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The Fourth Trimester: Understanding, Protecting, and Nurturing an Infant through the First Three Months – Susan Brink

13th October 2021
the fourth trimester book cover


The Fourth Trimester is about the three months after delivery of the baby. The author wants to let the readers understand how to protect and nurture an infant during the first 3 months of life. This book was recommended to me by my wife.


Susan Brink is a freelance medical reporter. Her regular clients include NPR, National Geographic, and U.S. News & World Report. She has covered health and medicine for 35 years at newspapers and news magazines including the Los Angeles Times and U.S. News & World Report.


The Fourth Trimester contains a preface, an introduction, and 10 chapters.

The chapters are 1) Evolution and the Primitive Brain of a Newborn: Why Infants Arrive Unfinished, 2) Crying: The Wakeup Call That Says Everything Has Changed, 3) Sleeping: Irregular and Sporadic Sleep Is Normal in the Fourth Trimester, 4) Feeding: Breast Milk and Formula, 5) Sound: Laying the Foundation for Speech, 6) Sight: From Forms to Faces, 7) Touch: Pain and Pleasure, 8) Physical Development: Getting Ready to Crawl, Walk, and Run, 9) Stimulation: Keep It Real, Keep It Simple, and 10) Mom and Dad: The Parents’ Fourth Trimester.


The Fourth Trimester discusses about the baby’s first 3 months of life. This is an important outside-the-uterus period of intense development that is an extension of the work begun during the first 9 months.

This book contains a lot of important information regarding the first 3 months of newborns. Here are some examples.

It takes months for an infant to sort out day from night, thus it will be a busy and tiring period for the parents. The proximity to caregivers influences the newborn’s most fundamental makeup which includes heart rate, body temperature, breathing, sleep, and arousal.

We should pay more attention to physical development of the baby as it requires someone to place her on her back to sleep and also let her into a tummy-down position. Vision develops with normal, everyday exposure to sights while language develops as a baby hears words and other sounds.

Brain development is a delicate balance between nature and nurture, genes and environment. There are 6 distinct states of awareness among newborns: drowsiness, light sleep, deep sleep, quiet alert, active alert, and crying. Parents and caregivers should learn to recognise these states in order to give the baby better care.

A tape recorder or a television set is not good enough as they lack the give and take of social interaction. Human interaction is very important for the babies.

Postpartum weight may be a concern to some mothers. The author mentions that a reasonable goal for mother’s weight would be returning to prepregnancy weight about 6 months after delivery.

The author shares some personal experience in the book. The Fourth Trimester covers a great deal of topics, if not all, that parents and caregivers should know about newborns. I really appreciate the information in the book as it prepares me to take good care of my baby.


  1. In the most difficult moments, it may help to remember that an infant’s needs are real and immediate, and that, in time, life will get easier.
  2. An observed link between two things doesn’t prove that one caused the other.
  3. Learning is the bridge between what’s in the brain at birth and the fascinating world outside.
  4. Parental instincts usually prove themselves right.
  5. Every infant has his own capacity and his own limit.


3 out of 3 stars

Interested in The Fourth Trimester?

You may get the book from through the link below*.

Get the print book from Kinokuniya Malaysia here

*Disclosure: The above link is an affiliate link. Thus, I may earn a small commission when you purchase the book through the link.

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