Glow Maven Latham Thomas: on The Soft Space, maternal health and watching her young adult son soar

The Soft Space embodies community, education, and support, among other things—but more on that later

Glow Maven Latham Thomas: on The Soft Space, maternal health and watching her young adult son soar

Our cover this month is by happenstance. Latham Thomas of Mama Glow unveiled a stunning new space in Brooklyn, and I was eager to feature it. The Soft Space embodies community, education, and support, among other things—but more on that later.

Our New York Family team had quite the agenda on the day of the shoot. Our Events Editor, Shara Levine, kicked off her day celebrating Women’s International Day by dancing with Julianne Hough and Latham at a KINRGY X movement class. Then, our crew arrived to photograph the space and our April mom. While our cover mom, Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, was getting glammed up, photographer Yumi Matsuo and I got to work absorbing the energy of the space and capturing its loveliness. Latham’s infectious energy filled the room, precisely what our winter-weary bodies needed.

After seeing the captured photos, we couldn’t resist featuring this new space and celebrating Latham on the cover. I have personally watched Latham care and advocate diligently for mothers and families. She continuously champions maternal health through advocacy, teaching, and breaking barriers.

Support is crucial at the beginning of becoming a mom and even more vital as we journey through the many phases of being a woman. May celebrates Mother’s Day, and Latham sincerely honors mothers.

We are excited about this new space as she continues to grow personally and professionally while continuing to be a foundation for women.

I chatted with Latham about expanding Mama Glow, tools moms already possess for a mental regroup, watching her young adult son soar, and how she is an Open Nest, not an Empty Nester.

 

For all the parents new to Mama Glow, can you share how Mama Glow supports mothers and families?

I’m the founder of Mama Glow, a global maternal health and education platform that educates and professionally develops doulas and nurse care managers to serve in our healthcare system to improve maternal health outcomes. We have trained nearly 3,000 doulas across the USA and 6 continents. Our market leading training program, the Mama Glow Doula Homeschool Professional Training Program is the first of its kind to be embedded as an Ivy League University course where I was appointed Visiting Professor of the Practice of Gender and Sexuality Studies at Brown University. My commitment to advancing maternal health is grounded in community and academia. We recently wrapped a national Doula Competency training program we designed for CVS Health and Aetna nurse care managers for CEUs. This means that nurses are also learning how to integrate the doula model of care to support families.

We offer doula matching services to families in different ways, some are private pay, others come to us through the Mama Glow Foundation for pro bono doula services. We also offer educational programs for parents.

The Mama Glow Foundation leads efforts in education, advocacy, and the arts, as well as research and scholarship. At the Foundation we welcome and mentor University fellows through our partnership with Brown University and support Doula clubs on 5 campuses, supporting university doula collectives. The Mama Glow Foundation also provides pro bono doula services across the country through partnerships with companies like Carol’s Daughter and the Love Delivered Initiative, and through the Citywide Doula Initiative, where the Mama Glow Foundation is the largest provider of pro bono doula services in New York City.

It’s been a deep pleasure to elevate and celebrate this work through our platform, including The Doula Expo by Mama Glow, our annual culture shifting festival that celebrates a vision for the future of birth work; this past Spring, we held the Doula Expo at Hudson Yards in a

60,000 square foot space and welcomed nearly 2,000 guests. This is how we show up in the community and now folks will be able to also join us for lectures, workshops, events and community support at The Soft Space by Mama Glow as well.

As someone who spends her life supporting mothers and women, do you have any advice for an overwhelmed mother on how she can make space for herself when she feels she lacks the time and, in some circumstances, the funds to reboot mentally?

It’s really important to listen to your body. Self-care is about checking in with yourself on a moment-to-moment basis and meeting your personal needs. Community is so critical as we navigate the challenges of new parenthood. I encourage folks who are feeling overwhelmed to tap into their support system, your sister circle, and practice asking for help – by the way; it can be difficult to ask for help when you’re the person everyone depends on. Having a group text check-in having some folks you can ask to come over and watch the kids while you go for a walk alone, can be really helpful in reducing stress. All of the self-care and stress management tools I use are free: I journal, practice deep breathing, turn on the music and move my body, I water my plants, I go outside for a walk… all of this helps me stay calibrated. I would invite you to pour energy into the small things that bring you pleasure and punctuate moments of pleasure throughout the day, even those of us who are busy can choose to make this time for ourselves.

It is no secret that New York Family loves you; this is your third cover! Your first cover featured you and your then-tween son on the cover, who is now in college. How is parenting evolving for you as your son transitions into adulthood, and what lessons have you learned along the way?

I’m honored for my third cover! Parenting is amazing at every stage. My son is now 20 years alive and I have an Open Nest. I wrote a post when Fulano headed off to school where I spoke about the potency of this new life phase and what it was like to move away from birthing and caring for someone for nearly two decades and then sending them out into the world. My son went on to attend Berklee School of Music in Boston and is now a junior in college. While it’s just a 3 hour train or car ride away from Brooklyn, it’s still far enough away that I am reminded of the distance. It’s good for him because it allows him to spread his wings. I learn so much as a parent about trust. When your children begin to soar, you have to activate your trust and faith in ways previously unimagined, you have to trust that all of the lessons you gave and the messages you shared were encoded. You have to believe that you have raised a person who carries their values in their heart and makes good decisions without your direct and daily influence. And that mutual trust is the pulse of your relationship. I am an evolved version of myself, I became anew when I gave birth to my son and I shed a layer of myself when he entered this new life phase. I don’t say ‘Empty’ nest because I don’t feel empty; I feel whole, alive, and full. I have been so creative during this time, and I’ve given birth to so many projects during my open nesting phase. Open nesting is a rite of passage that I honor and celebrate.

 

What was your inspiration behind creating The Soft Space?

The Soft Space by Mama Glow is a 2,300-square-foot wellness, education, and live events oasis in the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The concept was born out of the collective need for ease, softness, and recalibration in response to the challenging times we are living and is a dream realized. I have been affirming women and doulas around self-care modalities and contemplative practice to improve mental health and wellbeing for years. This is a space where you are welcomed home. And this space is one where folks can engage in high touch experiences anchored in optimal wellbeing. I am inspired by birth workers and women who support women. I wanted to create a space where I didn’t want to leave, a space that beautiful and comfortable. I wanted it to feel like home.

How does The Soft Space align with Mama Glow’s mission and values?

The Soft Space by Mama Glow is an extension of Mama Glow, just like the Doula Expo by Mama Glow (doulaexpo.com) or The Mama Glow Foundation (MamaGlowFoundation.org) are all brand extensions and part of our overall vision. It is a physical gathering space to bring our grater community together and also to allow us to expand our programming that continues to evolve and touch more and more people!

What unique offerings can visitors expect to experience at The Soft Space?

We host book signings, lectures and thought leadership, symposiums, retreats, blessing ways, product launches, pop-ups and so much more. We have hosted a few retreats, including a private wellness retreat for companies looking to create community building and team building for their staff. We have several brand partners booking the space out for product launches and events for press and influencers as well. Our shop features boutique wellness products from over 40 women and femme owned brands with a focus on Black and POC products. Our library nook features literary ancestors like Audre Lorde and Nora Neal Hurston. Our kitchen features an herbal apothecary full of medicinal plant allies, you can get an herbal tonic after your class and read a book on the couch in our library. We have hosted photo shoots and even shot video content. The space is a great backdrop for content creators to film content so we are happy to welcome those folks into the space to have a gorgeous space to film their wellness, lifestyle, beauty or food related content.

How do you envision The Soft Space fostering community and wellness for the community?

It’s our intention to welcome like-minded brand partners, organizations, and individuals to host their life moments and experiential gatherings at the Soft Space. I am really excited for all of the incredible experts, authors, and thought leaders in wellness, women’s health, mental health, and beyond to join us and bring their programming to the Soft Space. We want to welcome folks exploring and navigating the reproductive health continuum for content, community, and support. We want to continue to nurture folks and center their mental health and bring them into a safe space where they can breathe deeply, have fellowship, and be at ease. We are a wellness destination and events space with soul!

How will The Soft Space support the physical and mental well-being of its visitors?

Guests are welcomed home in our front reception area, where they can remove their shoes and prepare for their experience in the space. Our shop features boutique wellness products from women and femme owned brands, with a focus on Black and POC products. Our kitchen features an herbal apothecary full of medicinal plant allies. We have a private treatment room is available for 1-on-1 client services like reiki, talk therapy, acupuncture, massage, etc. The Sanctuary features vaulted ceilings with skylights, and a landscaped window garden. The sanctuary seats 80 guests, so it’s great for any type of event and folks can convene in community in this space. It is so inviting! In addition to drop-in programming, we have a group mental health series we are launching in partnership with Kate Spade NY, who we work with to improve mental health outcomes for women. The space is providing a platform where folks can shut off their phones and just be present.

What types of programming are available at The Soft Space?

The programing is really special, we have everything from our professional doula training programs, to wellness and self-care programming like, Full Moon Sound Baths, Crystals for Fertility, Sacred Belly Dance, Womb Healing and more. What’s been really great is that a lot of brand partners have come to the space to activate, so we have hosted events with folks like Juliane Hough and KINRGY, CVS Aetna, where we hosted a retreat for their Women’s Health team, Nanit hosted a day long activation for parents. We are hosting a Retreat for Doulas and Caregivers, something we love to do most, is pour into our community. The space is really versatile and we look forward to bringing even more amazing offerings to the community as we head into the Summer months! Stay tuned to our site and mailing list for program updates!

How do you envision The Soft Space contributing to Brooklyn’s cultural and social fabric?

I see the Soft Space being a community destination in Brooklyn. We are in Williamsburg which has been gentrified for a long time. I love that we are a Black-female led business that is conveniently located conveniently 1 block away from the Bedford Avenue L train station, the space is easily accessible to all. We are offering a soft place to land for everyone who is ready to embrace a new way of thinking about wellbeing. We focus on platforming BIPOC healing artists and wellness practitioners and welcoming. We are bringing innovative programing and curated experiences but also a space for folks to come celebrate their life events. BIPOC folks who often feel left out of wellness spaces. We have already developed some great partnerships with local businesses as well, we hope to continue to be a home for folks to experience the magic of Mama Glow.

Handles: @Glowmaven, @thesoftspace.bk
@mamaglow

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