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Meet Caitlin Green Cheney and Elizabeth Wood of Matrescence 4th Trimester Planning and Support

Today we’d like to introduce you to Caitlin Green Cheney and Elizabeth Wood.

Caitlin and Elizabeth, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Elizabeth and I met at a mommy and baby fitness class. After some time, we both noticed a troubling pattern of moms arriving visibly exhausted, stressed, hurting and depleted. While moms had been “cleared” by their health care provider to work out, more often than not, mom had not been screened for common post-birth issues such as pelvic floor dysfunction or diastasis recti. With her background as a dance and fitness professional, Caitlin knew these birth-related issues left undiagnosed and untreated could evolve into serious long-term health issues. Elizabeth felt like she’d had far better rehab and recovery plans with her two knee surgeries than after the birth of either of her children. The postnatal period seemed to be some sort of black hole in women’s health and wellness. We knew this pattern needed to change. We knew every woman deserved better. We didn’t know what better was, but we were determined to find out.

Naturally, we began gathering all the research and information we could find about postnatal care. It became readily apparent that matrescence (/ma tres ens/n.) or the process of becoming a mother, has been understudied by the medical community despite worldwide traditional cultures who have been practicing postpartum care traditions for thousands of years. We immersed ourselves in the literature containing modern science and ancient wisdom determined to ease moms’ matrescence. If we had to boil down everything we’ve learned into one core concept, it is that 4th-trimester care is just as ESSENTIAL as the prior three trimesters. When mom is well, the baby is well.

We then knew that our mission was to help families reimagine what their 4th trimester could be; one grounded in community-based support where moms are able to fully recover from the physical and emotional stressors of pregnancy and birth. This is our mission at Matrescence: 4th Trimester Planning and Support. Through knowledge, we empower moms and their families to seize the golden opportunity of birth: to revitalize their being, their relationships and their lineage.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Re-imagining the 4th-trimester experience requires a radical shift in how our culture views the 4th trimester; a time period historically focused solely on the baby. Intriguingly, when we speak to the need for this cultural shift, there is usually a sharp contrast in receptivity between veteran and first-time moms. Veteran moms seem to immediately recognize that 4th-trimester care is just as ESSENTIAL as the prior three trimesters. There is little needed to convince these veteran moms as they immediately see the value in gathering their community to help ease their transition. First-time moms seem to need more convincing, perhaps because it’s hard to imagine something you’ve never experienced. Once our expectant moms begin to plan for their 4th trimesters, inevitably the cultural shift piece comes to the surface. This usually takes the form of “my friend (sister, cousin, etc) didn’t have care during their 4th trimester, how can I dare to ask them to help me?” Being a pioneer in any cultural shift is a bit scary. We find bringing a group of women together in our workshops helps it feel less scary, as we’re all facilitating this shift together.

Overall, the most difficult part of our journey has been to find credible sources of information about postnatal or 4th-trimester care. Elizabeth and I both share a love of science and are not satisfied with merely anecdotal evidence. Much of the ancient worldwide postpartum care traditions have not been studied, so we continue our extensively search find scientific bases for the traditional practices. We are excited to be part of the world awakening and exploration of what has long been a black hole of women’s health and wellness.

Overall, our path has been relatively smooth with many unexpected coincidences that helped pave our path. Our friends, family, and other birth-healing practitioners have been nothing but supportive and encouraging. We are fortunate to be able to have a network of so many talented birth-healing practitioners nearby to assist our moms. We both confidently feel like this is how we are meant to serve others.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Matrescence 4th Trimester Planning and Support – what should we know?
Many aspects set us apart. What we have found is that post-birth classes focus on how to care for the newborn baby. In sharp contrast, our workshop places the focus on the new-born mother’s health because we believe when mom is well, the baby is well.

We started Matrescence: 4th Trimester Planning and Support to explain why 4th-trimester care is just as ESSENTIAL as the prior three trimesters of care. In our 4-week workshop, we bring together expectant moms and help them reimagine what their 4th trimester could be; one grounded in community-based support where moms are able to fully recover from the physical and emotional stressors of pregnancy and birth. We encourage a community-based plan, asking them to reach out to friends, family, neighbors, colleagues, birth-healing professionals, etc..

The workshop attendees meet every other week to allow ample time for personal reflection, planning and conversations with their spouse, friends and family. During the “off weeks” we connect with our clients to help personalize plans and delve deep into specifics and personal questions.

We are most proud of our alumni, specifically for their pioneering spirit as they help change our cultural beliefs and shift our focus from newborn baby to newborn mom. As we all know, asking for help is not easy, especially as there seems to be so much pressure on moms (and partners) to “have it all together.” Social media often makes it look like everyone else has their life together. It’s just less accepted to share that we may be feeling alone or overwhelmed. Somehow we have convinced ourselves we need to do-it-all, by ourselves to achieve the status of super-mom. And usually, mom is fully capable of doing it all by herself, but at what cost? We encourage moms to ask for and receive help in this vulnerable season of life. In doing so, our moms empower other moms to change the “Super Mom” narrative. This beautiful season is one of the golden opportunities of the postpartum time: this exchange of help can strengthen and deepen our relationships.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
We could not and are not doing this alone. Just as we encourage the moms we work to reach out for help, we have also learned the value in asking for help in our village of friends and family.

Many friends and family members have given us advice, donated their talents and expertise or just listened as we excitedly talked non-stop about our vision. Thank you to each one of you! We would not be in the place we are now without the unwavering support of our husbands; shouldering the financial responsibilities to give us an opportunity to explore our dream. And each other, for balancing motherhood and our business, practicing what we preach and appreciating each other for our differences and commonalities. And, we could not do this without the support of our clients and alumni, for their stories and outpouring appreciation, and allowing us to walk with them on their journey of motherhood and helping them seize their golden opportunity.

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