As a first-time mom, I expected myself to come home from the hospital and get back to my regular routine. Sunshine was supposed to eat and sleep while I kept house, wrote books, and admired my new baby. If you’re a mom, you’re laughing at my naive ideals, and you know it didn’t quite turn out that way. It took me a few more babies to learn that the postpartum period—especially the first three months after baby’s birth—is a difficult time. During this time, moms still need a lot of care and self-awareness as they focus on their new baby but also help their bodies heal from 9 months of pregnancy and all the work of labour.
Julie Larsen is a fellow mom who understands the importance of this postpartum period. She’s a doula and doula instructor who has worked with many moms to help prepare for baby’s birth and also to help that new mom adjust to her new baby. Julia’s newest book is all about planning for a peaceful postpartum period. I was very excited to be able to chat with her about A Catholic Postpartum: a plan for Catholic mamas. If you are a new mom (or know a few new moms), you’ll want to check out Julia’s books!
TKM: Tell us a bit about yourself!
Julie Larsen: I am a cradle Catholic and was homeschooled for my later years and I went to college. My last degree I received was Master’s in Library Sciences at Texas Woman’s University. After I graduated, I realized that during my birth of my son (second child) that I really wanted more support for my birth and did not have that plus, I wanted to help more women with birthing practices. So, I took Birth Arts International CBE and doula classes and decided to be a doula!
TKM: What is the St. Giana Catholic Doula Program?
Julie: The St. Gianna Catholic Doula Program now has 2 types of classes:
- for parents who want to learn more about childbirth
- for doulas to learn a more spiritual, prayerful way to help parents with birthing.
The birth doula program is open to any faith and we currently do have a non-Catholic taking the course! The course has seven modules based on the Gifts of the Holy Ghost. Moms are welcome to explore the doula course and ask for a sample. We are hoping to offer a “live class” soon if anyone is interested in that version of our course.
A Catholic doula is a support person professionally trained to give physical comfort, a listening ear, and even spiritual support before, during and after birth! Many doulas focus on just helping with pregnancy support and going to the hospital or birth center with you to be with you
during your delivery. However, there are also postpartum doulas who specifically help mothers after baby’s birth in their homes, giving you much needed rest for this time period.
The parent program is called St. Zelie Parent classes. The current class is more focused on the mother learning about childbirth with some “dad” homework in each of the six modules. Yes, this is an online childbirth class from the “comfort of your home.” I am hoping to get a dad exclusive class going in the near future if I find that dads are interested (so please let me know).
We also have a St. Anne Breastfeeding class for moms to take to learn more about breastfeeding. The parent program does require parents to read some books that are an extra cost—however, we keep our classes not too high priced plus you don’t have to leave home to take the class!
TKM: Tell us a bit about your book.
Julie: My new book is called A Catholic Postpartum – a toolkit for mamas and doulas. I wrote this book during the pandemic time and I wanted moms to have something to help them during their postpartum. There is not really anything exclusively Catholic out there about postpartum so I thought this would be a great time to research and help get this book started.
I based some of A Catholic Postpartum on my postpartum doula course so it is like having a postpartum doula at your side! I recently added in 40 days of Biblical passages to look up and 40 tips for mothers inside the book. This is to reflect that mothers should have 40 days of “rest” during their “4th trimester” in order to heal from birth properly! My friend Jada Glover came in and contributed part of a chapter about postpartum depression and healing.
A Catholic Postpartum is also meant to be a tool to plan your postpartum time—so there’s a specific chapter on planning and gathering your friends. I based this on Winnie the Pooh Characters – an idea I got from a website! So, who’s your Tigger, Pooh, etc.?! I also have space for things Dad can do as he has time. I hope that this book will get into the hands of many more mothers! The hardbound edition is the only edition with the extra 40 days tips in it.
TKM: What’s one tip you’d share with women for a happy, healthy postpartum period?
Julie Larsen: Plan ahead! Make a plan for meals, who’s going to help you during your birth and don’t deviate from it!
TKM: What inspired you to write this book?
Julie: Katia LeMone was my first midwife and she really helped me in my postpartum time frame. I had suffered a bad tear and she helped heal me with herbs and things like that. I wanted other women to know more about postpartum.
TKM: Who is your favourite book or author and why?
Julie: Oh, that’s a hard one!! Besides the Bible, since that is God’s Word, I would have to say St. Therese’s autobiography. I am re-reading it again. She is so simple and her “little way” inspires me so much! As far as a non-spiritual book, I would say Anne of Green Gables and Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of that series. I always loved Anne and her spunk!
TKM: What was the most challenging part of writing a book, and how did you overcome that challenge?
Julie Larsen: Sometimes I would get stuck or not know what to write about next. I was stuck on the postpartum depression chapter, so I thought about asking in someone else to help with that and Jada was such a great helper—I truly appreciate her contribution to A Catholic Postpartum! I guess getting over it would be inviting someone in to help you write or give you ideas.
TKM: What was the most fun or most exciting part of writing a book?
Julie: Sometimes ideas just flow off the pen and you stay up all night writing or get up early and you have these ideas that just come flowing out!!
TKM: Do you have another book in the works?
Julie: Yes—sort of. I also wrote The Comfort in Birth Method and I recently revised that one. I started a pregnancy book a while back and I guess I am in the stuck mode or I just haven’t looked at it for awhile, so I may finish that one.
I started some fiction little stories but I don’t have an illustrator and I would love to make a children’s book series. So I may either publish it as more of a chapter book or see if I can find someone who wants to be my illustrator. I also have some poems that I would like to publish.
TKM: What advice would you give to a writer just starting out?
Julie Larsen: Just do it. Don’t be afraid to start a writing project. The best thing to do is just get ideas on paper—whether it is a notebook or on the computer—write it down! I also recommend a little book called Write It Down, Make It Happen—great inspirational book!
TKM: Where is your favourite place to write?
Julie: Well, usually, I write on my computer. However, if I am sketching ideas down, perhaps outside or just somewhere quiet. I hide from everyone for a few minutes—LOL!
TKM: Who is your favourite saint and why?
Julie: St. Therese of Liseiux, the Little Flower. Why? Her little way to heaven inspires me so much. I am right now considering joining the third order of Carmelites.