In May of 2018, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) expanded the definition of postpartum care of mom and baby and embraced the inclusive concept of the “fourth trimester.” For decades, American mom-baby advocacy groups have used the fourth trimester as a way to conceptualize newborn care in the first three months. And now ACOG validates and identifies this conceptualization of the fourth trimester as a sensitive period of development for both mom and baby.
Since the 1950’s, the mom-baby advocacy groups, such as La Leche League, conceptualized newborn parenting in the fourth trimester as informed by the human evolutionary scale. They normalize baby’s crying by framing it as a signal to be picked up and comforted by his or her caregivers. La Leche League says that it’s normal to provide comfort for a newborn baby by way of nursing, carrying and co-sleeping. All these behaviors imitate the womb environment of warmth, movement and lots of touch. La Leche League normalizes that a baby’s crying is his or her way of communicating with and connecting with their loved ones, and is not a form of manipulation. La Leche League says “It’s normal to ‘Pick the baby up!’ ” Using the construct of the fourth trimester, La Leche League is a positive community intervention for education about and parenting the newborn.