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Doula Laura Siddons’s Secret to Thriving in the 4th Trimester

If you haven’t already noticed, we’re kind of sort of obsessed with the fourth trimester—the first few months after baby arrives when you’re deep in the throes of transition. It’s when you’re learning how to care for a little one while taking care of yourself, and also reconciling a new identity. Hello, mama!

Many cultures treat this time as sacred, a window in which to retreat and settle into your new role while your body rests. Friends, neighbors, family step in as your village, as your support circle to help because guess what? New motherhood is no easy feat. Western culture, however, has been a little slower to catch on to the village idea. Not to mention that we so often live away from our friends and family. 

Well mamas, luckily there are ways to make new friends, and mama ones at that! And get the mental and emotional support you need to get you through the fourth trimester—and beyond. 

We chatted with Laura Siddons, mama of 3 (a set of twins thrown in there!), and one of the founders of The Nesting Place, a center for expecting and new moms to gather, connect, and seek wellness support in Long Island, NY. Since becoming a doula in over a decade ago and then a mom herself, she’s had a truly special appreciation for the fourth trimester.

If you’re pregnant and exploring or just recently had a baby, keep reading. We dive deep into just how essential postpartum peer support is and the surprising benefits it can offer. 

Here’s our convo.

In your personaland professional experiencewhat are the top 3 things a new mama needs in those first weeks postpartum?

Practical help. This means help around the house and help with the baby when she wants time to herself to rest, shower, even eat uninterrupted. 

Positive emotional support. She needs to be surrounded by people who build her up so she can begin to feel confident in her new role.

Listening ear. She needs an opportunity to tell her birth story and to process the joy or challenge that it presented.

If you wrote a book on postpartum must-knows, what would it include?

Follow your instincts, and if you can’t seem to find them sometimes, that’s okay. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other moms or professionals (like a doula) who can help you make choices about what’s best for you and your family.

Also, know that you will have bad days (tears included!), but that doesn’t mean you are a bad mom. Good moms have bad days. 

 You’re a big fan of moms lifting up other moms. Why is there so much power in that?

Every pregnancy, birth, and baby are different. Every experience is different. So whether it’s your first baby or your fifth baby, you can benefit from a web of support and a space to share and grow alongside other moms. New motherhood is lonely! And there’s so much space for self-doubt and feelings of isolation to creep in. Connecting with other moms going through the same thing you are can be validating but also bring a sense of empowerment. 

You created the Fourth Trimester Support Circle to facilitate moms lifting each other up. Tell us more about it.

It’s a 6-week support group from moms with babies 0-5 months. Normally we gather in real life, but with social distancing, we’re holding virtual groups. This added layer of isolation during this time makes connecting in some capacity even more crucial to a new mom and her family’s well-being. And it’s not just about socializing, we also cover really important topics like infant feeding, safe movement, mental health practices so new moms can gain practical takeaways.

What’s the feeling at the first support group gathering?

There are always tears shed by at least one new mom, sometimes a few. This really shows how needed this safe space is.

And that last one?

Sadness that it’s over! But also a collective confidence amongst the moms, like they’ve got this.

Besides confidence, what do moms take away from these postpartum support gatherings? 

After weeks of taking in information and ideas from other professionals and learning from other moms, they’ve begun to also trust their own voice. One of the things that brings me the greatest joy is that moms find an inner strength and wisdom they didn’t know they had. They come looking to receive support, but they end up giving truly amazing support to other moms.

Let’s talk about virtual support groups versus in-person support groups.

Virtual is great because it’s more accessible to anyone and everyone. Plus, it can be challenging for a new mom to get out of the house some days so logging in from the comfort of your own home is a plus. I’ll be honest that it’s hard to replicate the physical and emotional warmth of sitting with other moms in the same space—plus it’s fun to watch the babies interact with one another!—but until it’s safe to gather in-person again, virtual is a wonderful alternative. 

As a mama of three, you’ve learned to take care of yourself in order to keep showing up every day. Mom-to-mom, what’s your secret?

Taking time out for yourself to feel supported is not selfish, it’s not a luxury. It’s necessary.

Looking for postpartum support?

We’ve got you. To learn more Laura Siddons, visit her profile here. Check out her Fourth Trimester Support Circle here and The Nesting Place here. For more individualized postpartum support, head to our postpartum doula page here.

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