In 2008 author & lifestyle expert Anna Getty and producer & mompreneur Alisa Donner created what is now knows as Pregnancy Awarenss Month (PAM). Their mission is to empower, inspire and build a community of support for expectant women and families. PAM has quickly blossomed into a variety of grassroots events across the country during the month of May. We met with Alisa and Anna to talk about pregnancy, being a working mother and that one advice they wished they knew when they were pregnant.

Alisa Donner

NCW: What prompted you to start Pregnancy Awareness Month? Was there a particular moment or event?

AD: As new parents that were dear friends who’s pregnancy overlapped, we wanted to help to inspire women to create community to support them during pregnancy and post partum. Anna declared the month of May to be Pregnancy Awareness Month® and we have been operating in that truth ever since. At the time we were both prenatal and mommy /me yoga instructors in LA and were forming our own community of new mom’s and pregnant women to support each other as we stepped into parenthood.

NCW: For Pregnancy Awareness Month, you talk about making changes in daily routines for a healthier life. Where do you recommend pregnancy women should start?

AD: I recommend that each woman thinks about what is important to them and their partner. What does a healthy lifestyle mean uniquely to their family, for their family. For the physical body eating well and choosing whole foods that are organic and respectfully grown is a great start. Researching about breast feeding and organic baby food options is also a fantastic place to start. Things are different than when we were pregnant, in 7 short years the access to organic food, in non-health store outlets, has grown significantly. If you can choose organic food, I say do it. Also watch what you use to clean your home and clothes, dishes with. Look at the labels of the household chemicals. If they aren’t safe for your toddler to pick up and handle, or ingest, why have it at all. Today you can purchase soaps and disinfectants that are non-toxic, that’s a health step. Exercise is also important, go for a walk, take a prenatal yoga class, find some time for yourself to sip some tea, rub your belly and connect to your breath. Any of these are easy steps toward a healthy lifestyle.

NCW: What has surprised you the most about this project? Are there certain misconceptions or lack of information in a certain area?

AD: How incredibly easy it has been to connect with like-minded women all over the country that are craving to connect to other women. To create community of mom’s and mom’s-to-be whether it is online in a social community or face to face in a mommy/me yoga class or a special event like our annual event with panels and vendors, etc. The women teach me each year how they want our services to expand and grow, I take their lead and it has been marvelous.

As a new mother, we commonly hear, “I wish someone would have told me …..” What is the piece of advice that you wish people would have told you?

To take more time planning for post partum, the immediate post partum. The 1st 3 months, where sleep is a distant memory. Actually Anna tried to warn me, , she actually gifted me a post partum doula for a few days. But I didn’t really pay attention and didn’t take the time to truly understand what would be required. Find your community, find support for those first few weeks for sure, and realize that it is ok to have friends, family, or paid help there for support. We learn so much from those that we surround ourselves with.

NCW: As a working mother, what is the biggest challenge you face? Is there a such thing as balance?

AD: There is balance for sure, but I haven’t found it yet! However, I waited as long as possible before I started working outside the home again. Started with some weekend shifts when she was 8 months old., did my best to create a home work environment. But it just wasn’t sufficient for us from a financial standpoint. And then by 22 months I was back to work full time out of the home. Leaving her has been my biggest challenge. And I am an educated woman, mastered prepared, waited to have children and did my corporate stint prior…but it still eats at my heart everyday. That may not be the PC answer, but it is the truth. I know that I love my work; I have needs for myself from a career standpoint that need to be met. However, it is just hard knowing that I’m not there to pick her up from kindergarten, or that I’m away from her 9+ hours a day. I take time every day to acknowledge my discomfort and take a breath, accept what is. Love her dearly. Be as present as possible when I’m with her. And when it is play time (weekends & holidays & vacations) I play hard with her, and immerse myself with my family.