Maternity lifestyle expert and author Latham Thomas on the importance of love, self-care and boundaries during pregnancy and after.
Latham Thomas is the founder of Mama Glow, a holistic lifestyle company that supports women in achieving optimal wellness during the childbearing years. She also teaches prenatal yoga, and offers doula services and holistic nutrition counseling. First appearing on our November 2011 cover, Thomas recently reconnected with Experience Life to discuss her new book, Mama Glow: A Hip Guide to Your Fabulous Abundant Pregnancy (Hay House, 2012).
EL | Your work focuses on empowering women to become their healthiest selves before, during and after pregnancy. What inspired you to cater to women in this phase of their lives?
LT | My pregnancy with my son is really what’s inspired my work. I had such a fulfilling experience, and I attribute most of that to lifestyle. I was very in tune with my body, monitoring the process, writing things down and learning from other women about what their pregnancies were like in comparison. I knew I was on to something when my own experience kept defying what I was reading in most books. I was privy to information that I needed to share with other people. When I saw that there wasn’t anything out there like my business, I knew I had to create it.
EL | What mistakes do women tend to make concerning pregnancy?
LT | Pre-conception, many women don’t connect the dots that their lifestyle and thoughts contribute to their wellness. They have these beliefs about what they’re capable of: “I’m over 35, so I’m not as fertile,” for instance. Or “I’m young, so it doesn’t matter what I do to my body right now.” When we think these thoughts, we cede control to a fictitious power outside of ourselves. In fact, we have a great deal of control when it comes to our bodies and daily choices. It’s about being accountable.
The other thing is, when women become pregnant, there’s almost always fear: that something will go wrong, of the changes to their bodies, of the pain of childbirth, of what life will be like after baby arrives. In Mama Glow, I address how to navigate these neuroses, many of which are the result of ingrained cultural beliefs, and how to embrace what’s coming, so women can grow into this new version of themselves and feel empowered.
Later in pregnancy, women often do too much work and rush too much. That’s why I emphasize unitasking: The body is already working to produce a human being. You need to develop a strong sense of listening to the body and what it needs — it tells you, in no uncertain terms, if you’re willing to listen — and then set boundaries so you can grow into your best self. So you can glow.
EL | You introduce the term “womb-ifest” in Mama Glow. What is this?
LT | Womb-ifesting is how I talk about the creative process, both physically and metaphorically. It’s focusing on the womb, the place in the body that’s connected with everything we create, and understanding that everything is born from darkness, from babies to ideas. When we allow ourselves to drop into this creative center and harness its energy to cultivate and bring these things to light, we create more space for opportunity and growth. The energy here is always fluid and flowing; all you have to do is show up and lend yourself to the process. You don’t have to think it into being — that’s what makes this different from manifestation. Womb-ifestation happens inside of you and then moves out into the world. The growth is not necessarily witnessed by others.
EL | Each of your book’s five sections is divided into three parts: “In the Kitchen,” “On the Mat” and “In Your Life.” Why are these areas essential?
LT | I view them as the pillars for optimal wellness during pregnancy. “In the Kitchen” is focused on how you can best prepare yourself and the foods you eat to move through the stages of pregnancy. I explain how everything you ingest — nutritionally or energetically — affects your baby’s growth.
“On the Mat” represents a symbolic place for women to turn inside so they can better connect with the process. As a prenatal yoga teacher, I created this section to help women discover the tools that are going to help them be most comfortable, most grounded and most present during pregnancy, labor, birth and beyond.
“In Your Life” is about applying the tools of self-care that support us, like beauty techniques, massage, journaling, affirmations and rest. It’s about cultivating a better outlook and a more fulfilling experience so it’s like we’re celebrating.
EL | You make the case that letting go — of clutter, draining relationships, toxic food, fear — is essential to living in the glow and achieving balance.
LT | It’s so important to let go of things that are heavy along the journey, because whatever is weighing you down before your pregnancy is only amplified once you’re pregnant. As with gardening, you have to weed your life so you can nurture what you want to grow.
When a woman puts energy into her life this way, there’s an emotional and mental transformation whereby she becomes more empowered to claim parts of herself that she didn’t know existed and to take back parts of herself that might have gone missing somewhere along the way. It’s an amazing change to witness.
EL | What is one glow tip anyone can embrace for improving health?
LT | Get enough sleep. People are very sleep deprived, and many don’t attribute the hormonal or metabolic imbalances they’re experiencing to the fact that they haven’t slept. It’s one of the things that plagues women and men who suffer from infertility. If you allow yourself to set boundaries around sleep, then you can protect yourself in almost any other area.
EL | Your son, Fulano, is 9 years old. Looking back on your pregnancy, is there anything you’d do differently?
LT | I would pamper myself more than I did. Back then, if my feet hurt, I would ask for a foot rub; but if they didn’t [hurt], I figured it wasn’t necessary. Now I know that making time for self-care practices — massage, yoga, taking a bath — is essential for feeling and being my best.
EL | How have your experiences as a yogi and doula influenced your approach to parenting?
LT | I view my child as a partner in this duet. I’m here to guide him with what I’ve learned so far, but to also take his lead on things. Children know a lot more than we do in certain instances because they have a totally open frame of mind in how they see the world. I also follow a “watch and see” methodology to parenting. If he’s at the playground with his friends, for instance, and a conflict arises, I wait to see if the kids can figure it out themselves before stepping in.
Above all, I’m here to support my son and hold his hand as he crosses the river — just like I hold women’s hands as they cross the river into motherhood.