We had a chance to catch up with Latham Thomas, the maternal wellness guru and founder of Mama Glow, a lifestyle brand that offers education and inspiration for new and expecting mamas. Her company offers full spectrum doula services, including support for fertility, pregnancy and new motherhood. Her best selling book Own Your Glow is now available in paperback. Here, she talks about the role of a doula for new moms and the maternal health issues our country faces.
Please tell us how Mama Glow was born? What led you to your role as a doula?
Mama Glow was born out of what I saw as the need for families to have hand-holding during the pregnancy, birth and postpartum period. My son is 17 this July and I had an incredible birth with him, but that isn’t the case for everyone. I vowed after his birth to serve during the birth process to protect the experience. Modern living has transformed the way we birth and my work at Mama Glow and our community of doulas seek to establish and protect the birth village.
For those who don't know, how would you explain what a doula does and why you would need one as opposed to having a baby nurse or just your OBGYN?
A doula doesn’t replace the role of a clinician. We are non-clinical care providers who offer emotional support, physical, psychological, educational support, partner support, and advocacy. My client Rebecca Minkoff and her husband say its like having a producer for your birth. We are there to help hold the container of safety so the birthing client can ascend into what I call the birth trance. We are there to help educate and empower clients to speak up for themselves and their needs.
How has the role of a doula changed since you began your career?
The role of a doula has not changed so much as people now know what a doula is. What is changing is that more women of color are reclaiming their traditions and coming back to do doula work in support of their communities in light of the maternal mortality crisis in this country. We’ve seen a 25 year increase in black maternal deaths in this country and doulas are a critical link in helping to bridge some of the policy gaps. We can not do this work alone. There needs to be a concerted effort to dismantle and reform our medical system where implicit bias is rampant. Many doulas are engaged in birth activism and committed to challenging the norms that lead to birth disparities.
Tell us about your new book. What inspired you to write it? What do you hope readers to gain out of it?
It’s the paperback release of my best selling book, OWN YOUR GLOW. The invitation is to slow down, embrace self-care as a pathway to empowerment and to mother yourself. It’s the antithesis of hustling, and is focused on process. We are all works in process, let’s not rush through life, but relish it. The book offers reflections, meditations, rituals, and journal prompts to help advance your personal growth journey.
How has COVID impacted your role as a doula? How have your doulas had to adjust to working with moms-to-be during the pandemic?
COVID-19 has allowed us to pivot our globally recognized doula training to an online offering. We have students from around the world and 6 continents who have joined us and now with our digital program, we can accept more students than we could ever receive in our BK flagship space. It’s a blessing. It’s made us pivot as doulas professionally, many have started to offer virtual doula support and have quickly shifted online. For clients having home birth or birthing in a birth center, their doulas are still able to be present.
Mama Glow has hosted some amazing webinars lately on maternal health, including issues facing the Black community. What are some of those issues?
We host a variety of webinars covering all issues and interests along the birth continuum. The black maternal health crisis is not a black issue, it’s a human rights issue. Black women and Native American women in this country are 4-5 times more likely than white women to die during childbirth or due to childbirth related causes. Systemic racism is at the root of the birth disparities and is compounded by comorbidities that also affect our communities. Until we platform this issue at the top of our political and feminist agendas, it will remain a black issue. This is a fight for survival and no one should have to question whether or not they will survive their birth.
What do you see for Mama Glow in the next decade? How do you see maternal health changing?
We have some incredible projects in the works to be announced in 2021. I can say what I would hope for maternal health. I hope that the people of this nation, not just the policy makers focus on protecting the lives of birthing people. I hope that one day we can achieve birth equity. We are focused on education and hope that doulas will be accessible to everyone who would like one.
What do you love about DockATot?
The product is something I suggest for my families to have on hand to help keep the baby in close proximity. I also love it for folks who are traveling so the baby has something familiar no matter where you go.