Recently, we had the privilege of spending an hour with a licensed mental health counselor, Holly Smith. Holly is not new to our village, she was a staple in our community for years, as a community creator (known then as our playdate captain) in our original Brandon location. She was amazing at bringing our mamas together then, and continues to be amazing as she steps back into the mental health space serving families in such an impactful way.

Holly spent 60 minutes with us, gently taking us through 5 universal needs of mothers, bringing them to life in ways that we could understand and can relate to, and then facilitated a safe space to open up and share our own experiences. It takes a village to raise a mama - Holly understands this in her bones, she said spending time with our FIT4MOM community again felt like “coming home,” we were so grateful to have her back with us.

I scribbled notes throughout her workshop, anxious to relay her wisdom to more mamas who were unable to attend, and reshare with those who were able to share that space with us. Below are pieces of our time together, reviewed by her of course.

When we embrace motherhood, we shift into a new version of ourselves. Sometimes we crave returning to our old selves, but simply put, that person no longer exists. We are new, we are now mama, and while that is an evolving new person, we are also now carrying pieces of past generations, the mothers before us and before them. It’s beautiful, messy, overwhelming, it carries unattainable society standards, too many hats to rotate each day, new feelings and unknown trails ahead. But there is hope in finding our way, if given the knowledge of what we innately need.

Holly share with us our five universal needs as we transition into this motherhood and continue to evolve in that space. Five simple yet powerful needs that will fulfill what our bodies are craving to feel whole, and nourished, taken care of, our needs met, to feel at peace. Extended rest, nourishing food, loving touch, presence of wise woman and spiritual companions, contact with nature. Sounds obvious right? But - these needs are often not met, asked for, or acknowledged. We want that to change.

Extended Rest: 20-60 days of rest, bonding with baby. Doesn’t that sound glorious? We know this is very much a privilege not everyone has immediately after baby, so this will look different for everyone, but we encourage you find what that can look like for you in planning and embracing the stillness when possible in those first few weeks after baby. Out of the new baby season? Help a new mama find that rest, encourage her to be still, offer to take her older kids to the park, or help with morning routine if possible.

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Nourishing Food: Food is medicine, and as we journey through motherhood, nourishing our changing body is crucial. With planning, this is possible and necessary. As woman/moms we sometimes find it hard to ask specifically for what we need. We encourage you to push past your comfort zone here. Those meal trains that are offered, take them, and don’t be afraid to get specific with what YOU need. Are you the one organizing an upcoming meal train? Cater it to that mamas needs, whether it’s for the welcoming of a new baby, or another life circumstance, lets normalize asking for what is necessary and receiving the help.

Loving Touch: Isolation is dangerous. This has become more normalized than ever in the recent years, but we are wired for community. Embrace the snuggles from your kids, and your partner, decide what you are comfortable with and realign your body to accept touch in a process. This looks different for every mother, just know that when we are removed from community, touch, and become more isolated, our bodies have real physical reactions, and it's never too late to get realigned with what it's asking for.

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Presence of Wise Women and Spiritual Companions: Surround yourself with women who have walked this path ahead of you, they can offer wisdom and comfort that only they know and you need. Find what spiritual means for you, and those who are sitting in that space inviting you in. A community of mothers is fulfilling in a way that you don’t realize you are missing until that hole is filled. Find your village, it takes one to raise a mama. Be that for women seeking companionship, invite them in, hold space for them to be their authentic self as they navigate each season of motherhood with you.

Contact with Nature: is there anything better than feeling the warmth of the sun, the grass beneath your feet, that breeze in your hair, seeing a flower bloom or a tree sway? Find a way to connect with the elements. We acknowledge that this can look different for each of us based on our health needs, geographic location, living circumstances. Contact with nature doesn’t have to come with being outside if that is not an option. Light a candle (fire), soak in a bath or take a warm shower (water), turn a fan towards your face and feel the breeze (wind), sit hear a window and watch the trees move or bring a potted plant inside (roots). Get creative when spending time outside is not an option. If you can get into nature physically, remove your shoes when you can, letting your feet ground into the earth.

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1 in 10 woman are diagnosed with postpartum mood disorder, and that’s probably a modest number, only what is actually diagnosed. If you are feeling trapped in new feelings, rage, sadness, grief, discomfort, or anything else, know that you are not alone. We are here for you, a community of mothers all walking through this motherhood journey together, in different stages. We are here to lift each other up, and help each other find their way back to these 5 universal needs. When mama is taken care of, it is then that everyone else can be taken care of.

We encourage you to get in contact with Holly. She specializes in Birth Trauma, Maternal Mental Health, Adult Sexual Trauma, Childhood Sexual Abuse, PTSD, Anxiety, Depression, Infertility, Abortion, Parenting, Spiritual Health and Wellness, and LGBTQIA, offering individual sessions, couple sessions, and group therapy. You can visit her website here: hollysmithcounselingservices.com, and follow her on Instagram here.

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