Mother Knows Best

May 07, 2021 9:21 AM

Doctors, midwives and nurses share what they like best about being a mom, what it means to help women become mothers and top advice they share with new parents.

In honor of Mother’s Day, the Michigan Health blog asked Michigan Medicine Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital experts – who are also fellow moms – to share answers to the following three questions:

  1. What’s the best part about being a mom?

  2. What does it mean to help others start their journey as a parent?

  3. What is your biggest piece of advice to new mothers?

Here are some of their words of wisdom:

Tasneem Abdul-Basir

Nurse and mother of four: Ayanna, 17; Zakariyah, 14; Suhaylah; 13; and Laila, 7

  1. To be a mom means to wake up every day and make sure that my children are happy, enjoying their lives, healthy and always feeling the love, and knowing that they are worthy. It means to put my all into them, instilling values and norms, and molding them into human beings that will be a positive and influential part of society. To meet their basic needs – shelter, food/water, clothing – but also their psychological needs and let them know that I am always there for them. That no matter what is going on, I am here for them, even if it’s something that they feel like they will get in trouble for. To make sure they treat their sisters and brother with respect and kindness, to uplift each other. It means to make them understand that I always have their back and I will be their biggest supporter, for life. It’s equivalent to having four pieces of my heart walking around. When I think of my children, I know I have to protect them, but also teach them to handle any obstacles they may face. Giving them the confidence to overcome all obstacles, and keep on trying if they don’t win the first time. And sometimes that just means giving them a hug.

  2. It means the absolute world to me to be a part of a mom’s journey into motherhood. It touches my heart knowing that they are vulnerable and nervous about taking care of their new baby, but also so excited about the new phase in life. The anticipation is the best. I love it. To me, having a baby is the most memorable event in your life. Women are so strong and can get through anything in life. This is the hardest time, but it gets easier. The transition into motherhood is the hardest; the sleepless nights, the sore nipples, the recovery of the pain from delivery, etc. It’s temporary, though.

  3. Give yourself time to get to know your baby. You will get into a groove with the feedings, diaper changes and sleep cycles. You need to sleep when your baby sleeps. Also, take some time for you – even if it’s a 30-minute walk outside. It takes time to heal so don’t rush yourself. Do your daily activities, but always attempt to rest throughout the day. Ask for help – and remember it’s ok to ask for help. Call on friends and family for support, even if you just need someone to talk to. You’re never alone.

Emily Affeldt

Midwife and mother of two: Cora, 5, and Naomi, 3

  1. My favorite thing about being a mom is watching my daughters develop their own little personalities as they get older. 

  2. It’s always such an honor to be a part of such a significant moment in these families' lives. That feeling never gets old.

  3. My advice to new moms is to be gentle with yourself, because motherhood can be hard.

Alice Chi

Obstetrician and gynecologist and mother of two: Audrey, 2, and Astrid, 3 months

  1. The best part of being a mom is watching your little ones grow into their own person and seeing the world from their perspective. It reminds you of how the little things we take for granted can be so remarkable. Also, the cuddles don’t hurt either.

  2. It’s so great to see my patients grow their families. I love to be able to alleviate some fears and worries of pregnancy and being a mom. It’s also so special to be a part of the team to help safely deliver babies and ensure the health of these mothers.

  3. My biggest piece of advice to new moms is to ask for help and not to feel guilty. There’s a societal pressure to be “perfect” at doing it all: nurturing your kids, planning their activities, keeping the house clean, planning meals, balancing work, etc. But it’s just as important to have time to take care of yourself. 

Jasmine Ebott

Obstetrician and gynecology resident and mother of two: Elliotte, 3, and Amelie, 4 months

  1. The best part about being a mom is spending time with my tiny humans who think the world of me.

  2. Helping others start their journey as a mom is rewarding!

  3. Take lots of videos and pictures to capture the little moments.

Sarah Eyler

Nurse and mother of three: Warren, 6, and Nora and Vada, 4

  1. One of the best parts about being a mom is watching each of my children grow and develop their individual little personalities and interests. Each of them bring me so much joy and fun!

  2. Try your best to avoid holding yourself to unrealistic expectations that social media sometimes portrays about motherhood. And give yourself tons of grace – it’s ok to make mistakes. You and your baby are just starting a relationship and that takes time to develop.

Samantha Kempner

Obstetrician and gynecologist and mother of two: Maya, 9, and Neela, 6

  1. The best part about being a mom is watching my kids develop such different and independent personalities and interests. I particularly enjoy it when they teach me about some new activity or hobby I never would have discovered on my own but love doing with them. 

  2. It’s such a privilege to have the opportunity to be in the room when families are created and expanded. The longer I practice obstetrics, and the more years I have under my belt as a mom, the more I actually appreciate the emotional experience of delivering babies to women who already have at least one child at home. Earlier in my career, and before I was a mom myself, I loved the emotion of first-time moms. So much awe and wonder. In contrast, when a second or third baby is born, the parents already know how much they are going to love it. You can see them instantly realizing that they have created a new person they love as much as the one they have at home. A love you can’t really understand until you have a child. It’s kind-of this “welcome to the world, we have been waiting for you!” vibe that is so amazing.

  3. Accept the help. 

Rosalyn Maben-Feaster

Obstetrician and gynecologist and mother of two: Taylor, 8, and Teagan, 6

  1. The best part about being a mom is getting the chance to see my girls develop their own unique personalities and perspectives on the world. I also really enjoy the love that we share and the bonds that we have developed as they have grown. My girls have some similarities, but also some differences with regards to interests so it’s fun to be able to share different experiences with each of them that align with their passions.

  2. It’s truly an honor and a privilege to help patients navigate the journey of conceiving, pregnancy, delivering and then adjusting to their new normal. There are both ups and sometimes downs during this process and I am glad I get to be a part of this experience.

  3. Enjoy every phase. Each one is unique and amazing!

Nicole Mancha

Nurse and mother of three: Kacen, 8; Colton, 6; and Emery, 2

  1. To help others start their journeys as moms is something I will never take for granted. To be able to see a mother lay her eyes on her baby for the first time is such a gift!

  2. My best advice for new moms is to live in the moment. Try your best to remember that each stage passes so quickly and to soak it all up while they are little.

Marie Menke

Obstetrician and gynecologist and mother of two: Emily, 12, and Johnathon, 9

  1. Every day has a moment that sparks joy. Other emotions too, but mostly joy.

  2. It’s the best part of the job!

  3. Give up all thought of control and expect in return to grow and learn parts of yourself you didn’t know were present. It’s not easy, but there’s always at least one moment in every day that reminds you how lucky you are.

Okeoma Mmeje

Obstetrician and gynecologist and mother of Ezra, 2

  1. Planting the seeds and laying the foundation for another human to become the best version of themselves. 

  2. Sharing personal stories ... the highs and lows … the learning trajectory, everyday joys, and the hugs and smiles that keep you going on the journey. 

  3. Give yourself grace and space. Tomorrow is another day to start anew. Everything always works out in the end ... have trust in the process. 

Michelle Moniz

Obstetrician and gynecologist and mother of three: Lilly, 8; Sam, 5; and Caroline, 2

  1. My kids are my role models. They are energetic, curious, empathetic, always ready with a giggle or a full-on belly laugh, and seem to have an infinite capacity for love, forgiveness, and optimism. These traits make them superheroes among us.

  2. I love helping others start their motherhood journey. It’s incredible to be there in the moment that a new person enters the world (who doesn't love a birthday party?). And rarely, when those moments aren't joyful, it’s an incredible privilege to help support our patients coping with a challenging outcome.  

  3. My advice is: you got this! Trust that your love for this baby is enough, and that a sense of humor goes a long way.

Molly Moravek

Obstetrician and gynecologist and mother of two: Jack, 7, and Henry, 4

  1. So many things! They keep me laughing and on my toes every day, and I live for their smiles and nighttime snuggles. But the best part might be a love I didn't know I had until I had children.

  2. As a fertility specialist, I see a lot of women who have been dreaming about becoming a mother for a long time and have possibly faced many disappointments before they get to our clinic. Our entire clinic gets so much joy when we see those positive pregnancy tests, good early ultrasounds, and best of all, the baby pictures!

  3. Don't be too hard on yourself. There are a lot of people who will offer unsolicited advice on parenting and social media makes it seem like being a parent is easy for most people. We all have hard days and days we wish we could take back, but, if you give your kids unconditional love, then you are already getting it right.

Helen Morgan

Obstetrician and gynecologist and mother of two: Madeleine, 14, and Hazel, 11

  1. I feel so fortunate that I get to raise my daughters during a time when the sky is the limit for their personal and professional aspirations. Being their mom is my greatest joy, and it is so wonderful to be able to provide love and support for them during each stage of their growth and development.

  2. It is the privilege of a lifetime to be present during the magical moment when a mom sees her new child for the first time. I pinch myself that this is what I get to do as my day (or night) job. Pregnancy and childbirth can be very challenging times, and I feel fortunate that we can provide individuals with our best support for their journeys.

  3. We are all doing the best that we can, and we have to be kind to ourselves. Self-care and self-compassion are especially important during these challenging and trying times. Our kids don’t need us to be super humans, they just need our love and presence.

Kelli Munsell

Nurse and mother of two: Hailey, 7, and Hanna, 4

  1. The best part about being a mom is anytime I hear my girls giggle, or when they run and give me hugs the minute I walk in the door. It’s hearing them say "I love you, mommy" or seeing them figure out how to do something on their own for the first time. It's watching them sleep at night and laugh with their friends or when they talk about their brother who is their guardian angel. It’s knowing that they will always have a friend in each other and someone who will always love them unconditionally. My kids are my whole heart walking around each day and getting to be their mom is the greatest gift and honor I will ever experience.

  2. Being a part of a person's journey to parenthood is an amazing gift. The honor of being present for that moment is one that I’ll never get used to and one that I hope I’ll never take for granted. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind experience that never becomes less exciting or powerful.

  3. The most meaningful description of motherhood that I’ve heard is that the hours are long, but the years are short. So I just try to make sure that I enjoy every moment I can with them. Even when I don't want to tuck them in to bed for the fourth time or watch the same movie for the millionth time, I try and remind myself that this season will only last for so long. Someday, they won't want me to snuggle them while they fall asleep or watch a movie with them. Someday, that will cease, but I will always have those memories.

Kady Niessen

Nurse and mother to William, 2 months

  1. The best part of being a mom is knowing that you are loved so much by this little person, you are their whole world from the very beginning and you are the one that they always want.

  2. It is always so special to me to help new moms welcome their new little baby into the world. I love seeing the look on their faces right after the baby is born – the look of unconditional love and empowerment for themselves – it’s magical. It is an honor to be a part of that moment.

  3. My biggest piece of advice for new moms is to enjoy every minute. The early days are going to be some of the hardest of your life. You’re going to be so exhausted, but you will find the strength to still care and love your baby. Soak in every snuggle – house chores can wait – these little babes are only little for a short time. And ask for help! And accept the help that is offered!

Aly Overall

Nurse and mother to Blake, 4

  1. Best part – the love! The motherly love I have for him and his love for me in return is so wonderful!

  2. What a strange and amazing job we have. We are with these women in one of the most intimate and special days of their lives. We clock in, then dive headfirst into this incredibly vulnerable time with them. I feel honored to be such a huge part in supporting these women's journeys to motherhood. And I hope that I leave them at the end of my shift believing in themselves a little bit more and proud of what they're capable of.

  3. Take help when it’s offered, and have people you can reach out to for support. Motherhood can be overwhelming and it requires an adjustment period. It’s normal and it’s okay to ask for help when you need it. Even if it’s just for one hour to yourself to sleep, shower, or do something that you enjoy – do it! You'll come back to your baby recharged and refreshed.

Alex Peahl

Obstetrician and gynecologist and mother to Charlie, 2 months

  1. Watching him grow so quickly! Every day he is a little bigger and doing something new.

  2. Pregnancy, childbirth  and parenting can bring some of the most joyous and challenging moments to a family. It is such an honor to help moms prepare for that journey, celebrating the wonderful times and providing reassurance and support through the difficult ones. 

  3. Ask for help. Recovering from delivery and having a newborn can be all-consuming and make even the simplest tasks like doing laundry, cooking a meal, or even taking a shower difficult. Getting an extra hand can help you recharge so you can focus on healing and getting to know your new baby! The book Nobody Told Me About That by Ginger Breedlove gives great practical advice for those first six weeks.

Noelle Reed

Nurse and mother to Jillian (now 7)

  1. The best part of being a mom is watching Jillian grow into the person she is meant to be. Jillian had a rough beginning. She was born almost eleven weeks early. I have watched her struggle and conquer every hurdle that has come her way. She is an amazing human and she teaches me so much every single day.

  2. I have the best job in the whole world. For over 20 years, I have been able to share in the most amazing time in a family's beginning. I feel honored to be able to play a small part in a very special time in their lives. I love empowering and supporting a woman through her labor and delivery.  

  3. The biggest piece of advice I have for new mother's is this: Love your kiddo. Don't compare them to others. Not everyone fits on a curve. Kids are like popcorn kernels. They all go into the pot at the same time, but they don't all pop at the same time. Cut yourself some slack. You are enough. You are doing enough. It will all be ok.

Debra Rhizal

Midwife and mother of four: Emmy, 16; Maris, 13; Orin, 8; and Lenci, 6

  1. The way your heart melts and your face pinches itself into an involuntary grin simply from catching a peek at them when they don't know you are watching. 

  2. New moms need to learn to prioritize themselves – to know and meet their needs and feed their hearts. They have a relentless job of consequence loving their littles, and it is only possible to do it well by first loving themselves. This is what I am doing when I care for them – giving them the love they deserve so they can feel that – and using as much time as I can to teach them how to prioritize their own health. 

  3. Get clear on the purpose of motherhood, and then be gentle with yourself as you recommit to it whenever necessary. Enjoy the fun parts, and take pride in all you do. 

Aimee Rolston

Obstetrics and gynecology fellow and mother of two: Waverly 2, and Steele, 3 months

  1. Kids are awesome! I love watching them grow/learn and feel so honored to be able to guide them as they discover the world. They keep me humble and grateful, and give me invaluable perspective. 

  2. As a resident, I was honored to be a part of this momentous occasion in women's lives. The patient-provider connection is very special. 

  3. Try to let yourself sit back and enjoy as much as possible. Kids grow far too fast but every stage is fun and exciting. Be patient and flexible – so much of this journey is unpredictable and out of your control, but you will grow so much with your kids as will your love for them (even if you think you can't love them anymore than the day they were born!)

Emily Rosonke

Nurse and mother to Olivia, 2

  1. The best part about being a mom for me is watching your child take in the world around them and learn something new every day. Raising a toddler is hard, but seeing them use skills that you've taught them and gain independence to become their own little person makes it all worth it. The first year is hard because it can feel so thankless, but there's no greater feeling than your baby waddling up to you to voluntarily give you a hug and a kiss. It's like receiving the best report card you didn't even know you needed.

  2. Helping women welcome and care for their babies is something that has always been very special to me, but it wasn't until I became a mom myself that I realized just how sacred this journey really is. No one can prepare you for how incredibly hard it can be to navigate the emotions of motherhood, but helping new mamas recognize their internal strength is what has made me feel most accomplished as a nurse. 

  3. You would think that being a mom in today's world would be easier because of all of the information and fancy products we have at our fingertips but, many times, it makes it harder for us to trust ourselves. As hard as it is, try not to compare your situation or your baby to others, and never be afraid to do what feels best for you and your family. Lean into the people who truly support you, and asking for help only makes you a stronger mother

Teri Shelters

Nurse and mother of two: Aubrielle, 7, and Jace, 4

  1. The best part about being a Mom is the unconditional love we have for each other. It's indescribable and natural.

  2. My job is so incredible. I am so excited for women to enter the journey of Motherhood and I always tell my new moms, "You are about to have the best time of your life and feel a love like no other!"

  3. Enjoy all the little moments because it goes by too fast.

Beth Skinner

Obstetrician and gynecologist and mother to Rowan, 17 months

  1. I love seeing my child grow and do new things, and feel so lucky to be able to do this. 

  2. We all take care of women in different ways. Sometimes this is to support motherhood, and sometimes it is to support women’s health in other ways. Whether or not I am helping a woman on a journey to motherhood, I find it so important and gratifying to talk to each woman about her options to help her decide the best care for her. 

  3. I don’t think I have any advice, since every day I make it up as I go!

Drew Soderborg

Nurse and mother of three: of Liam, 5; Elliott, 3; and Oliver, 1

  1. I really love watching the world through their eyes, and seeing the excitement they have over everyday things. It's really fun to witness the pure joy they find from simply splashing in a mud puddle.

  2. You go through your pre-child life knowing that when you have kids someday, you will love them – that's a given. But you really cannot comprehend the sheer magnitude of that love until you hold your sweet baby for the first time. Standing next to someone as they experience that boundless, overwhelming feeling of pure love for the first time is a true honor!

  3. We're all winging it, and don't sweat the small stuff. The days are so very long but the years are so very short!

Molly Stout

Obstetrician and gynecologist and mother to Russell, 5

  1. Watching their minds unfold and hearing their observations about the world. “Mom, did you know that you would not want to be a salmon?” I did not, the explanation was fascinating. He is right, I do not want to be a salmon. 

  2. My goal is safety. Safety of the mom, safety of the baby, and the safety of everyone’s spirit to come through pregnancy and delivery in good shape. That means something different for every patient and family. 

  3. Follow your instinct … you know best. Listen to the voice inside your head – it’s trustworthy. 

Carolyn Swenson

Obstetrician and gynecologist and mother of three: Miles, 10; Quinn, 7; and Gabi, 5.

  1. The incredible joy of rediscovering the world through my children's eyes is one of the best parts of being a mom. The hugs are pretty great too! 

  2. I think this means respecting that every new mom's journey is unique and special. I see my job as a pelvic floor specialist caring for postpartum women as a wonderful opportunity to listen to new moms and provide education and personalized care in order to best support them through that part of their journey.

  3. Try not to take anything too seriously; get rid of all Sharpies; and do not purchase nice furniture for at least 10 years.