Pregnancy coach, doula and healer Lori Bregman is specific about semantics. In her gentle, enthusiastic voice, reminiscent of your favorite kindergarten teacher, Bregman explains: “The way I work adds on beyond a traditional doula, so I use ‘pregnancy coach’ and ‘healer’ to describe my work, too. I take people on a journey. I spend a lot of time with my clients, from the moment they know they are pregnant—often before they tell anyone else—and after the birth. The word doula implies that we don’t do anything medical, and in that sense I am indeed a doula. We hold space and take care of you so you can better help your baby. We mother the mother.”
In this way, the LA-based, Philadelphia native has been successful in mothering countless mothers through her Rooted for Life Pregnancy Coaching Program. And that’s exactly what she always aimed to do. “I was always innately drawn to ideas of fertility and to babies, women, mothers and pregnancy,” she says. “My background is in healing arts and spiritual coaching, but whether in yoga or when working with energy and chakras, I was always thinking how I could gear my work and coaching toward pregnant women.” Now, crafting unique, tailored “foundation for life” programs for her mamas-to-be and their support networks means everything from energy work to massage and check-in calls.
This leaning toward the ultra-personalized, is also nestled at the core of her understanding of pregnancy. For mothers starting along this path, Bregman presents an idea that shifts the focus in an extreme way. It—gasp!—suggests the emphasis shouldn’t be completely on the baby. “You’re not just birthing the baby,” she says. “You’re birthing yourself as a mother.” To help new parents foster this within themselves, Bregman offers monthly themes, like unplugging, being present or going with the flow, items that assist in developing mindful mothers. “Remember, you’re parenting that child already by the way you take care of yourself,” she adds. “You can’t neglect your own well-being.”
For most mothers (and humans!), Bregman says the fear of the unknown holds the most challenges. “They see, ‘I’m changing, I’m looking at life differently. Certain friendships are falling away, and certain things don’t matter as much,’” she says. “With every birth there is a kind of a death. You have to make space for the new to come in. And it can be emotional when you realize how you’re shifting.”
Though pregnant mothers may have to shift what type of exercise they do, too, Bregman remains a big fan of working out during pregnancy, as long the mamas remain tuned in to what their bodies and babies are requesting. “If you’re not having medical problems, absolutely, continue exercising. But, if you’re exhausted, back off! I recommend walking, yoga and swimming. Exercise increases endorphins, and that burns off stress. The better you feel, the better the baby feels.”
Another fluid aspect Bregman takes special care of—and encourages her clients to consider, as well—is the role of a partner in the experience. “I have no intention to take over the show. Whoever the partner is, I try to bring them in, especially into the birth room. They have no idea how important they are in keeping the mom safe and calm,” she says. “For most people, if I ask them what makes them feel safe in an unknown situation, it’s the presence of their partner. So not only do I hold space for the mother, but for the partner, too.”
And for those mamas birthing sans partner? Bregman helps them craft a support system and assists them in honing their own ability to ask for and receive that support. “A lot of women aren’t practiced in receiving,” she explains. “I have to remind them that people want to be able to give to you, even though it feels vulnerable asking for help. I help my women find friends, doctors and family that are a team. People will be there for you if you ask.”
When she blends all the elements together, though, Bregman adds that a healthy dash of humor and surrender is the most essential. “You can’t predict birth. You have to empower yourself by remembering: My body and baby know what to do,” she says earnestly. “To set too much in stone is killing the magic. Have a plan and then leave space for that magic.”
- Guide to Childbirth by Ina May
- Expecting 411 by Michele Hakakha
- Pre-Parenting by Dr. Thomas Verny
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