The fourth trimester (in case you are wondering) is not a medical term. It’s just a phrase used to describe the first three months after childbirth where everything is new, including your baby. Babies are designed to seek food, warmth and comfort and our instincts as parents is to comfort a crying child by holding them close to our bodies. This instinct is common to many species and recent scientific research has shown that infants automatically relax deeply when they are carried, with a noticeable reduction in crying behaviour, a calmed movements and a decrease in heart rate.
There is a widespread agreement amongst child development experts that human babies are born at a much more immature state than most other mammals. The notion is the fourth trimester is that babies need to spend at least the first three months of their lives in a state close to the environment of the womb. Your baby has spent 40 weeks (or there abouts!) having his every need attended to. He never knew hunger, was always rocked, and could always hear your heartbeat. Given that, it seems pretty unrealistic to expect a newborn baby to adjust to life on the outside instantly. This can be especially useful for premature babies (the term “kangaroo care” and “fourth trimester” come from this concept) or children who are unwell. You can read more about the huge advantages of such skin-to-skin care in those early days here.
It was Dr William Sears who first coined the term “babywearing”, and this is what he has to say about it:
“Babywearing means changing your mindset of what babies are really like. New parents often envision babies as lying quietly in a crib, gazing passively at dangling mobiles and picked up and carried only to be fed and played with and then put down. You may think that “up” periods are just dutiful intervals to quiet your baby long enough to put him down again. Babywearing reverses this view. Carry your baby in a sling many hours a day, and then put her down for sleep times and tend to your personal needs.”