The Fourth Trimester Book Summary - The Fourth Trimester Book explained in key points
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The Fourth Trimester summary

Kimberly Ann Johnson

A Postpartum Guide to Healing Your Body, Balancing Your Emotions, and Restoring Your Vitality

4.4 (13 ratings)
15 mins

Brief summary

"The Fourth Trimester" by Kimberly Ann Johnson is a guidebook for new mothers during their postpartum period. It offers insights, tools and practices for healing, recovery and adjusting to the new life.

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    The Fourth Trimester
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    Create a plan for your fourth trimester

    While you were pregnant, you were probably inundated with advice about how to take care of yourself, so that your child had the best start to life. But you may have noticed a serious lack of similar advice about nurturing yourself once your baby was born. Let’s try to fill that gap a little now.

    The best way to prepare for the fourth trimester is by creating a postpartum sanctuary plan.

    A postpartum sanctuary plan allows you to anticipate the support you may need physically, mentally, and emotionally, following the birth of your child. It’s common for women to wait until their children are toddlers – or even several years of age – before they start post-birth recovery in earnest. However, it’s important to occupy a nurturing environment immediately following birth, so that you can recover and your baby can thrive. That’s where a postpartum sanctuary plan can help. 

    So, what does a postpartum sanctuary plan involve? 

    It includes four universal postpartum needs: rest, nourishing food, loving touch, and contact with nature.

    First and foremost, rest is essential to postpartum recovery. New mothers need to rest for around a month after giving birth. Birth can be a very unpredictable and stressful experience. It takes a serious toll on a woman’s body, mind, and spirit. In the month that follows, a mother with a newborn needs to be mothered herself. All of her energy will be used to care for her baby, so she must be cared for in turn.

    Many Eastern cultures – like those in China and India – understand how crucial this postpartum care is. In these cultures, women return to their childhood homes for the first month after giving birth, so that their mothers can take care of them. A woman attempting to recover in her own home will be barraged with household responsibilities. But back in the comfort of her mother’s home, she doesn’t have to worry about anything other than nursing and nurturing her newborn. Shifting to her mother’s house also means she can benefit from the wisdom and experience of an older woman, who can provide her with comfort and knowledge.

    While you may not be able to move back in with your mother, you can create a postpartum sanctuary plan with your partner, to support you during your recovery. Discuss with them what help you may need from them and others. For instance, who might be able to cook meals for you? You could start a meal train so your friends and family can rotate dropping meals off for you. Would you like a massage every week? How often would you like the laundry to be done? How many visitors are you comfortable having the first week of the first month? Do you want herbal baths? Time to read a good book? Think about how you’d like to be taken care of and creating a plan will help ensure the support you need is available when you need it.

    Many cultures place the highest priority on the first forty-to-sixty days following birth because it’s crucial in supporting a mother’s long-term health, including preventing diseases. In addition to rest, nourishing food plays an important role in this aspect of recovery. 

    Food is a natural medicine, and consuming foods that are collagen-dense and mineral-rich help cleanse the uterus and produce breast milk. Foods that are warm and easy to digest, like soups, are a great option during the postpartum period.

    Loving touch is another important component of your postpartum sanctuary plan. As your organs, blood, and hormones recalibrate to pre-pregnancy levels, bodywork can aid your recovery. Bodywork includes massage and herbal steaming. This helps organs move back to their optimal positions and encourages your body to release pent-up emotions and toxins.

    Another way to proceed with a healthy recovery is by getting in touch with nature. Being cooped up at home can contribute to postpartum depression. If you have trouble getting outside, try sitting by an open window so you can bathe in natural light and take in the fresh air. Make a little time to do this every day, to help stop you from feeling stale.

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    What is The Fourth Trimester about?

    The Fourth Trimester: A Postpartum Guide to Healing Your Body, Balancing Your Emotions, and Restoring Your Vitality (2017) is the ultimate resource for postpartum women who are navigating life with a newborn and want to discover how to reclaim their health, their bodies, and their spirits.

    Who should read The Fourth Trimester?

    • New and expectant mothers
    • Women seeking to reclaim their bodies following a traumatic birth
    • Women suffering from postpartum depression

    About the Author

    Kimberly Ann Johnson is a sexological bodyworker, birth doula, and educator who offers practical guidance to women during their postpartum journeys. She has authored four books that provide an inside look into the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual impacts of birth and motherhood.

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