When I first met with the radiant ladies and founders of The Birth Stories, Paula Mallis, Kate Danson and Vanessa Halby, we bonded over avocado toast and a sincere love for pregnancy, birth and motherhood.
I felt an immediate connection, which I wanted to continue long after our lattes were done. With such a warm, loving and inviting trio, I knew that this group would be the perfect remedy for mamas to be. All three women are active doulas who trained at Bini Birth and worked with Maternity Support Specialist Erica Chidi of The Mama Circle. Joining forces, because they know what is missing from the pregnancy to post partum experience. Along with being parents and teaching prenatal yoga classes the beautiful ladies have lots more to offer.
The Birth Stories is a group for mamas to gather; be it pregnant, post partum or us poor gals dealing with toddlers! The one common ground is a love for motherhood, a place to open up and express our own experiences. It is a safe environment to discuss insecurities and fears of delivery and motherhood and give advice on birthing for those expecting. It also allows those who are in the early stages of motherhood to ask for help, to not feel alone, as those first few months are tough on us women. We need some sanity, reassurance and just another female to talk to. Some of us are lucky and have a huge support system around us with many friends who have children who can talk our ears off with tips and complaints. However, there are many of us who don’t have that and feel isolated with a deep need to open up and connect. This is why the Birth Stories was born, to give women a real sense of trust and peace of mind in the daily stresses of our new lives as mothers or mothers-to-be. These amazing women have opened up the group and invite anyone who feels the need for such a connection into their homes to experience an evening of sharing, yummy food and good caring company.
I felt unbelievably drawn to this discovery. It made so much sense to me. Women love to talk. However, we can also be incredibly judgy, critical and opinionated. What The Birth Stories have created is a safe space. An invitation to sit down, relax and be heard without anyone to comment. It does not come often enough that we get the opportunity to share our deepest concerns and challenges without the overwhelming response from friends or family. The concept to open up at a group level without a response allows one to feel relief, even if it’s just for a second. The magic which happens in that moment allows us to be set free from worry surrounded by those who understand, who will offer compassion and wise words of experience if needed.
The evening usually starts with a beautiful spread of healthy snacks followed by a very hearty and earthy soul meal consisting of mung beans and rice, giving opportunity for the group to get to know one another to help make the circle connect and be less intimidating to those who may be shy with sharing at this level. The atmosphere is peaceful, full of love and warmth. It was not hard to mingle my way around the room because motherhood is an easy topic for a conversation starter. Once our bellies were full and our minds at ease, we began sitting comfortably in a circle. In order to get to know the whole room we shared our names, the ages of our children or how far along we were. This definitely brought us all one step closer to each other. A special guest each month is invited to share about their profession within the world of birthing, motherhood or wellness. The evening I attended we were lead into a wonderful meditation by Lauren Spencer King. A fellow Eastsider, Lauren teaches at the YogaLA studio in Echo Park where she holds a class on Breathwork. It was a lovely way to set the tone and help us all slow down, unwind from the day and concentrate on our breath. It helped those preparing for labor to practice breathing and for the rest of us a way to connect back with life, away from our kids for a moment. Not worrying, not stressing, just breathing.
The circle really began after this with someone sharing their birth story or the opportunity to discuss where they were at today, how they are feeling… Because the connection is motherhood, which is such a deep bond, naturally there was so much respect for every mother sitting in that room. A huge amount of similarities unfolded, and parallel experiences between us women. What this does is just confirm that we are not alone in our struggles, there is always someone else going through it too. Once everyone had the chance to speak the circle closed and we were free to discuss amongst ourselves anything which may have touched us or what advice we may have to share. A glorious empowering evening out, away from the family, to be with other women who feel as I do most days. It may have not been a night out to the movies or to go dancing, but I got to walk away with a special feeling that night. I felt I was able to connect with some incredible women, who could offer some insight and I was able to share some tips on parenting. The exchange was priceless and left my heart feeling warm, I returned home happy and with some sanity.
To learn more about The Birth Stories please visit there new website. Currently The Birth Stories are located in Venice, CA but are soon to be spreading there wings to the East Side of LA. Hopefully in the future they will be opening up many more opportunities around the country, as I do wish every new mother had the chance to be apart of something so unique.
Photography by Lauren Moore