Blending her skills as a doula, lactation counselor and, chef, Erica Chidi Cohen is passionate about guiding expectant parents through their pregnancy and transition into parenthood. In an effort to bring such services to more people, in 2013 she founded The Mama Circle, a website focused on nurturing women into motherhood, providing doula services, lactation counseling, nutritional support as well as prenatal, postpartum and, parenting education programs. And she’s not stopping there. Her new venture LOOM, a pregnancy and parenting wellness hub, is set to open in Los Angeles in 2017, and her first book on pregnancy, birth and early motherhood will be published by Chronicle Books and released in fall 2017.
What’s one practice, goal, or purpose that helps get you out of bed each day?
Right now, it’s my work. I just finished writing my first book—it’s a modern guide to pregnancy, birth, and the early stages of motherhood—and we’re in the middle of edits. And then, of course, we’re launching LOOM. So I really feel like I’m in the trenches of helping people shift the zeitgeist around pregnancy and motherhood and get better information into the atmosphere. Right now, there’s this assumption that all women come into pregnancy with a knowledge deficit. But the truth is that most do come in with knowledge, both intuitive and researched. No two people walk mechanically the same through the world, so we need to think the same way about how they move through motherhood. I believe women should be encouraged to trust their bodies and intuition more, and that we can use that as a foundation on which to build more knowledge.
Whose advice have you taken recently? What was it?
I can’t actually remember who this was, but someone was telling me recently to slow down and just acknowledge what you’re creating. I’m not self-deprecating, but do I have this tendency to just tick things off and move on. She told me that it was okay to take a moment and observe and appreciate what you’ve done.
Between a book and a company, you’ve got a lot going on. Is there a product or life hack that’s saving your sanity?
I love Readdle’s Calendar 5 app; it’s much to navigate than most. And I’ve been using Slack for a lot of components of our business. But you know, I’m also still a big fan of the classic Notes app on the iPhone. It’s such a great catch-all for just about anything.
And how do you keep your balance?
I try to strike a balance between being out and about with people and downtime. I’m good about having at least one day a week where 80 percent of it, I’m by myself. I love a good TV show, so on those days, I’ll cue up all my stories and then just drift away. I find it’s also good to offset stuff like “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “The Bachelor” with the New York Times, Mother Jones, and the Atlantic. As for the other days of the week, I’ve been doing Vedic meditation, which is mantra-based. I took a workshop with Thom Knoles and I really connected with the spiritualism and beauty of the practice.
Do you have an object in your house that inspires you?
My husband and I have a lot of childhood photos around our house. It’s important to see yourself when you’re young as a reminder of where you’ve come from. When you do look back it’s like a quick reset; you get to see where all the things you’ve done and are doing came from.
What do you eat to stay healthy?
I like a lot of fat in my diet. I’ve noticed that if you start your morning off with a high amount of fat, you have really good “groove energy” for the rest of the day. My friend Kelly LeVec makes a smoothie I especially love with almond butter, chia seeds, and grass-fed whey protein. So there’s no fruit in the smoothie, just fat and protein. I also love making poached eggs with kale and walnut and balsamic vinegar for breakfast. And for lunch I like a good bowl with things like tuna, olives, and vegetables. My diet philosophy basically boils down to repeatedly asking, “Where’s the fat? Where’s the protein?”
Given all your expertise, we have to ask. What advice do you have for new mothers?
After you deliver, your body starts to become more sensitive to insulin, so you’re more prone to sugar spikes and falls—which of course affect both your mood and your energy. This means that it’s essential to make sure that throughout the first two weeks after delivery, you’re getting a healthful, balanced, high-fat, high-protein diet. Any new mom will tell you, that’s a lot harder than it sounds. So before you give birth, make sure you have people signed on to make them for you, like a food service or your friends.
And for new entrepreneurs?
It’s okay to be scared. In fact, you’re going to be scared. But rather than negating that part of yourself, just stay curious and let fear come along for the ride. Don’t be afraid of your own fear, because sometimes that fear is going to help you.