Postpartum and Breastfeeding

I’m a Stanford graduate and successful CEO who struggled with “mom brain” here’s what I learned

Ryan Woodbury

Ryan's Story

Transitioning back to work after the birth of my daughter, I was unprepared for the profound impact on my mental cognition, a phenomenon often brushed off as "mom brain", and how much it affected my confidence and sense of self.

Up until that point, I considered myself fortunate—my journey to motherhood had been remarkably smooth. From a seamless pregnancy, I didn’t really suffer from nausea, physical discomfort, or exhaustion. I was lucky to have the privilege of a peaceful home birth and a swift physical recovery (my midwife commented that it was one of the fastest she’d ever seen). Having seen how different it was for so many of my peers, I was feeling lucky, confident and, admittedly, a bit cocky. 

My extensive preconception preparation, involving everything from naturopathy, acupuncture to spiritual guidance and a full microbiome reset, had me believing in the power of the right support to navigate prenatal challenges and I thought I was totally prepared for postpartum.

However, when I went back to the professional world, a realm where I had found so much of my prior identity and success, I found that things were unexpectedly daunting.

In truth I was completely blindsided by just how hard it was.

 

I had high expectations for myself as a mother and a company leader. For example, I insisted on breastfeeding on demand. This is something I acknowledge is a privilege due to the fact that Needed supports a culture of working from home and the fact I had the means to have the support of a nanny. It was something I really wanted to try to do for my baby, but on reflection a commitment that made returning to work even more challenging. This was a personal choice, and it represents a decision many of us constantly navigate between meeting our children's needs, our expectations, and addressing our own practical concerns.

Alongside this, one of my dogs was not adjusting well to the new addition (a long story for another time), but in those early newborn days it left our home feeling unstable, and me feeling that I was failing one of my three “kids”. I think for everyone there is so much about the dynamics of new parenthood that can be totally unforeseen until we experience them, even though held in very real dynamics of our particular families, pets, relationships, money, other siblings.

I found myself in a state of constant interruption and increasing stress confounded by an onslaught of brain fog, forgetfulness, serious eye issues, and what felt to me as basic inability to process. This felt especially disorienting to me as I pride myself on my capacity to think—an Enneagram type five or Myers-Briggs INTJ—so my identity, closely tied to my mental capacity, felt compromised, and I felt very insecure. 

I was desperate to feel more like myself.

This led me to explore possible additional nutritional and herbal support beyond the hefty regimen I was already taking thanks to Needed.

Due to both my personal interest and being the founder of a nutrition company, I’m lucky enough have extensive knowledge in these areas and a rolodex of close practitioners. I reached out to my network, trying to work out the best way to address my cognitive issues. 

Working together with a wide range of advisors from different backgrounds in the space, I was able to hack together a breastfeeding safe and effective solution for myself.

It was a protocol of about 10 pills cobbled together for 7 different bottles from multiple companies. And although it took a lot of work and research to get there, I started really noticing a difference in how I felt and functioned. 

The more I spoke to friends about my situation, the brain fog, and the additional stress it induced, I realized I was far from alone. Fundamentally, the brain is reorganized through pregnancy and the hormonal shifts required for breastfeeding. The mental load on new moms is heavy, both those working in and outside the home. Is my baby thriving? Fed? Am I the mother, friend, partner, and business leader I aspire to be? It was clear there is a universal need for more support. 

A Needed Solution

Which is why ever since the birth of my daughter, I have spent 2 years at Needed to validate the formula I started with literally at my kitchen table. Going through rigorous research, testing, and quality control to make a market-ready version of the protocol that I felt gave me my cognitive clarity and, in turn, my self-confidence back.

The result is I am thrilled to be armed with our Cognitive Support - a unique blend of 9 targeted nootropic and botanical ingredients that supports focus and attention, brain health and memory, and alleviates brain fog and eye fatigue. Luckily for me, it is ready just in time for the pending birth of my second child. 

Motherhood transforms us in ways we can’t anticipate. My battle with "mom brain" and the journey to developing this product has been a humbling reminder of the complexity of this transformation. Our Cognitive Support is more than a product; it's a symbol of our commitment to uplift mothers everywhere and help them feel like themselves again.

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Ryan Woodbury, Co-Founder and Co-CEO

Ryan Woodbury is the Co-founder and Co-CEO of Needed, a company championing better nutrition for women, their families and our earth. She is a lifelong environmentalist, a holistic nutritionist with training in folk herbalism, and a mother of a daughter, baby boy on the way, and two rescue mutts.