Among local health professionals who work with women as they go through the journey from pregnancy to new motherhood, Latham Thomas is a kind of star. Even Dr. Oz has referred to her as a “nutrition powerhouse.”
In her quest to help expectant and new mamas achieve optimal health, Thomas, who is also a New York City mom, has most recently introduced her new holistic lifestyle hub, Mama Glow.
We sat down with the wellness expert to ask all about the Mama Glow philosophy and to get the scoop on the upcoming Mama Glow Salon Series debuting Monday evening, April 16th.
The event will feature the East Coast premiere of Ricki Lake’s and Abby Epstein’s acclaimed documentary, More Business of Being Born, along with a panel discussion held by designer Rebecca Minkoff, Lyss Stern of Diva Moms, Denise Albert and Melissa Gerstein from The MOMS and Dee Poku of the WIE Network.
Be sure to show up early for cocktail hour at 6pm. Ricki Lake will be there, along with other noted moms who Latham has worked with. There will be great goody bags too! (Click here for tickets!)
Tell us about your professional background and how Mama Glow grows out of that.
Well, I’m a graduate of Columbia University and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. My passion lies in women’s wellness particularly in and around pregnancy. I had such an incredible experience being pregnant and it was largely due to lifestyle factors. I first launched Tender Shoots Wellness in 2005 to offer culinary, nutrition and yoga services for busy moms-to-be. The outgrowth of that work and a new vision for events, products, etc. resulted in Mama Glow. I empower expectant and new moms and help them ignite their glow power through nutrition, yoga, lifestyle and labor support. I also co-founded Mama Glow Film Festival, which is a platform for maternal advocacy through film and philanthropy. I’m an author, too–my first book on pregnancy and wellness comes out this November.
The graphics on your website are gorgeous—and of course it’s no a coincidence that the main silhouettes are of women with graceful bumps—baby bumps. Do you see Mama Glow as exclusively for expectant and new moms, or primarily?
Thank you. Mama Glow is a lifestyle hub that was conceived specifically with mothers and mamas-to-be in mind, but we offer a range of services and events for women outside of that demographic. Mama Glow is about harnessing your creative power, and integrating self care–before, during and after pregnancy. We primarily serve this population but all women can certainly join in the conversation.
You have a background in integrative nutrition and you’re a holistic health coach. How did your particular interest in pre-natal health and maternal well-being grow out of that? Was it there from the start? Did it start when you became a mom?
My interest in maternal health peaked when I became pregnant with Fulano. I was always interested in food as medicine and using healthy lifestyle practices like yoga, meditation and organic living to create an abundant and balanced life. It wasn’t until I was pregnant that I saw this space was wide open and our unique needs as expectant mothers just weren’t being met. I had an amazing pregnancy and birth and I wanted to do my best to ensure I could help other mothers feel the way I did. My mission is to make moms feel luminous and help them harness the lifestyle practices that work for them to optimize their glow power.
On a side note, how old is your son? He appeared in our April issue because he was the guest DJ at the first ever runway show for moms during Fashion Week. Does he live for music? And since you’re his mom, it seems only fair to ask: Does he eat like most kids, or perhaps a little better?
My mush Fulano is 8 years old, he’s my universe. Yes, he deejayed the Strut Moms Show which Iman hosted. He also spun tunes for Diane Von Furstenberg for her launch of DVF for GAP and appeared on the TODAY show deejaying for her, as well. He’s a big music fan and has always been that way since he was a baby. He’s blessed to have DJ Cassidy as his mentor, who helps him refine his skills and supports him at all of his gigs.
Fulano is a great eater! He loves rice and beans, seaweed, avocado, lentil soup, asparagus, spinach, pears. His favorite places to dine out include Bar Pitti, Candle 79, Pure Food and Simple Kitchen. The reason he eats so well is because I also eat well so when you practice what you preach, your kids tend to follow. We also cook together. We are veggie so we follow a plant-based diet.
Back to Mama Glow: Yoga seems to be a very important part of the experience. Why? Why is yoga such a helpful and appealing exercise to pregnant women? Also, do you subscribe to a certain kind of yoga?
Yes. I’m a big yoga practitioner and did yoga throughout my pregnancy. The yoga practice offers the foundation for self exploration, mental well-being, and physical strength and flexibility necessary to undergo pregnancy and labor. I’m a vinyasa yoga practitioner and I got into it initially because it felt like dance to me. I teach women to tune inward and connect with their internal rhythms in my classes. I weave in movements that help them prepare for the physical demands of labor. I coach and provide encouragement and guided visualizations that come in handy for labor. It’s a good work out for those who are looking for a challenge, and always ends in me offering hand massage and aromatherapy to my clients. They literally melt in relaxation pose.
Not surprisingly, you also focus a lot on food, offering programs in everything from a kind of nutritional detox to rid the pregnant body of unwanted toxins to a class you playfully call “Pickles & Ice Cream,” to help women understand their cravings and address them in sound ways. One question that comes immediately to mind is this: In your experience, do most OB-GYNs drop the ball on pre-natal nutrition? Are many pregnant women lacking a healthy a regimen?
I would say that prenatal nutrition is poorly understood in general. Many people think you need to eat lots of dairy in order to maintain a healthy pregnancy and it’s just not true. We need adequate calcium in balance with other vital minerals like magnesium, iron and zinc, to name a few as well as a whole host of vitamins. I teach women to draw their nutrients from full spectrum nutrition not from a select few sources of foodstuffs. You can absorb more calcium from leafy green veggies and skip the saturated fat and cholesterol that comes with milk. I show moms how to understand what their body really wants when it craves something. I think women have been steered in the wrong direction when it comes to nutrition and, if given the right options and a little support, would make the best choices for their body and developing baby.
I see that your doula service is another key component of Mama Glow. How should a pregnant women evaluate a doula to determine whether she’d be a good partner? More generally, do you consider having a doula to be an essential part of the birth process? Are doulas covered by insurance?
I personally love doulas–I am one myself. I think that having a hand to hold, a soothing familiar voice, and constant presence at your birth is critical for a process as intense as labor. When you are evaluating your potential doula it’s important to have chemistry with that person–you should vibe well. Your comfort is most important. Also, you want to make sure that you share similar philosophical beliefs about birth, and that she is open-minded. If your doula is pushing her own ideals before your desires for your birth then that will arise during labor and be quite challenging. So ask a lot of questions so that you can make the best choice. I have a section on this in my forthcoming book, Mama Glow: A Hip Lifestyle Guide to Your Fabulous Abundant Pregnancy (Hay House, November 2012). Some insurance companies cover doulas. The presence of a doula has been statistically shown to decrease the labor time, decrease chances for C-section, and increase maternal satisfaction. It’s a great investment for your birth.
So here we are chatting about Mama Glow and we haven’t yet talk about the big event coming up on April 16th. What’s the Mama Glow Salon Series all about and why did you want Ricki Lake’s More Business of Being Born to be your first presentation? For readers who aren’t familiar, please tell us a bit about the movie and what they can expect on the 16th.
The Mama Glow Salon Series is a platform for discussion around birth, women’s health, cocktails and conversation. We wanted to platform Ricki’s film because we felt it needed to be celebrated. We wanted to use her film as a way to open up discussion around birth advocacy and allow women to ask questions, share and engage while having a really elevated social experience–that’s what the Salon Series is all about. More Business of Being Born is a four-part DVD series that continues their provocative and entertaining exploration of the modern maternity care system, offering a practical look at birthing options as well as poignant celebrity birth stories from stars including: Alanis Morissette, Gisele Bundchen, Christy Turlington-Burns, Cindy Crawford, Molly Ringwald, Laila Ali and more.
What did Dr. Oz call you? “A fitness and nutritional powerhouse!” Sounds like a lot of people could use your help. Would you work with a male parenting magazine editor who used to play a lot of basketball and eat a lot of salads but has long since lost his way?
Hahaha, of course! I actually have focused on women in pregnancy because not only am I passionate about it, people are always having babies. It’s a great business to be in. I offer Glow Guidance which is virtual support for people in other phases of life. I have had lots of people who have wanted to work with me who are not having babies. The goal is still for them to live their best life–one of optimal wellness and feeling amazing and looking radiant. So it all ties back to the glow. I exclusively work with women because I believe we need more support through our life transitions.
[Editor’s Note] Be sure to check out the upcoming Mama Glow Salon Series taking place on Monday evening, April 16th. The event will feature Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein’s acclaimed documentary, More Business of Being Born, along with a panel discussion held by Rebecca Minkoff, Lyss Stern of Diva Moms, Denise Albert and Melissa Gerstein from The MOMS and Dee Poku of the WIE Network. Be sure to show up early for cocktail hour at 6pm – the film will begin shortly after! (Click here for tickets!)
Mama Glow: A Hip Lifestyle Guide to Your Fabulous Abundant Pregnancy releases on November 6th, 2012. Visit MamaGlow.com where every two weeks they highlight a Mama Glow Icon–a woman who is a powerful example of the mama glow lifestyle. That could be you! Send in your stories, questions, triumphs. Stay in the glow and sign up for the mailing list, with amazing giveaways. Follow on twitter @GlowMaven