Fourth Trimester Podcast Episode 16: Fourth Trimester Traditions
Cultures around the world recognize and honor the precious first months a new mother has to heal after having a baby. Traditions include providing a new mother with food, warmth, a clean house, and emotional support. Basically, the idea is that new mom doesn’t have to do anything other than eat, feed her baby, sleep and recover.
However, in the United States, it is typical for a woman to feel she is expected to take care of herself, her baby, have a spotless house, entertain guests, and on and on, let alone take time to heal. Sadly, the notion of having help to make dinner, clean dishes and look after baby so mom can use the bathroom sounds like a luxury for many American women.
Curate your own fourth trimester traditions
In the absence of having a dedicated person around to help, here are some things you can do to help create a healthy and fulfilling fourth trimester experience:
- Be gentle with yourself. Disregard the preconceptions around having to look or act a certain way and allow yourself the care and self-love you need to heal
- Be mindful about connecting with your baby now and throughout their life. This is good for you and for your baby
- Ask friends, neighbors and family if they’d be willing to provide practical support to you in the form of coming over to help you for an hour here and there (not to be entertained and play with your baby). For example, someone can drop off a warm meal, spend an hour cleaning up, do a load of laundry. Let everyone know that you’ll be available to entertain guests and share baby time later after the initial recovery period is over
- Write down all the “to do” items on your list and relax knowing that you can do all of them later, after you’ve recovered
Learn by example
Lisa Chin had a fourth trimester experience rich with Chinese tradition. Her mother took a bus from New Jersey to Massachusetts to spend a month caring for her. Lisa shares her experiences with us in Episode 16, talking about culture differences, the relationship between mother care and lifelong health, and the effort she is making to help new parents create a better postpartum experience for themselves.
Regardless of your own cultural background, we encourage you to take what you want from examples, and to make your own traditions. Take care of yourself and know that you don’t have to do anything just because of an expectation. Feel free to pick and choose what you like from traditions and modern recommendations that align with your world view.
Lisa has created a collection of videos with specialists contributing their thoughts on fourth trimester health and well-being. Lisa is our guest on Episode 16 and we welcome you to find out more about her – links below.
“First and foremost is to take care of yourself and to be gentle with yourself“
— Lisa Chin
Sarah Trott: [00:00:05] My name is Sarah Trott. I’m a new mama to a baby girl and this podcast is all about postpartum care for the few months following birth, the time period also known as the Fourth Trimester. My postpartum doula, Esther Gallagher, is my co-host. She’s a mother, grandmother, perinatal educator, birth and postpartum care provider. I’ve benefited hugely from her support. All parents can benefit from the wisdom and support that a postpartum Doula provides. Fourth trimester care is about the practical, emotional and social support parents and baby require, and importantly, helps set the tone for the lifelong journey of parenting.
When I first became pregnant, I had never heard of postpartum Doulas, let alone knew what they did. So much of the training and preparation that expecting parents do is focused on the birth and newborn care. Once a baby is born, often the first interaction parents have with medical or child professionals, other than the first pediatrician visits, is the six-week checkup with the OB/GYN. What about caring for mama and family between the birth and the six week doctor visit? What are the strategies for taking care of the partner and the rest of the family while looking after your newborn?
Our podcasts contain expert interviews with specialists from many fields to cover topics including postpartum doula practices, prenatal care, prenatal and postnatal yoga, parenting, breastfeeding, physical recovery from birth, nutrition, newborn care, midwifery, negotiating family visitation, and many more.
First-hand experience is shared through lots of stories from both new and seasoned parents. Hear what other parents are asking and what they have done in their own lives.
We reference other podcasts, internet resources and real-life experts who can help you on your own parenting journey. Visit us at http://fourthtrimesterpodcast.com
Sarah Trott: [00:00:47] I’m here with my cohost Esther Gallagher and our special guest Lisa Chin. Lisa is a mama to a happy 2 year old girl. Motherhood has profoundly changed who she is and how she sees the world and definitely the mark she wants to leave as she seeks to live an inspired life of mothering, writing and pursuing what she calls to-be-creative, when she’s not wrangling spreadsheets or her toddler, She can be found writing her blog Lisa For Real which is LisaforReal.com and that is where she shares her thoughts with her audience on femininity, eureka moments and lessons in self-awareness.
Her latest project is The Fourth Trimester Summit and that’s actually how we know Lisa. She reached out to us because our podcast is Fourth Trimester Podcast. And although the names are namesake’s her summit and our podcast are not officially related although we support her 100 percent and what she’s doing. She’s interviewing over 40 experts and women in health and infant development and mental health and helping share the knowledge with many many new moms and dads and families out there. So thank you for helping us create an ideal postpartum experience for all of those people and welcome to our program Lisa.
Lisa Chin: [00:02:05] Thank you so much for having me.
Sarah Trott: [00:02:07] Lisa, what inspired you to create the Fourth Trimester Summit?
Lisa Chin: [00:02:11] So I’ve been on kind of a self development, self identity journey since early 2015. And so this is kind of a very roundabout way of– Well this is my story, I guess. It’s not as direct as, “oh I had this idea and I wanted to do it”, but I’ve been trying to understand who I am and what I want to do in this world. I have a background in business and entrepreneur… and I’ve always, since going to college I’ve been wanting to start a business and got into health coaching and holistic health and wellness and just have been dabbling in different things and so this year at my job, I actually run the Wellness Group there, and we had a Wellness Week.
And so during that time I had a eureka moment and wanted to create a business around workplace wellness. And I thought, “well what’s a great way of starting it? Like maybe I can seed it with some money from a summit and I can also make some contacts in the industry and that’d be really great. And this is like a great way to get started. So I mapped out the idea. I basically had a whole lineup of Wishlist speakers ready to go and I bought a course on how to create a summit. And yeah and so I was fully invested in this idea. And then. As I–during this time I kind of– I think I came to the realization that I wanted to live an inspired life.
And I and I kind of took a step back and I said, “Well is this project in line with that? Is this project something that inspires me? And would I do this project if I didn’t make a single dime from it?” And so once I asked myself that question and once I realized that it was a huge negative answer I knew that I couldn’t carry on with a summit on workplace wellness. And so I took a step back and I said, “OK well I’ve spent money on this course.
And I you know maybe I can recoup the money but at the very least I need to run a summit because I’ve purchased this course already. So what do I do now? What topic do I talk about? If I didn’t make a single dime off of this project because I know how much work– I’ve heard about how much work it takes– what would I you know what would I focus on? I immediately went to mothers and immediately then– once I realized it was about moms it immediately went into the postpartum period. Because I’m– you know my personality is I like to get the source of the issue so I– know with like business and strategy with my back and strategy I really try to get to the core of problems and then find a solution for them.
And I feel that with issues in the world today so much of it stems from just who we are as people and what we– what what’s lacking in our development and then the source of our development is pregnancy and postpartum. So it just–I really honed in on that period. And so that’s part of the reason. Another part of the reason is I personally had a very different fourth trimester than basically anyone else I know. And so I thought well I have a very particular view of like what’s helpful during that time. And I think that more people should know about it because then moms will be you know starting off motherhood on the right foot.
They’ll be starting off healthier and more confidently. And I do a ton of research, so during the past two years I’ve you know I’ve learned about various ways of disciplining and various ways of parenting and different things around health and wellness. And so all of that kind of came together and I thought, you know I really need to share this information and this would be a really great platform for me to do it. And it’s a topic I’m so passionate about. So it kind of made a lot of sense. And so that’s the really long story of how I came to this idea.
Sarah Trott: [00:06:18] I love it. I love the entire way that you came about it and what you’re doing. I mean you’ve gathered together I think something like 40 speakers for your summit.
Lisa Chin: [00:06:28] Yeah 43 speakers and then 44 including myself.
Sarah Trott: [00:06:31] Well one person we have on the list is of course Esther Gallagher. And I know Esther, what you covered, it looks like we’ve got Advocating for Yourself After Birth. So I think there’s a lot of cool stuff we can talk about there but Lisa, can you tell us what your postpartum experience was like?
Lisa Chin: [00:06:47] Sure. So I’m Chinese. I was born in the U.S. but my family is from China. And so there is this idea of confinement or the sitting-in period in Chinese culture and that means that for 30 days you basically don’t do anything– the mom doesn’t do anything aside from literally sitting like they the lying-in period; you’re lying down the whole time and you’re taking care of you know breastfeeding the baby, but everything else around you is taken care of by other people. Laundry, cooking, chores, taking care of other children possibly, all that stuff is– the mom does nothing aside from just eat, sleep and breastfeed and then you know go to the bathroom. But that’s really about it.
And so I didn’t really grow up with this idea. But I knew about it from my mom and as I have grown interested in holistic health and wellness, I knew that was something I wanted to incorporate into my postpartum because the thinking in Chinese culture is that you know the way that you treat yourself those first 30 days is really important because it will bring you back to a level of health and it’s in– Valerie Lynn says that during her session where she says, “you know it’s almost like surgery. You know you have major surgery and you had this very ideal optimal healing time healing period immediately after surgery: you’re not going to heal the same way a month later than you are the couple of weeks directly after.
And it’s the same with pregnancy and giving birth. You are not going to– if you rested and focused on your health and well-being during those first 30 days, it’s not the same as if I were now, two years postpartum, going to focus on healing myself postpartum for 30 days. And so that’s the thinking, that you heal yourself and then you kind of set yourself up for success as you go along you know taking care of everyone and kind of depleting yourself in many ways. But also, my mom says this, I don’t know how much–I mean I kind of believe it. But she says that a lot of ailments as you get older like arthritis or backaches or headaches can be linked to how well you are taken care of during your postpartum period during specifically those first 30 days. And so I believe that and kind of took it to heart.
And so I knew that I wanted to do something like that for my postpartum period. So the way that I announced my pregnancy to my mom was, “oh you need to take the month of May off because I’m having a baby. So you need to come back here and take care of me.” She did it. Oh she was totally on board. You know she was working. She she was taking care of an older elderly woman at that point. But they were Chinese so they kind of understood the whole deal. And so during my postpartum period and I had had my daughter I came home. It was May. So it wasn’t super cold outside but there’s you know you’re basically you’re not doing anything. So I didn’t go outside unless I had to go for appointments.
I didn’t bathe for 30 days because there is a whole idea of like you don’t want to introduce cold elements to your body and so when you take a bath your maybe taking a warm bath then afterwards you are getting cold. And so there’s that element of like coldness and wind. So like if you were washing your hair and you were blow drying it. That’s a wind element. So I didn’t do that. I ate a lot of healing heating foods. A lot of Ginger, a lot of like ginger soups and and like ginger in my chicken, so a lot of protein, a lot of bone broths.
And that was really– I think I didn’t really do that much else. But it was really just relaxing and you know spending time with my mom, I think which was healing in its own ways and being able to be taken care of because you know after she left, she stayed for an extra week but after she left it was just me and my daughters. So you know I think a lot of people in the U.S. live that way right we’re in very nuclear families and so mom is often with baby alone and it’s hard to you know go to the bathroom much less like cook a whole meal and take care of the whole household.
And I can’t even imagine it. You know those first couple of weeks postpartum and then you have a c section on top of it– it’s just madness that we expect women to do that.
Esther Gallagher: [00:11:22] My tai chi teacher who’s a gay man from Thailand said to me, “Oh of course you know, 40 days for 40 years” meaning you know, your health and vitality 40 years later will be affected by your health during that postpartum period– how well you’re cared for. So even gay men know that you need special treatment, special care, special food, special circumstances. Yeah.
Sarah Trott: [00:12:11] It seems like such a luxury I think, as a concept, right? This idea that someone else is making sure your kitchen and your bathroom is clean and someone is feeding, you someone is helping you take care of your baby maybe teaching you how to breastfeed or teaching you how to do certain things like change the baby- anything, you name it– helping lay the baby down or hold the baby while you’re going to the bathroom.
And also someone who’s there to kind of be a listener and be an emotional support like all those things together wrapped into one is such an amazing and almost necessary thing for women like it sounds like on the fact of it, to me it sounds like luxurious because it’s so rare that women have that support.
Lisa Chin: [00:13:01] And I want to say that because we have been kind of trained to think that way in the West because if you look at you know Eastern cultures or a lot of traditional cultures like in South America or Southeast Asia that’s an expectation. It’s integrated like that tai chi teacher– it’s integrated into the culture so much that men respect it and they know that it’s important for women to have that time period because they know what it means to– that when a woman isn’t taken care of and the repercussions of that.
But in our society– and I’m going to go on a little rant here– but in our society we don’t have that. We’re expected to jump back into work. We’re expected for our children to adjust quickly which is you know really unrealistic for a baby that really should be in utero for you know three additional months. And we’ve been basically in our culture just– we created our own expectations of what that period should be like. But I would say that that luxury is because that’s not normal in our culture.
Esther Gallagher: [00:14:11] Well I think you know when you’re primarily a capitalist society and everybody has to earn a living you know based on money then those who are going to actually acquire the money at the top are going to send messages about how you comport yourself and how much time you get to have.
So this isn’t anything new to capitalist cultures but we are sort of the pinnacle example. And so it has devolved down you know. And if those of us who are putatively middle class can make this comparison imagine what it’s like for poor women in this culture who not only may not have family around but you know the amount of money they’re going to actually bring home is both critical and insufficient. Right. It’s not going to nurture them or nourish them.
So yeah it’s a problem. I go on these rants myself on a daily basis, Lisa– you know already that I’m right there with you.
Sarah Trott: [00:15:28] Does this sort of lead into that concept of the supermom that you’ve talked about?
Lisa Chin: [00:15:34] The supermom is it a little bit of that. I mean the I don’t even know where the term– I mean the term’s out there right. But personally I don’t know when I started adopting that term. I created a Facebook group called the supermom village. And that was two years ago, way before the summit even was an idea or anything.
But I don’t know I kind of got tired of moms–you know these expectations that are placed on us. And how unrealistic they are and how harming they are to women. And I thought you know everyone’s a supermom. You know every single woman who whatever they’re doing they’re doing the best they can with the knowledge and resources that they have. And there is no one who is not amazing. No matter if you are living in a mansion or if you are you know taking care of a baby in a foster you know if you had to give up your baby for foster care or something like that.
That doesn’t matter. You know we are all doing the best we can and we need to recognize that. And I have very specific views of what is good and what is not and what’s not good and what parenting practices are good and what aren’t. But the same time, I don’t believe that I have the right to judge another mom on her choices. And so, as much as I have very specific views and I have put them forward in the summit by contacting people that I align with, it doesn’t mean that I want to shame or blame other other parents because they are making their choices based on the information and the resources that they have.
And so I created that community online to really kind of foster that type of philosophy. And it was very unintentional it was very much like, “oh I have a group and if you want to join it let’s just hang out. And it ended up being you know a lot of the people in the beginning were like high school and college friends who weren’t really friends before. But I would consider them now friends because we kind of come together and we are very accepting of practices and we don’t– there’s no finger pointing, there’s no, “oh I wouldn’t do it this way.”
It is complete empathy and sympathy and understanding of what the parent is going through and helping as much as you can. And so you know it’s different. It’s very you know kind of like a generic group in a sense because it’s not like oh we’re attachment parenting or we’re natural parenting or we’re any other kind of parenting. It’s really we are all moms and we’re all pretty awesome and we’re all coming together to support each other.
And so that’s the type of community I think we need to foster more physically in our world. That’s what I created online and I integrated that philosophy into my stomach because it is something I feel very strongly about. So while I am sharing these points of views and these speakers have their specific points of views and their practices. I do overarchingly believe that we need to adopt more of an accepting attitude towards other moms. And so in my workbook for the summit I put in my manifesto which includes a lot of it’s about respect and empathy for other moms and for ourselves.
Esther Gallagher: [00:19:14] Love it. Lisa I don’t know if you remember but my daughter was born when I was 18. I was pregnant during high school and the end of high school and you know all of my college prep friends went off to college and that was it for me. Like those friendships disappeared and I turned myself in a very different direction. Initially of course.
And and you know this is 37 years ago I had to endure comments for the rest of my life by people who might not know. I mean, many’s the time when a client will say, or care provider, a healthcare provider will make a comment about teenage moms or something of that nature. And I have to say well, actually I’m one of those moms you’re talking about you know. Do you want to talk more about your assumptions about the kind of parent you think I was. Because I gave birth at 18 instead of 30? Most of the time people don’t actually want to talk about that.
They want to just have a preconceived idea that if you give birth at a certain age or in a certain neighborhood or at a certain income level that you’re not optimizing your experience. And I have to say being poor gave me the opportunity to be at home with my daughter, in a way. You know, back before Reaganomics, we had a system that allowed me to spend three years before having to go to work or college. And then it let me go to college, as a young mother, which is pretty great when I compare it to what most people are looking at these days.
Yeah but I really have to say how much I love and appreciate you for taking that on in the social media era because it’s pretty lonely out there for a while I think. No there wasn’t. There weren’t necessarily ways for moms to have an extended connection the way you’ve offered this. Appreciate it.
Lisa Chin: [00:22:05] Thank you. And I do think that every era has their challenges, so in our social media era, there is so much of people forgetting that there’s a person on the other side. So those statements that you’ve heard about teenage moms those are you know echoed far and wide I’m sure, online.
I haven’t seen any personally myself. But we forget that there’s someone else on the other end reading it. It’s the same with all of this information on parenting and for moms, we forget we forget that we– you know two years postpartum I don’t remember exactly how it was to be a new mom and I can easily go off and be like oh you should be doing this and like you’re doing it completely wrong. But we all need to kind of reconnect and understand that we need to be a little more gentle on everyone else. And part of the reason I feel that we have some of this issue in our culture is because in our childhood we didn’t have those moments of connection. And so as adults we are disconnected.
So that’s why I feel the postpartum period, is like the core of so many things. And so that’s just I mean it’s a very– I don’t want to stereotype people or put anyone in a box or anything like that. But if you lack that connection psychologically you lack the connection when you’re a baby you’re going to grow up and be like more disconnected. And that leads to just angrier people and more disconnected world. And so how can we solve it? It’s supporting moms and enabling them to nurture their kids so that we have more emotionally stable people in this world.
Esther Gallagher: [00:23:54] Yeah I use the term resourced. You know: having a sense that there is a resource underneath us where we can connect to. So yeah I like that feeling of connectedness and I guess that leads me to your question which is do you have any ideas for mamas who may not necessarily have the economic or familial resource that you or I might, as Sarah pointed to, you know luxuriate in. What would you want to offer a pregnant women who might live somewhere where the resources are pretty thin.
Lisa Chin: [00:25:01] So it’s not about things. I mean there’s so much emphasis on stuff right. In this capitalist society there’s so much emphasis on like things you need to have and in reality the thing I hear echoed through and through almost every single interview is to be gentle with yourself.
So first and foremost is to just chill out a little bit and take care of yourself and not care too much about whether the dishes are clean or the floors swept. I mean as I’m speaking right now my floor is a big mess. I can’t have people over but it’s ok because I have prioritized other things right. So that’s first and foremost is to take care of yourself and to be gentle with yourself and not to expect other people to do it but to really prioritize it and you know we have had fights over this unswept floors or the you know the kitchen that’s not clean or whatever it may be.
But you know my husband and I– it’s important we take care of ourselves and we have our time. So we we know that. And so that’s first and foremost. Secondly is to really try to be in the moment as possible with your baby– so that it can be tough. If you have a colicky baby or if you’re sleep deprived and not sleeping well but that connection is going to serve you in so many ways, especially if you’re a working mom. Finding any opportunity you can to be with your child, like I co-sleep.
I think it’s a great way of connecting when you’re away from them all day. But just find any opportunity to just be as empathetic with your child as possible because that will really strengthen your relationship and that will serve you just forever. So as they get older you know that relationship that you have– I don’t fully believe in the terrible twos or the threes or whatever or having a terrible teenager. All that stuff I believe is stemmed from our culture and our upbringing.
And so if we can manage what we can in that fashion between those two factors you know I believe that we can have really great relationships with our kids forever. You know there will be some bumps in the road as we’re all you know trying to be independent and whatever. But Tracy Cassel said in her interview she said, “You know if you look around you know you have a lot of elderly people in nursing homes and they’re kind of like abandoned by their kids.
And so part of it is cultural and whatnot. But like maybe some of it is related to the lack of connection that was established in those first years with their children. And so you know you treat your child how you would like to be treated– if you want your diapers to be changed when you’re like old, change their diapers and take care of them.
And so I just believe there’s so much value and doesn’t take anything, aside from time which is a resource that a lot of us have very limited amounts of with our children but with the time that you do have with your children make it the best possible and then be gentle with yourself when you get frustrated. And I think between those two you can really make a difference.
Sarah Trott: [00:28:30] Something both of you have touched on is just this idea of expectations you know and whether it’s like the postpartum period of like just you know having to bounce back. And we’ve talked about this on other Fourth Trimester episodes as well. But it’s so true.
Expectations like the phrase Super Mom like when you think of supermom as like the woman with a cape and like she’s got a job and she’s got five kids and everything’s clean and everyone’s happy it’s like that’s how? So like this idea of supermom is like packed with expectations and how that sort of flies in the face of this notion of like the first 30 days or the first 40 days where you’re just like at home and actually you know like none of that super mom kind of stuff applies of course unless you’re using your definition Lisa which is like every mom who’s trying is a super mom like just being accepting of oneself as super mom.
But I like what you’re saying and I like I guess — Be gentle with yourself because I think that that speaks to maybe questioning those expectations and saying, “hmmm, something inside of me is telling me and I don’t know why but I shouldn’t be resting, I should be using this 20 minutes while my I know my baby’s going to sleep to clean my house. But like maybe the be gentle is you know, “I’m tired. I’m going to use this time to sleep and relax because I need to.”
Esther Gallagher: [00:30:02] Well, checking. I think a strategy for being gentle with yourself that maybe holds it a little more is actually checking inward with yourself. Right. Like ok, I see I see the messy floor, I see the dishes stacking up. In this very moment, now that the baby’s asleep.
How do I feel? You know, am I tired? Yeah. Am I tired. If I lay down would I be able to at least read my novel for 15 minutes and relax and just breathe into my body and take a moment to be restorative rather than get something done you know. And then once I’ve rested a little bit can I lie here and think about you know is it true, taking a page out of you know Byron Katie, is it true that there’s no one to come over to do these dishes, that there’s no one to come over and have a little social visit, but while we’re doing it sweep this floor and clean that bathroom together.
You know when my energy’s up for that. So you know I don’t think that– I love– I really want, always want to reinforce the idea of what they call strategic abandonment. Right. You make your to-do list and then you look at it and go how many these things can I just abandon for the time being so that whatever’s leftover is actually a rich experience and nourishing rather than depleting.
Lisa Chin: [00:32:03] I really do love that actually because you have so many to-dos on your list. And even as a postpartum mom you know, host your family members, you know make sure everything’s done around the house so when they come over it’s clean and you know obviously you’re taking care of baby and taking care of your husband and then you know who knows, returning back to work and maybe you’re even answering e-mails between that time.
What can you strip away so that you really have this really rich experience. And what can you add in that can add to it. And you know when you were talking I remembered how you shared during your one of your postpartum periods, You and your friend kind of did an exchange so you took care of her when she was postpartum and then she took care of you. And I think that’s just such a fantastic way of approaching it because– on so many levels, you know you get the support of somebody right for sure who knows what you’re going through or who can be very empathetic of you and they won’t judge you for wanting or sleep if they’re over and they’re cleaning.
But also it helps you create that network that is so valuable for you as you continue on into motherhood. Beyond that postpartum period and you have someone there who will support you not just to clean your dishes when you’re you know three weeks after but when your kids are three years old and you need some help. And that will foster more community which I think is so important and I think is really lacking for moms because of how time-crunched we are, how stressed out we are. And we just don’t feel like it’s a priority on our to-do list to make those connections. But you know having that kind of strategic addition to your To-Do list of having a friend over who can take care of you. I think that serves us in so many different ways,.
Esther Gallagher: [00:34:03] And potentially serves the friend right. I mean I think we all– most of us aren’t going to be happy in life if we can’t do gratifying work even if it’s volunteer, especially when it’s volunteer. You know we want to feel like what we do is meaningful and when it helps somebody have some ease in life that’s a meaningful endeavor. So you know I mean I was raised– there was a long line of parenting that said, “don’t impose”, like teach your kids early and often not to impose. And while I understand the basis for that.
It’s kind of like Benjamin Franklin’s, “neither a borrower nor a lender be.” And there’s some real practicality in that. But once again that is not a philosophy that inspires community you know. You know community’s built on a kind of trust that I can help you out and you can help me out in the positive sense for the good of our kids. We don’t just do ourselves a favor when we reach out for support.
Lisa Chin: [00:35:44] So true.
Sarah Trott: [00:35:47] Yeah, it feels great when you know someone knocks on the door and says, “here’s a warm meal” and I think maybe sometimes being a recipient you know actually how much someone appreciates it because then it will make it easier to open up the door and do that for someone else.
Because you know that they are like, they’re tired and maybe they don’t even say thank you because they’re just exhausted. Like “oh great, wonderful” and I’ll see you later.” or something you know just like you know how much they love it and need that. And it’s really great. And I love your examples too. Thanks for bringing that up because like so say you’re someone who doesn’t have resources to like pay for someone to come and provide that support. And maybe you don’t have as much time off as you wanted in your postpartum period.
But you want to make the most of it so you’re being gentle with yourself and you’re kind of questioning some of those expectations and you know focusing on connecting with the baby. But yeah. Like working ahead of time like I’m thinking like how would I do this again in the absence of my postpartum doula. Maybe I would reach out to my neighbors and let them know. Like I don’t have a mom I can call and say take the month of May off. That’s awesome.
I could probably do something like that with all of my friends who I think are a little bit nurturing and maybe my neighbors as well. Someone on a previous episode was talking about asking a friend like assign a friend to do a meal-wheel for you. It’s hard to do it yourself like it’s that imposing thing.
It’s a societal awkwardness but if someone else says, “Oh hey like can we get everyone to sign up on this thing for our friend who’s about to have a baby.” Like most people will do it– like they won’t think twice about like bringing a meal once but like a meal-wheel is a great thing to do. Contacting a local Facebook moms group or maybe a church. I don’t know. Like there’s tons of community stuff maybe to tap into and just say hey this is a month I’m going to need help. Or like a friend. That’s such a neat idea. Like do a swap.
Esther Gallagher: [00:37:58] Right. And the other thing is that often you know the end of pregnancy to-do list is overwhelming. And so, letting other people do things on your to-do list in preparation to receive the gifts of postpartum, so to speak, is a good way to practice. I’m not going to spend eight hours, potentially indefinite amounts of time, figuring out how my friends are going to feed me. I’m going to let somebody else figure that out now and hope that I get fed and you will get fed. Yeah.
Sarah Trott: [00:38:48] Lisa did your mom when she was looking after you, did she leave things in your freezer like you mentioned bone broth.
Lisa Chin: [00:38:54] Yes she left a bunch of– I still have some like pickled eggs in my fridge. And I haven’t cleaned them out in two years
Esther Gallagher: [00:39:03] Would they still be good?
Lisa Chin: [00:39:05] Yeah they’re still good. I should probably break them out at some point. But she did leave some– not so much food but like soups. Every time she comes like even now she makes a ton of soup for me because in Cantonese culture, we’re in southern China, are really big into soups. So I grew up like just drinking bone broth all the time so like we had– there was a bunch of that and then like she you know we prepped all the chicken and the pork bones for me for next time to make. And then we had like the special like pickled egg stuff.
And that was really it. You know the food– you know she’s really into like fresh foods so I never really grew up with frozen foods but I think it’s a really good option as well if you can get people you know to kind of, even beforehand, I know that a lot of the couple of speakers you know they’ve recommended prepping beforehand even just yourself. If you make food just make extra when you’re pregnant, just throw it in the freezer and you’ll have more food for you. But. Not so much on my end. We were kind of not. And also my husband is like really picky and doesn’t really eat leftovers so we don’t eat that much frozen food.
Sarah Trott: [00:40:25] Yeah. Yeah. There’s a book actually called, The First 40 Days that I’ve become a big fan of. And they talk about some of that about like maybe preparing for postpartum in the kitchen a little bit by having certain kinds of things in your cupboards and because you said bone broth and that was like one of the things they mentioned, actually you can make a big batch and put it in like little containers in the freezer because it’s an easy base– you can either have it by itself or you can turn it into a soup or you know like do numerous things with it and it’s very warming and healthy and I’m sure it’s possible to make a vegetarian option like a really good broth that’s packed with protein.
I really like that idea and it helps nurture yourself like even if no one is making you dinner, it’s like, “oh well my past-self made my dinner.” Have there been things– I mean you’re an experienced mom now. I like listening to all of your roster of speakers. Are there things that some people have said that like kind of surprised you, where you just thought, “Oh yeah, right on. I haven’t thought of it that way”.
Lisa Chin: [00:41:46] Yeah. There’s things that I just, that haven’t directly impacted me. So there’s a lot of stuff that I learned around postpartum mood disorders. How there’s six different kinds. How one in seven women, possibly one in five women have some sort of postpartum mood disorder, clinical or otherwise. Well actually otherwise a lot of people just say every Mom does.
But there’s that and then you know we had Katie Ward speak about circumcision and I had a girl so I never really thought about that. So I learned a lot through her session and then a lot about you know birth trauma. And trauma in general. And I’m very lucky that that wasn’t something I experienced. But I learned so much about that too. And one of the speakers, Tony Madrid, he was by far the most fascinating session in the summit and he is a clinical psychologist in California and he’s doing this.
He found a connection between trauma of the mom when the baby is in utero or at birth. And that being connected to a development of asthma in the child. So fascinating. Yes. So basically he was treating a client for different issues, but she also had asthma and then her mom shared the story about how you know I think they were separated at birth and then she came back and saw the baby and was like, “I’m not really sure this is my baby”. And just really did not have this connection with this baby. And so he said, “you know let’s just do a little work on your birth trauma” and he did hypnotherapy. Maybe he was like you know 15-20 minutes.
I mean the woman’s daughter was outside waiting I think so he just worked on her really briefly and then really thought nothing of it. And then the woman came back you know with her child maybe a couple weeks later and said oh you know this is what’s going on with her. Oh yeah and you know what her asthma is gone. You know a couple days after that session with you I missed my daughter for the first time. And you know I shared this story to a lot of people cuz I find it so fascinating but so many people are like How do you not miss your child? I mean that’s like unfathomable to them.
But imagine being this mom who has such a disconnection with their child, through trauma that they don’t even feel that way which is just mind blowing to me. And so when I heard this story I just was like I need to talk to him and I need to feature him because it just shows how important it is for us to take care of moms. Because there’s so many repercussions that we are just scratching the surface on. And he made this connection and I believe that a thousand other things can be related to trauma and traumatic experience and emotional– you know it could be something like even just losing your job or your husband losing your job and just being like really preoccupied emotionally and mentally with something else aside from your child and not developing that connection with them or the death of a family member. So you know you’re taking care of other things and you don’t have that time to really bond with your baby when they’re in utero.
And so yeah that was just the most amazing thing because I’m a huge believer in the experience that our children have in-utero completely shapes them as people. I mean you know it’s a bunch of different things that shape them right. But I believe that there is a lot of like core aspects of our children that are shaped by how we are in-utero and I learned this. I made a connection of this when I was taking my health coaching program and it was one of the last weekends I was at the program and I was working with a partner and they’re like you know let’s talk about our– where we came from and all of that and like let’s talk about your mom’s pregnancy with you.
And I knew a couple of things about it but you know I thought about my mom’s pregnancy with me when she was working in a factory and she was in the U.S. and her pregnancy with my brother who is in China and she was kind of like you know on a farm it wasn’t like you know like in a factory and I just thought of my personality versus like brothers person. And it’s a drastic difference. He’s a super mellow and easygoing and just like the nicest person and I’m like Type A and just really need to get things going and done and like in order and then to go for it and so that I really just has made me think a lot about it and there’s other things too wrapped up in that.
But I do believe that and so when I heard Tony Madrid’s story one of the other speakers she introduced me to him and I just said I need this out there. People need to know that scientifically this connection has been made. He did a research study in at NYU where 80 percent of asthma cases were resolved through his very very simple like hypnotherapy sessions.
Esther Gallagher: [00:47:08] I’ll comment on it Lisa. In this way: early on in my career as a postpartum doula I was working with moms who both– Who often would have had loss during previous pregnancies and/or would be– knew that they would be going back to work six weeks postpartum, as an example. Right. So they knew that they would be leaving their babies soon.
And what I saw again and again were moms who weren’t necessarily expressing it, although many did, but one way or the other were expressing difficulty with really holding this baby– really taking this baby who’d made it through the pregnancy, been born to them, was in their arms. And moms would say, you know “I just can’t believe that I have this baby. I can’t believe it.” And not just oh my gosh this is so great. It was, “I’m not connecting up with this as a reality in my life.”
Esther Gallagher: [00:48:40] And so in some cases what– I mean because I knew their story I could say to them– we could have a discussion about it. Are you afraid? Like, is fear blocking your relationship to this child or you are afraid that you’re going to lose this child? You know and often the answer was yeah, you know I lost three other babies before they were ever in my arms and so it doesn’t make sense. Which is sort of strange to say but it doesn’t make sense that now I actually do have a real live baby in my arms and in my life something in me isn’t getting past that loss and the grief right. They’re anticipating grieving, yet again, their child.
And so that’s very complex. You know it takes a real intervention to kind of come through that and really connect. But then there was the anticipatory grief that was blocking connection, which was, “Well I have you in my arms now and I’m going to have to leave you. I’m going to leave you. I’m going to lose you to all those hours that I have to be at work. And so you know in anticipation of that they were grieving. They might not be grieving out loud but it was weighing heavily on them.
And so you know this is a phenomenon and it’s not one that we talk about much but I see it. I see it often. I see it in partners, you know who are going back to work. It’s like, “I can’t get too involved in this because I’m going to have to leave and it’s going to hurt too much.” right. This is not verbalized but this is the reality for people.
Lisa Chin: [00:50:48] So I hadn’t even heard of this. But like recently, one of my family members– they kind of came up to me and said, “You know I think my daughter is like not– she’s like in this anticipatory grief period. And so she’s not connecting as much to her daughter and she could tell as a grandmother. But in your experience do the moms or the partners realize that or are they–Or can you tell as a third party?
Esther Gallagher: [00:51:17] I think I pick up on it and it’s not always something that I’m going to be allowed to have a deep discussion with just so just to say it outright like. But often I can –If I don’t have the opportunity to sit with families and just say how are you doing and what’s it feel like right now knowing that you’re going to be heading back to work? And you know just to have a conversation at the feelings level and maybe then revisit it once they have gone back to work.
To me that’s the process that a postpartum doula might, if she’s lucky, engage the family with so that it comes to the surface and something they’re talking about. Because it’s so relieving to be able to come home from work and say, “I missed you guys all day today”. You know instead of like, “OK I can’t have feelings about going back to work and missing my family. You know I missed you and and I’m so happy I’m home and I’m going to really be glad to really enfold you and experience you for the hours that I am at home.”
Say you know, instead of say, “OK I’m home but I’m not going to engage because then I just have to disengage again and that just hurts too much” you know. I mean that’s kind of a lightweight example but you get my drift. And I’m not allowed into these–you know I may brook these conversations on occasion but I’m not always allowed in. And that’s just how it is you know and it’s OK with me.
Lisa Chin: [00:53:02] But sad sometimes.
Sarah Trott: [00:53:09] Well on a final note then maybe we can make it a slightly happier note. More about this and many many other hugely insightful topics. All available at the Fourth Trimester Summit.com and Lisa, they’re available for free now so people would join now. But but I mean they’ll be available for ever on that site, Is that correct?
Lisa Chin: [00:53:33] They are available for a limited time until basically the 20th of November and then they are available if you upgrade into the supermom bundle which is where all the audio recordings of the videos sessions are– sorry the video sessions and the audio version of the video sessions and then some bonuses from the speakers. I do plan on making a couple of them kind of available for those who sign up for the e-mail list.
That probably won’t take into effect until maybe December or January when I have time to kind of digest everything and figure out which videos I want to make available. But the information is there. You know there’s we have the Fourth Trimester supermoms group on Facebook so if there were certain topics that were interesting you could kind of see the insight from people there. If you had any questions, you’re welcome to e-mail me at Lisaforreal.com.
And you know if there were certain speakers that you were interested in we can certainly figure out if I can grant access or figure out–I’m not really sure what my post summit strategy is at this point. But if there are specific questions you know you can certainly just contact me and we can figure something out or I can direct you to even just the speaker’s website or articles that have been helpful so I’m happy to help in any way I can.
Sarah Trott: [00:55:01] Well fantastic. I’m sure there are many many new parents and families out there benefiting and we wish you well in the rest of the Summit and beyond and thank you so much again for being a guest on our show.
Lisa Chin: [00:55:12] Thank you for having me.
Sarah Trott: You can find out more about Esther Gallagher on http://www.esthergallagher.com/. You can also subscribe to this podcast in order to hear more from us. Click here for iTunes and click here for Google Podcasts. Thank you for listening everyone and I hope you’ll join us next time on the Fourth Trimester. The theme music on this podcast was created by Sean Trott. Hear more at https://soundcloud.com/seantrott. Special thanks to my true loves: my husband Ben, daughter Penelope, and baby girl Evelyn. Don’t forget to share the Fourth Trimester Podcast with any new and expecting parents. I’m Sarah Trott. Goodbye for now.