It doesn’t matter how much you want to be a mother, how hard you’ve tried to have a baby, or how much support you have—this transition is full of highs and lows. The range of emotions is nothing to be ashamed of or stay silent about, this just perpetuates the unrealistic expectations society places upon new parents.  I am a strong believer in normalizing the struggles of motherhood. There is a need for support from the moment a women decides she wants to become a mother.  I’m honored to be a support to women during this season of life.
— Emma Bennett, Licensed Therapist

AO: As a licensed psychotherapist why have you chosen to specialize in women and mothers?

EM: I have always been drawn to working with women and mothers, and have worked with them in various therapeutic settings for almost a decade in Los Angeles. I knew I wanted to be a mother from an early age. I am fortunate to have wonderful maternal role models in my life who inspired me and amazed me with their patience and caring (thanks, mom!). 

 In 2016, I was grateful to be able to have a spirited and wonderful little girl.  I quickly realized that despite deeply wanting to become a mother and taking all of the preparation classes, I felt completely unprepared for the emotional, physical and identity changes that I encountered.

It doesn’t matter how much you want to be a mother, how hard you’ve tried to have a baby, or how much support you have—this transition is full of highs and lows. The range of emotions is nothing to be ashamed of or stay silent about, this just perpetuates the unrealistic expectations society places upon new parents.  I am a strong believer in normalizing the struggles of motherhood. There is a need for support from the moment a women decides she wants to become a mother.  I’m honored to be a support to women during this season of life.

AO: Most of us year about “postpartum depression” or “baby blues”, what do these actually mean?  

EM: About 80% of women experience baby blues after birth.  Baby blues should resolve within a couple of weeks, and is not considered a disorder since the majority of mothers experience it (Bennett & Indam, 2015). 

Postpartum depression is depression that can occur following the birth of a baby.  Mothers who experience postpartum depression can experience feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, lack of connection to baby, overwhelm and exhaustion that may make it difficult for them to function in their daily life.  Postpartum depression impacts about 1 in 5 women.  It is not uncommon for a woman to experience symptoms of depression during pregnancy as well (National Institute of Mental Health).

AO: What types of issues do you work with women on?

EM: I work with a myriad of issues surrounding this stage of life.  Some issues include:  perinatal mood and anxiety disorders,  adult daughters of difficult mothers, ambivalence during pregnancy/postpartum, adjustment to motherhood, perfectionism in motherhood, pregnancy loss, challenges of being a working mother, feelings of isolation, feelings of inadequacy/guilt/shame, feelings of anger, relationship issues+boundary setting, communication issues, postpartum body image, social media comparison/pressure, motherhood + identity shift, making yourself a priority.

AO: For all of our mamas out there, what are some signs or feelings that might indicate that we could use some more support?

EM: I believe that every mother could benefit from therapy because this perinatal period is so profound.  Even if you feel “fine,” it can be helpful to have a safe and nonjudgmental space to process the emotions and issues that can arise with motherhood.

If you are on the fence of whether therapy might be the right fit for you, I would consider if you are feeling overwhelmed or concerned by current feelings or symptoms, if you are having a difficult time coping, or if you are having a difficult time currently functioning in daily life. 

If a mother ever feels as though she cannot keep herself or her baby safe, call 911 as this is a psychiatric emergency and immediate support is needed.

AO: Where does a woman go to find the support she needs?

EM: I’m a believer in giving wraparound support.  Having a holistic approach to support is what can help a woman feel held during this transition.  I believe in psychotherapy, support groups, mommy + me groups, acupuncture, chiropractic work, physical therapy, exercise groups, and doulas to name some of the wonderful supports we have available in our community.  When I work with women, I often refer to many of my community partners who can help support the mother in overall wellness.

AO: We should mention that you are a mother of one yourself, with baby #2 on the way...has being a mother changed your approach or practice?

EM:  Being a mother has changed how I practice immensely.  It has deepened my empathy, humility, patience and sense of humor (because sometimes the ridiculousness of motherhood just makes you laugh).  Being a mother has changed so much of who I am, my practice is just one of the dimensions I have noticed a shift.

AO: You offer many different ways for women to work with you, can you describe those for us?

EM: I provide both concierge services and in-office therapy for women on the Westside of Los Angeles.  Additionally, I provide walk-and-talk therapy for moms who are looking to have a session outside.  The integrative walk-and-talk therapy can be wonderful for getting mothers outside and grounded.  Lastly, I lead supportive mommy+me groups in Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey and the South Bay.

AO: What are you favorite resources for women’s mental health right now? (Books, websites, Instagram handles?)

EM: I love This Isn’t What I Expected by Karen Kleiman.  I also love What No One Tells You by Alexandra Sacks MD.

For podcasts, I recommend Mom&Mind, The Longest Shortest Time and Atomic Moms. 

I post a lot of content about new motherhood on my instagram @therapyfornewmoms.  I also suggest following @alexandrasacksmd for content about motherhood that will resonate.

AO: What is your current self care must have/do?

EM: Asking for help when I feel overwhelmed, setting boundaries and lowering/adjusting unrealistic expectations.

AO: What/Who is inspiring your right now?

EM: My daughter is my continued inspiration and greatest teacher.  She helps me see my strengths and weaknesses, and teaches me to love myself—imperfections and all.

AO: Also, if there is a tool or practice you’d like to share, we could do that as well?

EM: A helpful practice for moms is to acknowledge the expectations that they have or have internalized from society and compare that to the reality of actual motherhood.  The discrepancies can cause many uncomfortable feelings for us!  It’s important to readjust expectations and also discard any unreasonable expectation myth of motherhood that isn’t serving you.  One of my favorite quotes by Jill Churchill is “There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.”


Mamas, we see you. Here are some resources if you are looking for support.

You can ask your OBGYN for local therapists/support groups in your area.

You can check out Postpartum Support International’s website- they have a warm line to talk to support, local coordinators in your area who can help connect you to support, and a database of providers who are specialists! (

If you are in LA county, Maternal Mental Health Now has a LA wide database for providers who specialize in working with perinatal mental health (

Name: Emma Bennett

Occupation: Licensed Therapist


Instagram: @therapyfornewmoms


This mushroom soup is a postpartum favorite and feels like a nice thing to share as we’re transitioning into fall.
— - Postpartum Doula & Chef, Stephanie Matthias

Mushroom Soup

Serves 4-6

  • 2 tbsp ghee

  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped

  • Equal parts crimini, oyster and shiitake mushrooms (about 3/4 pound each), roughly chopped- stems off

  • Sea salt

  • 2 stalks celery, diced

  • 2 carrots, diced

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced

  • 3/4 c dry white wine

  • 2 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped

  • 1 tsp tomato paste

  • 4 cups bone broth (or more, depending on the texture you want)

  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Sweat the onions in the ghee.. once they are totally soft and translucent, add the celery, carrot and garlic. You can allow the mixture to brown a bit. Add the tomato paste and mix it in thoroughly with the vegetables. Cook until it darkens in color a bit. Add the thyme and a sprinkle of salt.

While the onions and rest of veg are cooking, sautée the mushrooms in batches in a separate pan until they’re all browned nicely (you can do this in ghee or olive oil). Once each batch is browned, set aside in a large bowl.

Once the veg mixture is soft and nicely cooked, add in the mushrooms and mix it all together. Add the white wine to deglaze the pan, scrape up all the brown bits at the bottom. Bring to a simmer and cook until the wine has reduced by about half.

Add the broth. Bring to a simmer and let it keep cooking for about 5 minutes.

Blend with a handheld blender or in a Vitamix until desire consistency is reached (I recommend using a handheld blender because it’s easier to control the texture)

Add salt to taste.



To read more about Stephanie Matthias, click below for her Inspiring Women Series on Allison’s blog.



All mothers need to know that it’s completely normal to fall head over heels in love with your baby and in the very same moment yearn deeply for your old life. It’s ok for all of your thoughts and feelings to share the same space.
— - Stephanie Matthias, Postpartum Chef & Doula

During my most recent pregnancy (which I knew would be my last), one of my goals was to try and honor the first forty days more mindfully. I had not done this with my other two pregnancies, but for some reason it felt right for me this time around. I did a lot of prep in order for this to happen, but most importantly I asked for support. From my friends, family, caretakers, colleagues, etc…I love to give support, but asking for it has always been a challenge, so this was a big deal for me.

Cooking and eating good food is something that I love, almost as much as I love to watch my family enjoy it! What is it about watching your kids eat and like the food your prepare? It gives me great satisfaction and I take so much pride in making nourishing, delicious meals for us to eat together as a family. But I knew that cooking with a newborn was not going to be easy. So with a plan to meal prep as much as I could, I also made the decision to ask for help from the wonderful Stephanie Matthias. We met a couple years ago, and I have been referring clients and friends to her over and over again. But since I didn’t know her with my first two pregnancies, I never got to actually receive her services.

Stephanie is such a delight! Her energy and peacefulness, combined with knowledge and training is exactly what a new mom needs. She wears many hats as a Postpartum Doula, Holistic Chef, Loss Doula, Reiki Healer and Baby Massage Educator. And yet I still don’t feel like those titles cover all that she offers. Having her in my home during the first forty days to support me and my family with nourishing meals and sound advice was a real gift. So I was thrilled when she agreed to answer a few questions for me so I could share her and her expertise with all of you!


AO: What is a postpartum doula?

SM: A postpartum doula is someone who is trained to provide guidance, support and education to new families following the birth of a child. A postpartum doula typically focuses most of their time and energy on the new mother- helping her transition into her new role/identity, making her nutritious food, preparing a sitz bath, guiding her on how to care for herself and her baby, etc.

Postpartum Doula support can include:

  • Emotional and physical support for the mother as she recovers from birth

  • Meal preparation: As the main focus of the support I provide, I offer meals that are especially formulated to deeply nourish the postpartum mother. Meals can be made just for the mother or I am happy to feed the whole family.

  • Newborn care: education and soothing techniques

  • Normalizing the postpartum experience: when you first become a parent, it's easy to feel isolated and not know whether your experience is typical. Having an experienced postpartum doula by your side to reassure you is invaluable.

  • Phone and email support before and after birth

  • Breastfeeding support

  • Emotional support for the new mother’s partner, as needed - Basic infant massage

  • Provide professional referrals, as needed

AO: How is your approach/services unique?

SM: My holistic nutrition and food background sets me apart from most postpartum doulas. I believe that food is medicine and is one of the cornerstones of healing quickly and thoroughly. I also believe that the health of the mother is essential to the health of her newborn: eating well is not just for breastfeeding mothers (though that population is more vulnerable to getting depleted). Eating well is not just about your baby. Eating well is for YOU. You need to be nourished. You need to be nurtured. You need to be fed. You need to be revitalized and healed and replenished so you can flourish not only as a mother, but as a person.

Eating high quality, warming and nourishing foods- especially organic and natural foods as much as possible- is an important way to continue to take care of your body after birth. Protein is important to help with speed and effective repair and replenishment of body tissue. Do your best to incorporate iron rich, blood building foods into at least 2 of your daily meals, especially while you are still bleeding. This includes liver, red berries, red meat, dark leafy greens, soups, stews, broths, nettle tea, red beans, and sesame (tahini is a great source of iron and protein). In addition, drinking water abundantly throughout of the day helps with fatigue, depression and constipation. New mothers should plan to drink ten 8-oz glasses of water each day.

Alongside the importance of eating well is also an enormous amount of empathy for how overwhelming it can feel to feed yourself properly during those first few weeks and months. I can’t tell you how many women I’ve worked with who feel like it’s an accomplishment for them to even remember to have 3 meals a day, let alone making sure they’re nutritionally balanced. I advise my clients to try to have a week or two of meals planned out before the birth- this can be a combination of meals in the freezer and food you know that friends and family are going to be dropping by or hiring a postpartum doula to come in and make food for you.

AO: Working with so many women during this time, do you see any themes/areas where you tend to offer more support than others? (Ie: cooking, dealing with guests, helping the partner, lactation)

SM: Emotional support is the area of postpartum support that I love the most and also the space that my clients and I often spend the most time in, especially with first time moms.

The range of thoughts, feelings and emotions after birth are vast. There is a need to physically recover from birth while also taking care of your baby (or babies) and rediscovering yourself as a woman while your identity merges with that of yourself as a mother. It’s an incredibly delicate and complex process that, prior to birth, most women underestimate. Between sleepless nights, endless feedings, and a body you don’t quite recognize as your own, most women find themselves wondering who they are and where they are in all of this.

One of the most incredible things about motherhood (and this is something that never really leaves, no matter how old your children get) is that you can experience so many feelings all at once- pure and all encompassing love for your child and complete emotional crisis about being a mother. The beauty of it is that the full range of your feelings is allowed to exist at once- one feeling doesn’t negate the other. All mothers need to know that it’s completely normal to fall head over heels in love with your baby and in the very same moment yearn deeply for your old life. It’s ok for all of your thoughts and feelings to share the same space. Embrace all of it- be gentle with yourselves, have a sense of humor, let yourself feel ALL of it. It can take weeks, even months, to get comfortable and confident with your baby and your role as a mother so please be patient with yourself as much as possible.

Helpful suggestions for expressing these inner feelings include journaling, talking with your partner if you have one, sharing your experiences with your doctor or your doula if you have one, calling a friend who is also a mother, creating ritual, etc.

The other thing that I think it vitally important for new mothers to know is that your postpartum time can look however it needs to look for you to be happy and well. If that looks like staying home for 40 days, taking placenta pills, eating oatmeal every morning and co-sleeping with your baby, do that. If it looks like putting your baby to sleep in the SNOO and having a glass of wine at 6pm, do that. If it looks like getting together with girlfriends for dinner at your favorite restaurant before you’re “supposed to” be out and about, do that. If it looks like supplementing with formula because breastfeeding is either challenging or just something you don’t want to do, do that. If it looks like taking meds because your mental health is on the edge, do that.

I believe in happy moms. Happy moms make happy, well adjusted children who have their needs met. If parents’ needs aren’t getting met, it’s really difficult for them to fully meet the needs of their children.

There is a lot of pressure these days for postpartum and parenthood to look a certain way or be a certain way and that is so damaging for all of us because it’s just not a one size fits all kind of thing. We are dynamic, wonderfully complex and imperfect beings and our parenting experiences reflect that. And that’s ok!

AO: For women that don’t have access to support like you, what are your top 5 tips on setting up a more successful postpartum experience?

SM: 1 - Lean into your village

  • when people in your life as you if you need anything, say yes

  • Allow friends and family to show up for you and take care of you

  • Ask a friend to set up a meal train

  • If you have older children, have some playdates and babysitting scheduled for them ahead of your birth.

  • If you start feeling isolated or overwhelmed, ask a friend to come over.

  • Don’t be afraid to give visitors jobs! Most people want to help and will be grateful for direction.

  • I recommend putting a trusted friend in charge of organizing this: create a job list on a pasteboard or whiteboard and set it up somewhere very visible (near your front door is best). Anyone who wants to come and visit you and the baby should also sign up for a job while they are there. These jobs can be anything from doing dishes to doing laundry to taking your older child out for an ice cream.

2 - Consume the highest quality food and water possible

  • After birth your body needs to replenish everything it gave to grow and birth your baby. Taking care of your body is not a luxury, it is a necessity. I can’t stress that enough- eating well, drinking enough water, and getting enough rest is what will enable you to care for your baby. And, as a human, you deserve to be nourished, healthy and well.

3 - Practice empathy

  • Being tired coupled with learning something new (ie how to take care of a newborn while still functioning yourself) can be really hard and really frustrating sometimes. I deeply urge all new parents to practice empathy, compassion and kindness for themselves and each other through the process. Give yourself, and each other, the benefit of the doubt. Remember that it’s temporary!

4 - Stay off of social media, particularly if it’s a trigger for you

  • My advice is to stay off social media as much as possible during the first few weeks- and beyond if you’re feeling particularly sensitive or protective. Or if it’s triggering you! It can be really difficult to see your friends doing fun things without you or to see idealized images of motherhood. If you do participate in social media, be mindful of how you’re engaging with it energetically and remember that what you’re seeing is a very curated version of people’s lives.

  • Also, I really recommend that if you’re going to be on your phone while you’re breastfeeding to make sure that you’re not holding your phone anywhere near your baby’s head. EMFs are very real and your baby’s developing brain does not need the intense exposure from your phone.

  • NO GOOGLING. I can’t tell you the number of texts I’ve received from new moms at 11pm convinced that their baby has a terrible disease. Google is not your friend. If you have a concern, please speak with your care provider. If you need to talk through a situation, seek out your partner if you have one, a friend, a family member, a doula- anyone other than google. You will only end up feeling stressed and upset- and most likely for no reason.

5 - Boundaries

  • Be mindful of who you invite to spend time with you in the weeks immediately following birth.

  • Surround yourself with people who make you feel protected, honored, respected and nurtured

  • Place a sign at your front door to remind visitors that they are entering a sacred space. I like to suggest that the home of a new mother and baby should be treated like a house of worship- enter with the same respect and reverence as you would enter a place of worship.

  • The postpartum is a time for you to be preserving and pulling energy into yourself, not giving it out to family and friends. Others should be nurturing you.

AO: You are serving in a few different areas of women’s health besides supporting women as a postpartum doula. Share with us what those are?

SM: Yes! In addition to postpartum support, I also offer abortion support, women’s healing and holistic wellness mentoring, vaginal steaming, and reiki healing. I also have an herbal bath blend that I sell on my website and that will be available at Plumb Line very soon!

AO: What is your current self care must have/do?

SM: In my opinion the most important thing when it comes to self care is that it’s sustainable- I say that for myself and for others. If our self care practices are too time consuming, too expensive or too complicated, we’re less likely to consistently integrate them into our lives. So I keep things simple- I add magnesium flakes and my Radiant Woman herbal blend to my baths, take time to connect with nature (mountain hike, walk on the beach, looking up at the sky), eat foods that are nourishing and unprocessed, do my best to get 15-20 minute of unfiltered sun every day (ie no sunblock and not through a window), go to sleep before 1030 whenever I can, and make time to see my friends- time with my lady friends nourishes me in a way that few other things can.

Products that I’m currently really into are True Botanicals renew oil and Nucifera balm. My ritual when my skin is feeling dry, dull or just tired from living in a city with air pollution: put a thick layer of Nucifera balm all over my face, get into a hot bath and let everything really sink in with the steam and warmth, after the bath wipe my face with a warm washcloth to remove any excess balm, then finish with True Botanicals renew oil. Truly the best. My skin glows for days after that!

AO: What/who is inspiring you right now?

SM: Brene Brown- currently listening to “The Power of Vulnerability” on audiobook right now and it’s just incredible.

The women in my life - I am so grateful for all of my female relationships. I am continually in awe of the strength, power, beauty, empathy, magic, vulnerability, passion, creativity, etc that I get to witness and learn from in my friends and clients.

Mother Earth- nature is my greatest teacher in so many things, but right now the focus is on trust and grace. Trusting the phases, trusting the process, trusting the seasons, trusting the out-breath and handling it all with grace. Nature doesn’t question its purpose or jump ship when things get challenging or just give up the whole forest when one tree dies. Nature sits with whatever is happening- it meets us right where we are. It knows how to hold space without trying to fix us. Nature trusts that winter will turn to spring. It trusts that an inhale will follow the exhale. And if death comes, that’s ok too because that’s the cycle. Energy doesn’t die, it just transforms. The wisdom is just endless…

Zach Bush - honestly, you’ve got to just look him up. He is an incredible human being who is working tirelessly and gracefully to educate people on how to truly care for our earth, and each other, going forward. Definitely one of the more inspiring humans that I’ve come across in a while.

Name: Stephanie Matthias

Occupation: Postpartum Chef & Doula


IG: @radiantwoman_



It's been about five months since our most recent bundle of joy arrived and I've been asked a ton about what I brought to the hospital with me.  I feel like since this was my third time around I really scaled back from my first two trips, and this time I actually used everything I brought with me!

I packed everything in two bags along with an insulated bag (Yeti Soft Cooler) for food and drinks. One of my bags was for the labor room since I wanted that right away, and the other bag for recovery.  The insulated bag I used for both.

Labor Bag: 

Postpartum Recovery Bag:

  • 3 sets of pajamas with button tops (J.Crew, Eberjey, Lunya all have good choices)

  • 1 going home outfit (I wore a soft button up with loose fitting sweat pants)

  • 3 pairs of socks with sticky bottoms (Sticky Be)

  • Nursing bra (bambii the label)

  • Nursing pillow (Sustainable Baby)

  • Personal pillow from home

  • Flip flops if you plan on taking a shower and don't want to stand barefoot on the tile

  • Robe (Barefoot Dreams robe was a shower gift and oh what a luxury it was to have)

  • Extension cord for phone charger

  • Toiletries: Your own personal essentials, but be sure to remember a lotion or balm (I packed Nucifera Balm and Mist) and chapstick (Hurraw is my favorite) for the dry air in the hospital

  • Baby outfit x 2 (onesie and hat) (I packed a Solly and LouLou baby)

Food/Drink Bag:


    • Coconut Water (Harmless Coconut Water)

    • Almonds

    • Granola (Purely Elizabeth)


    • Bone Broth (Mother’s Bees)

    • Mother’s Milk Tea

    • Calm Magnesium

  • MISC.

    • Refillable water bottle (Swell)

    • Reusable cup for tea and broth (Yeti)

Partner Duties:

  • Insurance information

  • Stem Cell/Cord Blood/Placenta necessities

  • Carseat (Nuna Pipa Light)

  • Phone for pictures or camera

I think it goes without saying that everyones bags will be slightly different depending on their needs, birth plan, support, etc...but hope this helps to give you an idea of what worked for me!