The 4th Trimester: A Year in Review Part 1

A detailed look at birthing and living through one of our thematics

Postpartum – the “P” word that is often not spoken about but every mother experiences it. Until very recently, some people will say it can be seen as the forgotten trimester – otherwise known as the Fourth Trimester. It’s been a year since I embarked on my postpartum journey (when is postpartum truly over, anyway? asking for a friend) and since then I did a lot of reflecting on what that period meant for me and how the cultural narrative has shifted surrounding this topic. When I found out I was pregnant, I thought about how I could make this journey as enjoyable as possible. A lot of my friends that had been pregnant/had babies or were currently pregnant gave me all the tips and tricks to get through those 9 months of uncertainty. As I did my own research, I thought about the cultural shifts that have been happening over the past few years. I knew that prenatal care was emphasized by friends, family and most importantly, your doctor. Your health comes first because your health is a direct representation of your baby’s health in pretty much all the ways. What I came to find out is that prenatal care and the birth of the child is the most tended to and most talked about subject during the pregnancy phase. But what happens after you give birth? And not just for the baby but what about the person who birthed them?

I can tell you exactly what happens – a baby has check-ups for days, weeks and then months following their cute little booty’s intro to this new world. And the mothers? From experience I can inform you that there’s one postpartum appointment scheduled at your OB and then it’s up to you to figure out if what you’re feeling is postpartum depression/anxiety (PPD or PPA), just the hormonal swing of the day, or in my case – having a baby during a pandemic which you can read more about in my interview with the Washington Post here. Then you’re on your own to seek out the additional mental health checks you need to get you through that fourth trimester (and potentially beyond). Which is just crazy knowing 1 in 8 women experience symptoms of PPD. This pandemic timeframe alone has seen an increase in PPD and PPA due to holding off care, not having the usual support system surrounding them, and being worried about the baby’s health as well as their own. This quickly became fascinating yet alarming to me.

The 4th Trimester: A Year in Review Part 1

At Listen, we take time as a squad to unpack themes or trends that we want to focus on for the year. Everyone picks a thematic and dives in, illustrating to everyone else in the room what that thematic means for the world of VC but most importantly, people. We also spend time talking about truths: culture, consumer, and brand truths. These truths help us reveal moments of tension that can unlock reasons for a brand to exist. While pregnant and over the past year, I’ve spent time looking at the 4th trimester wellness thematic. What brands were out there? What did they have in common? How did they differentiate themselves from each other? Let me tell you – there’s a lot to talk about, more than I’ll have time to dive into here but I had some time to unpack this more with some special guests on our podcast episode, “Don’t Make Me Laugh or I’ll Pee.” The biggest thing I’ve learned is that there’s been a slow but mighty cultural shift. What’s that shift? Glad you asked.

The 4th Trimester: A Year in Review Part 1

With the fourth trimester – there was a cultural truth that presented itself: What some people don’t realize is that with every first newborn comes a new mom. Two people are born that day. And when the time finally came – I saw just how much care and attention we needed because as a mother, I was also newly-born. But it’s hard for a mother to slow down and take care of herself. That didn’t become relevant to me until I popped out my 7.11 lb little mush ❤️.

And then came the shift: people are seeing that momcare is just as important as childcare. Seems obvious, right? Wrong. A lot of times, we miss the mark, especially in the United States. Now there are many things impacting this and a lot of it has to do with policies and healthcare as a whole. For example, US is the only country without required paid maternity, paternity or parental leave. This truth pill is a hard one to swallow. I’m very lucky that my maternity leave was very generous and it’s not lost on me that many people out there don’t get the necessary time to heal and take care of themselves let alone nourish their relationship with their newborn.

We had the opportunity to interview some moms that were either going through or had just experienced the fourth trimester. Something that kept coming up was the tension between what society felt a mother needed to do or sacrifice and the need to feel like yourself and care for yourself. There can be ways to provide comfort and permission for self care during such a vulnerable time. I believe that’s where brand comes in.

The interviews made me think that if we believe that a happy mom = a happy baby then shouldn’t brands in this category exist to make life’s most precious moments easier? … Did I just hand out a purpose statement? #Freeideas. What I can’t emphasize enough is the need for more fourth trimester wellness awareness. The identity shift into motherhood can be difficult to navigate so momcare is important and us moms can’t do it alone. So if there’s a brand out there focusing on just that, we are all ears. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to telling you about the journey I took in search of pregnancy and postpartum brands to help me feel prepared in part 2 of this adventure… coming soon…

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