Most new moms head back to work about 12 weeks after giving birth. The problem is that this is often several months before women are physically and emotionally ready. Scientific data and anecdotal evidence point to the six-month mark as the time when moms start to feel adept again (and for some women, it takes longer). The United States is one of the worst countries in the world (bottom three) offering zero paid maternity leave for new parents, often putting women, partners, and children in tricky to dire situations that don’t help with those early days of recovery and new life.
But return to work we do, and Lauren Smith Brody, the founder of The Fifth Trimester movement and the former editor of Glamour magazine, dubbed those sleep-deprived transition months after the newborn days the “fifth trimester,” or the period when the working mom is born.
So how do we navigate this ‘fifth trimester’ when we’re still in the newborn haze?
By asking for the things we need.
When Lauren Smith Brody returned to work after having her first son, she was very transparent about what she was going through. As the executive editor of a prestigious magazine, she wanted to mentor younger colleagues and change the perception of parenthood in the workplace. And after having her second son, Lauren was inspired to take her mentorship to the next level, making the shift from publishing to entrepreneurship. She wrote The Fifth Trimester, a book to help new and expectant mothers prepare for working motherhood, and now she’s moving to Phase B of the business, consulting with companies to upgrade policy and foster support of new parents in the workplace.
Today, Lauren shares her advice for new moms returning to work and her vision of ideal workplace culture. I ask her about the impetus for writing The Fifth Trimester, the shift from publishing to entrepreneurship, and what she would say to aspiring entrepreneurs. Listen to learn what friends and family can do to support new moms, the concept of self-soothing for parents, and your most important job as a woman and a new mother: getting really good at asking for what you need—both at home and at the office.
Quotes from the show
— “We are living in a time of amazing opportunity, but also in a time when expectations for working parents are just so out of line with reality.”
— “It’s upsetting to know that in America, women are back at work before they are physically and emotionally ready to be there.”
— “[Gender parity] has a trickle effect that affects everything at home and at work.”
— “The only way we will shake out of the traditional pattern is if [men and women] take equal leave.”
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Learn more about Lauren Smith Brody
Lauren Smith Brody had a 16-year career in publishing culminating in the role of Executive Editor for Glamour magazine. After becoming a mom, Lauren conceived of the Fifth Trimester Movement to help parents and businesses revolutionize workplace culture. Her bestseller, The Fifth Trimester: The Working Mom’s Guide to Style, Sanity, and Big Success After Baby was released in April 2017.
The Fifth Trimester Website
The Fifth Trimester on Instagram
The Fifth Trimester on Facebook
Lauren on Twitter
Resources mentioned in this episode:
The Fifth Trimester: The Working Mom’s Guide to Style, Sanity, and Big Success After Baby by Lauren Smith Brody
The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp
Martin Seligman’s VIA Survey
Secrets of Six-Figure Women: Surprising Strategies to Up Your Earnings and Change Your Life by Barbara Stanny
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