Whether you’re trying to conceive, pregnant or have recently given birth, you can benefit from building your tribe and getting as much info as you can about the journey ahead. That’s why we’re thrilled to give you a chance to attend the upcoming 4 Trimesters: Pregnancy, Birth and Postpartum Conference on October 27.

Here’s how to enter: 

TWITTER: Tweet “Yes @shedoesthecity, send me to #4trimestersTO – I want to connect and grow while I grow my baby”

INSTAGRAM: LIKE + TAG a friend on our 4 Trimesters post.

FACEBOOK: LIKE + COMMENT on our 4 Trimesters post.

In the meantime, meet Jae Steele. She is a midwife, doula, Registered Holistic Nutritionist, and mom to a toddler, Juniper. She is also the founder of 4 Trimesters: Pregnancy, Birth & Postpartum Conference. We caught up with her to find out how this year’s event is unfolding, and what she hopes you get out of it. 

SDTC: You’re now in the toddler phase with Juniper. How does this fact inform your outlook when it comes to putting this event together? Any thoughts about expanding it beyond the 4th trimester?

JS: I focus on the four trimesters of baby-growing because that’s where my formal training is as a midwife and an infant mental health specialist. These new beginnings are the time I have the deepest fondness for. I’m grateful for the opportunity for self-growth that parenting a toddler provides, and I feel confident that my approach to parenting thus far has supported her in being chatty kind of early and so self-expressed, which I think is really promising for her in the long term, but I don’t see myself identifying as a toddler whisperer any time soon.

I am first and foremost a baby person. The fact that I have been a sole parent coming up on three years, and am mostly working on my own in the day-to-day of 4 Trimesters has got me feeling more isolated and exhausted than ever. As a result, I’ve been working at upping my own community-building game, both personally and professionally, so when I talk about the value of establishing connections, I really get it first-hand.

Are you surprised with how much the event has grown? What are you especially looking forward to?

I didn’t deliberately make space for partners in any particular way last year. (Blame it on not being partnered myself.) But after getting requests at last year’s conference to offer workshops for partners in the future, I created a whole stream for partners, as well as special ticket pricing to encourage them to come. If we want to change the conversation from this weird notion that when dads are caring for their kids we call it “babysitting,” then we need to make the space for non-birth parents to also learn about parenting and share the load – both the challenges and the joys.

I’m also really excited about the panel discussion for everyone at the end of the day on Raising Socially Conscious Kids. I want to help popularize the idea that if we start having challenging conversations with our kids about things like race, sexuality and gender as infants, by the time they’re actually verbal and can begin to understand, parents won’t be as awkward or unclear; we’ll have honed our messages that support difference and acceptance.

Finally, I’m looking forward to the brownies Shockingly Healthy has donated again this year. They’re really somethin’ else.

What do you hope participants will take away from 4 Trimesters?

Parenting wasn’t meant to happen in isolation. The ways in which society has modernized has taken us further away from our families. While this has supported a level of independence and self-expression that is very liberating, it also has its drawbacks. We can feel isolated, lonely, and without the resources to help us navigate this unique time and build our confidence as parents. We rely more heavily on our primary partners for labour support and parenting support, but it’s hard on them, too, when they don’t have any experience in this arena.

I want 4 Trimesters to serve our local community as a resource for peer support and support from interdisciplinary professionals. As a business, creating something online would have been much easier for me, let me tell you. People are reluctant to go out to things, to pay for educational experiences. But we’re offering things that’ll stick with participants a lot longer than their deluxe stroller. Getting together is the whole point—too see other parents in action, share stories and all the emotions—face to face. To take comfort in community.

What is the best advice/wisdom you received for navigating the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th trimesters?

Gosh, I’ve been immersed in the birth world for so much of my life, I don’t know what I could pinpoint. This time really gives us the opportunity to grow and change in profound ways. I don’t know why other people choose to be parents, but that’s always been a big part of the appeal to me. Conscious parenting, responsive parenting, has moments that are hard as fuck. Most of us aren’t prepared for how truly relentless it is. But I can’t think of a better way to have connection and growth in my time on this planet.

How do you see 4 Trimesters growing in the future?

I’m so glad you asked! I have exciting plans for 4 Trimesters in the coming year. Starting next month, even, fellow nutritionist Alex James and I are offering cooking classes for people late in pregnancy (we’re really hoping partners/the non-pregnant person in an expectant couple will get in on this) to boost their nutritional and culinary skills, and stock their freezers for the first few weeks postpartum.

In the new year, I’m hoping we can offer monthly three-hour workshops on topics like Writing Your Birth Story, that need more time than the hour-long slots we have available at the conference.

In the spring, I’d like to do something like the conference, but simpler, and with more focus on self-care than education—we’ll call it a “retreat.” And who knows, maybe we can even make a podcast happen? In the field of baby-growing from a holistic and feminist perspective, there’s always more work to be done.