The Fourth Trimester

The Fourth Trimester - the first forty days after giving birth is a powerful time. It is a raw, stripping, heart opening time of vulnerability when the body of the mother requires deep care and tenderness in its process of recovery. It is an irretrievable time of bonding with a new and precious being which in its health requires softness, deep love and ferocity.

It is also a time where deep unearthing takes place. An unearthing of body memory and memory of how we as mothers experienced our own entry into the world.

This period of time is a re-birthing. The mother is either becoming a mother for the first time or re-birthing a new phase in motherhood.

How a woman is held in this transition is significant. How the body is nurtured, how her soul is tended, how her heart can express are all significant elements of tending to this passage.

Learning to listen in, to listen to our tissues, to our instincts, to our animal knowing is one way of tending to this time with care.

Women's Body Issues with Susie Orbach.

Hadley Freeman undertakes a short interview Susie Orbach (author of fat is a feminist issue) on women's body issues and on her new book 'Bodies'.  Their conversation raises the following ideas;

- How do we deal with the extreme - where an eating disorder is not volitional at all where it risks survival.

- Has low grade distressed eating become a mantra for most women? - What role does the media play? 

- What makes people in the west attracted to extremes?



Go forth and tell your birth stories..

“Stories teach us in ways we can remember. They teach us that each woman responds to birth in her unique way and how very wide-ranging that way can be. Sometimes they teach us about silly practices once widely held that were finally discarded. They teach us the occasional difference between accepted medical knowledge and the real bodily experiences that women have – including those that are never reported in medical textbooks nor admitted as possibilities in the medical world. They also demonstrate the mind/body connection in a way that medical studies cannot. Birth stories told by women who were active participants in giving birth often express a good deal of practical wisdom, inspiration, and information for other women. Positive stories shared by women who have had wonderful childbirth experiences are an irreplaceable way to transmit knowledge of a woman’s true capacities in pregnancy and birth.”

-Ina May Gaskin in Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth (2003)

The Legacy of Trauma

Craniosacral Therapy is gentle hands on work assisting freedom from the physical holding patterns that the physical and emotional body mind present with.  Craniosacral Therapy helps to identify these patterns and by observing and listening to them supports the body to begin a process of change.

We are starting to understand more about how previous trauma's impact the physical body.  Rachel Yehuda - professor of psychiatry and neuroscience along with a team carried out a research study at the Mount Sinai hospital in New York into how environmental factors effect the genes of the next generation; specifically trauma.  Transmission of trauma to a child via 'epigenetic inheritance' - is the idea that external and environmental influences can effect the genes of your children and possibly even grandchildren.

Rachel Yehuda's work around trauma experience during pregnancy feels relevant to share:

'What were the effects you observed in the children of World Trade Center survivors?

Women who were in the second or third trimester gave birth to babies that had low cortisol if that mother had PTSD. And if the mothers had PTSD, but they were in their first trimester, we didn’t see the low cortisol effect. So, from this we learned that there must be some kind of an in-utero influence that interacts with the biology of PTSD, and a different result occurs. We also learned that mothers who were pregnant and in the World Trade Center towers on 9/11 gave birth to babies that were smaller for their gestational age. So, there are all sorts of effects in utero that can have big effects on offspring. So, we now have a language, we now have a methodology, and we can begin the task of unpacking this.'

This is taken from an excerpt of a response given by Rachel Yehuda whilst being interviewed by David Samuals - Tablet Magazine's literary Editor (2014)

For a more thorough overview read a detailed and enlightening interview with Rachel Yehuda here.  Or read further articles about her work on epigenetics:

Raising consciousness about what we pass on to our babies

'Filmmaker Penelope Jagessar Chaffer was curious about the chemicals she was exposed to while pregnant: Could they affect her unborn child? So she asked scientist Tyrone Hayes to brief her on one he studied closely: atrazine, a herbicide used on corn. (Hayes, an expert on amphibians, is a critic of atrazine, which displays a disturbing effect on frog development.) Onstage together at TEDWomen, Hayes and Chaffer tell their story.'

An interesting watch for all of us supporting the women around us and in our direct lives during their pregnancies.

'The Toxic Baby'  - by Tyrone Haynes and Penelope Jagessar

What do we learn before we are born?

'Pop quiz: When does learning begin? Answer: Before we are born. Science writer Annie Murphy Paul talks through new research that shows how much we learn in the womb — from the lilt of our native language to our soon-to-be-favorite foods.'

An enlightening talk by a scientist exploring what we learn before birth and quite the impact this has on how as a society we can contribute to the development of our next generation.

'What we learn before we are born' - Annie Murphy Paul