The day we’ve all been waiting for is finally here: launch day! That New Mom Life, a new podcast from Parents about those first bleary-eyed months of motherhood, is now available on listening platforms.

By Parents Editors
February 16, 2021
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Credit: Getty Images.

That New Mom Life is here (right now!) to hold your hand through the whirlwind of becoming a new mom. In its debut episode, hosts Grace Bastidas, Editor-in-Chief of Parents Latina, and Desiree Fortin, who you may know as @ThePerfectMom on Instagram, discuss the first 24 hours of parenthood. 

They're joined by celebrity doula Latham Thomas, who explains the physical and mental changes new moms might experience, what it means to not feel an instant connection to a newborn (spoiler: it's totally normal!), and the ways that moms can take care of themselves. 

Listeners will also hear real-life birth stories from four new moms. From having the biggest baby in the hospital to rare complications, these stories show the diversity of birthing experiences. As Grace and Desiree can attest, no two births are alike.

Over the course of 12 episodes, That New Mom Life will cover it all. No topic is off limits in new mom world!

Upcoming topics this season:

  • Lactation and formula feeding
  • The emotional ups and downs
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Mom friends
  • How to stay in the moment
  • Body changes
  • How to share the parenting load
  • Establishing routines
  • Preparing for what's next

If you have a story to tell or want to learn more about That New Mom Life, email us at thatnewmomlife@meredith.com

Listen and subscribe to That New Mom Life on Apple PodcastsSpotify, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts. 

Listen to episode 1 right now

Plus, follow along here:

Desiree: You give birth to your baby and your stomach is nice and round and firm, right? And then the baby comes out and it's squishy. And your insides are in different places! There's a lot of different things happening!

Grace: You know, I've been more comfortable in a bikini than when I was pregnant.

I was like, this belly is supposed to be here! 

Desiree: Exactly, right?!

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Grace: Hello and welcome to a brand-new podcast from Parents magazine called That New Mom Life. I'm Grace Bastidas, Editor-in-Chief of Parents Latina, and a mom to two little girls. 

Desiree: And I'm Desiree Fortin, blogger and The Perfect Mom on Instagram. I'm a mom of triplets—two boys and a girl—and a brand new baby girl, Cambria Rose. And we're here to hold your hands through the next 12 episodes as we explore all the elements of That New Mom Life.

Grace: This week we're going to talk about the first 24 hours of motherhood; that post birth haze when you're not quite sure what has just happened, and your mind and body are playing catch up.

Desiree: You're going to hear from Latham Thomas, an incredible doula who helps women navigate those emotional and physical ups and downs after they have given birth. Her role is to mother the mother. 

Grace: And she shares some great advice about everything to expect from your brain and your body in that first 24 hours, as well as what to do if you don't feel that instant bond with the tiny human in your arms.

Latham: When it comes to someone sort of, "I'm not digging this person just yet, you know, they're cute and everything, but I'm not feeling them yet." It's OK. 

It's not a failure. There's nothing wrong with you. There's nothing wrong with your baby.

There's nothing wrong with the process. 

Desiree: But first, let's hear some real-life birth stories from moms just like you and me.

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Mom 1: This was my second child, Kennedy. The day before Kennedy was born, my mucus plug fell out, but my water didn't break, contractions didn't start. The next day I didn't really have contractions, I'm anxious about it, so to distract me, my mom was going to take me and my daughter out to lunch. 

My mom's a labor and delivery nurse and so she is, you know, throughout the conversation, realizing that we'll take a pause in the conversation every five minutes and then that pause switches to every three minutes. So, she says, you know, "Where is your husband? He needs to come home. We need to go to the hospital." 

He comes home and, of course, there's construction, so it takes him about 45 minutes to get home. My mom is in the front seat, he's driving, and I'm in the backseat laboring.

My water breaks on the highway. So, my mom's talking to somebody at the hospital saying, "Oh my God, we're not going to make it." The hospital thinks that we're going to come to the emergency room, but we pull up at the roundabout, courtyard entrance. And this hospital has these, you know, floor-to-ceiling windows, this beautiful courtyard; it's a beautiful August afternoon, people are out. 

My husband at the time was running around looking for doctors, the nurses, the wheelchair, something. Nobody's there. 

So my mom, we opened the door, and she catches the baby, you know, in front of the entire hospital. 

One minute you're a young mom planning your birthing bag and what you're gonna wear, who's going to be there, and how it's going to go. And the next minute, you're, half naked hanging out of a Volvo in front of all of downtown Minneapolis.

Mom 2: I delivered a 10 pounds, 11.5 ounce, very healthy baby boy, which we named Adrian. 

He was the largest baby born in the hospital on that day. He was also the largest baby that my doctor had ever delivered. So she was really proud. 

And then the nurses and the doctors kept on coming by my room to see the largest baby: "We want to see the largest baby!" And they would come congratulate us obviously on the delivery of our baby, but they were just overwhelmed by how large he was and how he looked like a Sumo wrestler. His face was huge. He had rolls everywhere—his arms, his legs, his tummy. I mean, it was just rolls on top of rolls on top of rolls!

Mom 3: I had had my baby and experienced all this euphoria and gave her back to the nurses. It was time to deliver the placenta. As that was happening, I had this horrible, excruciating pain. 

Something was happening because the expression on my doctor's face changed. A bunch of nurses rushed into the room. I remember they were talking about me, and I really didn't understand what's happening.

And then I had the most bombastic pain ever in my existence, and I could see it in a split second, at an angle, my doctor's hand and arm disappearing inside me all the way up to her elbow. And I felt like a cartoon character where the eyes boing out. 

I screamed. I could not help myself. It hurt so bad. And more than that, I was confused. Here I was, I had just had my baby, I was crying out of joy and just happiness and elation. And then in the next second, I was in the worst pain of my life. And I just remember being so shocked. Turns out I had a rare complication called a uterine inversion.

It happens when a piece of the placenta is still stuck to the wall of the uterus. And so when the placenta is coming out, the uterus can come with it. And so mine came out from my body, and my doctor had to forcefully and very quickly put it back into place. And she had to run her hand through the uterus to be sure there were no pieces of placenta still left behind that could cause me to have an infection. And she had to act quickly because I could have bled to death. 

Later I found out she had never had this experience with any other patient, and she had been delivering babies for like 30 years. And I'm so glad she knew what to do, and she saved me that day. And clearly the experience did not deter me because now I'm a mom of three.

Mom 4: I had been in labor since 4 a.m. and was absolutely exhausted. The contractions were growing stronger, so my doctor checked me and saw that I was 9 centimeters dilated, but she told me it's time. 

Now I see-sawed between letting my mother, mother-in-law, and younger sister-in-law in the delivery room. 

My mom, it was her first time being an abuela, first-time grandma, so she was a ball of nerves, which didn't help me. But just before pushing, I told the doctor to let them in only if they stayed in a corner of the delivery room.

So as I started pushing, my Dominican mother, my Colombian mother-in-law, and younger sister-in-law stood in a corner of the room, held hands and prayed. 

My mom was like "Dios Mio que amar y salga de esto y que todo salga bien."

Praying to God for me to come out of this and that everything turns out fine. She told me this later. All I remember is seeing them huddled out of the corner of my eye. I heard their whispers as my doctor encouraged me to push. 

So much happened that day, including my blood pressure dropping after the epidural, which was a really scary moment.

But thankfully, my little Camilo came out healthy and screaming. He even peed on me when he came out! It makes me emotional to think about this prayer circle. The three of them sent love to me during one of the most uncertain moments of my life. And I'll never forget it.

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Desiree:  Now it's time to hear from doula and wellness expert Latham Thomas.

Grace: After giving birth to her son Fulano, Latham set out on a mission to empower women to make self-care an integral part of their pre- and post-natal journeys.

Desiree: In her nearly-20-year-career, she's trained scores of doulas, worked with celebrity clients, and written a number of books including her latest, Own Your Glow. 

Grace: Hi, Latham. Welcome to That New Mom Life. You're our first guest. Thank you so much for coming on. Since we're talking about the first 24 hours of motherhood, what does a postpartum doula do? 

Latham: Yeah. I mean, first, thanks so much for having me and for having a conversation like this, because so much of the focus on the childbearing continuum really centers around pregnancy. And a lot of what we learn is about the experience of pregnancy, how to prepare, right? Getting ready for your birth. 

And then sort of the cliff ends there, right? It's like, no one talks about what happens afterwards. 

Grace: And you're on your own. 

Latham: You're on your own. Right? The baby gets here. You have to figure it all out for yourself. And a lot of, sort of the wisdom-keeping that we have doesn't get imparted to people for postpartum. And so a lot of people talk about this sort of feeling of being let down and that they weren't supported, or they didn't have the information they needed because people didn't share. 

And so what a postpartum doula can help do, and really what their role entails is, you know, so supporting that birthing person along the entire continuum in the postpartum period. There's so much that happens, but initially in that first 24 hours, there's a lot of cramping and discomfort and changes that you're just really not prepared for, unless someone's talking about it with you, right? And so this is really the role, right? It is to prepare someone for what that first 24 hours will look like and then be there to hold their hand and to be a constant presence of support for at least six weeks postpartum.

So it is about emotional support. It is about physical support. It is really helping them to orient around all of the changes they'll experience postpartum. It is helping them navigate the family dynamic and what it means to be a new family, what it means to be a single parent, whatever that looks like for you on that postpartum side. And really it's about like mothering the mother. Like really supporting them because everybody's here to support the baby, by the way. Like, there's not a shortage of people who want to do things for the baby, but nobody's thinking about you. So it's one dedicated person that's really, really concerned about you.

Desiree: I love that. Everyone's there for the baby, but you need someone to be there for you to guide you. And to tell you it's normal to experience all the things that come in that first 24 hours.

Latham: That's right. 

Desiree: And then comes all the physical changes with your uterus contracting to your breasts becoming engorged. Can you share some of the symptoms that can be worrisome?

Latham: Yeah. So, you know, in the postpartum period, there's so many things that we should be looking out for as normal. And then also there's some things that we should note as things to worry or maybe call the physician about.

So it's normal to have constant fluid leaving your body. So in the postpartum period, people think the baby comes and that's kind of it, the baby comes and you're wearing like a heavy duty pad for six weeks. You're constantly leaking. So there's blood that's coming. What you're going to look for is clots. So if you feel yourself, pass a sizable clot, that's something that you want to go to the doctor for. If you have blood loss that tapers off and then bright red blood picks back up. You know, that that's a sign that you're moving around too much, that you're not doing enough resting. That is also something that you will want to make your physician aware of. 

Fever, chills. If you have an incision from a episiotomy, if you had an incision from a surgical procedure, like a C-section for instance you know, you're generally speaking, you have stitches that will dissolve. But if your incision site becomes really red, tender, and hot to the touch, smells really weird. Anything like that, anything that smells is a sign of infection, generally speaking as well. So you'd want to bring that to the attention of your doctor as well. 

Right now I would really suggest for everyone to sign up, if you can, with the telehealth platform. Most hospitals are offering some sort of telehealth for their patients, but make sure that you sign up to have this access to be able to talk to somebody because you think something's wrong. 

Grace: There's a lot of physical changes and a lot of them are perfectly normal and it's just what happens with birth, which is a transformation. You also go through a lot of hormonal changes and your emotions are all out of whack. What are some of those emotions that are typical and how do we start to process them? 

Latham: Yeah. So the interesting things, I would say that that happened in that postpartum period, really we start to feel this sort of cascade of hormones on the decline around day two, really day three, I would say, where all the maternal hormones drop drastically. 

So, you start to feel a little bit of like melancholy or blues, you know. We identified like most people have, what's called the baby blues, which is not a depression, but sort of like a tenderness, I would say, right? So if you're in a situation where there's like a funny commercial, you might laugh, but then if there's something like sad, you might cry very easily. So it's just a tender position to be in. 

But it can be exacerbated by emotional upset or disruption stress, right? And stress that can come in many, many forms. And so what we look for in that first couple of weeks really is to make sure that people feel supported because when symptoms of depression or anxiety aren't addressed, then those can become exacerbated and turn into what we recognize as PMADs, perinatal mood disorders. And postpartum depression is one of those mood disorders. 

Desiree: All right. So as you mentioned, there's so many different hormonal emotional changes that come with having a baby. And there's also this expectation that we should bond immediately with our baby. And sometimes that doesn't always happen. How can you assure parents that that's OK? And what advice would you have for someone who's experiencing that?

Latham: It's completely normal to have a spectrum of feelings around the postpartum experience. So feeling support, feeling bonded, feeling connected instantaneously is one person's experience. Feeling like, "Who is this stranger that's in my arms?" is another experience. It's also valid.  

And so I think what's most important is to elucidate that there is a validation in everyone's experience and that everyone's experience is real. And that more often than not, if you're feeling alone in something, you're not the only person that's having that experience. 

And I think that's so important for people to hear, because we always think that we're the only one. It's not a failure. There's nothing wrong with you. There's nothing wrong with your baby. There's nothing wrong with the process. Everything takes time and everyone has their own unique arc and their own unique journey in parenthood. And so I think it's important to give yourself time and space. To adapt and also to figure out what you need to feel supported to make space for that experience. 

I think if we can take some of the expectation that you're supposed to be acting a certain way or relating a certain way, or handling your baby a certain way off the table, and understand that there are cultural nuances, there are differences in how people are raised and also how people relate to new experiences, is really important.

And when someone indicates like, "Hey, I don't feel safe with a baby," or "I don't feel like I can do this," and we start to hear language like that, then we know that there's emotional and mental supports that we need in place to make sure that that person, you know, gets the help that they need. But when it comes to someone sort of, "I'm not digging this person just yet, you know, they're cute and everything, but I'm not feeling them yet." It's OK. 

Grace: So you talk a lot about glow time or embracing self care being really important in these first few weeks. Can you tell us a little bit about what that means and what that looks like?

Latham: Generally in the first 10 days I really try to have, whether it's a couple or, you know, mom, whoever it is, to take some time alone that does not include the baby.

If it's a couple, I usually like them to do like a little tiny date. Not really anywhere far. Sometimes it's just in the living room, you know what I mean? And the baby's not there.

You know, to just allocate some time. And it can be daily, it could be for five or 10 minutes in a day, but whatever it is that it's just for you.

And it's not just stuff that you do. It's also what you don't do, right? Self care is not like this. You know, it's not bubble bathing away your problems. It's actually thinking about on a moment-to-moment basis, checking in with yourself and asking, what do I need? 

"Self, what do I need?" Right? "To feel good right now. What do I need to feel supported right now? What do I need to give myself? How do I mother myself, right?" 

Because we're really good at taking care of everybody else. And then when it comes to us, we're like really good at keeping things away and depleting or, you know, what is it called? Kind of like, yeah, like punishing ourselves, you know? Like, "Oh, I didn't do this, so I'm not going to give myself this." Why does everything have to be like, you know, like a special occasion for us to do something nice for ourselves?  

You are the special occasion. Today is a good enough day for you to do something nice for yourself. 

And it doesn't have to be all the bells and whistles. It can be just like, I want a cup of tea and sit and like, watch the gossip column. Or I want to, you know, read a book or I want to go and call my friend and sit in the bathtub and watch Bridgerton, you know? Whatever it is.

Grace: But how do we remove any guilt around that? You know, in some cultures, mothers are taught to be self-sacrificing. So how do we get into that mindset where we know it's OK to ask yourself, "What do I need?"

Latham: Guilt is a really strong feeling that sort of is embedded in all of us in some capacity. So we have to start to think about, you know, also how to change the legacy of what we've inherited. In terms of our upbringing and make and design a new life and a new way of being and parenting that models for our children. Because our children are going to look to us and see like Mommy takes baths or Mommy, you know, does these things that Mommy loves to do. 

Mommy never stopped doing that thing that Mommy loved. And that also gives me as a child permission to pursue the things that I love and to make time for myself or know when I need personal time. And so we're also teaching our kids as we do this. And so I think about it, like not just for myself, but also for the family and also what I'm teaching the family through my actions.

Desiree: Yes, I think that's so great. I feel like it requires a lot of intention on our part as moms. Is there any value in documenting our birth stories? Even if they don't go as planned. And how can that help a new mother?

Latham: I love this question and I love the idea. We get power from telling our stories. So regardless of the outcome, regardless of what occurred, regardless of whether it was aligned with your vision or not, is your unique experience. And it speaks to who you are and who you've become from being imprinted by that process.  

And so there is value in your storytelling. And so I really feel like whether you want to talk about it from a lens of, you know, empowering others, because something happened to you that you didn't feel like was, you know, was fair or you didn't feel you were supported. Whatever that looks like, you know, for folks from the lens of, you know, having had a traumatic experience, it also helps people to be able to hear your story and to learn from what happened and from learning what you learned from your experience.  

You know, it helps people, who've had, you know, what they would call their ideal experiences to share those stories. I think that all stories are valid. All stories are important. And all stories are also a pathway to learning more about ourselves, and for many of us as a pathway to healing. And so even more so than people who've had, you know, experiences that they found to be, you know, really amazing. I think folks who share their stories that have had really challenging or painful experiences, it also is, is a part of the process for them to heal. And so I see it as a really integral part of us, you know, as we move into motherhood. 

Grace: I love that idea of healing by telling your own story and owning it. 

Latham: Yeah.

Grace: This is something that you mentioned as well about births that don't go as planned. The postpartum doula is there to help you with that emotional work. But if you don't have a person to guide you, what can a listener do that helps them recover from that experience?

Latham: I always turn to and invite people to turn to is journaling to start. Because that writing—and not everyone feels comfortable to write and so the other invitation would be to like audio journal. To use your iPhone, or if you have an Android.  

And you talk yourself through, you know, like talk about like what it is that you're feeling. You know, how you're feeling today, what you're upset about, what wasn't fair. What was it like for me, as a birthing person? What was it like for me as a new mother? What was it like for me, as a single mother? What was it like for me?

And write it as if you're asking that question. Interview yourself around what your experience was, and let come up for you, the emotion and the feeling of being failed or let down or whatever those things are. 

It's not always that that's going to be right after you have a baby. You might not be ready to have that conversation. It might be six months. It might be a year. It might not be instant, but when you're ready, it's a powerful time for you to make space to let go.

Grace: So finally, Latham. What is your best advice for someone in the first 24 hours of birth of having given birth? 

Latham: I believe that, you know, all moms and all birthing people have this innate wisdom that they know and that they know what's best for themselves and for their babies.

And I would, I would strongly suggest that you really continue to develop that instinct and that wisdom and trust it. And trust yourself. If something doesn't feel right, it's not right. And really trust yourself because there's so many voices, there's so many people with advice or so many people trying to tell you, "You should do this, or should you do that." Well-meaning, but only you know, and it's your body, it's your baby. And you've been living in this body this whole time, and you really know best. 

And so if something doesn't seem, you know, right. Please, please trust yourself and pick up the phone and call and get some help. If you're struggling with something, please don't feel like you have to know it all and do it all by yourself. Please ask for that help and get the support that you need. But really do listen, you know, because we all have this wisdom and we often throw it to the wayside to listen to experts or other people. And most of the time when we're kicking ourselves in the foot, it's because we didn't listen to ourselves.

Grace: So Listen to yourself and trust yourself. That is beautiful. Thank you so much, Latham for taking the time to chat with us and our listeners and for being our first guest. 

Latham: Oh my God. Thank you. It was awesome. I appreciate y'all. 

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Grace: So Desiree, I know you had triplets and then you had your baby, your newborn.  Was the birth experience what you expected? 

Desiree: To be honest, I would say I had two completely different birth experiences. With the triplets, I had a traumatic birth experience. I hemorrhaged, I almost died, and there was a lot to process for me. And then with my daughter, Cambria, it was the perfect birth experience. And there was so much healing in that experience for me after what I went through with the triplets. What about you, Grace? 

Grace: I'm so glad you had that opportunity with Cambria.

For me, I did not read the C-section part of the book that I had, you know, religiously read every night and dog-eared and made notes on. I skipped the C-section chapter because I thought, "That is not happening to me. I am a woman who can advocate for herself!"  

And lo and behold, I had a C-section after about 18 or 19 hours of labor, the doctor came and told me that I needed to have a C-section, and I cried and did it because … what are my choices?

Desiree: I know…

Grace: It was not what I expected at all. Especially when I ended up with these tree trunk legs after so much IV fluid being pumped into me. 

Desiree: So hard.

Grace: But then, you know, they hand you a baby in, there you go.

Desiree: You're a mom, just like that!

Grace: Exactly. And you know, the funny thing is when they did hand me this baby, I thought, "Ok, let's just fall in love right here." And I just looked at her and I thought, "Oh my gosh, what am I supposed to be feeling?" And I had so many questions. All I could think about was, "Wow, she's hairy!" 

You know, it wasn't like, "Oh, my heart is beating so, for this baby." No, I was just like, "God, I did not know she would have this much hair and look at her back." 

And so did you experience that instant bond? 

Desiree: With the triplets, it took a whole day before I even could meet them. So I feel like there was so much happening that I couldn't really soak in those moments. And with Cambria again, totally different experience. I feel like I really was able to experience that with her. And it just goes to show how different our births are. I mean, you can have one amazing one, one scary one, one that didn't go the way you wanted it to go.

Grace: No two births are alike, right? 

With Cambria, what was that first day like? 

Desiree: Oh gosh, I feel like I tried to soak in as much as I could, but there were so many different feelings. Like you give birth to your baby and your stomach is nice and round, firm, right? And then the baby comes out and it's squishy. And like your insides are in different places. Like there's a lot of different things happening!

Grace: You know, I've been more comfortable in a bikini than when I was pregnant.

I was like, this belly is supposed to be here! 

Desiree: Exactly, right?! It's so true. I know there's, there's a lot of changes happening in that first 24 hours. What would you say your strongest memory is from that? 

Grace: Well, you know, when I had my oldest, I was sharing this hospital room with this woman who just seemed to have her act together. She had the glossiest hair, her newborn was just suckling at her boob. And meanwhile, I'm laying there. I can barely move, I don't know how to breastfeed. 

So I sort of just laid there, comparing myself to this woman who in February, winter in New York said, "Yeah, I'm going to walk home, I think, with my newborn."

I think about her often! 

Desiree: Isn't it crazy. Like you have that one memory of this woman who you don't know, who's probably not in your life anymore, but at the hospital, gosh!

Grace: I still think about her, yeah. With my, with my little one, with my 5-year-old, I just remember being so tired. You know, you have a toddler, then you have a baby.

And I remember taking her to the nursery in the hospital and thinking like, "All right, I'm going to be OK with just dropping this kid off. I've done this before."

And I go in there and it was about 12 screaming babies. 

And I just turned around and said, "Let's go kid. You're with me now!"

Desiree: That's so good. I love it. 

Grace: But, you know what? I never documented any of these stories and I'm just kicking myself because I'm a writer. I should have done that. And I think you just get so into being a mom and the day to day, and that's such a busy life that you just move on. But I think there's so much power in doing that, and I want to do that. 

Did you document? 

Desiree: Yes, you know, for me with the triplets birth, I wrote about it, which was, like Latham said, a good healing for me. But I did not get pictures. 

And so I was like, I have to, I have to for Cambria's birth, and then the pandemic happened. And I ended up actually asking one of the nurses. I said, here's my camera. Please take as many pictures as you can. 

And I would say that to anyone out there, who's feeling that, just ask your nurse and say, "Please take some pictures for me." Even if you don't think that you, you will look back and appreciate them. 

Grace: Yeah. And it's all part of the experience, right? You didn't have a professional photographer, and that's OK. You have beautiful photos that were from this crazy time and a baby. 

Desiree: Yeah, exactly! 

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Grace: That's all for this episode of That New Mom Life, a podcast from Parents magazine. To find out more, head to parents.com/newmompodcast.

Desiree: Thanks to our production team, Pod People, Rachael King, Matt Sav, and Sam Walker. 

I'm Desiree Fortin.

Grace: And I'm Grace Bastidas. Hang in there mom, you're doing great.

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