Erica Chidi Cohen and Her Home
As a doula, a lactation counselor and a chef, Erica Chidi Cohen is a verified guru when it comes to motherhood. Founder of The Mama Circle, a community for new and expecting moms, she's made a name for herself as a nurturer, an entrepreneur and a lifesaver during those inevitable I-don't-know-what-I'm-doing moments!
With this as a background, it's no surprise that Erica's home is filled with plant life, calming white hues, pets and plenty of reading material with titles like The Natural Pregnancy Book. Airy, open and simple, the space is ideal for a busy mompreneur, yet chic and sophisticated all at the same time. Read on to find out more about The Mama Circle, Erica's home and a few hints about breastfeeding, too—we know you're curious!
Why did you decide to create your company, The Mama Circle?
I wanted to create a modern resource for pregnant and new mothers along with their families that felt relatable to the rest of their life. Pregnancy and the path to motherhood has a tendency to feel clinical or filled with polarizing options. Many of the resources available don't reflect how women truly see themselves in the world. The Mama Circle was created to fill that void and provide support and diverse resources integral to this transition in a contemporary, warm, nonjudgmental way.
You’re a doula, a lactation counselor and a chef! How do you integrate all of these different roles into The Mama Circle?
These three roles integrate seamlessly. A doula provides emotional and educational support before and during birth, as well as afterward. Many new mothers choose to breastfeed, so as a lactation counselor, I am able to support that process. For mamas that aren’t breastfeeding, I’m able to support them on other feeding options that are available. Nutrition is an integral component of pregnancy and early motherhood. In addition to our other services, myself and my team can prepare meals in our clients' home after delivery, or provide them with our meal delivery service, which creates a holistic care experience.
How were you able to design such an open, airy vibe in your home?
I'm a minimalist at heart, so the first step I took was to give us a blank canvas. I painted the entire interior a really bright white in order to aerate the space, and then worked with the landscape of our home, which is a 1912 craftsman. I added some vintage and contemporary touches, the primary focus being that the home felt warm, inviting and lived in.
Where are your favorite shops and sites to shop for baby gear?
In Los Angeles, I love Caro Bambino in Santa Monica and Giggle. Online, for product and gear research, I love Baby Gear Lab, and then for shopping, there isn’t much you can’t find on Amazon.com or Buy Buy Baby. Baby Earth is a fantastic resource for natural and organic products.
What’s the number one piece of advice you always give to new moms?
Trust yourself and believe that, no matter what, you're going to hear (and you're going to hear a lot of things, some useful—mostly not) that you know what's best for your body, your pregnancy and for your parenting experience. Stay curious and absorb supportive information, but get comfortable with standing your ground. You know how to do this, even if it's your first time.
Many of the resources available don't reflect how women truly see themselves in the world. The Mama Circle was created to fill that void and provide support and diverse resources integral to this transition in a contemporary, warm, nonjudgmental way.
What general advice can you give to new moms who are nervous about breastfeeding?
Many women are nervous about breastfeeding and I totally understand the impetus—it's something that you've never done before. My advice is to get support. Take a good breastfeeding class prenatally—not because it's going to teach you how to breastfeed, but because you'll come to understand the fundamentals, and that's going to help you feel even more rooted in your decision to breastfeed.
Second, have a lactation counselor or consultant come to your home three-to-five days after having your babe. Breastfeeding has a learning curve, and a good lactation professional can be an excellent teacher. There's a good chance you're going to struggle in those first few weeks and that's okay! Having a professional come into your home where you actually breastfeed will help you make slight adjustments in order to positively impact your experience and reassure you that you're doing the right thing. This is going to make that experience that much better.
What are your favorite resources for child-rearing and nursing?
Pregnancy and birth:
- Books: Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth, A Natural Guide To Pregnancy and Postpartum Health, The Mindful Mom-t0-Be
- Websites: Lamaze, Childbirth Connection, Spinning Babies, Mother
- Books: Dr. Jack Newman's Guide to Breastfeeding, Work. Pump. Repeat., Balancing Breast & Bottle, Breastfeeding Solutions: Quick Tips for the Most Common Nursing Challenges
- Websites: Kelly Mom
How does joining a network or community of other mothers benefit women and their children?
I believe women need community the most after they've had a child. To quote a client, "Motherhood is the most incredible experience, as well as the most isolating."
Creating community and connecting with other women is imperative. It helps bring perspective and builds a sense of confidence and reassurance, especially in those first few months when there are so many unknowns. You'll feel less alone and less anxious when you hear that another mama didn't sleep last night, or that teething is challenging or breastfeeding hasn't been a breeze, or something about your relationship with your partner feels different since having your babe.
The women around you are your mirrors. Even if your only commonality is your children, the support you'll gain as you ride out the highs and lows will trickle down into your mothering, grounding you and creating friendships for your child along the way.
Stay curious and absorb supportive information, but get comfortable with standing your ground. You know how to do this, even if it's your first time.
What’s your go-to breakfast when you’re in a rush?
Go Get Em Tiger in Larchmont Village. I’m all about its lattes and slow-scrambled egg on a biscuit.
Best place in LA to meet new moms?
Over the years, I've heard that meeting new moms in LA can be challenging, which is why I started Mama Mornings, our free community meet-up. Our Mama + Babe program (our version of Mommy & Me) is another wonderful place to connect with other mamas with babes the same age. Fashion Mamas is another excellent new resource for mamas in fashion or other creative industries. Alliance of Moms—a non-profit focused on helping pregnant foster youth—has an incredible community of mamas. It’s a great chance to give back and meet amazing women at the same time. In lieu of these options, local Facebook groups can be helpful, as well as postnatal yoga classes.
What's the first app you click into every day?
Nextdoor. It’s essentially a private social network for you, your neighbors and your community. You verify your address by your credit card or some other billing information, that way it’s really only your neighbors. It’s awesome and keeps me plugged into everything that’s happening in our neighborhood, which is helpful because we recently moved. Safety concerns, yard sales, walking tours, farmers' market tips—it's great!
What tech tools do you utilize most to boost your productivity? Are they the same for your business and your personal life?
Not exactly, but there is some overlap. I love sending voice notes to friends and clients on my iPhone. It cuts down on tons of texts back and forth and I can convey details quickly. I also love Apple Notes—the recent update is super. It helps me keep track of different projects and tasks that are going on. For business: FreshBooks for invoicing, Slack for cutting down on emails and DocuSign for agreements.
What's your biggest guilty pleasure?
Television. I love tucking into my weekly favorites, which currently
You have one hour to yourself—how do you spend it?