Last month we had an incredible group of women gather in our studio to discuss all things wellness during the postpartum shift. 

With insight from the postpartum doula Stephanie Matthias, psychological support from Dr. Michelle Glantz and pelvic health from me, participants left with all sorts of new ideas and tools for their own healing journey.  The evening was moderated by founder of Totum Women, Erin Erenberg...and we obviously snacked on her delicious lactation cookies all night long. 

The discussions were productive and supportive, and having so many wonderful women in one room was inspirational.  I am looking forward to continuing to host more events like this is the future.


A few photos from our event!

A huge thank you to Emma Feil for capturing this special day. And for Yumi + Thyme Market Cafe for the delicious food and smoothies! 



This inspiring mom is one that is very near and dear to my heart.  We have known each other as long as I can remember, and our parents even longer.  She is like another sister to me.  We have vacationed together, gone to school together and experienced so much of life together.  You can't not laugh when you're around her.  

Throughout the many ups and downs of life, Ibby has always come out smiling.  And when she began her journey into motherhood and things did not go "as planned" her attitude was no different.  Ibby shares more about her beautiful son Hank as she answers a few questions for us on the blog, but all I can say is that her resilience, strength and positivity are shining brighter than ever before.  She comes to mind for me on a daily basis, her experience and the way she has taken on motherhood inspire me each day.  I know that her words will inspire you as well. 



AO: What is one thing you have had access to before, during or after pregnancy that has positively influenced your experience? (product/professional service or treatment/class/book etc...)

IS: My most reliable resource as a mother is talking to other moms, new or seasoned, who have experienced similar journeys. Motherhood is a unique passage for every woman but with the same rewards. I definitely had a rare entry so finding other mothers out there that can share similar stories of the joys and challenges has given me great comfort that I’m not alone in this sacred journey.

AO: What are you surprised by (that no one ever talks about) that happens
to your mind or body during or after pregnancy?

IS: As we all well know, motherhood is a 24hr job from the get-go and I’m amazed by how quickly my body recovered from the major abdominal surgery that is an emergency C-section! I was walking with minimal pain just a couple days post- delivery and while I wasn’t expecting to deliver via c-section I actually appreciate the sight of my scar as a daily reminder of how amazing we are as humans.  

AO: With your experience, what knowledge would you share with a new mother?

IS:  My experience is definitely special and looking back I’m overwhelmed with emotion just thinking of how life-altering becoming a mother was for me in particular. We had an extremely wild entry into parenthood in that our son Hank was born with a rare genetic disorder called SCID characterized by having no T- cell function or rather a working immune system. Considered a pediatric emergency, we were swept into a world we didn’t know existed which included living in isolation at UCSF for the first 4 months of Hank’s life to protect him from catching even the slightest cold or infection. The treatment is a bone marrow transplant and in modern medicine miracles my husband happened to be a good donor match. Fast forward to Hank today as a happy, healthy 2 year old who gets to make a trip to UCSF each month for his “magic medicine” which is IVIG. This is our new normal and we’re adapting to it with every new day. My advice to any new mother, no matter the outcome, is that you are stronger than you know and
God does not give you anything you can’t handle. We feel so blessed to have come out the other side with a new life perspective, to never take these precious lives for granted and to cherish every single moment with Hank.

AO: How has your body amazed you on this journey of pregnancy and/or motherhood?

IS: I’m definitely not in my best shape but as a mother I have garnered a whole new confidence and appreciation when I look in the mirror....albeit much saggier boobs and terrible posture. And I actually weigh what my driver’s license says I do! 

AO: Fill in the blank: My current self care must do/have: _______________

IS: Oprah’s “Super Soul Sunday” podcast in my ears when I’m cleaning up the kitchen after a long day. Or NYT’s Dear Sugars!

AO: Fill in the blank: Motherhood means: __________________

IS: The most sacred, life- changing experience one can ever imagine! 


Inspiring is only one of the many qualities that this super mama possesses.  I am thrilled to feature such a bright light of love and support on the motherhood scene, Erin Erenberg, for our Inspiring Mother Series.  Mother of three, former attorney and founder of Totum Women, Erin is supporting women with knowledge, community and delicious lactation cookies.

On Wednesday, May 16 please join Erin, myself, clinical psychologist Dr. Michelle Glantz and postpartum doula Stephanie Matthias for a Whole Woman Wellness event for the post partum mother.

Join us for an honest and open discussion on how to stay healthy and whole while welcoming a new life into yours all while meeting expecting and new mamas, munching on food from Thyme Cafe + Market, smoothies from Yumi and more! You'll walk away with a gift bag to assist your ongoing support towards motherhood.  To purchase tickets, click here - we hope to meet you there! 



AO: What's one thing you wish you had access to before you started a family, be it in doctors, healers, community, pain management etc.

EE: Maybe it's cheating to say a "hub of information," but really that's what I needed.  I felt adrift when searching for information about everything first-time-mom that wasn't based in childcare.  There are so many books on caring for your baby, and between my mom and my pediatrician, I didn't have a lot of blank space where infant health and safety were concerned.  The void that left me with a lot of anxiety was around issues more personal to me as a woman.  Things like: how can I prepare myself for the changes to my relationship with my partner and my friends, how can I find "mom friends" who will understand what I'm going through, how will I tackle the big question of whether/how to go back to work outside the home, and even how on Earth can I find answers to the strange things happening to my body in the first weeks after giving birth. 

AO: What are you surprised that no one ever talks about that happens to your mind or body before pregnancy or after pregnancy.

EE: Let's talk about constipation. It can plague a woman during pregnancy and make that full feeling so much worse.  But in my case, it made me absolutely miserable just after delivery.  I'd had the birth of my dreams, bringing our first into the world without drugs, husband by my side, doctor there to make sure we were safe.  But pushing was really difficult for me and left me with a massive (size of a baseball) bruise just beside my perineum.  I "needed" an episiotomy to ease our son's head into the light of day.  My doctor and every nurse I encountered urged me to take painkillers to stave off any pain related to the repair of my episiotomy.  Little did I know that narcotics would create major constipation for me that no amount of Colase could abate.  

A week into my recovery at home, post hospital, I couldn't move from a supine position without assistance.  I started to feel depressed because I was so confused and couldn't properly care for our baby without a lot of pain.  How could I endure the discomfort of childbirth but feel so much pain while healing?  I found nothing on the topic online, or in any book.  Finally, I asked my mom to look at my vagina.  She saw the bruise.  My husband, a veterinarian, suggested that my constipation was creating pressure on the bruise, and that was the source of my agony.  It was a really sexy moment for us.  To quote him, "if you were a cat, I'd run out and get you an enema."  That he did.  Me-ow.  I did the enema myself and emerged from the bathroom 35 seconds later with a smile on my face, ready to walk miles.  The anaconda I left behind in that bathroom is the stuff of legends. 

Lesson learned, I skipped narcotics after both subsequent births and avoided initial postpartum constipation entirely.  And by sharing my story, a number of friends have avoided this and/or known the quick treatment to abate the agony that constipation can create for a healing pelvis. 

AO: If you knew then what you know now, would you change anything?

EE: Yes, I would have engaged the team of helpers that I finally found when pregnant with number three from the very beginning of my transition into motherhood.  A skilled and loving physical therapist like Allison made all the difference for me in pregnancy number three.  In addition to treating a vulvar varicosity in my third pregnancy (look it up; it's no fun), she introduced me to an acupuncturist, Katya Mosely, who helped me with physical issues from baby-spinning to (see above) constipation and everything in between.  Most importantly, perhaps, Allison and some other health care providers outside of my OB-GYN practice made me feel like the weird things I was encountering were not uncommon but were also things I didn't have to live with forever.  That had a huge positive emotional and psychological impact on me.  

AO: What has been the biggest surprise post pregnancy?

EE: The good: how my love for my children absolutely split my heart wide open each time.  The bad: how a marriage can quickly turn into an employment relationship if unchecked.  The ugly: postpartum constipation and vulvar varicosities.   

AO: How has your body amazed you on this journey?

EE: We women are ALL superheroes for creating, nourishing, birthing and protecting new life.  It's astounding to me how our bodies can open and close to create children.  My stomach went out to the next zip code with each baby, and then naturally and gently returned back home.  My breasts, small and mighty, have provided complete and customized nutrition for three new people.  That's just awesome stuff.   

AO: Fill in the blank: My current self care must do/have: _______________

EE: A daily shower alone.  I don't skip it. 


I am so grateful that I am still continuously amazed at the wonderful and inspiring mothers I come into contact with on a daily basis. Mothers who dedicate their lives to not only taking care of themselves, their little ones and their family, but do things in the world to benefit others. I am excited to introduce Shannon Vaughn, founder of Pursoma Detox Beauty, who has made it her life's mission to help and heal others, using the power of natural botanical ingredients that aim to detoxify you, purify you, combat the negative effects of daily radiation (Instagram anyone?!) and give people a chance to create a ritual that feels best for their well being and spirit, as often as they can find the time. 

Now, that we are fully experiencing winter in California, this is a great reminder to disconnect, relax and get in the bath! My favorite Pursoma product is the Digital Detox Bath


AO: What's one thing you wish you had access to before you started a family- be it in doctors, healers, community, pain management etc.

SV: When I was ready to even think of having a child I had already been doing so much to manage my own optimum health, that I just employed traditional and holistic heath advisors into advising me for my next body stage, which was to conceive, deliver, breast-feed and recover. 

AO: What are you surprised that no one ever talks about that happens to your mind or body before pregnancy or after pregnancy?

SV: No one tells you how tired you are going to be; they tell you sleep when the new baby sleeps and now I understand why, but that is almost impossible if you work. I went back to work 8 days after having my daughter and I really did not feel the full effects of how tired I was until 2 years later and I truly wonder how I got by, but I did.

Also no one tells you or really talks about possible incontinence, and repairing the stretched muscles from delivery. There is a very easy way to make sure everything on the outside goes back to normal, but on the inside you don’t get advice unless you go looking for it. I had a friend tell me about the pelvic floor muscles being able to be stretched and then straightened and put back right into place where they were pre delivery and luckily I have a johns Hopkins trained doctor right in my local area. This was life-changing knowledge and I am happy finally more women are changing the conversation to prevent vs. just have to heal.

AO: If you knew then what you know now, would you change anything?

SV: I would have carved out more time the first three months to be less connected to the outside world and spent more time at home as a new mother. I think its important to understand that is the most important job that requires full attention of the mother and baby in the beginning. 

AO: What has been the biggest surprise post pregnancy?

SV: I was amazed at how quickly my body recovered; I gained close to 40 pounds and lost it in 3 weeks. I had a post partum plan that I had organized before the baby came, so I think that was key, making sure I had the right food, enough hydration, emotional support and good doctors with all of that, I was able to get back to exercise in 6 weeks.

AO: How has your body amazed you on this journey?

SV: It amazed me that at each stage the body recognized that it was in a different state, it let me know, and then it asked for help and support to transition. After exactly one year of my completion of breast-feeding Esme, my body reacted really strongly to the hormonal switch, I got very sick and had a terrible infection in my eye. I had to have surgery to remove it, and felt extremely depleted for weeks. I went back on an aggressive recovery program and changed some of my food choices to help supplement me during this transition. My body needed additional support to get thought this change; within one month my period came back right on time and things were very much normal again. I am amazed at the human body and its ability to heal when listening to it.  


Shannon and daughter, Esme (2)