4th Trimester AZ

A Community of Support for Parents, Breastfeeding Assistance, and Monthly Meet-Ups Across Arizona

Q&A with Jennie Bever, Executive Director and CEO of 4th Trimester AZ, By Monique Seleen,

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your role with 4th Trimester AZ?

I am a mother of four kids, three boys that I gave birth to, and my wonderful bonus daughter who I have known since she was 1. My first son was born when I was finishing my PhD in Biology, and my breastfeeding experience with him inspired me to become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).

I opened the Arizona Breastfeeding Center in Tempe in 2013, when my second son was about 18 months old. Both my work as an IBCLC, and my personal experience dealing with postpartum physical and mental health complications with my second and third children led me to the realization that our culture needs both more awareness of the challenges new parents face, as well as more support from community.

I founded 4th Trimester Arizona in 2017, and held many of the first board meetings around my kitchen table with kids and babies nursing and running around as we talked. Since then, we have hosted six Conferences, two Summits, hundreds of 4th Trimester Villages, and supported over 10,000 Arizonans from pregnancy into the postpartum and beyond.

What types of services does 4th Trimester AZ offer for parents?

4th Trimester AZ is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that supports the mental, physical, and emotional health of parents in pregnancy and the first five years after a baby is born. On a weekly basis we host 1-2 of our seven 4th Trimester Arizona Villages in person and online.

Our 4th Trimester Villages are free parent-focused social support groups offered seven times a month both in person and online. Villages provide access to postpartum education, and a community of parents and providers from the location or group the Village serves. Villages are safe spaces to ask questions and receive support from other parents.

Our four Regional Villages meet in person at AZCEND in Gilbert, at the IDEA Museum in Mesa, at Milk and Honey in Tucson, and at Moment of Truth in Peoria. Our Black Mamas Support Village meets in-person quarterly at the Phoenix Art Museum, and online on the 3rd Wednesday of each month. Our Indigenous Parents Village meets online every 2nd Wednesday, and our Spanish Speaking Village, Cuarto Trimestre has been meeting online, but will soon be meeting in person at South Phoenix Healthy Start.

In the spring we host our 4th Trimester AZ Conference for new parents and those who support them. The 4th Trimester Arizona Conference is a full day of parent-focused postpartum education, self-care opportunities, and exhibitors. We come together as a community to support the mental, physical and emotional health of new parents in the first 5 years. 2023 is our 6th year hosting this event, with over 250 people for a full day of connection with local resources and other parents, healing our minds and bodies, and learning about ways to support ourselves and others as parents.

In the fall, we host our 4th Trimester Ecosystem Summit for all those who support Maternal and Child Health. The 4th Trimester Ecosystem is a grassroots, community-based network of maternal and child health advocates working to improve the health and wellbeing of Arizona birthing people and their children. We come together with a shared commitment to improve the lives of postpartum families across Arizona. This event brings together the providers, organizations, and people working with new families to talk about the current challenges and opportunities in Maternal and Child Health. Whether you’re a childcare provider, doula, educator, physician, or non-profit — if you’re passionate about maternal and child health, you’re a part of the 4th Trimester Ecosystem, and we welcome you to join us at the Summit.

In honor of National Breastfeeding Month in August, what advice and tips would you offer to new breastfeeding moms?

Take an in-person breastfeeding class and set up a prenatal visit with a lactation consultant before the baby is born so you can get your questions answered and you know what to expect.

Once baby is here, spend as much time as you can skin to skin with your baby. This really primes them to breastfeed well, and primes the parent to catch baby’s feeding cues early, so they can work on positioning and latch before baby is hangry.

When you go home, set up an appointment with an IBCLC to work on positioning and latch, and to make sure baby is gaining well and things are going okay. Most insurance plans cover six or more visits without cost sharing, and getting things off to a good start right at the beginning really pays off.

What support is available for breastfeeding moms through 4th Trimester AZ?

Breastfeeding/Chestfeeding is always welcome at all our events and we make a point to talk about the infant feeding journey at our 4th Trimester Arizona Conference each year, and periodically at our 4th Trimester AZ Villages.

Part of the role of our 4th Trimester Villages is to provide referrals to local resources, such as breastfeeding clinics, home visiting programs, WIC and other resources to support new parents. This year our Nursing and Pumping Nook at the 4th Trimester AZ Conference was sponsored by the ASU Academy of Lactation Programs and we have plans to collaborate more in the future.

Do you have any product recommendations for breastfeeding moms?

Get a good cloth baby carrier or two to keep your baby close. It helps so much with feeling like you can get around and out and about. It also helps you know when baby is just starting to get hungry. Also, a word of caution: avoid Lanolin. I’ve seen it cause allergic reactions in both moms and babies, and it stains everything. Coconut oil, olive oil, or a good edible oil-based nipple butter are much better choices.

How can people find out and/or get more involved with the 4th Trimester community?

Follow us on Insta, TikTok and Facebook, check out our website at 4thtrimesteraz.org, and join a 4th Trimester Village or sign up for our newsletter to learn more about what we do.

Anything else you’d like to add?

As a nonprofit organization, we rely on the generosity of our volunteers, donors and sponsors to be able to provide the resources and support families in Arizona need to thrive as new parents. If you’d like to get involved, volunteer, or learn more, please reach out at  info@4thtrimesteraz.org