Mama Glow Founder Latham Thomas On How to Be Your Own Medical Advocate—and Why It's So Important
What inspired you to launch your business?
It started when I got pregnant with my son—he’s now 17. I stumbled upon a birth center, and we did 21 hours of education to be able to deliver there. I was deeply engaged in the experience. I was obsessed. What I learned from birth is that how you’re made to feel during that process and shortly thereafter improves everything that happens for the rest of your life. If we’re made to feel incapable, inferior, not supported, that affects how you navigate your life after that.
What’s your overall mission?
I seek to dismantle some of the fears that we have around the process [of childbirth] and step into it with more education and advocacy tools so that we come out on the other side feeling deeply empowered.
You’ve spoken about the importance of women advocating for themselves in medical situations. What is a way women can do that?
A lot of people don’t ask questions because they feel like they’re bothering the doctor—[but] you absolutely have a right to know what’s happening to you. So I came up with an acronym to help women get the information they need to make informed decisions about procedures: BRAIN. The B is for benefits; ask what the benefits of a procedure are. R is to remind you to ask about the risks. The A is for alternatives, so you can ask if there are other options. I is for intuition because women should listen to what their intuition is telling them. And, finally, you can ask what would happen if you do nothing [N]. [This helps] make sure you’re getting all those pieces of information before you make a decision.
You’ve been outspoken about the Black maternal-health crisis. What do you think people need to know?
This moment that we’re in is so powerful because people are finally seeing the injustices that are occurring. But there’s a lot of things that [people] don’t see that are still happening that don’t get reported and don’t get national attention. A lot of those things are happening inside hospitals, in very stressed medical systems. We see that, disproportionately, Black women and Native American women are suffering as a result of childbirth and childbirth-related causes. We’ve seen so many of these women go in and die as a result of childbirth—in connection with having undiagnosed illnesses. I’m really committed to having discussions about how we protect Black mothers. How do we make sure that someone who goes into the hospital gets the same treatment as someone else—regardless of skin color, economic background, gender identity, partner status, or age?
You spend a lot of time taking care of other women. How do you take care of yourself?
I’m so good at taking care of myself—I am, like, a self-care queen. We have a little roof, so I go up there and read books. I love sound meditation. I will also turn off all of my devices and put them away for a period of time. It feels good not to be tethered to something. Phone fasting can be really helpful, especially for mental health. To me, self-care is personal, but it’s also collective—it’s sharing what my journey has been so that people can think about how they can engage in their own.
This article originally appeared in the September 2020 issue of Health Magazine. Click here to subscribe today!
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