support network. When they say ‘It takes a village to raise a child’, they were right. Having someone to call when your baby has been crying for hours (and consequently you have been crying for hours) or being able to ask a parent to come over and help (thanks mom!) at any hour of the day or night, or having a friend drop off dinner is such a blessing but it’s also what helps you survive. Big lesson learned: FIND YOUR VILLAGE BEFORE HAVING KIDS!

So now that I’v survived the worst of it, the (tired) inquisitive science mind in me wants to know WHY? Why do some babies fuss A LOT, and WHY does it magically go away for most of these babies at 12 weeks old? I mean, it was seriously almost to the day he turned 12 weeks old that the extreme, chronic fussiness went away! After extensive reading in all my spare time, I found that most of the research says that babies have a “4th trimester” in which they need 3-4 months to adapt to being outside of the womb. Humans are born weak and vulnerable (compared to other mammals) and neurologically immature. I like how the article Baby’s Fourth Trimester: Helping Your Baby Make a Peaceful Transition from Womb to World By Katie Amodei sums up the 4th trimester and explains how to recreate the womb environment in order to soothe your baby more easily and hopefully experience less fussiness or “colic”. Apparently, according to anthropologists, humans used to gestate for 12-13 months before we evolved to stand on two feet and the pelvis required a smaller head to be born?!? Uh, no thanks. I’m glad we cap gestation at 9-10 months nowadays, even if the brain still needs to grow larger. I’m also glad  to have have this knowledge about WHY babies can be extremely fussy in their first 3-4 months of life. Just knowing there is a reason and that my baby isn’t out to make my life hell on purpose makes it so much more bearable.


Here are a few more resources I found to be helpful…

The Fussy Baby How to Bring Out the Best in Your High-Need Child (Growing Family Series) by William Sears, MD and Martha Sears, RN

The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp, MD  although you might want to skip the book and just buy the DVD if you are struggling with a fussy baby and sleep deprivation! Or better yet, watch a 7 minute clip of Dr. Harvey Karp on Dr. Phil.  It quickly covers the basics of how to use the 5 S’s to calm your baby.

Your Fussy Baby by Marc Weissbluth, MD

**Please forgive any run on sentences and all other poorly written aspects of this post. The author is still terribly sleep deprived!!

The Moby  = the womb outside the womb!

The Moby = the womb outside the womb!

Do you have any other good resources to recommend?


One thought on “Surviving The 4th Trimester

  1. Katie Amodei says:

    Hi Leah. My daughter was a severely colicky baby for the first 12 weeks. She was either sleeping, eating, or screaming. It was the hardest thing I ever had to go through, and it inspired me to write the article about the 4th Trimester. I didn’t know about the 5S techniques back then, and I’m so glad that this article could help another Mother. Wishing you much happiness with your little one. Katie Amodei


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