Postnatal nutrition with Genevieve Mena of Mamieli: Podcast Episode #242

The importance of postnatal nutrition with Genevieve Mena, Co-Founder and CEO of Mamieli.  Kristin Revere and Genevieve Mena discuss everything from traveling with kids to nourishing ourselves during the postpartum recovery phase on the latest episode of Ask the Doulas podcast.  Be sure to tune in until the end for the special discount code for our podcast listeners.

Hello!  This is Kristin Revere with Ask the Doulas, and I am thrilled to chat with Genevieve Mena.  Genevieve is the co-founder and CEO of Mamieli, which is a platform supporting moms in postpartum and beyond.  Mamieli also launched a topic-based bundle for new moms, curated with top brands and expert service providers.  Just this spring, they launched the first marketplace to help moms find affordable, vetted home cooking support in postpartum and beyond.  In building Mamieli, Genevieve has been inspired by her personal experience becoming a mom while drawing on her prior professional experience supporting entrepreneurs through initiatives led by Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan.  She has an undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College and an MBA from Norton and lives in New York City with her husband and two young girls.

Welcome, Genevieve!

Thanks so much, Kristin!  So excited to be here!

I am thrilled to chat with you about the importance of nourishing ourselves postpartum, and because not only do you have these amazing pregnancy and postpartum bundles, but you also now have this service where you can find the right type of cooking for even allergies or other concerns that you might have that may not work for some of the friends who want to be helpful and bring you a meal and those meal train services that are helpful, but again, if you have allergies or any dietary concerns, it can be challenging to accept friends’ food or even gift cards, if that restaurant doesn’t work for your needs.

Right, exactly.  That’s right.  Mamieli is a resource for moms in postpartum and beyond and really, our goal is to provide moms and families with really tangible, practical support.  As you said, last year we launched these really beautifully curated bundles for moms for after the baby comes for these key topics.  There’s so many little things you need, so many questions you have, and they’re constantly changing from one topic and stage to the next.  From postpartum recovery to breastfeeding, baby health questions, traveling with baby, introducing solids, et cetera.  We’ve curated these beautiful bundles with the top products from really great brands and we did that with expert service providers in each topic area.  Then to this platform that you’re speaking about: we actually just launched about a month ago, this new resource for moms, and we’re starting in New York.  It’s a resource for moms to find vetted, affordable, local home cooks to support with meals during postpartum especially, but really any time along the journey of being a busy mom transitioning back to work or just juggling everything.  We’re really excited about this.  We’re starting here in New York, but then expanding beyond.

It is so needed, and there may be some of those local or the national pre-made meals, but the fact that you can get home cooked meals customized to your needs and your stage from local cooks – that is a fantastic option, and certainly in New York, I’m sure it’s much needed.

Like many ideas and businesses in this space, it was kind of inspired initially from my own experience and my husband’s experience having our first daughter.  Postpartum was actually a pretty good experience overall for us.  We were excited with our baby.  I think the biggest day in and day out pain point that we had was around meals.  And I’m someone who loves to cook, but when you have a newborn, you barely have time to eat, let alone cook.

And you’re feeding your baby, no matter how you choose to feed.  That consumes so much time!

Exactly, so much time.  And so just kind of piecing it together with Door Dash or takeout.  We tried some of the meal kits that come in those little plastic containers.  Really, none of that is what we wanted to be eating for each meal.  What we really want is home cooked meals.  But like many new parents, especially in New York, many new parents don’t have family nearby to come cook for weeks on end, and especially when it’s your first, you don’t necessarily have a community to organize a meal train for you.  You’re kind of left piecing it together, and we just wanted home-cooked meals and couldn’t really accomplish that because we were focused on the baby and just learning to be new parents.  But it did dawn on me, especially when we were about to have our second daughter – now we’re not just feeding ourselves.  Now we’re feeding our toddler, too, so we really need to find a better solution for this.  And it dawned on me that there are incredible cooks all over the city, and probably someone right around the block from me who’s a phenomenal cook who would love to come and help you while earning a bit of extra income on the side.  So, long story short, we built this platform to bring them to one spot, to make it easier for moms and dads to find that kind of local support.  We vet them, and it’s a rigorous vetting process to make sure that it’s safe.  Everybody is a really incredible cook that can adapt to whatever needs your family has.  You mentioned allergies, for example.  Some of the families that are booking through our platform – one of their kids has allergies, or there are certain kinds of nutritional goals that the mom has or the dad has, or nutrition for postpartum recovery or breastfeeding or whatever it might be.  Since you’re hiring someone to come and cook just for your family, they can tailor it to whatever your needs are.  That’s one of the beauties of this.  It’s not only healthy and delicious, but also, it can be for whatever needs or goals your family has.

Yes.  And as postpartum doulas, we do some light meal preparation.  We certainly don’t make full meals for our clients, but we often find that clients will have a particular postpartum recipe book that they would like us to follow, say for the first 40 days.  Does that come into play, or is it more of what the chef would like to make for a family?

That absolutely comes into play, and actually, postpartum doulas were a big inspiration as we were kind of organizing how to build this.  We spoke with a number of doulas here in New York, and many of them love the idea because they see this as a big point with moms that they’re working with in those early days.  And they do light cooking support, and in some cases, the family needs even more cooking support beyond that.  But also, some doulas even realize that they like that aspect of the work so much that they wanted to lean into it even more, and in addition to their postpartum doula work, also take on some clients focusing specifically on cooking and postpartum nutrition and developing meal plans for families.

The way it works is, the family – and usually it is the mom – puts in a request for a local home chef.  You can browse through profiles of all the different chefs on the platform because every family is different and every taste is different, and your budgets are different.  Each home cook sets their own price point, and they have their own style or background.  Some are doulas, some are not.  Some are professionally trained, some are just really amazing self-taught cooks.

You can browse through these different profiles and then book whoever is the best fit for you or whoever you think resonates most with your family’s needs.  Maybe that is more of a focus on the first 40 days and somebody who has a really great repertoire of meals and experience around postpartum specifically, or maybe it’s somebody who has more of a Latin bent to their cooking because they’re from the Dominican Republic, and that’s what your family, especially in a diverse city like New York – to be able to find somebody with a cooking style that matches what you’re looking for.

And then you share your family.  Who’s in your household?  Who will be eating these meals?  What dietary restrictions you might have?  If you’re breastfeeding or recovering or if you’re pregnant, and what your family likes and doesn’t like.  From there, whoever you book will put together some meal options for you.  Typically, families book between three and four meals at a time.  Three or four dinners, for example, that then you can reheat over the next few busy days.   They’ll put together meal options that you can choose from, and you can tweak it as much as you like.  They share all the ingredients that go along with each of those meals so you know exactly what it’s in it, and then either you can do the shopping, or in many cases – most cases, actually, whoever is cooking, the home chef, does the shopping for you just to take the whole load off of you.

It outsources the mental load, which is a huge part of this, as well as the shopping and the cooking and the cleaning up afterwards because it’s that whole process.  It’s not just the cooking.  It’s everything around it, day in and day out, that is a lot of work for parents.  Finding somebody who can help you with this is a game changer is what we’ve been hearing from clients.  That term, it’s a game changer – for my mental health and for my family’s health.  So we’re really excited about this.

And it’s so important in recovery to have healthy meals, and for breastfeeding moms and pumping moms, to be able to nourish themselves properly.  And if you’re so focused on caregiving, if there are other kids that need to be fed, to have the healthy homecooked meals is going to make recovery so much better.  You’re going to sleep better.  I find as a postpartum doula that sometimes, unless we’re making snacks or telling our clients to drink water or eat, they’re forgetting to eat and nourish themselves.

Yeah, you do.  You forget.  You’re focused on a million and one things, and you can forget to eat.  It happened to me.  Then when you do remember, you’re so hungry that you just kind of grab whatever is there, and you’re probably holding your baby while you’re eating.  Maybe even nursing.  It is a struggle.  And now that you’re mentioning this, I’m grabbing my water.  You just reminded me to take a sip of my water.  It’s true, though.  You need to be reminded.

Exactly.  So Genevieve, how did the topic-based bundles come about?  It’s lovely because you can follow your clients across the journey, everything from the pregnancy bundles to feeding, as you had mentioned, and postpartum recovery.  I’m so curious about what led you to solve some of the problems of really understanding the curation and thoughtfulness you put not only into the chef matching platform that you have but also in making moms  and families’ lives easier with some of these customized bundles that you’ve created.

We actually started with the bundles, and then the resource of the home cooking kind of grew out of what we saw as one of the big pain points for moms in postpartum, among many, but one being an ongoing one around meals.  The inspiration for these bundles was, again, from my personal experience after having our first daughter.  I think what struck me was how scattered this whole kind of parenting world is.  I was somewhat surprised by it.  I knew there were so many things you need to buy and research for, for your registry ahead of times, and even that process is kind of overwhelming.  But then even after the baby comes, there are so many little things that you need, and all these questions that you have at the same time.  As I said before, these are constantly changing from one topic and stage to the next.  You’re focused on postpartum recovery in those early days and figuring out breastfeeding or formula feeding and questions around baby health and introducing solids.  Then the next thing you know, your baby is ready to start solids.  For each of these, you’re researching all these little things that you need that you didn’t maybe think about ahead of time or plan for when making your registry.  But then also all these questions that you have as you kind of encounter these different stages and topics.  So we decided to – and I say we.  I actually started this alongside my brother, who lives in New York as well, and we kind of launched this platform together.  We decided to curate these beautiful bundles for each of these different topics with only the essential items, from the best brands in each category, and we curated them based on what other moms are loving the most.  I can talk more about the curation if that’s interesting.

Yes, I’m fascinated by how you vet and decide who to include in the bundles.

First, we kind of curate what different items even go into each of these bundles.  So what are the items that most moms actually use for that topic area?  For postpartum recovery, there’s a vaginal and a C-section version.  What do moms actually use?  We vetted each of those bundles alongside experts in that topic.  For the recovery bundle, we worked with OB-GYNs.  For breastfeeding, lactation consultants.  Pediatricians for the baby health and feeding therapists for introducing solids, et cetera.  These different experts helped us to kind of say, yes, these are the types of items that we would recommend moms use and that moms actually do use.  We didn’t want to fill these bundles with things that are just going to clutter up your space and you’re never going to use.  From there, to determine which brand for each of those items or which specific type of – you know, postpartum underwear, just off the top of my head.  We wanted to triangulate it across several different platforms.  Most commonly registered for items and highest reviewed items across Baby List, Target, Buy Buy Baby at the time, Amazon, and brand-owned websites to see what are moms really loving the most.  And then we partnered with those brands to include them in the bundles.  We want to be the best of the best, not based on affiliate links or sponsorships or anything like that, so that you can really trust that what’s in in here is truly wonderful.  And then the last piece of it is each of those experts that I mentioned that helped us to vet the bundles also contribute a guidance book that comes in each bundle.  The recovery bundle has a guidance book that we created in partnership with OB-GYNs that goes through the most common questions they get asked around postpartum recovery.  There’s cheat sheets to answer each of those questions.  Same thing with all of the other bundles.  It’s really bringing together top products with content that kind of cuts to the chase without being alarmist.  There’s a lot of content out there that kind of makes you scared or even more uncertain about what you’re doing, and we really wanted to frame this content around reassuring you and kind of cutting to the chase on really actionable tips that are vetted by experts and really helpful for moms who are navigating all of this.

And what a wonderful shower gift or postpartum gift to give a friend or family member!

Absolutely.  That was part of our thinking, too.  Sometimes on registries, you’ll register for the big things, a lot of the big things like the crib and car seat.  But then there’s all these little things, like the ten-dollar nail clipper and the twelve-dollar thermometer and all these little things that, as a gift-giver getting these little things, it doesn’t feel like a really nice cohesive gift.  So these bundles really make nice gifts.  We see a lot of moms registering for them, and their friends are excited to give them.  A fun fact, actually, is that the most commonly gifted bundle from existing moms to new moms is the recovery bundle, which has the least appealing stuff – it’s the diapers and the pads and all those things.  But the moms who have been through it know that those things are so helpful.  It’s a really popular gift.  The baby health one is, as well, and the travel one.  They’re all really wonderful gifts.

I love that you have a travel one.  We’re getting into travel season, so if you want to touch on that for a minute, I would love to hear more about it.

Absolutely.  When we were curating these and kind of developing the topics that we were going to create bundles around, we surveyed a couple hundred moms and asked about biggest pain points and what you used and didn’t use, et cetera.  And traveling with babies, being on the go with babies was one of the biggest pain points, which is not surprising to me.  It’s hard.  It can be hard to travel with babies, especially the first couple of times when you’re just getting used to it.  And there are kind of a lot of little things that can make traveling a lot easier.  This on-the-go travel kit is one of my favorites, and it’s one of the most giftable ones, as well, I think.

Similar to the other bundles, we crowd-sourced travel tips from moms who have traveled a lot with their babies and toddlers to curate this bundle and create a guidance book that comes with it.  It goes through flying, and for example, with flying, questions like, should I bring my baby as a lap infant or book them a seat?  Do they need a boarding pass?  What do I do about security?  What do I do with my car seat?  How do I handle jet lag?  All these questions around travel.  We have lots of cheat sheets in the guidance book on plane travel, car rides, packing lists, et cetera.  And then the items in it are so handy.  My family travels a whole lot.  My husband is from Mexico, and so we travel to Mexico a lot, as well as a bunch of other places, and we use everything in here all the time.  It really comes in handy, and it just takes a lot off of that mental load of planning and packing and remembering to bring things.  We love it.  It really, really comes in handy on trips, but also, even just traveling on the go around the city on day trips and things like that.

Right.  It could be by car, train, plane, or boat.  It would work for all of the travel options.  But I know that it can be intimidating, especially for new parents to take that first big trip, whether it’s a long car ride or a plane ride and having their kids be content and all of the things that they might need in a new place.  It’s very helpful that you are inspired by your own travel experiences with two kids and that your brother is also so involved in this business as well with his own experiences.

Absolutely.  My brother is like the fun uncle.  I’m the third of four, and he’s the baby of the family.  And we have lots of nieces and nephews.  He’s the go-to babysitter for my kids here in New York.  We’re so lucky to have him nearby.  And yeah, it’s a lot of live and learn from traveling with babies and toddlers.  We’re very much in the thick of it still with – actually, both of my girls just had birthdays, so a three-year-old and a one-year-old now.  There are different challenges at different ages when traveling.  I think the hardest is probably one and a half to two and a half when they want to be mobile and move around, but they’re not old enough yet to sit through a show on the airplane so you’re just entertaining them the whole time.

It’s work, but I think that the two things that helped me the most: one is preparing, so not leaving everything to the last minute, which is hard to do, and I often leave things to the last minute.  There’s even some research around procrastination being good for efficiency, but I would say with preparing to travel, it’s the opposite.  You’re just creating more stress for yourself if you’re packing the morning of or doing things at the last minute.  It’s much less stressful to prepare ahead of time and start packing ahead of time.  And then you can be more thoughtful about what you’re bringing.  I find you end up weeding out what’s unnecessary and you pack lighter that way.

The second is just getting in the right mindset and letting go a little bit.  It’s probably not going to be perfect.  You’ll probably forget something.  It might be hard to settle the baby on the plane or you’ll have a hard time sleeping wherever you are.  You just do your best and you roll with it, and you try to get right back into things when you’re back home.  But I think it’s just a mindset shift that traveling with kids is different than before.  It can still be really fun.  Being in different environments is good for your baby and for you.  That’s kind of the mindset that I try to keep.

I love it.  And you mentioned the recovery bundles are very popular gifts that seasoned moms are giving friends.  What is your favorite bundle?

Oh, that’s a good question.  That’s tough.  Probably the baby health bundle.  The baby health bundle has a whole lot in it of things that you will actually use.  It all comes in this really neat, organized medicine box that also looks cute.  This covers all the major topics of baby health issues and even toddler issues that you might face.  Fever and pain, colds and congestion, rashes and skin issues that you might come across.  There’s all these little things.  The thermometer and Tylenol and saline drops and sprays for congestion and nasal aspirator and the nail clipper and file.  Vitamin D drops, which is something that a lot of moms just don’t even know exists or is something that you give your baby at the beginning.  When you’re at the hospital, maybe they tell you about the vitamin D drops, but there are so many things going on that maybe you forget about it.  We have all of these things in the bundles so that you have it when you get home, and you have everything in one spot.  Then you have this guidance book alongside of what everything is for and how you use it and all these cheat sheets that I mentioned.  It keeps everything organized.  In the middle of the night when your baby spikes a fever or you need something, you’re not running out to the store to get it or waiting a couple of days for an Amazon order to come.  You already have it all in one spot, and it’s all things that you will use.  It’s really meant to be practical and useful.  I think that’s probably my favorite one.

I love it.  And so many grandparents are now caregivers, so it would be great to have something at their place if they’re watching toddlers or babies over there so they have a full kit of everything they might need.

Yeah, that’s a great idea, actually.  And even with these cheat sheets, there’s quick references on how much Tylenol or acetaminophen to give your baby at different weights and sizes, which you forget.  You don’t necessarily know offhand.  You’re right that it’s great for caregivers or grandparents to have on hand, too.  Absolutely.

I love it.  I could talk to you forever, Genevieve, but we’re running out of time.  Any final tips for our listeners?

Yeah, I’ve loved this conversation!  For a final tip, similar to what I said before around traveling.  It applies to everything.  Let go a little and roll with it.  I think that there’s a lot to say around being prepared that can ease stress, but there’s a lot that you can’t prepare for or you don’t know until you go through it.  I do think that sometimes as new moms, our generation wants everything to be perfect.  Letting go a little bit is probably my tip.

Beautiful.  How can our listeners and the doulas in the Gold Coast team find you?

You can find our marketplace for home cooking on Mamieli.com.  Right now, it’s just New York, but if you’re not in New York, you can go to the website and put in your ZIP code.  We’re collecting ZIP codes from outside of New York, and once we get a critical mass, that’s how we’ll determine how we expand.  So even if you’re not in New York, feel free to put in your ZIP code and we’ll reach out to you when we’re where you are.

We’ll be putting in Grand Rapids ZIP codes then to try to get your service in Michigan!

Perfect!  And then our bundles, anybody can buy them from anywhere.  You can find those also on Mamieli.com, or you can go right to shopmamieli.com.  You’ll find all the bundles and cheat sheets and everything on there.  And I believe we have a special discount, too, for your listeners.  If you use the code GOLDCOAST24, you can save 20% of the entire order.

Thank you!  And you’re on social media, so our listeners can also connect with you there?

Yes.  On social, we are @lovemamieli.

Thank you for sharing all of your amazing platforms!  I’m all about the bundles.  What a wonderful gift!

Thank you so much!

IMPORTANT LINKS

Mamieli

Birth and postpartum support from Gold Coast Doulas

Becoming A Mother course

Our book, Supported: Your Guide to Birth & Baby