Meet a Mom – Melanie Smith
What led you to start Modern Roots Birth and Mothering? I started Modern Roots Birth and Mothering after experiencing the essential need for honest education and support in my matrescence. No one was talking about the transition! Around the time my son was born, I received an enormous amount of messaging that birth and mothering needed to meet this unrealistic standard of “perfection.” And because no one was talking about the hard stuff and the perfection was nonexistent, I felt like I was failing, and therefore a bad mom. In 2016, I experienced a personal ordeal that completely shifted my life. I started questioning my experience and beliefs and came across some pretty interesting (and triggering) truths. Even though my birth doula practice was thriving, I felt a persistent call to provide a more realistic perspective of mothering and to share a collective knowledge that’s passed only between conscious women. As women, we need our birth and mothering experiences to be witnessed and mirrored back to us. We need to know we aren’t alone. We need to be reminded that we are doing a good job, even if we feel like we didn’t get it “right.” We need mentors and guides to ask us questions so that we can find our own answers. This is why I started Modern Roots Birth and MOTHERING, and it is this part of my work that really lights my fire. When I sit with women, it’s an opportunity for them to examine internal landscapes and, through a process of self-inquiry, be able to make life choices in full power (full power = less mommy guilt!!!). We all come to our mothering journey with very different stories based on our individual lives and perceptions. Being an experienced witness, I am able to hold that space, and ensure the new mother returns from the endeavor of becoming one. Education is a key component in my work. Educating my clients on normal physiological and psychological needs during pregnancy and postpartum helps families to set appropriate expectations and create healthier, and happier mamas and families. It takes a lot of practice to slow down in the postpartum time. That’s the practice. My work is to ensure the families I serve feel prepared for the variations of normal and to teach them how to call upon their own coping skills, voice, and community instead of feeling blindsided or betrayed. The families I support are given an opportunity to understand what could be part of their normal experience and are able to create a plan before the intense vulnerability and exhaustion strike! They also can rely on the fact that they have someone going through it with them- believing in them, offering resources, and checking in. Don’t we all need that!
How do you balance being a Birth and Postpartum Doula, Certified Lactation Educator Counselor, Birth Story Listener, Peristeam Hydrotherapist, Intuitive Mothering Coach and being an amazing mom of 2? I contribute the balance in my life to my people. I have been abundantly blessed to have my tribe of mamas who support me and my family so I may tend to others. Knowing that my babies are safe, happy, and being loved allows me to let go and be truly present in my work. Part of my practice is educating women and families on the importance of community during the postpartum time. It really does take a village to raise a child. I couldn’t do my life in this way if I didn’t have an amazingly loving group of friends and family. Gratitude for days!! Also, I need me time. For years I put myself last until there was this intuitive feeling that something was off. As I started turning inward to question my own stories about mothering and being a “good” mom, I realized that my life was for me to define. My truth is most important for me to understand, not to prove to others. Self-care goes beyond my tuberose bubble-bath, and includes a whole bunch of love and compassion. It’s my alarm set for 8am, 12pm, and 6pm so I remember to BREATHE. It’s allowing my feelings to course through my body, and instead of judging how I should or shouldn’t be feeling, I observe (imagine the win to occasionally have to even observe the judge without judgement!). Through tending to my own needs as an individual human, woman, and mother, I am able to care for my family, friends, and clients with a regulated nervous system and from a place of true abundance. I also take long trips with and without my children. I drink vodka. I swim in the ocean. And, I dance a lot.
Children and Ages? My son is a busy little 8 year old. He is a soccer stud and loves his friends and Pokemon (if anyone has a crash course out there, send it my way!) My daughter is 5 years young! She will melt your heart with hers, and always asks for seconds when we make rice bowls. They are my greatest teachers!
Why did you decide to raise your family here in South OC? I originally moved to South OC from upstate New York. I was drawn to this area to be with my sister, nephew, and niece. Fast forward thirteen years and my own two kids, and we’re still here! I feel rooted here now. Our lives are enriched by our community and we are happy. We are blessed to live in such a beautiful space with so many opportunities for adventure!
What is your Favorite family activity in South Orange County? We absolutely love the beach and any place with creatures. The tide pools are a combo of both and are always a hit!
Best piece of advice you have for all of us Moms trying to figure out this journey of Motherhood? Be gentle with yourself and center your own care. You are a perfect mom right now and still have space to grow and learn as you go. You have never done this before, so lead with your heart. Remember, we all need each other. Be kind. Call your friends.
Can you tell us more about your Mother Circles? When does your next one start? Mother circles are for expectant mamas who wish to prepare for the internal journey into motherhood. It is much more popular to prep for the physical labor and birth of a baby, which, or course, is very important, but it’s not the only important thing. In circle we focus the discussion around how to remain whole through the change of identity and where to turn if you don’t feel that way. We talk about your experiences and expectations relating to how you’ve come to know what you know to be true about mothering, and the influences from the collective belief system. We talk about personal-authority, leaky breasts, pelvic floor PT, relationship dynamics, shame, postpartum healing and warmth, nutrition, sex, fear and excitement, body image, and we learn several practical tools to make massive shifts daily! It is a very organic process that unfolds according to the needs of the particular group. Look for dates in late October and added groups for mamas in all stages and spaces of their lives.
Please tell us more about your amazing offerings and resources for our community of Mothers and soon to be Moms? Where can we find you and all of your amazing support? I provide private and group classes in South OC. I offer private birth and postpartum support as a consultant and doula, in-home lactation education and counseling, and postpartum education and preparation. You can find more information on my website at www.modernrootsbirth.com! I look forward to connecting with you!