Welcome to the Born To Rise Podcast. I am so excited to bring you our conversation, which was illuminating and a must-listen for any woman, especially my mama foreigners. Without further ado, here is my conversation with Dr. Ariana Witkin.
Cait: Arianna, thank you so much for being here.
Ariana: Thanks so much for having me.
Cait: I’m so excited. Mama MD herself in the hizzy I love it. So guys, Arianna is — I just am so obsessed with the work that you’re doing. Arianna, we’ve been you know, connected now. And just such a beautiful way for the past, gosh, nearly a year. And you’ve obviously taken a very important place in my life and my transition into motherhood. And I am so excited to share your message and just have this conversation. Because I think that for a lot of women on the podcast, who are listening are either mom’s already or thinking about becoming a mom, or maybe even pregnant right now, there is just such a lack of infrastructure and conversation, real conversation about this.
Probably the single biggest transition in a woman’s life, the transition from being a woman with her own body all to herself. And then becoming a mom. You, obviously as a postpartum coach, really support women through this truly epic journey. In the biggest sense of the word, transformation. So can you tell us for those of you who for those of us who haven’t heard of you before, or know what your work isn’t about, can you just elaborate on what you do? Tell us who you are.
Ariana: Totally, I actually love how you said it. That was so beautiful, because that is exactly what I do. As a postpartum coach. I educate, equip and empower women for the biggest transition of their life, which is becoming a mother having a baby. As you said, I think this transition culturally is grossly underestimated. There’s a lot of emphasis in our society and culture on birth, on giving birth on the labor part, which is — don’t misunderstand me– so, so, so important.
But it’s really long overdue to start treating postpartum as the main event that it really is. Because birth is a day, a moment, and then you’re handed the baby as you know, sent home and then the medical system kind of says, bye. Good luck.
Finding Support Postpartum
Cait: Right? True. And it’s so funny. I remember and this is obviously still super close for me. But I remember my pregnancy, and I think for a lot of women who become pregnant by the way. How weird is it to say fall pregnant as if you just accidentally fell into a penis and had a baby inside of you like fall breaking. I don’t know, get pregnant for women who get pregnant and are pregnant, how almost especially first time moms like I’ll speak for myself. I was really kind of fixated almost on the birth and the labor.
I think that the concept of like, hold on my vagina is going to stretch to what it is just so it’s almost like addicting to think about how that’s going to happen and so much energy emphasis on how this is going to happen. But even in terms of seeking out support for postpartum, I didn’t even really know what existed other than being connected with you. I didn’t even really know. It just isn’t as talked about.
There’s hypnobirthing and Lamaz and every single sort of birth class and birth preparation, but there are not a lot of educators around that really focus on preparing women for the experience of postpartum. Tell us about how you started this work because you saw that both from as a mama yourself of your beautiful daughter, but then also from the pediatric side as a Board Certified pediatrician.
Ariana: Yeah Cait, it’s so interesting that you said that because in my own motherhood journey, that’s exactly what I found. That there really wasn’t support to hold me postpartum. And that is exactly the thing that was missing and that I needed. So as you said, I’m a board certified pediatrician, I work clinically as a newborn hospitalist, which means I work in a community hospital with new babies and their moms and their families, which is just like the sweetest job in the world.
So in that capacity, as a pediatrician, I’ve worked with countless women, countless families and have kind of seen from a professional side how the medical system and traditional health care fall short, and doesn’t really serve women. Well, honestly, throughout the life course, but particularly around childbirth and postpartum. And then as a mother myself, so I had my own baby girl, Sadie about two years ago now. And since I’m a pediatrician, I had resources. I have an amazing supportive partner, I had a doula, I had a lactation consultant.
But when my baby was born, oh, my God, it was like a fucking bomb dropped on my house. And I had no idea what to do. I was so overwhelmed, I felt so isolated, so alone. I felt like no one can understand what I was going through. And exactly as you said, there really wasn’t much out there that I felt like could help. There was no kind of one system or person or framework to focus on me and the total transformation, right?
It’s a massive transition. Not only my body, not only in this new person in my family, but like, in my identity, in my career, in my relationship, right. It’s just all encompassing. And so it was really the combination of my professional expertise, and then my personal experience with my own newborn and as a mother, myself, that fueled me to start this postpartum coaching business, which I feel like I created because, as you said, there really was like, nothing like that existed.
Cait: I love that so much. I mean, just on all of the levels on the business level, like just such a powerful testament to like finding a gap and filling that gap. If it doesn’t exist, build it. And I think that if you were searching for it there’s a market for it. And hello, every woman who transitions from birth to postpartum is in that exact same gap and in that exact same transition.
But I think what’s so powerful about this, Ariana, is you really saw how Okay, there are all these silos when it comes to healthcare or medical care for women. Emotional silos. I don’t know about you, but being pregnant for the first time, everyone’s like, how’s the baby? Oh my god, you’re glowing. Let’s see the bond pictures. And then you have the baby and it’s like, send me the baby photos. Send me the baby photos.
Hopefully we’re lucky enough to have supportive people in our life who are like, Hey, how are you doing? But it’s almost like that glow or something transitions to all the spotlights now on the baby. And what about the mom? Can you talk about that a little bit both in your own experience and also in the women that you work with? And really just elaborate on what that does to women?
What Happens To The Light & Glow Of Pregnancy
Ariana: It’s so funny that you said that the Instagram post that I put up today is actually about that pregnancy glow and how right when we give birth, right, we give light rail in Spanish we say Darla, Lucy give light, it’s giving us some kind of new beam. And I think culturally, we see exactly what you said, which we give light. And now that light is outside of us, there’s this baby that people are fixated on.
But giving light only makes space for more light inside of you. Right? For women who give birth, it’s not that this light and this glow is now detached from you out in the world. It’s that now you are literally cracked and wide open with room for more light and spaciousness. To be the fullest expression of yourself, the truest expression of who you want to be – not only as a mom, but as a person, right? Because your whole identity changes.
So I think what’s really missing, to answer your question, is that space for women to explore the transition because it’s all encompassing. As you have a baby and the focus shifts to people wanting to see the baby and how the baby’s doing, often the mother gets lost. What’s best for the baby is to have a healthy, happy, well adjusted caretaker, right?
So often, the primary caretaker is the birthing person. So how is society holding and supporting them? If you go back historically, we think about the village. These villages that used to hold and support women throughout their whole pregnancy and postpartum journey. So after the baby is born, in some societies, the woman who has birthed is put in her own room or house to rest for 40 days, sometimes even longer. And the village is what cares for the baby because they know that the most important thing is for the mother to be cared for, to recover and to rest.
Where is the village in COVID quarantine? I don’t know. But probably not in your house, right? So having a postpartum coach, I think of it as reinvigorating your village. There are so many pieces to hold out. I want people to know that you do not have to do this alone. You don’t.
Cait: Oh, my gosh, I have chills, I feel like I’m gonna start crying. It’s so true. Having a baby in COVID. That’s like a whole nother topic that we can talk about in a second, but even not in COVID times. Right. I think that when you’re talking about other cultures, when I used to live in Bali, that’s literally how it is. Families all live in compounds, the woman has a child and if they have another daughter, and she’s like at least 10 great. She’s a caretaker, the Auntie’s their caretakers, the grandmother. All of them are taking care, not only of the baby but the mom. Putting hot food in front of her face, changing out her clothing, helping her bathe herself and the child. There’s just so much support.
I think that in the Western world, I mean, I know we’re definitely on the same page here. Traditional maternity leave is six weeks. Like what the actual. I was barely walking at six weeks. And the fact that we’re supposed to then be separated from our babies and go back to work and have our brains on a job. Are you kidding me? It’s insane. But I want to talk about something that I think you’re touching on and you mentioned like really equipping and empowering women for the transition.
Being A Powerful Woman Who Receives Support
One thing that I experienced when I became a mom, when I had Ella, is the entire definition of what it means to be a powerful powerhouse woman. For me, change in this radical, radical way. And there is a real emphasis in our culture on pushing and doing it yourself. And having this powerful identity. I’m curious for you and your experience, and for the women that you support, and the women that you work with. What you see as this new narrative that we need to adopt around what it actually means to be a powerful woman and how receiving support is such a huge part of that.
Ariana: Yes, I love that you said that. So actually, I’m finding that most of my clients are high powered female entrepreneurs that have either started their own businesses or high up on the corporate ladder. And I think it’s because as you said, that narrative about what it means to be a powerful woman is changing both in business and in motherhood, right. So it used to be I think, as women in business or in life, as mothers, we would think I need to do it all myself to show that I am powerful and that I can do it just as good as the next door person. I can do it all on my own, just keep putting it on my shoulders, I got this. And then we learned that that doesn’t work, right. And spoiler, nobody does it alone, no matter what they make it look like, right? If you’ve risen to the top, you haven’t gotten there by yourself, no matter what anybody tells you.
So I think people are seeing that in their businesses and their jobs, they’re realizing that to rise, as you so often talk about that, it’s about the support that surrounds you. It’s about investing in yourself, so that you can not only be the best version of yourself, but bring up the people around you. People see business investments successful. And the same thing is true when it comes to motherhood, right.
The mental load is a concept that’s often talked about in motherhood. And for anyone that hasn’t heard of that term before, it really means like being the keeper of the information. So the mental load of having to hold the pieces in your head from you know, when your next ultrasound appointment is to what you can and can’t eat during pregnancy to what you need to add to the registry, right? If you’re pregnant, just kind of holding all of those pieces that I think women often feel like, well, the baby is in their body. So they have to do all the research and read all the books by themselves and carry that information. And just as in business, becoming a new mother, being a new parent is about surrounding yourself with all the support possible and equipping yourself for that transition. And so I think applying that lesson of surrounding yourself with a port to business and motherhood is what it means now to be a powerful woman.
Cait: I love that so much. I think that’s so so true.I want to talk as well. I hadn’t heard the term postpartum anxiety until I can’t remember who was talking about it maybe it was Trina Scott the woman from Tone It Up. When she had a baby and she started talking about it and I had never heard of that I was like, Oh, I know what postpartum depression is. But postpartum anxiety What’s that? Didn’t really do a ton of reading on it. I got to postpartum and I’m like, Oh, hi. You mean like, jerking myself awake as I lie down to frantically check if Ella’s breathing? Oh, that’s postpartum anxiety. Wondering, oh my god, did I overfeed her? Did I under feed her like just this list of stuff that goes on in your head? And I think that this almost like hyper performance.
So you talked about, like working with high, high powered high performing women, I think that the end being the keeper of information, right? That anyway, was my experience in postpartum that just this never ending list of like stuff to hold, stuff to think about. Yes, okay, when you’re pregnant, there’s all those things, what can I eat? What should I do for my birth? What kind of music blah, blah, blah, what kind of crib should I pick? What should I put on the registry? But then you actually have the human and it just feels like it’s like a Hydra head.
Like, okay, great. I got over the labor delivery part. Awesome. I just need to rest and heal and recuperate my body. Yeah, that would be ideal. Oh, but also, we have this crying, screaming, pooping, adorable ball of love that also has all of these other needs. And so how do we handle that? So I’m curious for you, like when you start to support women, particularly in the postpartum phase. What are some of the things that are common? Questions or the things that women who get to that stage and feel free to talk about any of your clients like me that what are women in that stage say that, I wish I knew this? I wish I knew what I didn’t even know.
Creating A Postpartum Plan
Ariana: Oh, my gosh, yes, totally. I think half the battle of being a postpartum is that when you are pregnant, you don’t know what you don’t know. So it’s hard to even know what questions to ask even if you have support, especially if it’s your first child, right. So kind of the cornerstone of what I do with clients, ideally, before the baby is born, but sometimes not, is create a postpartum plan. Which is to really anticipate a lot of the most common challenges that come up.
So I would say the first one that surprises most people, and is the most challenging is sleep and exhaustion. Just the sheer exhaustion of having a newborn. And most people don’t know that if you are breastfeeding, in particular, most breastfed babies want to eat like every hour and a half around the clock. So day and night, which means that you might not be sleeping for more than an hour in a row, which, hello, that is enough to make anybody crazy, right? So put on top of that, recovering physically from birth, right? It’s just kind of a nightmare.
So I think, knowing what to expect going in, and then creating a plan to deal with whatever arises. So how are we going to deal with this interactive sleep? What kind of support are we going to have? What kind of schedule can we create to actually get you a four or five hour chunk of sleep? Who’s going to be taking care of the baby, kind of all of those pieces?
Sleep is like number one. Number two, I would say is breastfeeding. A lot of people go into postpartum when they’re pregnant thinking like, oh, breastfeeding is natural, I’m going to be this like Earth mama on the couch, just like with this baby. Simple, it’s gonna be beautiful, right? And like, totally me, it was guilty of that. And then my baby came out. And breastfeeding was literally the hardest thing I have ever, ever done. It felt like shards of glass were like piercing across my nipple. So again, I think, number one, the cultural pressure to breastfeed, and for it to be easy is one piece that we need to work on as a society. And then for me, personally, when I’m working with clients, it’s about setting the expectations and then troubleshooting in the moment. I know for you, and you’ve talked a little bit about having to deal with mastitis early on. That’s not something you’ve probably thought about when you were pregnant.
Cait: I didn’t even know what it was.
Ariana: Right? Exactly. So being able to kind of troubleshoot in a moment, whatever the issue is that arises so that you can get through it with support and a team on your side again. Because I know women should not have to go through this alone. 100% I think that’s so so true.
Cait: And I think as you’re talking about this, and like, I felt like shards of glass or this or that were happening, I’m just I’m thinking back to, again, anyone who’s listening who’s either pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, and I will share that when I was in that stage like I was very selective about only taking in information that was like very peaceful and uplifting and sort of like the sunny side of the road, if you will, of what birth and postpartum was like.
Surrounding Yourself With Positive Stories
So I want to kind of get into this a little bit. The difference between choosing to surround yourself with really empowering, powerful, positive birth stories and visions for what postpartum can or will be like. I still think that because I chose to do that, I had a very solid and strong mindset moving into this, like a very can do sort of attitude. Granted, I also had a ton of support family, partner, you as my postpartum coach and a lot of support in my corner.
But I want to talk about the difference between surrounding yourself with really powerful narratives and empowering beautiful positive stories and also riding that line between letting in the narratives and suggestions that, hey, there may be some unknowns on the other side that could present some challenges. And it’s a really good idea to start preparing for that now. Like, I think for a lot of women, they might get scared hearing that or think, Oh, no, well I don’t want that to be my experience. I don’t want to, quote unquote, call in challenges. So how do you deal with that Ariana?
Because I’m literally thinking back to myself. And I remember when I was really reading a lot of your content and was connected with you on Instagram and seeing you talk about creating a post pregnant plan and things that can happen. I was both scribbling notes, reading your Instagram post, but then also thinking, Oh, well, do I really want to believe that’s possible for me? And then of course, I got to postpartum and I’m like, everything that she said is true.
But how do you communicate that to women who are maybe trying to shield or kind of buffer sort of the more I don’t even want to say negative because it’s not negative, but like the kind of reality of which is not glam? Like Hello, pad sickles and mesh underwear and gripping nipples and all of the things that postpartum is. It’s like the most unglamorous, unsexy time, but the real components of the challenges of postpartum with the women who, like me, want to really still be surrounded with really empowering, uplifting can do content, especially during pregnancy?
Ariana: Yeah, absolutely. And I was like that, too. Coming at it from the opposite angle when I was pregnant. When I found out I was pregnant, Cait, I was working in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at a major Children’s Hospital. So I was working with premature babies, who were super sick. And then I found out I was gonna have a baby. And I was just like, Oh, my God, How could my baby not end up like all these other babies, sick and in the hospital? I had to deal with my anxiety and fear from that perspective.
So then made a very conscious decision to surround myself only with positive stories, because I felt like professionally, I just was bombarded with the other end of the spectrum. And I think what’s important to know, and what I like to tell my clients is that you can hold both, right? We can hold both a vision for the future that’s empowering and beautiful, and this glowing vision of postpartum and prepare for the unknown, and be willing to accept things that we can’t control, right. It’s not one or the other.
I think what’s important here is having a process to deal with whatever arises, right? So yes, absolutely surround yourself with positive birth stories, read the books, listen to the podcast, right? And as feelings of anxiety, or uncertainty or fear arise, because they will, right even if everything goes perfectly and beautifully. For all the pregnant people or people who want to get pregnant or listening, I truly hope that they do. And you will still have challenges, right? And there will still be times where you feel fear, where you feel uncertain.
So what process do you have for dealing with that? And what I go through with my clients is really having a process to tune into their feelings, being able to feel it in their body. Physically tuning in. Where in their body Is that feeling arising? And then what does it feel like? Fit with it right and invite it. And what does it feel like to feel anxious? And what does that anxiety or feel really about, right? Because sometimes the things that we’re fearful or anxious about on the surface are really about something else. So really kind of sitting with it, figuring out what it’s about, and then having some mechanism to tell your body that it’s going to be okay, so for some people, that looks like taking a few deep breaths for some people that looks like meditation for some people that looks like taking a walk outside. But really just holding both stories, the positive and the unknown, and then having a process to tune into your body hold the feelings and find a way to help yourself be okay with uncertainty.
Cait: Oh my god, I just love that so much. And I just that message is everything. Being able to hold both the positive the uplifting, like we don’t have to throw those things out and just stare it like well, there will be challenges kid. No, it’s really about surrounding yourself with that and preparing for the unknown and getting yourself a process for supporting you in that unknown. It’s so beautiful. So so, so important.
Having Someone Who Has Gone Through It Before
As you’re speaking Ariana, you touched on this a little bit before, but this last, it’s not even a lost art. It’s like a lost like gift of tribe and elder wisdom and passing down kind of through the generations, this tribe, this village. As you’re speaking, I can imagine that for so many of your clients, whether they’re in pregnancy, or they’re already in that postpartum window, like such a huge part of I feel what women need in that phase is that is the deep reassurance from someone who’s lived through the experience. But I imagine for you as well, like Hello, also a pediatrician knows developmental milestones that the infant should be hitting knows what to, you know how to medically respond to a baby, if they’re in any form of distress. But it’s just that reassurance of this is normal, or everything’s gonna be okay. That is something that a Google search bar can’t give you, is it?
Ariana: No, oh my god. Totally. I love that. That’s the first thing I tell my clients is please stop going to Dr. Google if you have a question and message me. Because more than half the battle really is about reassurance and trusting yourself. Right? I think if you’re listening and you’re pregnant, and you were to take one thing away, my best advice is to trust yourself, right? You’re gonna have all of these experts, all of these people, doctors, midwives, doulas, telling you what’s best for you, what’s best for your baby, but you are the expert in your body and your baby. And no matter what anybody says.
Cait: It’s so so true. Okay, so on that note, I’m literally thinking back to when I was maybe a month or two months, maybe it was before that, postpartum and I was googling all of these thing. If I want to have a glass of champagne to celebrate with my parents, and they’re all celebratory, like I need to pump and dump or I’m gonna ruin her brain. She’s gonna end up like cross eyed for life if I have a sip of champagne and then breastfeed her and you’re like, it’s fine.
Like you can have two glasses of wine a night and just feed her straight away, it’s totally fine. I just think that’s where something like Google – you’re just going to get so much conflicting information. No, I’m not gonna mess my kid up and you might be whoever’s listening to this thinking well, Cait, you have a lot of anxiety that you need to do is but like, trust me when you get to that place your mind is going to run and you’re gonna have all the questions.
Common Motherhood Myths Debunked
So I feel like things that you know around alcohol and breastfeeding or around sleep or routine. I remember also talking to Arianna about, Oh my gosh, are we like ruining her? Is she going to just be this chaotic person who never fits into society because she’s not on a strict routine at like three weeks old. There’s just all of these unknowns, all of these questions, all have this sensor in it and I imagine there are other common questions maybe you can share. Some that you get from new moms.They are part of your process of this myth dispelling? Returning the mother to her own inner knowing and supporting her to be the best parent that she can be?
Ariana: Oh my gosh, totally. Oh my gosh, so many funny stories. I’m thinking about you. I hope you don’t mind if I share this. Literally thinking about you like pregnant with a highlighter going through like some sleep books, like making an outline. As if Ella’s gonna just be a student and one of your classes and you’re a teacher, and you’ll just follow this plan, and it’s gonna go perfectly, right?
Unfortunately, that’s not always how it works out. So yes of course people read the books, and you should read the books, right? But like, the problem is there a zillion books, they have conflicting information, and they’re not personalized, right? Everybody is different. And what works for you is not going to be what works for someone else is not going to be what works for somebody else.
Flipping The Script On What Works For You
So it’s really about forging a deep relationship with a support person or a support team who can get to know what you and your family want, what your values are, because that’s going to totally inform how I support you. How anyone supports you, right? There is no one size fits all. There’s no instruction manual for babies.
Part of the reason why there are so many conflicting opinions and books, etc. is because there’s no one right way to do most things when it comes to raising a child. So instead of taking that as like, Oh my god, this is so frustrating. Why is everyone giving me conflicting information? I like to flip that on its head and say Actually, this is super empowering. There’s no one right way to do this. So what’s important to you? That’s going to inform how we do things right.
So again, you can really kind of flip the script as you say on its head to make it so that it feels empowering for you. And I do really think it comes back to supporting your inner knowing. I’m just thinking of some of the other stories you asked me for.
Sleep, as I said, comes up a lot. A lot of people ask me, Oh my gosh, my newborn just wants to sleep on me, like, I’m gonna spoil them. They’re never gonna sleep in a crib. They’re gonna be sleeping in my bed when they go to college. I don’t know what we’re gonna do, right? It’s an old wives tale that is not true, right? What your newborn needs is to feel supported and loved and connected, just like you as a new mom need to feel supported and loved and connected.
So it’s dispelling myths like that. And letting people know if you want your baby to sleep on you, you should let your baby sleep on you. I will preface this by saying if you are going to be sleeping and your baby is going to be sleeping, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that your baby sleeps in their own sleep area on their back. But if you’re awake and watching the baby can be in any position that you want.
How Raising A Baby is Like Building A Business
Cait: Yes, yes, yes, yes. I love that so much. And and I have just like a penny drop moment when you were just speaking, Ariana. That analogy has never like come to me so clearly before but as you’re talking about how you can read all the things, they’re all these different ways to raise a beautiful, healthy child and having a really healthy successful in the sense of like, everyone’s happy and healthy, successful being a happy, healthy parent. It’s literally the exact same thing, the exact same equivalent in business to say there’s a million ways to make a million dollars. There is not one way.
Yes, sure, if you get on to like Russell Brunson Click Funnels, blah, blah, blah, he’s gonna tell you that you want to have like signature offers and one time upsells and blahdy, blah, and then your profit maximizes. And then if you learn from this one person who has like 10 $100,000 clients and says it’s easy, just so super high ticket, you’re gonna get so much and it’s not like any one of those things is wrong or right, it’s just that there’s a different way to do it.
I love that you shared that because I think even more, it’s almost like more acute in motherhood than it is in business. Because it’s so close to home. You literally grew a human from your flesh delivered, this child is now a separate human in the world. It almost feels like the stakes couldn’t be higher for anything else in life. Giving life and doing a good job of developing this person.
I think that just there’s such value in having read the book, or taken the courses on all these different ways to scale to a million, but it’s like – I always talked about the value of having personalized coaching support in your corner, someone that knows you and what you want for your lifestyle, how that fits in with your business model, it’s the exact same thing with birth and postpartum.
It’s one thing to be like me and have the highlighter and be highlighting till the wee hours and have the information.For people like me, that was really soothing to my nervous system and made me feel like I was in control. Made me feel like I was getting prepared. And I’m really grateful that I had all that because it informed my decision making process more when I actually got to that postpartum phase, but it was it was really having somebody and that somebody was you and I will just forever sing your praises because you you literally were just such a game changer for me, I’m gonna start crying for me and that just wild whirlwind of a time like I am just so incredibly grateful. There’s no substitution. There’s no amount of books, blogs, podcasts, information that is one way coming at you. There’s no substitution for having a back and forth dialogue and somebody who really knows what they’re talking about and helping you navigate all the possibilities and carve away. That is unique to you. It’s like every mothering journey is different. Every baby is different and it’s just so important to have that personalized touch.
Ariana: Yeah, absolutely. I think walking with women through their pregnancy to postpartum journey is such a privilege. I mean, it gives me so much joy to be able to empower people to trust yourself. If you look at the core, that’s what our relationship is about, right? That’s what my relationship with my clients is about tuning in again to your inner knowing and trusting yourself that you have all the tools that you need. It’s just giving yourself the permission to access that part of yourself and then to again, obviously have a trusted source of non judgmental information so that you’re not googling, Can I have a glass of champagne with my parents? Right? But it’s all those things working together to bridge the gap that exists after you have baby
Common Things That Happen After Working With A Motherhood Coach
Cait: For sure. 100% I’m curious for you, what you see as either the most common – I’m thinking about our listeners – the most common sort of like questions or you talked about you know, sleep being a massive one, postpartum routine is another one that I imagined they’re breastfeeding. Hello huge. But common things that you find your clients say after they start working with you. What they didn’t expect to be the case. As they process that with you, I’m just curious what that is. I think that’d be a really interesting glimpse for those who are thinking about becoming moms, but not yet.
Ariana: It’s so funny that you asked that. So I often connect with people for the first time during pregnancy. They see my content or they’re part of a masterclass or something, and we chat and often they feel they say, during pregnancy, I feel very well supported. I have a great partner, I have a midwife, a doula. I think maybe you felt similarly. I have all the pieces, and I feel really good.
And then the baby comes, and then postpartum, they say to me, like, Oh, my God, I just have no idea. Right? That’s when I get a lot. One I get a lot is, Oh, my God, like you were right. I didn’t believe you. But you were right. It’s one of those things that I think is so hard to imagine, until you’re in it. Especially as you said, people are often surrounding themselves with positive birth and postpartum stories, which is so important.
But we also want to stay open minded to the unexpected. It happens. If things are not as we planned, how can we hold space for that support to kind of enter into the realm as well?
What Is A Postpartum Plan?
Cait: I love that so much. That’s so beautiful. And that actually goes really beautifully into another question that I was going to ask. You used this term before. A huge part of your work is equipping and empowering women to create a postpartum plan.
For someone who doesn’t know what that means. What does that mean? And what does that look like specifically for you, and for your clients?
Ariana: Oh, my gosh, yes, totally. So at its core, it’s really looking at all of the pieces that you hold together every single day, personally, professionally in your family life, and figuring out postpartum how that’s going to maybe look different. So how your capacity is going to change, and then looking at what things can be delegated and shared responsibilities. Which type of support people are going to do, which type of tasks. Because again, your job at least for the first two weeks, hopefully longer is going to be recover physically and bond with your baby. And that’s it.
So we are looking for people to hold all of the other pieces together. So I go through a process of not just looking at everything that you do, but also the other things that need to happen around you in terms of food. If you have other children, dealing with the child’s care, the practices that kind of hold and support you and ground you. How are we going to make time and space for that?
Because that’s probably going to look different for a lot of women I work with are entrepreneurs and are very into having their morning routine. They might have an hour morning routine. Guess what, sister? That’s not going to happen after you have a baby. So how can we cultivate that feeling that you love? It’s so important to have that morning routine and carry it forward in this different capacity. So it’s going through literally every piece of their life in their day, and transforming it into what’s going to work for them postpartum.
Cait: Oh, so good. So important. I’m literally cracking up. I’m like, yeah, some of this high vibe low and water. Let me listen to my pump up playlist and go for a run. And now my morning routine is literally groggily getting my pump picking up snuggling her for two seconds, heating up a bottle. All of this stuff that I just never ever thought that I would be doing.
It’s like, Okay, great. How can I listen to that music when I’m taking a shower? How can I do the mindset work? Even if I’m not calm with a candle and in a nice, uplifting musical situation. How can I say those things out loud to myself again in the shower? It’s amazing. The shit I get done in the shower.
Now it’s quiet time where no one’s touching me. It’s so bad. I think it’s just so so true. And so much does change but in the most beautiful way, right? I think that there’s like, for anyone who’s listening is like, Oh my god, I don’t even know what I’m about to get myself into. It’s like, I remember hearing people say that it is the hardest, most exhausting, most beautiful thing/
The Beauty of Motherhood
I’m like, Ooh, that sounds nice. But also really, really hard. And then I cross that bridge myself and now I’m like, it’s literally exactly true. But the beauty and the joy and like I literally when I see Ella laugh and smile. It just cracks open like these reservoirs of joy that I didn’t even know that it was possible to experience in this lifetime. And to say that it’s worth it is just an understatement.
Ariana: Yeah, I totally agree. I was just thinking about, so my daughter is a little over two and still I feel like my heart expands every single day. I’m like, How is it possible? But I love this child more and more. How is it possible that she’s funny? Oh my god, she’s so funny. She’s so smart. She’s so fun. And by the way, for all those people I scared with my breastfeeding story, I want to tell you that I’m still breastfeeding and it does not hurt anymore. So I know that like a terrible journey from the start, right? These are all things that you obviously adjust to and get support with and get used to. I don’t have the words, you’re right. It is an understatement to say that it is worth it.
Cait: Yes, it’s so so beautiful. And so true. And I’m really glad you added that PS about breastfeeding or whatever. And also just a testament to get support. We’re on the journey that we’re at right now.
How Coaching Support Helps
But I had support even before, honestly, before delivering about breastfeeding, and like, what’s important we started working together, Ariana, like a couple weeks or whatever, I don’t even know how long it was. A week after I gave birth to Ella. But I shared really openly in my birth story podcast episode that I got missed. It is very, very early on, I had a really quite intense and traumatic delivery that had me in surgery for the first hour after delivery, not like having that golden hour skin to skin just basking in the glow of each other’s presence. I was getting out printed on.
Anyway, I share all of that to say that no amount of like, coaching support could have changed potentially the outcome of the delivery and the way that it needed to unfold, but what I am saying is that there is a timeliness to some of this stuff. And now I am exclusively pumping, which is this weird middle ground and comes with its own set of mindset challenges of like, I’m not a nursing Mom. She’s not on the boob, but I am lactating and producing however many ounces a day and feeding my child through my milk. And had I had more support around how to get a good latch early on, how to really encourage that on the breastfeed thing we might be in a different space.
I’m not complaining, like I’ve made my peace with it. But just for just another plug for really how important it is to have things I didn’t even literally know to think about, I didn’t know what mastitis was, I didn’t know what the baby developing an aversion to the boob was in our specific journey. Ella was gaining weight, she lost weight in the two week window really early postpartum, which is you know, super normal. But then she always gained weight, but she wasn’t gaining as much weight. She was going down on this percentage curve. And we were concerned and then we gave her a bottle not knowing and anyway, it all just transpired.
So I’m just sharing that for anybody who’s listening and thinking about it. Feeding is just one example of the more supported you are moving in, the more you’re going to be equipped for things that will impact how you raise your child. And like I said, now Ella just won’t take the boob. We have tried so much work with so many different lactation consultants. And it is what it is, it’s fine. But I think that had I had the experience over again, I would have really, particularly around breastfeeding, probably read some more books, but also gotten some more personal support around how to make that journey as easy as possible from the get go. Because that and I’m sure a bunch of other things are things that you get into a bit of a rhythm with and there’s a way that your baby and you develop a pattern moving forward. Would you say that’s something that you’ve seen with other clients as well?
Ariana: Yeah, absolutely. But before we get to that, I just want to say that you are an amazing Mother. You have been on an incredible feeding journey. I feel so blessed to have watched you bloom into this mama bear that has provided for Ella and like the most intense and loving way. And she and Toby and your whole family are just like beyond lucky to have you.
Cait: I just want to pause for this moment for a second because like, there, there are going to be so many moments and just thinking about everyone who’s listening right now. Like they’re going to be so many moments to question yourself and ask yourself, Am I doing a good job? Am I doing this right? What are the implications that this is going to have on my baby on their development on their life, like on our life. And it’s, it’s so important to remember that we’re all just doing our best and that’s enough.
Ariana: Yes, absolutely. You are not only doing your best, but you are doing an incredible job. So I appreciate that before I answer your question. Yes, I do often see that. As you said, so often in pregnancy people are surrounding themselves with positive stories and they feel like they’re well supported. They’ll just say like, yeah I’ll see how things go after the baby comes. And often then issues have arisen and not that it’s too late, right? Nothing is permanent, but you address some of these issues sooner because right from birth, feeding is a prime example. There are things you can do in that first hour and that golden hour that promote breastfeeding, and that first 24 hours right? Often babies are sleepy and not eating well. And most hospitals won’t tell you that you should be hand expressing which means getting milk out of your breasts with your hands.
Cait: Oh my god. Feeding Yes, I’m so glad you said this. Everyone circle this underlining, go back. We listened to it 100 times. It would literally have saved me from having mastitis, which was the worst thing I’ve ever gone through in my entire life. But yes, so important. Why are we not taught how to do that?
Ariana: Yes, I know. Right? So that’s just one example. There are so many things that start right from birth. So having that support when you get to that point instead of like an afterthought of like, Oh, fuck, we’re in trouble. I can’t state the importance of that enough.
Cait:Oh my god. So good. Arianna, you are just full of so much wisdom. I am just beyond grateful for you in so many ways, and so grateful that you are sharing this critically important message with the women who are listening to this show. How can people stay connected with all of the wisdom you share your incredible content?
Ariana: Yes, absolutely. So I’m on Instagram at Ariana Witkin, MD, and my website is Arianna witkin.com. I have a great free resource, a postpartum planning template for anyone who’s pregnant or even thinking about getting pregnant make sure you download that. They’ll walk you through part of my process for creating your postpartum plan and feel free to email me My email address is right on the website or send me a DM and Insta always happy to chat.
Cait: Oh my god, it’s so so good. So all of those links guys are going to be in the show notes. And you know when we share on our socials obviously we’ll tag you as well, Ariana so everyone can come find you there. Oh, and you’re also doing some fun stuff on Clubhouse right? I’ve been seeing some chats.
Ariana: My gosh it’s so new. No need to talk about it.
Cait: So similar to this experience of hearing you talk and being able to get on there with you and like talk to you in lifetime another great. Stay connected with you.
Ariana: Totally Yeah, so my it’s the same handle as my Instagram handle on that clubhouse area. No, it can MD Follow me. Oh my gosh, I would love to be in a room with you and hear about your pregnancy and postpartum journey. Love, love, love to learn how I can support you.
Cait: Oh my gosh, amazing. So so good. Ariana, thank you so much for coming on the show. And from the bottom of my heart, just what you do. This is such a massive, I cannot think of a more important line of work for women, and especially women wanting to become mothers. This is the most important thing there is. And I’m just so grateful that there are people like you out there to help mamas everywhere make that transition with more grace and more power. And you’re just so amazing. I’m so grateful for you. So thank you so much for being on the show.
Ariana: Thank you so much, Cait. It’s totally my honor. And I just love supporting you.
Cait: So good. Thank you so much. Thank you so much for listening to this week’s episode of The Born To Rise podcast. If you liked what you heard, head on over to iTunes and leave us a review. And make sure to check out borntorisepodcast.com to stay tuned for next week’s episode. I’ll see you there.