A women’s wellness advocate and modern holistic lifestyle maven, Latham is the Founder of Mama Glow, a New York City-based organization committed to supporting women along the childbearing continuum. Through her globally recognized doula immersion program, she educates doula-trainees from around the world, empowering the next generation of leaders that will help transform the modern healthcare system for women and babies. And through her annual Continuum Conference, she celebrates the beautiful lifecycle of women — from postpartum to parenting to menopause, and everything in between.
Can you tell us about your journey in maternal wellness and modern holistic living?
As someone who grew up in California, I was always into holistic living. It was when I became pregnant with my son that I realized that there weren’t really any great resources for people who wanted to have a holistic pregnancy, and so I sought to find some of those resources myself. Through vetting practitioners, products and services, I came up with what would become the rudiments of Mama Glow, the book, and then later on I realized that it could be a company — that I could provide services for people who were trying to have an experience that was really empowering and connected to their values.
I believe that wellness is something that we should all have access to. Every world culture has its own traditions that celebrate and honor the body, and the mind-body connection. It’s really about finding what resonates with you, but also what sits with you ancestrally. A lot of things that might feel really aligned, there might be a connection ancestrally for you to take that path. Through doing some research, you can learn about the traditions that may have come from your particular region and how you can embrace them and bring them into your way of being.
The simplest ways in which we can support our healing are often the ones we don’t even look at. We overthink things — even now, in the midst of a global health pandemic, the way that people are internalizing this experience is, How can I not get this? and How can I prevent this? They’re not going back to the basics and thinking, What was I taught? and What were the ways that my ancestors survived? If we're focused on the preventative, then we’re not focusing on proactively building our immune systems.
What wellness offers us is an opportunity to go back to the basics and look at the daily and moment-to-moment interactions and interventions we have that can help us find our way.
We learn them in the kitchen with our grandmother, when we’re eating the food of our family members and ancestors, when we’re engaging in practices that are traditional in our culture, when we get a home remedy from a relative — we learn these things, and they’re not necessarily expensive. I think that’s where I see the impact of wellness being: in engaging fully in a dialogue around living in optimal wellbeing, and not a dialogue of living in fear.
What does it mean to you to honor the goddess within?
I think it’s about embodiment, being a goddess and cloaking yourself and sitting in the space where you can reclaim the sanctity of your body and the spiritual aspects of who you are... honoring the complexity of who you are, and looking at the challenging aspects, too — the parts of you that don’t get loved and are tucked away.
It’s very interesting that if we start to see ourselves as living gods and goddesses, as made in the image of the Creator, of God or God Consciousness, we have a different dialogue with ourselves. If you think that you are made in perfection, and this iteration of who you are is enough and is perfect, that’s really important. It’s an opportunity to show up for healing and for engaging in a dialogue with yourself that is healthy, and it can help lift people out of a place of despair or confusion and get them in a place where they can be in the right relationship with their bodies.
I also think that if you envision yourself as powerful in the world, that’s also how you show up and adorn yourself. So, if you dress for the dreams that you have, the vision of who you have for yourself — whether it’s your jewelry or the colors you wear, the way that you wear your hair, or your statement piece of clothing — it’s tapping into this archetype that’s out there of living goddesses. And there are so many that you can emulate or use as a guidepost for how you want to show up in the world. You can decide, I want to be embodied as Lakshmi or Oshun or Yemaya or whoever, and you can carry with you this energy and adorn yourself, or move in the way these archetypal goddesses have, to help you get more connected to your own expression of the goddess.
There are so many ways you can go about it: one where you’re just honoring who you are, one where you’re using emulation as a form of self-expression and embodiment and healing, and then also a necessary component where you connect with other people who see the goddess in you, the beauty in you, the grace and brilliance in you, and who celebrate that as well. You only get that if you’re connected with and spending time with people who see you for who you are, and who celebrate you where you are in your life. If you’re having a hard time, you need people who can see you and the power and the grace that you bring to life. Sometimes others see something you can’t see yet, and help you bring that through.
I think a really important part of our self-realization is connecting with the highest part of ourselves — when we’re connected to what makes us uniquely ourselves and “perfect.” And by “perfect”, I mean the fullest expression of who you are, with nothing that can get in your way. When you’re coming from a place of total joy, you’re going to bring so much more to your job and your relationship and your life than if you feel stifled. It’s about coming into bloom in who you are — and that’s part of a journey that we all get to take. It’s just that we’re so programmed to second guess ourselves and mistreat ourselves and talk about ourselves in such horrifying ways that we don’t even realize that we’re divine. And I think that’s really necessary in the times that we’re living in.
Can you speak about some of the most transformative moments of your life?
One of the most transformative moments of my life was having my son. I had a really incredible birth, and that was the catalyst for the work that I do. Also incredibly transformative: launching the doula immersion program and seeing how many women around the world are impacted by what we do and so thankful for what we do. We just had a group with people from Tanzania and Granada and it’s multi-generational, from people who are seventeen years old to sixty-seven years old.
Being able to work with people who are addressing the policy gaps that we have — women do not have the protections that they should during childbirth — has also been really powerful. We need to make sure that we make birth safe in this country. I’m very grateful for the support that I’ve had in addressing systemic biases and looking at how we can transform the medical system. I recognize that though I had an incredible birth experience, many people do not. It’s my commitment and honor and pleasure to fight for that, and put doulas on the frontlines to help fight for it.
Every time that I’m supporting women in the birthing space, I’m reignited.
Do you have any tips for helping people carve out and maintain a self-care practice?
Self-care has to start with loving and listening to ourselves and having a relationship that is respectful of what our needs are. So many of us don’t listen to our bodies, so we end up spending a lot of time undoing the “bad”. Every single day, take it moment to moment and listen to what your needs are. It doesn’t mean that you need to go out or do anything special. It doesn’t mean that you have to bubblebath away your problems. But it does mean that you actively engage and that you listen. I’m a very big advocate for menstrual leave and folks taking those first few days at home to dream and vision and work in a way that’s aligned with what their body needs. I encourage all of us to think about how we can be more sustainable in the manner in which we address our health and wellness. Instead of asking what we can do, asking ourselves what we can stop doing as well. And for me, work is one of those things.
Find something that you can commit to — one thing you can do every single day that you know will make you feel good. You have to figure out what those things are, and what it will cost you if you don't do them. Once you begin to correlate what feels good (your wellbeing) with your overall productivity, then it becomes deeply important to protect this time. And, it teaches the people that love you how to create healthy boundaries and prioritize themselves. When I go to bed early, or cook slowly at home, it teaches my son that those are things to value. It can literally be staying home and reading a book or calling friends, but whatever it is, it’s going to race through your nervous system and help you feel alive.
How would you describe yourself as a mother? What do you hope to instill in your son?
My son could better answer how I am as a mother, but my philosophy is to be there to handhold and support him on his journey. It’s not about me and what I want — it’s about him having the space to grow in a way where he’s unhindered, and for me to be there as a presence of love and of support in helping him navigate the journey as a young man. I think so much of our culture is focused on parents raising children that are mini-versions of themselves, and really I have no intention to force an outcome — I want my child to self-actualize and be exactly who he’s meant to be. Part of that means you have to step aside and allow them to bloom into who they are. Part of that is getting out of the way and learning to listen and be agile as a parent, and that’s hard for many people to do.
We spend a lot of time together and we have certain rituals that I’ve maintained so that I can stay close to him as he grows and so that he feels supported in his journey. I want him to know that I’m here, but I also want to make sure that he starts to develop his own agency and sense of self. They have so much to teach us; my son has taught me who he is, it hasn’t been the other way around.
Do you have any daily affirmations?
My mantra is to be gentle, to speak blessing on myself and others, to be kind. I think the main mantra that I have is: be soft. So much of our culture is centered around being strong and combative, especially through these times that are so challenging, and I don’t really want to be tough and strong and fighting. I want to be resilient in the most elegant way, and I think that can be done through nurturing and recoding myself as someone who is soft, not someone who is hardened. As we continue in our quest to self-actualize, the more positively we speak to ourselves, the better. Speaking affirmation is actually programming not just your mind, but also your cells to move in accordance with your vision.
In this time of uncertainty, what do you know to be true?
That God is love.