Book Review: The Fourth Trimester by Kimberly Ann Johnson
1. What the book is about
This book is a guide to preparing for and healing from birth and the postpartum period. Author Kimberly Ann Johnson starts out by sharing her own person experience of pregnancy, birth and transition from maiden to mother. She reflects on her expectations, struggles and lessons for healing, which led her to become a birth doula and educator. The manual then begins, divided into three parts: Preparing for the Fourth Trimester, Savouring the Fourth Trimester and Beyond the Fourth Trimester. Each part contains practical tips and activities that prompt you to reflect, question, plan and take action. There are also stories from women whom Kimberly has supported through their postpartum recovery that demonstrate her lessons and learnings. In Part One, Kimberly explores issues such as learning to rest, nutrition, connection with your partner, being in nature, preparing your body and gathering your tribe in preparation for birth and the postpartum period. In Part Two, she provides detailed advice on balancing your emotions and rebuilding your body using ancient practices from Chinese and Indian traditions. She also describes common complications of birth and the importance of seeking professional support to ensure healing can occur. In Part Three, Kimberly offers guidance on rediscovering your body, reclaiming your sexuality and embracing motherhood.
2. What I liked about this book
I liked the intimate and compassionate way that Kimberly writes and connects with her reader. She is honest and transparent, sharing her own experiences with courage and humility. She provides advice that is validated not only by her own personal journey but by the ancient traditions that have been tried and tested as well as modern evidence-based research. I really enjoyed trying the different practices that she outlines, including journaling, story-telling, listening and physical exploration.
3. Who should read this book
This is an important resource for health practitioners who care for women during pregnancy, postpartum and beyond. I also recommend this book to women who are preparing for pregnancy, currently pregnant or in the postpartum period. Partners of women in any of these phases would also benefit significantly from reading this book. Information is power, and women and partners who read this book will be empowered to take positive action that will assist them in their preparation for and healing from their birth and the fourth trimester.
4. Where you can access this book
I listened to this as an audiobook via Audible but hard copies are available from Kimberly's website and other online book stores. Kimberly has also created a deck of 52 cards that offer practical advice that can be used in the moment to help support postpartum healing–physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. Mothers can pick a card for a three-minute breathing exercise, a one-minute poem or meditation for inspiration, some crucial pelvic floor information, or a recipe.