We are thrilled to continue our Supermom Spotlight Series! For each spotlight, we sit down with an inspiring supermom and dig into her story. From birthing experts and entrepreneurs to philanthropists and everyday moms, we aim to enlighten and empower the Supermom in all of us with each story.
For our latest Supermom Spotlight, our own Jenn Freedman, founder of Plant-Powered Livin’, chatted with Kailee Noland, pediatric physical therapist based in Kansas City and founder of The Movement Mama. After pursuing her passion for babies/toddlers through a career in early intervention for children with special needs, Kailee’s evolution to The Movement Mama is a testament to how motherhood can transform us into something we never thought we would be...so never say never!
Here is our interview with Kailee...
We love to ask all of our Supermoms this simple question: Can you tell us about your breastfeeding journey?
Oh man. How can one sum up such a journey?! With both of my children, we struggled initially with a shallow latch that led to very painful cracking early-on. I remember having to take deep breaths with our first and force myself not to squeeze her little head as I reacted subconsciously to the blinding pain. I am so fortunate to have had wonderful lactation consultants who guided me every step of the way to transforming such a difficult start into a beautiful breastfeeding journey.
Both breastfeeding relationships have been entirely different. When our first was around 6 months old, we packed up and moved across the country to be closer to family. The stress of the move/job change/full-time working mom pump life drastically decreased my supply and I began needing to supplement her bottles. We easily weaned when we both felt ready at 14 months and now looking back I can see that my supply must have been very low at that point for it to have been such a simple transition :)
Our second is a mama’s boy through and through and would nurse every hour of every day if I let him:) I have been so grateful to have a strong supply this time around and to be able to gradually wean as I feel ready. With each dropped feed, I have had an incredibly difficult hormone shift unlike anything I've ever experienced. We are now nearing the end of our breastfeeding journey and it is such a bittersweet feeling, letting them fly on their own while also mourning the loss of that closeness. But it's fun to be able to authentically say that Simple Wishes has made me feel beautiful in the messiness of breastfeeding. I struggled so much with my identity as a mama early-on and putting on my SuperMom bra was one of the first times I felt confident as a young and vulnerable Mama.
Today your professional focus is around guiding parents towards purposeful play for their babies. Can you tell me about your personal journey and how it brought you to this focus?
I am a Pediatric Physical Therapist who specializes in Motor Development from birth to age 3. Much of my day is spent playing with babies and toddlers to encourage motor development, while also finding ways to educate their parents on how to incorporate the activities at home. As a new therapist, I often prescribed activities and exercises that I now know were completely unrealistic.
Becoming a mama truly changed the way I practiced and allowed me to have a unique perspective when thinking about how to encourage development at home. In motherhood, it is so easy to feel overwhelmed with the slightest addition of responsibilities so I love to find creative ways to build strength and skill through routine and play rather than adding items to a mother's never ending to do list!
Can you tell me more about your professional career and how it prepared you to become an expert in purposeful play?
As I mentioned, I'm a Pediatric Physical Therapist. My job is quite literally to teach babies to move. But as it turns out, babies have quite a mind of their own :) I absolutely love to find ways to teach parents to play with their baby that will benefit their development without it feeling hard or counter to what a baby would normally want to do! I've been able to hone in my clinical skills with the perspective and grace of a mama to create rhythms that support natural development. Every milestone is truly a miracle and it is an honor to be a part of so many big moments for so many families.
I'm currently working at a clinic and school for children with special needs. The purposeful play is often the same but with the grace knowing these babies often need extra time. Watching their gradual progression toward a skill has given me so much knowledge about all the tiny miracles that take place to achieve a certain skill. I never take a single one for granted and I love to encourage parents that they are truly the change-makers. I can give them ideas but it is them playing with their babies in a purposeful and intentional way that sparks growth!
What types of programs and support do you offer?
I offer a free milestone checklist, which guides parents towards purposeful play with a printable motor milestones checklist of what to expect during your baby’s first two years. I also offer guides to Rolling & Tummy time and Motor Milestone + Purposeful Play Cards. Finally, I have an Amazon Storefront with lots of amazing purposeful play-based toy recommendations.
You can also feel free to email me with any questions or topics at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you have any free resources to guide new parents (i.e. Instagram, e-newsletter, etc.)?
Besides the Milestone Checklist, I also provide tons of free info on Instagram @themovementmama and will be expanding to a newsletter soon that they will be a part of by downloading the milestone checklist.
What is your advice for new parents/parents-to-be? What do you wish you had known when you started your parenting journey?
My biggest piece of advice is that there are lots of experts for babies, but YOU are the only expert in YOUR baby. Trust your gut. Advocate for your intuition.
Has COVID-19 changed your business in any way?
One of the silver linings of COVID is being able to utilize social media to support and encourage Mamas in such a difficult and isolating time. I feel so honored to have been able to walk so many parents through the first year of their baby's life and empower them to feel confident in caring for their baby.
Anything on the horizon for The Movement Mama that you would like to share?
I'm very excited to share that at the end of the month I will be transitioning to working from home on The Movement Mama full time. I hope to expand my digital resource library and create courses that educate parents on all things motor development to keep their babes on track. We are seeing higher than ever numbers of developmental delay and I feel so much of that is simply due to the lack of education parents are given regarding motor development. We are fighting a billion dollar baby industry that is telling parents they need more "gear" for their baby when actually this gear gets in the way of movement. I'm really excited to continue to connect with other mamas in the space we've created together @themovementmama and am unbelievably grateful to be able to stay home with my babies.
Stay tuned for our upcoming Supermom Spotlight, coming soon!