Wednesday, 4 June 2014

The Fourth Trimester

Attention: This is the kind of information you ought to share with a new mother.

Most parents, including myself, suffered/suffer from frustrating crying episodes babies have in their first months of life.

Dr. Harvy Karp said to Newsday: “Crying is not just a nuisance, but it’s a primary trigger for postpartum depression, for marital stress, for breast-feeding failure, for child abuse. for maternal smoking, for SIDS, for the over treatment of children with acid re flux medicine, for mothers overeating and mothers getting into car accidents.”

Let’s start off with a comparison between life in the womb and life in the outside world beautifully set up by Babycalmblog :

Quite distinct environments right? Now imagine being a helpless newborn that is transitioning from one world to another. Imagine being suddenly placed in a silent dark room all alone. Just the thought of it scares me!

Jennifer McArthur, co-director of the Northwest Association for Postpartum Support acknowledges that newborns don’t have the brain maturity to deal with the outside world. "Babies depend on their parents for basic survival, but also for soothing, because they just don't know how to soothe themselves until they are about 4 months old,” says McArthur.

Dr. Harvy Karp, an American Pediatrician best known for his calming technique, believes that human babies are born less-developed than other mammals and thus the first three months of life are called the “Fourth Trimester”.

So in order to insure a safe and stress-free transition from the womb to the outside world parents must try to recreate the womb experience for the baby in his first 3 months of life.

His technique is designed to recreate the essential elements of the baby’s womb experience. Once babies are given clues and simulations similar to the atmosphere in the womb, they will instantly relax and feel safe according to Karp’s "Baby’s Calming Reflex". Seems legit so far right?

In order to trigger the calming reflex, the “Five S’s” must be done:

1)     Swaddling – tightly, with the arms down. Personally I’m not a fan of swaddling, but here’s a video on How to Swaddle.

2)     Side/stomach position – while the back is safest for sleeping it is least effective for calming crying. Do check out the SIDS Alert  blog post that clarifies why back sleeping is the safest.  

3)     Shushing – loud, continuous noise. There are a couple of Apps for white noise on smart phones as well as YouTube videos of up to 40 minutes of white noise!

4)     Swinging – rhythmic movement. Two words: Rocking Chair (Check Baby Essentials)

5)      Sucking – Sucking on a pacifier or breast. (Check Breastfeeding)

Karp advises that these methods are best to be done simultaneously- If possible. Many experts and testimonials acknowledge that this technique does sooth fussy babies. 

To end with, your baby is used to your smell, your heartbeat and your warmth, try these ancient techniques they might save you a while lot of anxiety.


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