Becoming a mom changed me as a pediatrician: Here’s how

By Manasa Mantravadi



Time to Read: 8 min

About Ahimsa

Founded by a pediatrician and mom of three

Stainless steel is the only kid-friendly material recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics 

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Becoming a mom changed me as a pediatrician

It seems my mother has saved every piece of paper I’ve ever submitted as homework or drawn as an art piece. She sent me a picture of a piece of paper from kindergarten that says “I want to be a PedEAtiShin”. It was clear I was not winning any spelling bees. It did, though, highlight my early commitment to serving kids. 

I love children. Their innocence, purity, resilience and simple outlook on life is what inspires me. I’ve always been a kid at heart myself so working with kids for a living is my jam. I get to make silly faces with them, participate in dance offs and engage in impressively creative discussions with them. I love my job. It’s rewarding for so many reasons but one of the biggest ones is that it keeps my perspective on life grounded.

I am a Pediatric Hospitalist. I take care of children who are otherwise healthy and get sick enough to be admitted to the hospital. We see a lot of sick children - most of which have a positive outcome. There are still difficult conversations with parents and children in pain and discomfort. But at the end of the day I usually can offer some hope to these families.

My experience as a mother has permeated so much of how I practice medicine. I see my own children in each of those tiny faces that are admitted to my service. 

And I’ve even been on the other side when it was my child in the hospital. As pediatricians, our decisions to draw labs and get scans are not simple. Kids are scared of needles and sometimes it can take multiple attempts as their veins are small. They can’t sit still in a big, huge scary machine for a scan. They often need to be sedated. At baseline, the way we approach our management as pediatricians is different from our colleagues in the adult world. However, it’s the internal “mom-ness” that takes my medical decision-making and puts it into context with a parental perspective and experience. I didn’t have that before I had kids.

For example: A new mom who is breastfeeding is feeling completely overwhelmed and exhausted - now she’s in the hospital with her baby who is wearing goggles while laying under a blue light for jaundice. She is feeling like a failure because her baby lost weight. I can now give that mom a hug and tell her I understand how difficult those early days are, how painful that latch can be, how the sudden lack of sleep changes your entire personality and how every cry makes you desperate for an answer to immediately soothe your baby. I tell her she is doing a great job. She looks up at me, breaks out in tears and says “thank you. I’m trying SO hard.”

A six year old sibling walks into the room while his two year old sister is hooked up to multiple cords and an IV line. He breaks down in tears at the sight. Asking him to take a walk with me down to the playroom where he can choose some toys (supplied by Child Life Services) for her is enough to distract him and allow his parents to process that overwhelmingly heartbreaking scene. In the playroom, we talk about Lightning McQueen, the way he helps mom at home and his favorite things about his baby sister. We talk about the fun things they may do together when she comes home. By the time we re-enter the room he is happy to show his sister her new toy and the mom, from across the room, mouths the words “thank you.” 

The residents come to get me because a father is extremely upset and getting aggressive at the staff. Walking in, I see an infant who we are evaluating for seizures. The parents are scared, frustrated and at a complete loss as to how to make their child better right away. That feeling - I can’t help my child. I could hear their inner dialogue “How do I help my child. Please help my child. Do something. Do it right now. Why aren’t you listening to me? Take me seriously - something is wrong I know it - I have a gut feeling. I DON'T CARE about your normal reports. STOP poking him - that is painful. My gut tells me something is wrong. Listen to me! I know my child. Fix it NOW!!!!!”. That’s not aggressive. That is a parent just wanting to do everything in his power to help his child. Understanding that feeling firsthand as a parent helps me to navigate very challenging situations as a physician. I calmly listen without saying a single world. When he is done, I validate every single feeling. I validate his complete lack of sleep. I validate the rather objective way results have been presented to him. I validate his gut feeling. He is instantly calm, apologizes for his behavior and asks if he and his wife can hug me. I of course love group hugs. 

My own experiences as a mom - those feelings, those moments - they’re what connects us as parents and allow me to make decisions for my patients that are rooted in science and evidence based medicine, but mindful of what the entire family is facing. Motherhood has forever changed me as a physician. 

I must say the reverse is true. Being a doctor changed the way I practice motherhood. You know those moments in motherhood when you just need to scream? I still have those. However, when I reflect on what other parents are facing with children in the hospital, I can remind myself to not sweat the little things. I blessed with a job that I love. It's a profession that continues to teach me important life lessons and help me focus on the big picture during challenging times I face in my own journey of motherhood. 

Becoming a mom made me a different doctor. Being a doctor made me a different mom. And both of those together have allowed me to become the founder of a company that is rooted in combining my passion for children, health and motherhood. 

I am fortunate enough to be a Ped-EA-ti-SHin, a Mom and an entrepreneur. And just like I practice medicine I, along with my team, intend to connect with you, understand you and hear you. We are focused on the big picture. Ahimsa’s mission is to DO better and BE better for our kids and our planet. With the power of parents and the strength of steel - I have no doubt this mission will be accomplished. 

You are doing a great job as a parent. Sometimes, you just need to hear that. 

With love and Ahimsa,


Dr. Manasa Mantravadi

Dr. Manasa Mantravadi

Dr. Manasa Mantravadi is a board-certified pediatrician whose dedication to children’s health drove her to launch Ahimsa, the world's first colorful stainless steel dishes for kids. She was motivated by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ findings on harmful chemicals in plastic affecting children's well-being. Ahimsa has gained widespread recognition and been featured in media outlets such as Parents Magazine, the Today Show, The Oprah Magazine, and more.

Dr. Mantravadi received the esteemed “Physician Mentor of the Year” award at Indiana University School of Medicine in 2019. She was also named a Forbes Next 1000 Entrepreneur in 2021, with her inspiring story showcased on Good Morning America. She serves on the Council for Environmental Health and Climate Change and the Council for School Health at The American Academy of Pediatrics. She represents Ahimsa as a U.S. industry stakeholder on the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) for the Global Plastics Treaty, led by the United Nations Environment Program. Dr. Mantravadi leads Ahimsa's social impact program, The Conscious Cafeteria Project, to reduce carbon emissions and safeguard student health as part of a national pilot of the Clinton Global Initiative.

She is dedicated to educating and empowering people to make healthier, more environmentally friendly choices at mealtime. Her mission remains to advocate for the health of all children and the one planet we will leave behind for them through real policy change within our food system.

Mealtime Essentials from Ahimsa

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I use stainless steel instead of plastic? Is stainless steel better for health?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a report in July 2018 suggesting ways that families can limit exposure to certain chemicals at mealtime, including “the use of alternatives to plastic, such as glass or stainless steel, when possible.” The report explained that “…some additives are put directly in foods, while “indirect” additives may include chemicals from plastic, glues, dyes, paper, cardboard”. Further, “Children are more sensitive to chemical exposures because they eat and drink more, relative to body weight, than adults do, and are still growing and developing.” While stainless steel items meet the recommendation to avoid plastic products in children, Ahimsa® products have the obvious advantage of not breaking like glass.

Is stainless steel better for the environment than plastic?

According to the Steel Recycling Institute, steel can be recycled over and over and over again without losing its integrity and requires less energy to recycle than to make anew. Most plastic unfortunately ends up in landfills and it is estimated to take 700 years to decompose. Our special coloring process that allows Ahimsa® products to be fully metal is environmentally friendly, so it does not produce toxic run-off into the ecosystem.

Will Ahimsa products break or peel?

No. Our steel is durable, so it won’t break or shatter with everyday use, like glass. And it won’t peel, like other colored stainless steel products you’ve seen. We use a special process that allows the colors to naturally occur in the metal.

Which Ahimsa products are best for my little one(s)?

Our products are meant to last, you can use Ahimsa at ages 1, 8 and 18! We thoughtfully design our products to be safe for little ones and our planet while reducing consumption. Once your child outgrows the Starting Solids Set  and can use regular cups and utensils, the training cup is the perfect size rinse cup in the bathroom, the infant spoon doubles as a tea stirrer and the bowl is great for snacks or as an additional compartment to our modular divided plate. Our plates are great for any age as they encourage choosing a variety of healthy foods at each meal and help visualize portion sizes easily. It’s the lasting beauty of stainless steel - grows with your child and reduces waste.

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