Sara Lyon is a doula, childbirth educator, prenatal massage therapist and mother of two. She is the founder of Glow Birth & Body, a company that offers prenatal & postpartum massage therapy, childbirth education and birth support. Glow’s mission is to educate and empower all birthing couples no matter where they are birthing or what kind of birth they are having.
“It’s obvious to me that everyone has a complicated relationship with the role of ‘Mother’. It’s not just a relationship with your kids, it’s a changing relationship with your body, your colleagues, your identity, your sexuality, your own parents, your hobbies, your finances, your freakin HEART.”
What makes you a Beyond Mom?
Oh you know, just my super powers: packing lunches on conference calls, drafting emails on hold for the pediatrician, discussing the potential color palette for a new product while having a tea party with my 5 year old. More than anything, feeling empowered and actualized as a professional and mother. I see myself as all the things and they are not at odds with one another. I am Beyond simply ‘Mom’ and also Beyond ‘CEO’. I’m also really tired.
What are the parts of you that have grown and expanded since becoming a mom?
Since having kids, the clarity of my intuition and ability to act swiftly and rationally in intensely stressful situations is on another level. No time for BS. I’m so grateful for this particular super power!
Do you have a Beyond dream that you are pursuing?
My real Beyond Mom dream is being genuinely present with myself and my family while continuing to expand my company, Glow Birth & Body. Glow just launched The Birth Deck a deck of cards illustrating 50 ways to comfort a woman in labor. We’re developing the app to launch later this autumn. I hope The Birth Deck ultimately empowers birthing people around the world, no matter what their budget is or what their birth looks like.
What relationships and activities help you stay connected to yourself?
Friends, friends, friends and hiking. I have to surround myself with people who light me up. It’s equally fulfilling for me to lift someone else and the exchange is tremendously energizing. My formula is embarrassingly basic: a sweaty hike, friends, face masks and swanky cocktails, usually not all at once, but every now and again. I’d love to answer this question with, “Meditate every day!”?? Oh well. I decided years ago to forgive myself for what I choose not to do. I no longer say, “I would love to but I don’t have time for that.” Instead I say, “I would love to but I don’t make time for that right now.” I evolve in phases, so when I’m into something, I’m really really into it. And when I’m done with it, I might not do it for a decade. I trust myself to move towards that which feeds me.
Do you have a favorite quote or mantra that you live by?
I can survive anything.
What causes and topics are you most passionate about right now?
Well, I don’t get far without mentioning a uterus, so there’s that. I’m most passionate about doing my part to rectify America’s maternal-fetal health crisis. I’m glad it’s getting mainstream press coverage now but we are centuries deep in this quagmire, this is not new. It’s messy and complicated and I’m getting educated in how I can support community doulas and women of color in the most effective and welcome ways possible. I don’t know the answers and I have a lot to learn.
How do you think we can change our culture from one in which a woman is expected to be a “perfect mother” to one in which she is encouraged to discover and explore her evolving self?
There’s macro change and micro change, the latter is possible starting immediately and spreads through the roots. Start with your little people! I never apologize to my kids or my partner when I’m working nor for nurturing myself. I share work ideas with my kids and I’m openly excited about spending time with my friends. My oldest can recite my public speaking intro because she’s heard me prep at home and she is so excited about my company because she feels a part of it. Sometimes I can’t come to school events and sometimes dinner is freezer ravioli- oh well. We need to be unapologetic for these realities because that’s what they are, the realities of being both a parent and a professional. They are not shortcomings.
I’ve been surrounded by women in the transition to motherhood for my entire career and thus maybe I’ve been socialized to know that ‘good enough’ is utterly fantastic. As a doula, birth educator and prenatal massage therapist, I’ve spent the last decade and half in earnest conversation with moms being so very real. It’s obvious to me that everyone has a complicated relationship with the role of ‘Mother’. It’s not just a relationship with your kids, it’s a changing relationship with your body, your colleagues, your identity, your sexuality, your own parents, your hobbies, your finances, your freakin HEART.
Lisa Spiegel of Soho Parenting said the most brilliant thing and I’ll never forget it: “The struggle for resources between mother and child begins in the womb and exists eternally. Even when your kids are adults, you will still wonder how much of you is for them and how much is for you.” If we can be real and honest and about these internal conflicts and material struggles, we can support one another and together grow confident that we ARE enough, we ARE great mothers, we ARE great professionals, friends and daughters. If we’re confident, unapologetic and supportive of one another, others we follow suit. We can’t be everything to everyone but we can be a whole lot of things and that’s utterly fantastic!
Favorite go-to’s for:
Beyond Food (what do you cook & where do you go locally?)
Kelp noodles! When my kids eat spaghetti bolognese with kelp noodles I am so damn proud of myself. Also, they’re delicious and taste like vermicelli- fun for the whole family!
I used to live in Australia and I just hang for good Australian wine – Burke and Wills is an Aussie spot on W 79th St. That has the most divine ambience and a rad cocktail club upstairs (ask the maitre d’ if you’re interested in going up as the entrance is hidden).
In Oakland, California, where my family spends a good deal of time, I live for Hopscotch’s fried chicken.
Beyond Content (Books & Podcasts)
Sapiens blew my mind. Harari’s anthropological explanation of childbearing and the evolution of parenting is a must-read. I still pick it up and read sections here and there.
All neutrals, all comfortable: Gap linen tees, Melissa Joy Manning Jewelry, Miz Mooz sandals, No. 6 clogs, Cuyana tote and Goorin Bros Fedora. My husband banned REI streetwear when we moved to NYC which was probably for the best.
These days it’s subway stairs and the same pelvic floor/TA tonifying exercises I’ve done since I was postpartum with my first babe. These exercises are simply the foundational Pilates floor routine. I use a Gertie ball half inflated under my sacrum to trigger my deep abdominal and pelvic stabilizing muscles — it’s changed my body. The whole sequence takes me 10 minutes and I no longer have lower back pain.