The fourth trimester. A new addition to the Merriam-Webster dictionary!
LOS ANGELES, November 15, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — About 20 years ago, pediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp wrote a parenting guide, The happiest baby on the block. In it, he shared his belief that one of the most important things for new parents to understand was a fairly unknown idea called the fourth trimester. Today, this obscure name has penetrated the minds of parents and doctors so well that the famous Merriam Webster Dictionary included it in its new edition. The inclusion in the dictionary recognizes that the fourth trimester is part of a worldwide cultural awakening to the importance of this stage of life…not just for babies but also for new parents.
What is the fourth trimester?
The fourth trimester is the first three to four months of a baby’s life after birth. Word “trimester“implies that the baby is still a fetus…and that’s on purpose! A newborn baby’s brain and nervous system aren’t fully developed at birth, making them more like a fetus than a baby.
Where does the term “fourth trimester” come from?
Dr Karp first heard the term in the late 1970s while working on the child abuse team at UCLA. During this time, he saw so many babies come in who were seriously injured, even killed, for the simple act of crying. He became deeply curious about what doctors had been unable to figure out – the cause of colic (severe, persistent crying seen in babies 1-4 months old).
He discovered that, thanks to evolutionary changes, human babies are born about three months before they are technically “ready”. In fact they had to being born three months early because a baby’s developing brain and skull have grown so large by the end of the third trimester that they can barely fit safely through the birth canal.
When does the “fourth trimester” became famous?
In 2002, Karp used The happiest baby on the block share what he had learned from his research and practice as a pediatrician. He found that parents could best create this womb-like fourth trimester experience for their babies with what he called “The 5S,” which involves swaddling, silencing, rocking, suckling, and holding babies in a side/tummy position (for soothing, not sleeping). In the book, he explains how the 5S help trigger a baby’s calming reflex – a never-before-recognized neurological response that develops deep in a baby’s brain months before they are born – essentially nature’s “off switch” for s ‘shake.
Since then, millions and millions of parents around the world have turned to the 5S to calm the tears! So, although he didn’t coin the term “fourth trimester,” Karp’s book helped bring the notion of the fourth trimester into the consciousness of parents and doctors.
What should parents know about their baby’s fourth trimester?
It is important to create a womb-like environment during the fourth trimester of a newborn. For example, swaddling mimics the warm embrace inside the uterus, white noise replaces the constant, loud hissing of blood pulsing through the uterine arteries, and rocking mimics the trembling sensation of being in the uterus. mommy’s belly with every step she takes. These are three of 5S…and they are also the cornerstone of SNOO, the #1 baby cradle created by Karp. SNOO was specifically designed to provide the fourth trimester care babies need by automatically responding to fuss with womb-like rocking, white noise and the cozy embrace of a secure swaddle.
Recognizing this special time in a family’s life is a good first step. Karp hopes this will help promote more innovative solutions that will allow new parents and their babies to thrive in the fourth trimester…and beyond!
dr. Harvey Karp is a world-renowned pediatrician and child development expert. His famous Happiest Baby/Happiest Toddler books and videos have guided millions of parents and are translated into 30 languages. In 2016, Dr. Karp launched SNOO Smart Sleeper, a new class of responsive crib designed to add 1-2 hours to a baby’s sleep, quickly soothe crying, and improve safety by preventing dangerous rollovers. SNOO has won the National Sleep Foundation’s Innovation of the Year award along with 20 other national and international accolades. Medical studies are underway to assess the potential of SNOO to reduce postpartum depression, infant mortality during sleep, and to improve the care of infants in opiate withdrawal.
SOURCE Happiest Baby, Inc.