The Fourth Trimester and how to navigate it
You may have heard of the ‘fourth trimester’ before – it describes how your baby transitions into the world and can also explain why certain things can soothe and calm a baby. To empathise with a newborn baby we first have to consider the environment they came from and what they would have been experiencing in the womb.
Surround Sound: First of all, it is LOUD in there! The sound of your heartbeat and blood circulating around, not to mention your digestion gurgles – these sounds are what your baby has been used to. The ‘shushing’ sound that many new mothers and carers naturally make is a similar whooshing sound to the heartbeat in the womb and there are other sound machines on the market that will make heartbeat sounds or ‘white’ noise. During a newborn photography session I use a heartbeat sound machine to help soothe the baby to sleep.
Constant Movement: Most pregnant women would agree that it is more comfortable to keep moving around and anyway lots of people tend to work right close to their due date to maximise their maternity leave. That’s a lot of jiggling around for your baby – the constant motion even when you are in bed and roll over provides regular movement for your baby in your womb. During a shoot I often pat the baby gently or wiggle his or her hips to help them settle.
Restricted space: As your baby grows in your womb it’s space and movements become more restricted. It is comfortably cocooned in it’s aquatic sac and so feels safe and secure. This is why newborn photographers often use wraps to swaddle the baby – aside from looking totally adorable, it also allows the baby to feel contained and ‘hugged’.
Toasty Warm: The temperature of your womb is the same as your core which is a balmy 98 degrees F – so your baby is used to being snug and warm. By using a space heater during a newborn photography session I warm up the room to around 28 degrees. Always keeping an eye out to make sure the baby is not too hot (at this point they are unable to regulate their own temperature). It’s important for the new parents to wear cool comfortable clothing for the session to allow for the warm room.
As I prepare for a newborn photography session I am always mindful of their previous ‘home’ and how different it will feel to them to be out in the big wide world. By making the room warm, snuggling them into a soft wrap and having soft heartbeat sounds playing I hope to soothe them into a peaceful familiar slumber.
Do you have any top tips to share? I’d love to hear them… it’s always great to hear what other methods can soothe a baby that is very new into this world!