Meet Dr. Divina Lopez and her unique approach to parental coaching! First-time parenting, new babies, pregnancy, mental health, all of these things can be pretty difficult to navigate on your own. It's not easy! There's no manual to tell you what you're supposed to do in the middle of the night with your newborn baby whom you've fed, burped, changed, and by all accounts should be happily sleeping for the next couple of hours, but instead is screaming at you. Frazzled nerves, raw emotions, parenthood is HARD, especially the first time around!
While we're often told that there's no way to truly be "ready" for parenthood, many of us the first time around do take classes to feel more prepared for birth and the whole process we're about to undergo. I myself participated in a couple of courses offered to me through my hospital! However, those classes don't deal with what happens when you head back home! That is one of the reasons why I was so excited to speak with this week’s guest and get to pick her brain a little bit!
Dr. Divina Lopez
Dr. Divina Lopez is a board-certified Pediatrician who has taken her knowledge and expertise and wrapped it up in a beautiful little package with her coaching program "Dancing into Parenthood". However, I'd rather let her words speak for themselves! Let's jump right into the Q & A portion of today's Blog and learn a bit about what makes Dr. Divina such an extraordinary woman, and why you might want to take a look at some of her services for yourself!
THE Q & A
The best place to start is at the beginning! What lead you into the field of Pediatrics and, subsequently, what then pushed you to create your own parent coaching service?
Pediatrics chose me, I went to medical school with the intention of becoming an OB/GYN. During my Pediatric rotation as a medical student, I instantly fell in love with the resilient young patients that I was assisting in treating. I also learned very quickly that I would still have the opportunity to participate in women's health as a Pediatrician and still be able to attend deliveries. So I chose to do a Pediatric residency.
After practicing Pediatrics for over a decade and realizing that most new parents have the same questions, fears, and anxieties when having a baby, I decided to put together a platform designed to answer the most frequently asked questions that they have. I did this in the form of podcasts, videos, and a coaching program, The digital coaching program provides guidance for parents, as a 4-week course that includes newborn care, the most frequent mistakes that parents make and how to avoid them, postpartum support, baby development, and milestones and also couple support.
You mention couple support. How important would you say it is to have some tools in your toolbox (so to speak) when it comes to your relationship postpartum? Is there anything specifically you could tell first-time parents to keep in mind when entering into this new chapter together?
It is extremely important to have tools to keep working on your relationship after the addition of a baby to the home. A relationship is something that is always evolving and this is an especially fragile time for many relationships. You will now see your partner as a mother and as a father, so naturally things change.
Good communication is key in any relationship and it may not be easy to have good communication when you are both sleep deprived. Partners easily snap on each other because they are tired and cranky. When there is an issue that needs to be talked about set aside some time when you are not as heated to talk calmly and hear out your partner without interrupting. In the 4th week of my program we dig deep into relationship work and functioning as a team. You can always join ‘Dancing Into Parenthood’ from my website www.drdivinalopez.com
Having a background in Pediatrics is such a unique perspective to approaching parent coaching, how do you feel it strengthens your abilities as a coach and mentor to many soon-to-be parents?
Having the Pediatric knowledge affords me the ability to provide not only parenting advice but also health and wellness advice. I believe that good health, both physical and emotional, are the foundation for a happy life. I focus on the family as a whole and teach parents to build their family empire.
Your coaching course is called “Dancing into Parenthood”. I absolutely LOVE that concept! What does ‘dancing into parenthood’ mean to you?
Well I have been a dancer all my life. I have trained in various styles of dance and from my experience, dance brings in human connection, joy, and flow. These elements are vital for a family to thrive. This just seemed like a natural name for the coaching program because no one wants to stumble into parenthood. We want to Dance Into Parenthood!
You’ve spoken of postpartum depression and mentioned your own private struggles with it, something that I myself and I know many other first-time moms go through but don’t speak of. Is there anything specifically regarding PPD that you’d offer as advice for new and soon-to-be mamas?
I would like moms to know that we should not assign all the responsibility of having a baby to ourselves. We need help and that is normal and natural. Finding support for your 4th trimester is one of the most important things we can do to help ease the transition of welcoming your baby into this world. I personally thought that everything had to be done by me. I felt the pressure to perform all my "duties" as a wife, mom, and professional without asking for help. Not having the support I needed and pretending like I was fine handling it all made me feel very isolated. I was also in denial of how I was feeling and did not bother seeking any help for myself. Moms should know that it is so important that you take good care of yourself so that you can continue to care for your baby.
We here at Element Mom are huge advocates for mental health and the necessity of self-care! What are your top 3 favorite self-care tips?
1. Be open to receiving help
2. Do not feel guilty putting yourself first, for example, I need to have my own coffee in the morning before I can do anything for anyone else. It's these small things that mean the world to you and allow you to keep giving.
3. Splurge on a guilty pleasure once in a while guilt-free. It can be something as small as your favorite dark chocolate to something as big as a luxury vacation.
Our favorite kind of self-care here at Element Mom is, unsurprisingly, skincare! What do you think of skincare as self-care for mamas throughout pregnancy?
Skincare is definitely one of my favorite ways to spoil myself personally. First of all our skin is the largest organ of the body and it does so much for us, so we should pamper it. Having a skincare routine is very important and during pregnancy, we know how much the skin on the belly is stretching so it is important to give it some extra TLC! What I love is that your cream also has probiotics and I think that was brilliant!
Postpartum is an absolute whirlwind of emotions and an overall crash course in parenting! In regards to self-care postpartum, what would be your recommendations for new moms?
Be very forgiving to yourself during this time period. There is a learning curve, so allow yourself time to feel comfortable in your new role. You can never be fully prepared because every baby is different and you have to give yourself the time to figure it all out. Do not compare yourself to others is the other recommendation I would make. Doing this may set you up to feeling like a failure.
I noticed that you also have a podcast! What type of advice might parents-to-be find there and how does that information maybe differ from taking the actual “Dancing into Parenthood” course?
There are currently 24 episodes and I keep adding new ones. The podcast is super fun and a great way to get tips on how to find a Pediatrician, what to expect at the Hospital, breastfeeding advice etc… and lots of good advice regarding becoming a parent.
Do you have a current favorite Podcast episode of the ones you’ve released? Why does that one stand out to you?
Episode #3 is my favorite because I give you all the insider tips to finding the best Pediatrician for your family. Many new parents do not take the time to interview Pediatricians to find the right fit only to end up feeling really frustrated later on.
And lastly, for anyone out there on the fence about counseling or anxious about the thought of becoming a parent for the first time, what would be your main point of advice?
You don't have to do it alone there are many ways to find your support system whether that is family/friends or a program like Dancing Into Parenthood. Also to remember that all your baby really wants from you is your love and attention. All the pieces will fall into place.
It was a pleasure getting to talk with Dr. Divina. Everything she teaches and stands for echoes our feelings on parenthood, the importance of self-care, and the importance of knowing and understanding that you aren't in this alone. We always say "You've got this, mama!" and you do. But sometimes you might not feel like you do, and that's okay! There are resources there to help, you don't have to shoulder everything on your own!
And don't forget, self-care should be a priority. Whether that means indulging in a little chocolate, that morning cup of coffee, or your favorite skincare routine! Checking in with yourself and tending to your own mental health will ALWAYS benefit you, your family, and your baby!
If you're interested in learning more about Dr. Divina, her podcast, or her coaching services you can find her on her website as well as on Instagram @drdivinalopez and TikTok @drdivinalopez. Head on over and show her some love!