The Fifth Trimester: Asking for What You Need — Episode #004 with Lauren Smith Brody
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 (it’s in the bottom three, in fact), offering zero paid maternity leave for new parents. This often puts 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. Lauren Smith Brody, the founder of The Fifth Trimester movement and 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.
Ask for What You Need: The Fifth Trimester
The Startup PARENT Podcast — Episode #004
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. 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 episode:
LAUREN SMITH BRODY
- “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.”
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
- 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
Thank you to the sponsor of this episode: Taskerly! They’re a virtual assistant company that helps busy parents and entrepreneurs get more done at work by doing the things you can outsource of don’t have time for. Check them out at www.taskerly.co and mention the Startup Parent Podcast to get 10% off of your first three months working with them.
ABOUT THE STARTUP PARENT PODCAST
We're a weekly show that releases new episodes most Mondays at 5:30 A.M. Find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, or whenever you listen to podcasts. If you'd like to get new episodes delivered to you by email, sign up for the weekly newsletter with insights, strategies, and new ideas for working parents. If you'd like to sponsor the podcast, feel free to reach out. Lastly, if you like what you hear definitely leave us a review on iTunes.
"Startup Parent's take on motherhood, work, and rejecting hustle culture is everything I need in my life right now."
"One of the only newsletters I read."
"If I hear one more meaningless "productivity tip" I might scream. Your newsletter is always refreshing and honest."
ONLINE PARENT GROUPS
Our private Startup Parent Facebook Community is for working moms navigating all things parenting, business, career, and children. We also have a brand-new Linked In Parenting Group for folks of all genders to join and share resources on parenting and business. Join us in one or both groups.
THE WISE WOMEN'S COUNCIL
Every year, we gather a group of women together to talk about pregnancy, parenting, marriage, partnership, work, business, children, and all the things that come up during this challenging season of life. Applications are now open.
ASK SARAH — BONUS EPISODES AND FIRESIDE CHATS
If you’re a fan of this podcast, you’ll love the private, ask-me-anything conversations with Sarah. When you become a Patreon backer, you'll get a brand-new episode every single month. Click here to become a back and get immediate access to the episodes.
YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY
You’re not insane, you’re not wrong, you’re not broken, and you’re not a terrible parent or a terrible worker if you’re having a hard time getting work done while also sustaining the full-time job of caring for a baby. Taking care of a baby is a huge job, one that requires the work of multiple adults. But instead, we ask women to do it all, without help or support, and then to work additional jobs on top of the round-the-clock work of childcare. It’s impossible.
Growing up, James Breakwell never had to think about what jobs he wasn’t allowed to pursue. That changed when he had kids. As the father of four girls — one of whom recently said she wants to be a construction worker, and another who asked if she could be the Pope — he’s had to put himself in the shoes of the females surrounding him at home. As an author and internet personality behind the popular Twitter account @XplodingUnicorn, James is best known for his viral tweets depicting hilarious snippets of conversations with his daughters. In this interview with our first startup dad, he gets real about how he navigates building a public persona based on his family life — including how much to share and what to withhold.
We need your leadership from where you are—as you are. We’ve known for a long time that we need much more diverse leadership, that we need women’s leadership, and that we need new models of power. As Elizabeth Lesser says, we need to embrace “power to,” not just “power over.” We need truth telling, and we need new visions. We need you, your work, and your brave new thinking. We need you to show up. We need you to be who you really are, not what an archaic model of power and “leadership” tells you to be. Take care, take the rest you need, take action, and show up. Even and especially as you are.
School is back in session, and parents everywhere are fatigued, overwhelmed, and still in the lurch. Workplaces are less and less forgiving, and yet the problems created by the pandemic are still here. What’s a working parent to do? Last week, Lions + Tigers gathered a panel to talk about specific steps parents can take to strategically plan ahead for the coming year. I hosted a conversation with Brea Starmer, founder of Lions+Tigers, Shauna Causey of Weekdays, and Blessing Adesiyan of Mother Honestly.
Sarah K Peck
Founder, Startup Parent
Sarah Peck is a writer, startup advisor, and yoga teacher based in New York City. She’s the founder and executive director of Startup Parent, a media company documenting the stories of women’s leadership across work and family. She hosts the weekly Startup Parent Podcast and Let's Talk, her second podcast. Previously, she worked at Y Combinator backed One Month, Inc, a company that teaches people to code in 30 days, and before that she was a writing and communications consultant.
She’s a 20-time All-American swimmer who successfully swam the Escape from Alcatraz nine separate times, once wearing only a swim cap and goggles to raise $33k for charity: water. She’s written for more than 75 different web publications and and has delivered speeches and workshops at Penn, UVA, Berkeley, Harvard, Craft & Commerce, WDS, and more.