Have you found your village yet?
When it comes to moms helping moms, The Mama Coach has got us covered and connected within our communities. Admitting that she “struggled a lot as a new mama,” Agnes Mayer says that she became a Mama Coach because she “didn’t want mamas to struggle alone as much as I did.”
As a Registered Nurse, Agnes felt compelled to work even closer with women and children after the birth of her son. “Help is available and you don’t have to struggle alone,” shares Agnes. “There’s nothing wrong with asking for help.”
There’s no question that motherhood is a transformative experience. After becoming a mom, Agnes pulled from her 15 years of experience working in labour and delivery and learned to embrace her initial struggles by becoming a lactation counsellor and sleep coach.
“The more support mamas have, the longer they will breastfeed and the less likely they are to develop postpartum depression,” Agnes says. “Back in the day when our grandmothers had babies, there was the village where you had your neighbours and other family members to help out.”
She adds: “Now there isn’t a village and we all live so far away from one another. I want to be the village for mamas. I love helping mamas and teaching them how to make this mothering gig easier.”
In support of all stages of early motherhood, Agnes’ services go well beyond those early newborn months.
“My services are for prenatal, postnatal and children up to school-age,” she says. “Sleep issues can happen at any age (common in toddlers and school-aged children) and it’s never too late to learn CPR and choking.”
She adds: “The idea is to help women from the time they are pregnant, through breastfeeding and beyond, including helping their little ones sleep. I use my skills and experience as a Registered Nurse to provide evidence-informed advice, with zero judgement.”
Coming from a strengths-based perspective, Agnes strongly believes in keeping a judgement-free practice. “My support is based on mama’s parenting goals and I use empathy and understanding to make meeting those goals easier,” she says.
For all you breastfeeding mamas out there, Agnes provides her top 5 tips for making breastfeeding easier.
“I have over 15 years of experience helping teach mamas how to breastfeed,” Agnes shares. “I also have my own experience as a breastfeeding mama.”
Agnes’ Top 5 Breastfeeding Tips:
- Always get into a comfortable position. Set yourself up with as many pillows as needed in order to get yourself as comfortable as possible. If you are not in a comfortable position, your baby will sense it and breastfeeding will be harder.
- Always bring your baby to your breast, not your breast to your baby. It’s easier to latch your baby and after awhile your back will start to hurt, if you are hunching over to feed your baby.
- Breastfeeding takes time. It is a learned skill by both you and baby. It’s not like the movies where the baby is hungry and latches beautifully each and every time. It takes practice and patience and there’s nothing wrong with that. Most mamas don’t know this and they come into the hospital thinking that there is something wrong with them — there isn’t. It’s normal for it to take time to get established. It can take a week before your milk comes in and even longer for you to get your supply up.
- Get help and don’t struggle. Studies show that the more support a mama has, the longer she will breastfeed for.
- If you have to mix feed that’s ok, don’t let anyone shame you. If you also find that breastfeeding is taking a toll on your mental well-being, it’s ok to just pump and bottle feed your baby or to just formula feed. Mamas, your mental well-being is very important and if you’re struggling, it’s ok to not breastfeed. You have to do what’s best for both you and baby.
In addition to her breastfeeding expertise, Agnes also became a sleep coach to give mamas extra support. As for her best sleeping tips, Agnes says it’s all about staying consistent.
“I think the biggest misnomer is that many mamas think it’s normal for their 1-year-old not to sleep through the night or for their toddler to constantly be waking up in the middle of the night,” shares Agnes. “We have to teach them to sleep just like everything else.”
She adds: “Be consistent. Babies and toddlers don’t know what sometimes means, so it’s important that you stay consistent and set boundaries. Setting boundaries early on, like at 3-4 months, will help them develop the skills they need to help them fall asleep and stay asleep.”
As well, Agnes says it’s “never too late to start a bedtime routine.”
“You can start this as early as 5 weeks,” shares Agnes. “It helps change up the day for your baby, it helps release melatonin (sleep hormone), decrease the stress hormone and the more you repeat the routine, the more they will start making an association of bath with sleep.”
Keeping things peaceful and dark at bedtime always helps bring on the sweet dreams.
“Make sure the room is as dark during the day, as it is at 3 am,” Agnes shares. “Darkness helps with melatonin production and will help your baby fall asleep and stay asleep.”
And she also recommends other sleep-aids to assist at bedtime.
“A sound machine is also helpful,” says Agnes. “The idea is that if they fall asleep with it on and wake up 2 hours later to the same noise, they are less likely to have a full wake-up. You want to make sure that the sound machine plays all night long and that it is a place far away from your baby’s ears. You want to make sure that it’s not too loud, but loud enough so that it drowns out any transient noise coming from the outside.”
Although sleep-training can be controversial, Agnes says it’s an important skill to teach your baby. “Sleep training doesn’t mean leaving your baby in the crib and closing the door,” she shares. “It’s about teaching your baby that (s)he can fall asleep on their own and connect their sleep cycles.”
She adds: “You support them and I support you, mamas.”
When it comes to all the daily demands of motherhood, it’s important to keep up with a regular practice of self-care.
“I am learning to ask for more help and to take more time for myself,” Agnes admits. “Self-care for me is about scheduling time for it, otherwise I just don’t fit it in, or I find a million excuses. I literally write it in my calendar. Even then, I find that many times something comes up.”
As a busy mama, Agnes says that daily self-care is all about “starting with baby steps.”
“I find that it helps keep my mind clear and help me stay positive and focused,” she says.
We must learn to fill our own cups so that we have enough energy to help others.
“We as mamas are always giving and taking care of others and it’s equally as important to take care of ourselves,” shares Agnes. “It’s like what they say when you are on a plane, you must first put the oxygen mask on yourself. What good are you to others if you don’t take care of yourself.”
She adds: “The key, mamas, is to find something that you like to do, that makes you feel alive and do it as much as you can. I find that when I take time for myself, I am a happier person, mama and wife.”