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Ep. 83 - The Fifth Trimester

Jun 29, 2023

In this episode, we had the pleasure of speaking with Lauren Smith-Brody, the founder of the Fifth Trimester movement and author of The Fifth Trimester: The Working Mom's Guide to Style, Sanity, and Big Success After Baby. Lauren has dedicated her work to addressing the research, policy, and practical concerns surrounding early parenthood, particularly for working mothers. Through her movement and book, Lauren dissects the systems that drive the inequities that make new motherhood, especially new employed motherhood, so challenging.

Lauren starts off the conversation by discussing the concept of the "fifth trimester," which refers to the period of time after a mother has given birth and returned to work. The idea is that the transition into working motherhood is just as significant as the first three trimesters of pregnancy and the fourth trimester of caring for a newborn. She explains that this transition can be incredibly overwhelming, with many new mothers feeling like they are expected to seamlessly navigate their new roles as both a parent and an employee.

One of the biggest challenges that working mothers face is the lack of support and resources provided by their employers. Lauren discusses how there is a cultural expectation for women to go back to work after having a baby and act like nothing has changed. This expectation is often unrealistic and can lead to burnout, exhaustion, and a lack of productivity. Lauren emphasizes the need for employers to recognize the unique needs of new mothers and provide them with resources and support, such as flexible work schedules, lactation rooms, and paid parental leave.

Lauren also addresses the issue of childcare and the difficult decisions that new parents have to make. She explains that there is no one-size-fits-all solution and that parents need to make the decision that is right for their family. However, she emphasizes the importance of doing thorough research and feeling comfortable with the decision made. This can be a challenging process, especially for first-time parents, but it is essential for the well-being of both the parents and the child.

Throughout the conversation, Lauren also talks about the roles of ambivalence and agency in parenting. She explains that it is normal for parents to have mixed feelings about their new roles and that it is important to recognize and validate those feelings. At the same time, she emphasizes the importance of agency and taking control of one's parenting journey. This can involve setting boundaries, asking for help, and advocating for oneself and one's child.

One of the most impactful aspects of Lauren's work is her mission to recruit others to speak up about caregivers in their workplace and their needs. She believes that change can only come from a collective effort and encourages working mothers to advocate for themselves and their fellow caregivers. This can involve sharing their experiences with their employers, advocating for policy changes, and supporting other caregivers in their workplace.

Lauren Smith-Brody's work through the Fifth Trimester movement and her book The Fifth Trimester has shed light on the challenges faced by working mothers and the need for better support and resources. Her message is clear: new mothers need to be seen, heard, and supported in their transition to working parenthood. As more voices join the conversation, we can create a more equitable and supportive culture for all caregivers.

For more information on Lauren please visit:

For more information on Chambers of Mothers please visit:

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