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The Fourth Trimester: A Postpartum Guide to Healing Your Body, Balancing Your Emotions, and Restoring Your Vitality Paperback – December 26, 2017
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From the Publisher
The Fourth Trimester
A Postpartum Guide to Healing Your Body, Balancing Your Emotions, and Restoring Your Vitality
A holistic guide to support women through postpartum healing.
The Postpartum Revolution
If you have a baby, you will experience the postpartum period. It is a stage of life—a wonderfully and mystifyingly transformative period in a new mother’s life that doesn’t have to lead to depression. While the landscape may seem grim, the good news is that cultures all over the world have a roadmap for supporting women through this transition, and it’s pretty simple.
A Postpartum Sanctuary Plan
Just as your birth plan allows you to think through and communicate your ideal birth, a postpartum sanctuary plan is an excellent way to anticipate and plan for the support you will need to have the smoothest sacred window possible.
Rebuilding Your Body
The recovery period is different for every woman and can be influenced by factors as concrete as how long your gestation was, how long your labor was, what happened during the birth, how many pregnancies you have experienced (including miscarriages and abortions), how much sleep you are getting, and factors as seemingly unrelated as how nurtured you feel, how supportive your partner is if you have one, and when you have to go back to work.
Owning Your Birth Experience
Most of us think of birth as a rite of passage, and it is, but what we don’t realize is that birth is just one of many rites of passage that make up the process of becoming a mother. And to understand our postpartum experience, we also have to understand our birthing experience. For many of us, that means reclaiming our place as the protagonist in our own narrative.
“In all my years as an ob/gyn, I never once met a woman who was able to get by the initiation of labor and birth and focus on the critical postpartum time frame—a time which is largely ignored in our culture. After all, most “maternity leaves” end at mere 6 weeks—nowhere near enough time to truly honor and carry out the true work of the fourth trimester. No—we tend to focus only on the birth—and if mom and baby make it through in a reasonably healthy way, we figure we’re done. Not even close. In this eye opening and vital book, all those who care about women, children, and families will find a treasure trove of information and practices that are vital for the health of society. I highly recommend this book.”—Christiane Northrup, M.D., ob/gyn physician and author of the New York Times bestsellers: Goddesses Never Age: The Secret Prescription for Radiance, Vitality, and Wellbeing, Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom, and The Wisdom of Menopause
"While there are a plethora of books about pregnancy and delivery, few discuss self-care after the baby is born. Johnson, cofounder of the STREAM School for Postpartum Care, aims to fill that gap with this comprehensive guide to a transitional time. Using a holistic perspective, Johnson addresses everything from preparing one’s body for birth to rebuilding and healing afterward."—Library Journal
"After giving birth, many women devote every ounce of energy in their tank to taking care of their newborn — which is more than understandable. But delivery puts a huge strain on your body, and healing is paramount. The Fourth Trimester encourages new moms to take time for themselves post-pregnancy, and tangibly shows you how to do so."—Woman's Day
About the Author
Kimberly has a private practice in Encinitas and LosAngeles, CA specializing in birth injuries, birth trauma, and sexual health. She is the co-founder of the School for Postpartum Care with her mentor Ellen Heed, where they train professionals to help women heal from painful sex, birth injuries, and genital trauma. Her most outstanding accomplishment is being a single mom to fiery 9-year-old, Brazilian daughter, Cecilia.
- Publisher : Shambhala; Illustrated edition (December 26, 2017)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 360 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1611804000
- ISBN-13 : 978-1611804003
- Item Weight : 1.23 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.98 x 0.82 x 8.96 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #11,129 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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In many ways, I think if you view the Fourth Trimester through a similar lens, you will come away feeling more at peace with the book. However, as some others have mentioned, I purchased this book with the hopes that it would give me practical, concrete, real world ideas for how to have a healthy (physically and emotionally), balanced postpartum period that would help me recover from birth and enter the world of motherhood in the best way possible. About three quarters of the way in, I think I am going to close the book and move on to other things. I don't plan to throw it away, it will stay on my bookshelf with my other pregnancy and parenting books in case there is something specific I want to reference, but to be quite honest this book has made me more stressed and anxious than anything else.
Like many readers, I am an American woman in 2019. I am not a woman in a rural Asian, African or South American community 150 years ago. The author goes on and on (and on and on and on) about the way these communities support(ed) their new mothers with nutrition, massage, and various other forms of attention, and essentially suggests that we do the same here. But many of us do not live together with our extended families in one neighborhood, and even if we did, we don't live in a culture where it is the norm to ask women to drop everything for a month to support a new mother. Without exception, all of the women I love in my life have very demanding jobs, and the last thing I want to do is to ask these women to drop their other priorities and put me first. The alternatives to essentially having a "tribe" of women take care of you are (1) to figure out how to research and hire a very specific and expensive team of service providers, including postpartum doulas, baby nurses, bodywork professionals, acupuncturists, homeopaths, and the list goes on, and then figure out how to pay for them, or (2) to try to do it all yourself, for yourself, which is essentially doing the opposite of what the book asserts to be the most important thing during the postpartum period, which is to rest and connect with your baby. While the book spends some time admonishing that you should not let your relationship suffer and provides a woo woo worksheet for you to work on with your partner, it mostly ignores the partner (not to mention any other kids or pets a person might have) completely.
So now, I'm left with all of these ideas about what an "ideal" postpartum period would look like, but I have no idea how I could put anything but the absolute basics (eat well, stay warm, try to get others to help you) into practice. And to be clear, I am an upper middle class woman in a major city who has hired a doula, private lactation consultant, and other such luxuries for birth. The assertions of what you "need" in this book for the postpartum period go way beyond such things, to the point that you can only imagine an A list celebrity or royalty even having the resources to find all the resources needed.
Unlike browsing on goop, where I go in with the expectation that I will simply chuckle at the $5,000 face roller made from arctic fox tears, intended to both restore my face to its 22 year-old glory and make me live forever, I went into this book hoping for real tools and real advice. Unfortunately I did not find those here. Two stars though, because perhaps someone else will :)
So what's not to love? Johnson blurs the line between evidence-based practice and new-age belief throughout the book. Weirdly, she HATES it when people mention this in reviews and publicly posts her discontent on Instagram asking her community (even after having more than 100 five star reviews that she has ACTIVELY solicited) to go and write more superlative five star reviews. She stands on the shoulders of giants, teaching some of the most leading edge trauma work out there (check out the End of Trauma podcast by Steve Hoskinson if you are into this), and yet it is clear how fragile her ego is, which is a big red flag for me. Students who take her classes seem divided into two camps: those who see her as an empowering savior leading the women's revolution (clearly her preference), and those who prefer to learn from someone who is better at demarcating where their expertise ends.
Be warned that taking her online classes is really a coin toss. There will be lots of information about her personal life, dating/sex life, and political diatribes that seem to take up more class time than they should when you are paying for that time. Johnson is warm and supportive when you are weak and needy, cold and defensive when you are questioning. She believes that students are receiving energetic transmissions from her and is perhaps less structured with her teaching because of it, she also uses the therapeutic concept of titration in her work which means she can lean on that concept to deliver less content. Pure oddities: she authoritatively mentions some dubious personal practices like wrestling with your child to reassert parental dominance. Not sure whether to grimace or LOL.
The bottom line is that Kimberly Johnson is brilliant at weaving ideas together, but in her hubris she leaves the reader with the idea that all of her beliefs are factual. (If you're trained in separating fact from fiction it will be easier to see this.) I enjoy many of her teachings but also maintain a healthy dose of skepticism about her work. I think the good outweighs the bad as far as the book is concerned, and I've actually given copies to new moms, but that's mostly because there is literally no other comprehensive postpartum book that currently exists. She brilliantly filled the niche, but don't put her on a pedestal.
Top reviews from other countries
I found the dietary section to be underwritten, and recipes based on expensive ingredients that aren't easy to come by, whilst also not being backed by a nutritionist or commenting on protein/carb/fat intake for optimum nutritional information. I just felt the book was not realistic and didn't offer a balanced view on recommended therapies and, if followed religiously, could actually cause harm rather than good. Really not for me.
This knowledge is everything we lack and desperately need in our current medicalised system and the saddest part of it all is that is the majority of women aren't even aware of that fact.
I would gift this book to any mother or mother to be and hope to one day give to my own daughter.
May be of use in later pregnancy or shortly after birth (if you have the time to read it!) perhaps a recommendation for the fathers/men to read to know how they can support new mums.