The Modern Mom: New Challenges, New Solutions

Becoming a mother is one of life’s great joys -- but given the pressures of modern life, it can also be one of life’s most overwhelming challenges.

 A group of entrepreneur moms gathered recently at Palisades Village to discuss how they’re working to support moms through the new challenges of modern motherhood. In an honest, unfiltered conversation, they shared their own ups and downs as parents, and shared advice and tips.

The panel, moderated by KTLA’s Serene Branson, included Lactation Lab founder Stephanie Canale, MD, lactation and parenting expert Elyse Bennett, and Anna Schafer and Sarah Wright Olsen, founders of BAEO organic skin care products. It was assembled by Little LAMMA, a personal concierge service for children’s gifts that aims to take the stress out of gift giving, that was recently featured in The Wall Street Journal,

The discussion covered a range of issues, including how to get kids to eat healthy, managing kids’ “big feelings” and using meditation and essential oils to de-stress.

One recurring theme was the importance of paying attention to what we put into and on our bodies, minimizing exposure to toxins and other environmental hazards.

BAEO co-founders Schafer and Wright Olsen said concern over environmental toxins inspired them to create their line of bare essential organic skincare products. It wasn’t until she was trying to get pregnant with her first child that Wright Olsen started researching not only the foods going into her body, but also the products she was using on her skin. 

Dr. Canale, who created a breast milk testing kit so women could know more about what is in their breast milk, expressed her surprise at the levels of environmental toxins such as arsenic that have shown up in the breast milk of some of her patients. The initial impetus for the breast milk test kits that she developed was to make sure babies get sufficient levels of key nutrients such as protein, fat, vitamins and amino acids. 

For example, she noted that little attention is paid to Vitamin A levels because dairy products are fortified with vitamins A and D. However, the increasing number of moms who do not consume much or any dairy (such as vegans) make it more important to make sure they are getting enough vitamin from other sources.

Increasingly, Lactation Lab’s test kits are being used to check for toxins, especially as there is mounting evidence of toxins such as arsenic making their way into the food supply. Sometimes the solution is a simple as reducing or eliminating rice from the diet, according to Dr Canale. Rice is now known to frequently contain unacceptable levels of arsenic, and newborns’ developing brains and nervous systems are more vulnerable to the adverse effects of toxins.

Most of the panel used meditation for themselves and even for their toddlers, though Canale (a Canadian) said she has an unusual distressing technique for a mom: a family hockey scrimmage, which requires her total focus and therefore no opportunity to dwell on the issues causing stress!

One technique for dealing with kids’ emotional outbursts offered by Wright Olsen is a “thinking chair,” which is used not as a punishment but as an opportunity for alone time to think about what’s going on.