Photo: Mecca Gamble
LaToya Hamm Wilson of Motherhood Redefined
For many, the joys of motherhood are hard to put into words. But that isn’t always the story for new mothers and parents. Postpartum depression is a reality for many, and it’s important to help them understand that it doesn’t mean they’re “bad parents” or not fit to be caretakers. A local program that began during the pandemic is aiming to help new mothers through those unfamiliar times when they most need support.
Motherhood Redefined is a community of mothers led by LaToya Hamm Wilson, a Pittsburgh-area native hailing from Wilkinsburg and Penn Hills, and a licensed therapist specializing in maternal mental health. On Motherhood Redefined’s website, she is described as a “self-care advocate.”
She says what started as a personal passion project has blossomed into a community of resources for new mothers.
“The whole idea behind Motherhood Redefined is to support moms who are struggling with maternal mental health or the stresses that come along with new parenting,” says Hamm Wilson. “I offer coaching as well as one-on-one counseling services to postpartum pregnant and parenting women. Primarily, my services are created or respond to the issues of Black and Brown women, but they are inclusive to allies as well.”
Hamm Wilson describes a culture that conditions mothers to put themselves last, and how she and the community she built wants to redefine that, encouraging pregnant, postpartum, and parenting mothers to think of themselves and go against societal norms.
This reframing of motherhood is made possible through several avenues, including a Redefined MOMS (Moms overcoming maternal stress) Collective Facebook group where members can reach out to each other for support, and through one-on-one and group coaching with Hamm Wilson.
The coaching process is a 12-week, entirely virtual program held by Hamm Wilson that helps new and parenting mothers who are feeling burned-out, overwhelmed, and looked over. Coaching boasts benefits like teaching mothers to cope with maternal stress by “focusing on prioritizing your mental health and creating sustainable systems.”
“So the coaching I do is group coaching and also one-on-one. I also work as a private contractor with a local mental health agency here in Pittsburgh as well. I do one-on-one counseling services through that private practice, and my Motherhood Redefined community is a private online community that's currently run through Facebook,” says Hamm Wilson. “It's a community where women are able to join and receive accountability as well as get some of their answers to their questions answered through peer support.”
Hamm Wilson is an adoptive and blended mom, who also has biological children of her own ranging from the ages of 10 to 21. When she’s not running Motherhood Redefined, she works as a social worker in Pittsburgh Public Schools.
Her own experience as a mother and working with families in her capacity as a social worker has given her a unique insight into the needs of mothers, especially those with young children.
“I service mainly women with children under the age of two. I help them in adjusting to life as a mom and balancing work, life, and relationships while still parenting and finding opportunities to engage in things that they enjoy as well. So a lot of self care,” she says.“I also find a lot of my clients have challenges around perinatal mood disorders, and those disorders became enhanced during the pandemic. Whenever we had to be forced into isolation, a lot of struggles that they had, that they were suffering with, were magnified during that time.”
Women who join Hamm Wilson and the online community she has created see a lot of benefits, mainly just from the experience of having a support system they haven’t found in their everyday lives. She says the main benefit is that her services are virtual, which means she can see clients as far as New York and D.C. This is also beneficial to parents who, in the pandemic world, are also serving as part-time teachers for kids in online school. They don’t have to worry about commuting to and from different locations, they can just log in from home.
Hamm Wilson says she initially started Motherhood Redefined as a way to organize her own thoughts about motherhood and mental health. “I knew personally what it meant to struggle through motherhood, to not feel like myself, and to not have the space to openly express the challenges that go along with being a modern mother,” she says, adding that it served as her self-care practice during a time when she also needed it the most.
“We live in a world where mothers, Black mothers, especially, have to be strong,” she adds. “But I believe there is strength in vulnerability. So to be able to connect with so many women, share my journey authentically, and support them through theirs, is liberating.”
Motherhood Redefined. motherhoodredefined.co and