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Self-care matters: Mantras to nurture you as you become a mom

This is the beginning of your beautiful and complicated relationship that you will have with yourself as a mother.

Self-care matters: Mantras to nurture you as you become a mom

Congratulations on making the life-changing decision to become a mother!


You are about to embark on your journey toward conception. It may be smooth and predictable, or it may challenging and baffling. Or, most likely, it will be somewhere in between.

But no matter how your path toward conception unfolds, one of the most important things for you to focus on right now (other than the making of your baby) is nurturing and strengthening the relationship you have with yourself.

In preparing to become a mother, you will be required to devote a large amount of space in your body, mind and heart to creating and caring for your child to be. This is also the beginning of the beautiful, complicated and forever-evolving relationship you will have with yourself as a mother. Now is the time to think about how you want that relationship to be.

We all come into motherhood with an established relationship with ourselves. We know how we treat ourselves, and hopefully we treat ourselves with love, care and compassion. But what we don’t necessarily know is how we will treat ourselves when we even begin thinking about giving life to another human being who shares part of our DNA and for whom we are solely (or jointly) responsible.

There is no other relationship that will ask more of you or stretch you physically and emotionally in the way that motherhood will.

As a mother of four children and the author of The Self-Care Solution: A Modern Mother’s Must-Have Guide to Health and Well-Being, for which I researched self-care practices and interviewed hundreds of mothers, I would like to share with you what I wish someone would have told me when I, like you, first dreamed of becoming a mother.

Entering motherhood with self-awareness, self-love and self-respect is essential to your ability to ride the waves of motherhood (the joy and pain, and everything in between) with the confidence you will need to be the amazing mother you aspire to be.

There may be times when you feel that you have to choose between caring for your children, your relationship or yourself. But while you cannot give your attention to all these areas at the same time, it is not only possible but crucial to your health and the health of your family that you be intentional about integrating all three elements in your life.

These mantras will serve as the grounding you need to stay centered and true to yourself as you embark on your exciting journey of motherhood:

  • I am very important.
  • My identity, separate from my role as a mother-to-be, will always be important.
  • My health, my happiness and my needs are important. I need to take care of my body, my mind and my spirit as I create, grow and raise this child-to-be, who will need me in more ways than any other human being has ever needed me, and who I will love unconditionally.
  • I will honor myself physically, emotionally and relationally as I transition from woman to mother because my overall health and well-being, as well as my ability to mother my child, depend on it.

I urge you to keep those reminders near you for a very long time.

But right now you are at the “twinkle in your eye” stage, and what a beautiful place to be! You are ready to get this process going, which starts with asking your body to cooperate with your desire to conceive a child. Again, your body may oblige right away or it might take a little longer, but throughout the conception process I urge you to repeat the following messages to yourself on a daily basis:

  • I will treat myself and my partner with loving kindness and compassion throughout this process, and beyond.
  • I have a right to want this baby.
  • I will not, however, attach my self-worth or self-love to whether my body will support my desire to conceive.
  • If I do have issues with conceiving, I will seek the emotional support I need, and stay true to myself when making decisions about fertility or adoption options.
  • I will treat my body with care, love and kindness so that I do my best to provide a healthy place for my baby to be conceived and reside for the next nine months.
  • I will love, respect and honor myself and my body, which will grow and change throughout this process (that could involve infertility treatment), and I will stay true to my body’s signals of hunger and satiation.

The process of conceiving a baby is the time when you begin to formulate how you want to live the rest of your life as a mother. It is time to secure your commitment to your own self-care.

As writer S.C. Lourie explains, “Thinking about yourself first is often a blessing for your tribe, too, because when you look after your heart, whoever is in your heart gets automatically looked after too.”

In This Article

    Ara Katz/Seed

    We spoke to Ara Katz, co-founder and co-CEO of Seed, who shared her journey to (and through) motherhood—and gave us the lowdown on how probiotics can benefit mamas and children alike.

    Chances are, you're aware that probiotics can help us digest the food we eat, keep inflammation at bay, synthesize essential vitamins and more. But here's the thing: When it comes to probiotics, there's a lot of misinformation… and because of that, it's hard to know what's actually a probiotic and which is the right one for you.

    That's why we chatted with Ara Katz, who is a mama to son Pax and the co-founder of Seed, a company disrupting the probiotics industry. The entrepreneur told us about her motherhood journey, what led her to start her company and what she wants other parents to know about probiotics.

    Q. What was life like for you before you became a mama?

    I was bi-coastal after co-founding a mobile tech company in New York City with a partner in LA. My life was, for as long as I can remember, consumed by creating and work. I was fairly nomadic, loved to travel, spent many hours reading and practicing yoga, being with friends [and] waking up at the crack of dawn. [I] was fairly sure I would never marry or have children. And then something shifted.

    Q. What were some pivotal moments that defined your journey to motherhood?

    Ha, that makes it sound like motherhood is a destination when at this very moment, more than ever, it evolves daily. I lost my mom when I was 17 and spent most of my life believing I didn't want to be a mother. I had a lot of wiring about its limitations and constraints—I'm sure relics of grief and the fear of loss.

    My journey started with a physiological wanting to be pregnant and have a baby. There was a kind of visceral sense that my body wanted to know what that was like and a strange curiosity that, at least for that period of time, usurped my ambivalence about motherhood.

    Then I had a miscarriage—a beautiful inflection point in my story. I resigned from my company, chose a coast, committed to be more committed to my (then) boyfriend, now husband, and tried again. I got pregnant shortly after that and found pregnancy to be a profound journey within, a reshaping of my life and the tiniest glimpse of how motherhood would unfold.

    In the 55 months since giving birth (and I like to use months because I have learned in the moments that I am most frustrated as a mom that he has only been on this planet for less than 14 fiscal quarters), I have realized and surrendered to a definition of motherhood that is a process. One of cultivating, creating, recreating, shapeshifting, learning, feeling, healing, hurting and experiencing the most potent form of presence I have ever experienced—and an aching, expansive love I didn't know possible—not just for my son, but for all living things.

    Q. How did motherhood change your approach to your career?

    Becoming a mother is certainly a persistent lens on all of my choices, but it was really my miscarriage that recalibrated my path. My pregnancy rekindled my love of biology and health and led me to my co-founder and the microbiome. My breastfeeding experience incepted our first product focus, and the newfound accountability for a human inspired our brand.

    Q. What inspired you to co-found Seed?

    I met my co-founder, Raja, during my pregnancy with Pax. [I] was immediately awestruck by his ability to both deeply understand science and to methodically break down a product, dietary question or piece of advice in a way that's educational (you actually learn something about your body), actionable (you understand what to do with the information) and foundational (you can build on that knowledge in the future to continue to make better choices).

    As we spent more time, our combined passion for microbes, their potential impact on both human health and the environment, and how to set up a child for a healthy life became increasingly clear. And through birth, seeding (the process by which we get our foundational microbes and the inspiration for the name of our company) Pax and my struggles with breastfeeding, my entrepreneurial spirit was lit to build something with Raja. His deep experience in translating science to product, and mine in consumer, community-building and translating through storytelling, culminated in a shared vision to set a new standard in health through bacteria.

    Q. Probiotics have been trending in recent years, but they're nothing new—can you talk a bit about the importance of probiotics?

    Interest in gut health and probiotics increases month by month. However, despite the quickly growing number of "probiotic" supplements, foods and beverages out there, there's still a lot of consumer confusion—particularly around what they are, how they work and why we should take them. Probiotics have been studied extensively across various life stages, body sites and for many benefits. Digestion is an obvious and immediate one (and the primary reason most people currently take probiotics). But other strains have also been studied for skin health, heart health and gut health (including gut immune function and gut barrier integrity). But this doesn't mean that any and all probiotics can do these things—this is the importance of 'strain specificity.' In other words, ensuring that the specific strains in your probiotic have been studied for the benefit you desire is critical.

    Seed Daily Synbiotic

    Seed

    Seed's Daily Synbiotic is a 24-strain probiotic + prebiotic formulated for whole-body benefits, including gut, skin and heart health.


    Q. How do probiotics play a role in your life?

    I mean, I take them, I develop them and I work with some of the leading scientists from around the world advancing the field—so they play a big role. As for my personal health, I take our Daily Synbiotic daily and my son also takes specific strains for gastrointestinal health and gut immune function. Beyond that, it's the re-orientation around my microbiome that guides many of my choices: how important fiber is, specific compounds like polyphenols found in berries, green tea and other foods, avoiding the use of NSAIDS like ibuprofen and antibiotics when not needed, exercise, sleep and time in nature [are] all aspects of our daily life that impact our microbiome and our health.

    Q. What are some misconceptions about probiotics that you would like to set straight?

    There's one main myth on from which all the other stem: that probiotics aren't considered a serious science. On the contrary, it's a field of inquiry that demands incredible rigor and extensive research. And when anything and everything from chocolate to ice cream to fermented food and kombucha to mattresses can call itself "probiotic" due to underregulation in the category, that grossly undermines the science and their potential.

    The term 'probiotic' has a globally-accepted scientific definition that was actually co-authored by our Chief Scientist, Dr. Gregor Reid ,for the United Nations/World Health Organization.

    At Seed, we work to reclaim the term for science, through the development of next-generation probiotics that include clinically validated strains and undergo the most rigorous safety, purity and efficacy testing procedures. Because why would you invite billions of unknown microbes into your body without asking "what's in here, is it the correct dosage that was studied, and has that strain in that amount been studied in human clinical trials to do something beneficial for my body"?

    Q. Can you tell us a little bit about what product you plan to launch next?

    We are developing a pipeline of consumer probiotics to target specific ecosystems of the body and life stages, including a synbiotic for children. Our next product will reflect a unique breakthrough in the field of pediatric probiotics, which we are excited to announce soon.

    This article was sponsored by Seed. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

    Our Partners

    Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

    So, what's new this week?

    Rae Wellness: Baby sleep solutions designed by the experts

    Rae Wellness is a women-led company with the belief that nurturing your mind and body isn't just essential—it's your power. Their collection of daily supplements leverage vegan, non-gmo, high quality ingredients to help you "shine from the inside out." With formulas to designed to fuel your calm, sleep, energy and more, consider them your daily dose of self care, mama. Even better, 5% of every purchase goes directly to Girls. Inc., the non-profit organization that inspires girls to be strong, smart and bold through direct service and advocacy.

    Beyond Yoga: Luxuriously soft athleisure you'll want to wear 24/7

    Whether you're lounging or lunging, the butter-soft activewear from Beyond Yoga is designed to support women to live fully and confidently. Their thoughtful, California made pieces are crafted with every woman's shape in mind, complementing curves and laying comfortably on all body types.

    The Dairy Fairy: Feminine, functional intimates for nursing and pumping mamas

    As any mama who has wrestled herself into a less than sexy, over-the-top utilitarian nursing bra knows, it can be quite the demoralizing experience. Add to that the annoyance of having to switch out to a completely different contraption in order to pump hands-free, and it's even more of a let down (pun not necessarily intended.) Frustrated by this all-to-universal dance, founder Emily Ironi made it her mission to create an all-in-one bra that not only works for moms, but celebrates them. Her line of pretty, feminine intimates for nursing and pumping combine function with aesthetics to keep you looking and feeling your best as you rock new motherhood.

    Milkful: The Dairy Fairy's size inclusive sister company

    Part of the Dairy Fairy's mission was to create a line of nursing and pumping bras that would make women feel comfortable and confident. Since launching in 2012, Emily heard from many women of different shapes and sizes, asking, "why doesn't this come in my size?" Adding sizes to the line didn't quite feel like enough. Instead, she set out to create an entirely new way to support their specific needs during such an important time in their lives. Thus, Milkful's line of size inclusive nursing and pumping intimates was born.

    Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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    Cameron Diaz on having a baby at 47: 'You really have to work hard for it'

    "The only pressure for me now is I have to live to be, like, 107, you know? No pressure!"

    This is the decade that saw the face of first-time motherhood change. The number of first-time mamas under 30 is shrinking, while more and more women are becoming moms after 40.

    Cameron Diaz is one of them. The actress and businesswoman, now 48, became a mom in January at the age of 47. In a new episode of Naomi Campbell's YouTube series, No Filter, Diaz opens up about what it's like to become a mom in your fourth decade.

    "A lot of people do it the other way around ... they get married [and] have a family in their youth," says Diaz."I'm kind of doing it in the second half of my life."

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