How to Better Understand Birth and the Postpartum Periods

It seems obvious that sustaining a wound the size of a dinner plate would merit extensive physical therapy and a long period of rest and healing. But because new mom wounds are unseen, we push ourselves to ‘get back to it’ as soon as possible. And foundational postpartum care (like having someone cook healthy meals or getting regular bodywork) is seen as an unnecessary luxury.

Kimberly Ann Johnson contends that the first six weeks after childbirth are critical to a woman’s long-term health, and the work we do recover from the physical and emotional trauma and connect with our bodies is a necessity—not an indulgence.

Trauma, Sex, and Somatic Experiencing

Today, Kimberly Ann joins me to talk about the experience of childbirth and the crucial postpartum period. We discuss the online imagery of childbirth and how it differs wildly from the experience itself. Kimberly explains the separation of body and mind in our culture and what we can do to reintegrate the two by getting to know the ‘language of sensation.’ I ask Kimberly Ann about her work as a somatic practitioner and birth doula, and she shares her take on childbirth as the domain of women. Listen in for Kimberly Ann’s insight around how to communicate your needs during childbirth and learn how to get the support you need in the fourth trimester!

The Startup Pregnant Podcast Episode #094

Some quotes from the episode

  • “Ultimately, birth is a somatic experience. It’s an experience that happens through our body—which is why it can be so disconcerting if your body has not been your home.”
  • “In my work, I’m helping people do that nervous system-level repair, which means getting to know the language of sensation and creating continuity between our words, our actions, and our facial expressions so that we’re communicating what we really want to communicate. It’s using the body as a compass.”
  • “Wild animals don’t experience trauma, but domesticated animals and humans do experience trauma. So, why is that?”
  • “We live in a culture that really values rationality and productivity and all of the qualities that we can attribute to the masculine … [and has a] total disrespect and disregard for the feminine which is malleability, flexibility, darkness, moisture, [and] cyclical rather than linear.”
  • “Women’s health is much more complex than male health. In Chinese medicine, they say it’s ten times more difficult to treat a woman.”
  • “In Western medicine … we’re just considered derivative, and so that’s the kind of care we get.”
  • “Ultimately, birth is an arousal event, and our body has to be able to hold that level of charge.”
  • “[Giving birth] was really challenging, difficult, and intense. And I did it.”
  • “Birth is the domain of women.”
  • “If you look worldwide, the best birth statistics for maternal health … are the countries where midwives are mandatory, and doctors are optional.”
  • “Bodies need bodies.”
  • “The most important time for women’s health in this whole time, from pregnancy [to] birth to postpartum, is the six weeks after she has the baby.”
  • “You’re pretty much at home all day, by yourself, with a baby—which, by the way, is already a recipe for depression. Nobody should be alone with a baby for more than a couple of hours at a time.”


Kimberly Ann Johnson is a birth doula, Sexological Bodyworker, Somatic Experiencing practitioner and postpartum care advocate. She is also the founder of MAGAMAMA, an online community and resource for new moms who want natural empowering solutions to the physical and emotional pain that can accompany childbirth. Kimberly is the cofounder of the STREAM School for Postpartum Care and the author of the groundbreaking book, The Fourth Trimester: A Postpartum Guide to Healing Your Body, Balancing Your Emotions, and Restoring Your Vitality.



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