Latham Thomas (HHC, RYT, RPYT) is a maternity lifestyle maven, yogi, wellness and birth coach, on the vanguard of transforming the maternal and women’s wellness movement. She is the founder of Mama Glow, a holistic lifestyle hub for women along the birth continuum.
A graduate of Columbia University and The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, her practice provides support to pre/postnatal women along their journey to motherhood, including culinary and nutritional services, yoga, and birth coaching services.
In 2012, Latham launched the Mama Glow Salon Series, a platform for birthing conversations around cocktails, presentations, and panel discussions. Bridging the gap between optimal wellness, spiritual growth, and radical self-care, Latham is emerging as the go-to-guru for a modern holistic lifestyle for women during pregnancy and beyond.
She serves as the Maternity Wellness expert on the Advisory Board of Yahoo! Health. And as a sought after nutrition and lifestyle expert, she’s been featured on The Dr. Oz Show, Fox New LIVE, CBS News, and Inside Edition. She has also been featured in Fast Company, Vogue, and Essence Magazines, and is the host of the new Scripps network web series, “Om on the Go.”
Her first book, “Mama Glow: A Hip Guide to Your Fabulous Abundant Pregnancy” debuted as #1 on Amazon’s Bestseller List. With the publication of her second book, “Own Your Glow”, last month, she sat down to talk about owning your glow, making choices that are aligned with your best interests, operating from a state of abundance, being a black woman and protecting your magic.
AP: How did you become the Mama Glow maven? Did you always envision you’d become this inspiring “auntie” and amazing wellness doula?
Latham: I never planned to become a doula or really had aspirations of being in this space in particular. But my journey toward women’s health started when I was 4-years-old. When I was 4-years-old my mom was pregnant with my sister. My aunt was pregnant with my cousin, and my great aunt was also pregnant with her first child.
All of them were due within a month of each other, and seeing all of the matriarchs in my family being pregnant at once (at 4-years-old), and being aware of the body… My mom had her baby, and during that process, she made me very aware of the anatomy and how birth works. So I was really well prepared and understood the process.
My cousin and I would stuff little Cabbage Patch dolls under our shirts and deliver each other’s babies. So it was the kind of thing I didn’t know would show up later in life, but it did. I think I was imprinted with this desire and affinity for women’s health, particularly around our bodies, at an early age.
I grew up in a house where my mom was really comfortable with her body and would walk around naked. We would walk around naked as kids. We just kind of had this kind of comfort. So for me, I think the whole process of journeying here, and various aspects of my life, got me here. There was never something traumatic that happened that led me here.
I think in a lot of cases for people, they have some sort of health issue, or crisis, or epiphany that brings them to the other side. For me it was having really beautiful experiences: Having grown up in California where there was access to the outdoors, and where we grew a lot of our food between my mom’s house, and my aunt and grandmother’s house. I just had an upbringing that lends itself to a wellness trajectory.
Then I came to New York for college. I went to Columbia. And when I got there, I thought it was so crazy that there was not really, it didn’t seem like a wellness-oriented place. I think a lot of people from the West Coast kinda made it so, but we were light years ahead of New York. For instance, the stuff that’s happening here now, I feel we were growing up doing already – it’s really interesting being here.
My son’s birth influenced my work for Mama Glow and what would become Mama Glow. Again, that was a really beautiful experience, delivering my son, and so I felt like I wanted to protect that experience for other women. I just started molding all those things I’m gifted at, which was the nutrition and wellness and the hand-holding and support, that I felt would be necessary for women taking their journey into new motherhood.
AP: Tell me about one of the most challenging periods in your life.
Latham: I think it was starting the business, which was something I felt compelled to do. The breakup between my son’s father and I was one of those things where I felt kind of under-resourced and thrust into becoming a single mother, as well as becoming an entrepreneur all at the same time.
I think when you’re going into something and you’re moving through it, something happens where you’re just so involved in the moment-to-moment experience, that you kind of just get through. You come out on the other side and you’re like: “How did you do it? I don’t know. I just did it.” I think I just got through.
When I look back, that was a really challenging period of not knowing a lot of stuff and figuring it all out, and not having the access that exists now with the internet. There was not this kind of stuff when I started out. There wasn’t the same landscape that’s developed now.
Nobody knew what I was doing. They didn’t understand it, which was fine too. But that was great, because I created a blueprint that a lot of people now use who are trying to figure out how to move into a space of working with women in this period of their lives, on a fertility and birth continuum.
But not having all the resources and access to the internet, and all the technology that exist now was a great breeding ground for innovation and hard work that was important in the beginning. Now it’s so much easier because all these things exist. There’s been an acceleration of technology advancement that just makes a lot of stuff that we do so easy.
AP: Did you study under someone and transition into entrepreneurship or did you dive right in?
Latham: No, I never had that. I always worked for myself ever since I came out of college. I just never pictured that for myself, even when I was in college and everyone was interviewing for internships and places they were going to work.
At the time I wrote curriculums for education programs in environmental science and very prestigious programs in New York City, and some that touched the New York City Board of Education as well. I did that on a contractual basis.
Once I was pregnant with my son, I was still doing contracting, but it became clear to me that there was so much to learn in the process of carrying a baby. I started to avert a lot of my focus to developing this rubric, which would become “Mama Glow” the book, and the film festival, and then the brand came from that. It was me just going for it. It was never, “Let me go over here and learn this.” I think there’s value in all of that, but it just wasn’t my path.
AP: Tell me about your upcoming book.
Latham: It’s called “Own Your Glow: A Soulful Guide to Luminous Living and Crowning the Queen Within”. I call it an elixir for change.
One of my friends said to me the other day, “This is like a Bible!” It melted my heart when she said that, because I see us using the tools that are in this book as a way of creating a new creed for ourselves to live by. And it doesn’t matter your background, how you were raised, or what your religious beliefs are.
There’s a lot of things that come up for people around whether or not they’re going to acknowledge meditation, yoga, or whatever. But it’s really not about that. It’s about finding your own yoga, and it doesn’t have to be on the mat. Just find your movement practice that makes sense for you. Find your reflective practice that feels good to you. Find the self-care practice that feels good. Do all those things for yourself that feed your soul.
“Find your movement practice that makes sense for you. Find your reflective practice that feels good to you. Find the self-care practice that feels good. Do all those things for yourself that feed your soul.”
The journey “Own Your Glow” takes is about uncovering what it is that you’re meant to be doing, and as you do that, really recognizing your strengths and understanding where you have a growing edge. It’s about us taking time to slow down and reflect.
It’s about the anti-hustle, which, to me is really important to speak about because there’s a pervasive messaging to entrepreneurs – particularly when the entrepreneur has been adopted by female entrepreneurs and leadership that’s been passed down through successful men they’re emulating – that the “crushing it, killing it, slaying it, hustling” mentality is your pathway to success. And I think it’s the complete opposite.
“There’s a pervasive messaging to entrepreneurs – particularly when the entrepreneur has been adopted by female entrepreneurs and leadership that’s been passed down through successful men they’re emulating – that the “crushing it, killing it, slaying it, hustling” mentality is your pathway to success. And I think it’s the complete opposite. Our work is about cultivation, and it’s about nurturing, and it’s about reflection.”
Our work is about cultivation, and it’s about nurturing, and it’s about reflection. It’s about moving slowly. If we look at the processes that mirror the body and what our body does…it’s like a nocturnal process of how we bring anything into life. That’s not just with babies, but that’s also our dreams, and our visions, and our goals.
So when we talk about it through this lens of “I’m crushing it”, it’s the antithesis of what we’re meant to be doing. This idea of “making it happen” is so annoying to me. Everyone is like, “I’m making it. I’m hustling. I’m doing…”
AP: Right. I can’t stand the word, “Hustling”, or the phrase, “Rise and grind.”
Latham: “Hustle” is what people have to do because they have to survive. If you are in the streets, you hustle. “The hustle” is like a type of ingenuity that exists when you are in survival mode. When you’re operating from survival mode, you are not necessarily making choices that are aligned with your best interests, or with your future self and what your future self wants.
It’s like what you’re doing to make sure you don’t die. So why am I operating from that state if I’m trying to really align with abundance? I should not be talking about hustling. It’s a term that people are using to be down. They’re using that term to be cool, because the hustlers do, but it’s not cool.
What hustlers do is what they have to do, because they don’t have the education, the skillset, and the savvy to use the internet to actually have a legitimate business. They’re hustling. I think we’ve got to stop using the word, “hustle.”
“‘The hustle’ is like a type of ingenuity that exists when you are in survival mode. When you’re operating from survival mode, you are not necessarily making choices that are aligned with your best interests, or with your future self and what your future self wants…So why am I operating from that state if I’m trying to really align with abundance? I should not be talking about hustling.”
Also, hustle to me means: “I’m spinning my wheels. I’m constantly moving. I’m hustling.” Half the time, you don’t need to be moving around as much as you’re moving around. You need to be still. So my focus is really inviting women to slow down – to be still and focus on uni-tasking instead of multitasking on a gazillion things – and really pouring your energy into doing a few things (and doing them well), and executing, and completion.
It’s about coming full circle with stuff, not hurry up and launch. There’s a whole movement around: “Hurry up and get it done. You could always change it later.” No, you cannot. To put something into the world, it has your imprint on it.
You did it a certain way and that’s what that is. It doesn’t matter if you do it again, because people saw it the first time. You don’t get to do a first time over again. So why would you push something out just to meet a deadline? No. Do it in your time. Take your time. Do it when it’s supposed to be done. I really believe in slowness as a movement.
The gift of falling down is also something I’m tuning people into with this book. There’s self-care, which is a big piece of it, reclaiming our bodies as sacred, and learning the power of our bodies in this creative matrix that’s inside of us.
There are so many powerful lessons throughout, but the real lesson is about owning your glow, which is really studying your power. How you do that, I think, is by really reclaiming your feminine attributes and not trying to lead with this “male bravado” that’s been forced on women to sort of adopt as they move through business life and sometimes in their personal lives. This idea of, “I’m hustling. I’m killing it. I’m doing it…” – there’s a lot to be said for just letting something happen rather than making it happen.
“There’s a lot to be said for just letting something happen rather than making it happen. What we’re talking about in the book is really allowing ourselves to tap into the force that actually drives the world forward and is inside of us. It’s living inside of us. When we harness that energy and we’re patient, and we practice these virtues that are associated with growth, we’ll see growth.”
What we’re talking about in the book is really allowing ourselves to tap into the force that actually drives the world forward and is inside of us. It’s living inside of us. When we harness that energy and we’re patient, and we practice these virtues that are associated with growth, we’ll see growth.
I think it’s patience, faith, and an ideal environment for growth that allows us to experience transformation. We don’t give ourselves that in this modern context of how we live. And so people are really unfulfilled, even though they’re doing all these things that modern moguls are telling them to do – like, “I’m taking this program and I’m doing this thing, and this workshop and all this personal development course” – which really takes you further away from yourself and into the philosophies of other people that have nothing to do with your attributes and how you will actually function in the world.
So “Own Your Glow” is about you going into who you are, really tapping into your most powerful and your most vulnerable self and merging, then coming on the other side of it feeling anointed and feeling like you can do anything. It’s the same kind of work I do with expectant moms. Obviously there’s a different lens because a lot of people who read this book are not coming to this book because they’re having a baby, but because they’re in a crisis or they’re at some sort of threshold or change they’re crossing in their lives: whether it’s a new job, or divorce, or a new relationship, or writing a book or a screenplay, or launching a business or leaving their job, or going on an “Eat Pray Love.” Whatever it is, this is a really good nexus point for a launch pad to move in the direction of really going deeper into who you are.
AP: I always say, “Perspective changes everything. When you change your perspective, you change your life.” How important do you think perspective is in our lives?
Latham: I think putting yourself in the position of others and finding ways you can serve, because once you see how other people experience life… Say you travel or you work in a soup kitchen and see a mother living with her three children in a shelter – whatever it is – for you to realize, “Woah, these issues I’m mulling over are nothing.”
“…sometimes, things are really happening for us. A lot of times God is clearing stuff that we can’t clear on our own.”
I think sometimes that helps to put you in your place. Not that you can’t mourn, but you don’t want to stay in a lump about the things that are happening in your life, because sometimes, things are really happening for us.
A lot of times God is clearing stuff that we can’t clear on our own. We come into a situation, and say, “I really, really think this is the one, this is the job, or this is the guy…” – whatever it is that’s so seemingly perfect and gets taken away. But we have to know that always on the other side of that, is something better and also that, that just was not ours. Everything that’s ours is coming, and there’s nothing and nobody that can take away anything that is yours.
“I know a lot of things are real. I know paying your rent is real and all these things. It’s not like there aren’t real roots and things to worry about it. But, leading with the worry, can really put us in a place where we can’t function. So the perspective is about grace, asking God to shine on you and show you the way, and to give you a window to something beautiful.”
Having a gratitude practice is also having perspective. When you are thankful for such small things… My grandmother, for instance, was diagnosed with a really rare cancer. They were able to find it, thank God. But every time I talk to her, it’s like, “I’m so blessed because there was an appointment where there was a three month wait, but they were able to get me in, in five days. I’m just so blessed.”
Every little thing she decides is a blessing. It even got to the point where one of her doctors said to her, “I want you to be a peer educator because of your good mood. You’re not having the symptoms that most people have associated with this medicine.” It’s because she’s taken on this philosophy of happiness. It’s like her happiness psychology she’s applying.
She says to me, “It doesn’t matter if I’m moody through it, if I’m nasty, if I’m sad, or if I’m worrying. It doesn’t change the outcome. So I can’t be like that, because I can’t control the outcome. I can only control so much.” I think that this is kind of where we need to be when these things come up.
I know a lot of things are real. I know paying your rent is real and all these things. It’s not like there aren’t real roots and things to worry about it. But, leading with the worry, can really put us in a place where we can’t function. So the perspective is about grace, asking God to shine on you and show you the way, and to give you a window to something beautiful that you can remind yourself like, “You know what? Even though I feel like I’m at rock bottom, God also made these rocks.”
You’re not in a place of destitution. You know that while you’re there, it’s also a holy place. In the moment you’re going through, it’s embedded and encoded with lessons, and with grace. When you come on the other side, it’s already worked out on the other side. You just have to get to the other side. That is what is important for us to remember as we go through things, and to move into it. Lean into the lesson instead of running away, because the only way out, is to go in. You can’t get around it. If it’s there and it’s sitting in front of you as an obstacle, you’ve gotta go into that obstacle.
AP: What advice would you give your younger self?
Latham: I would say to my younger self or to any self, being a woman of color, being a black woman in particular, and being in a space where I feel that every space we occupy, people try to erase us… I feel like people pretend you’re not there until they have to recognize you. Then suddenly they’re like, “Oh hey, you’re so amazing. She’s so awesome. I love her”, but until they have to. Because we are a force.
I feel like I would remind myself that you’re worthy. What you have to give to the world is important. Only you can bring it. So continue. Don’t worry what others say, or do, or whether they acknowledge or don’t. The fact that people don’t acknowledge, it shows that they’re insecure. When people don’t acknowledge, they’re really following and studying what you do.
“I would say to my younger self or to any self, being a woman of color, being a black woman in particular, and being in a space where I feel that every space we occupy, people try to erase us … What you have to give to the world is important. Only you can bring it.”
My mom taught me that really early on. She said, “These people, they’re not about what you’re about. They’re just gonna come and be your friend when they feel like there’s something they can gain.” And she’s right. It happens so much. So just be aware on the journey that it’s solo a lot of the times, and that you have to find grace and comfort in the experiences that you have by yourself.
You also have to find sisterhood, people you can really trust. There are three women who I tell everything. That is my core group of people who have my back, who will tell me if I’m off, who will check me and also lift me up, and who will also be there no matter what.
“Be aware on the journey that it’s solo a lot of the times, and that you have to find grace and comfort in the experiences that you have by yourself.”
You want to make sure you have that as you’re moving, because there are moments that are going to be so uncomfortable and you feel like, “These people really are going to act like I’m not here?” And that happens. The main issue we all have on this planet is that we want to be seen and heard, and we want to have a sense of belonging. Everybody has that need. It’s like a biological need.
Babies, when they come to this earth, they are screaming. Not always, but they cry because they need to be held, they need to be fed, they need to be nurtured, right? Then they’re with somebody, they’re cool. Their needs are met. They have to be heard. They learn in their very first couple of hours of life, whether or not the world is a safe place.
“There is this black girl magic that exists and that people are compelled by, but another thing about it, is that we’re so powerful, that people also want to tuck it away. They don’t want us to even know it. So we have to know it. We have to know it because people are going to do what they can to take away your shine, to not award you, to not celebrate you…”
We learn as young black girls whether or not the world is safe. We learn whether or not we’re valued. We learn that our voices, that our appearance, that our value is deconstructed and commodified. If we’re wearing braids, or if we have big lips, or if we have hips, it’s not valued. But the actual pieces of us are, but not on us. We learn that my body only means something in this context. We learn that our voices, and the things we have to say and share are only valued if we’re speaking to our community. If we’re speaking to a larger community, people don’t trust us.
If you look at the film industry, we’re still trying to prove that people will go see a movie like “Get Out” or a movie like “Girls Trip”. It’s like they’re still learning that we have buying power. They’re still learning that we compel people.
There is this black girl magic that exists and that people are compelled by, but another thing about it, is that we’re so powerful, that people also want to tuck it away. They don’t want us to even know it. So we have to know it. We have to know it because people are going to do what they can to take away your shine, to not award you, to not celebrate you… They’re just going to, and it’s going to happen regardless if you’re Oprah or Beyonce. It’s going to happen.
As you move, just keep the faith. Keep the community around you as a buffer, and be thankful for everything. It’s really great to know who’s not a supporter and who’s not having your back, because then you know not to turn that direction and put your energy there. It’s also great to be able to open an email and see that there are people who are like, “I want to talk to you”, or, “I want to share this…” It’s good to know, “I’m safe over here”, because when you’re a force, you have to be reckoned with.
We have to remember where we come from. We come from a lineage of people who are strong and who created a way for us. Somebody not liking us does not change how amazing we are. Somebody not giving us our due doesn’t change the fact that we’ve put in work and that we are doing powerful work. Why do we feel like we need a cosign? We are the cosign. Cosign for yourself.
You be the one to say, “I’m enough. I’m good enough.” And surround yourself with people who believe that too, so that when you’re moving through, you’re not disappointed. Because you will be if you put all your faith in others validating you and your gift. God put you here because you have divine purpose and nobody can take you off that course, or change that for you, or grant it for you. It’s already ordained, so now you just have to step more deeply into that power and embrace that.
AP: What are three beliefs you live by?
Latham: Beauty is an inside job, keep walking, and meditate first.
AP: What’s next for you and the Mama Glow movement?
Latham: I think God only knows. I always think I know, but only God knows.
Obviously I’m continuing with Mama Glow, but I’m moving into a space of having the kind of discussion we just had that is more about women really getting into a soulful dialogue with themselves. I feel like I am here to help awaken that in us, so we remember.
I’ll be on tour with Glennon Doyle, Abby Wambach, my girl Lovey, Alicia Keys, and a bunch of people to 10 cities. I’m doing eight of the cities, and I’ll be leading these unifying meditations amongst all these women in the cities that we go to. Then I’m going to do the book tour for “On Your Glow” as well.
“I want to create a clear path, to make sure that as I’m moving, I keep my tracks in place so that somebody can go and follow, and it’s easier for them…”
For me it’s really being an example. I want people to feel like, “I really want to try to do what she did. I want to live up to that.” I want to create a clear path, to make sure that as I’m moving, I keep my tracks in place so that somebody can go and follow, and it’s easier for them, because I’ve kind of paved some space for them.
Also, I think we’re going to do more around mentorship. There are so many people who reach out and I really want to serve. So we’re figuring out how to bring people together and have women come where we can do things in the way I like to do them, which is really more getting into our bodies, writing movements, ritual, as well as the business stuff. I think all of these things are really integral to how I do my work.
We want to do more of that, but for now, it’s just answering the call. I think when something comes, and if it’s aligned, you do it. It’s just staying on course and wherever that leads, I don’t know. There are beautiful things that I aspire to, some of which I’m aware of and some of which I have no idea are brewing. It’s our job to plant seeds, so that’s what I’m doing, and we’ll see what happens.
Keep up with Latham and pick up her new book, “Own Your Glow”: