Wild Return

Process, integrate & celebrate the motherhood journey through nature connection, conscious community & stories.

Wild Return New Mom & Baby Nature Group is a facilitated six or eight-week journey where new moms meet in parks and urban wild spaces for deep sharing circles, mindful practices and gentle hikes to reconnect with themselves while building community and caring for their babies.

You wouldn’t trade this precious time with your baby for the world. But the demands of motherhood are round the clock and there’s not a lot of space to meet your own needs. Not to mention the isolation and cabin fever. You would love to venture somewhere, as long as it feels safe and worth the effort. 

Sure, there’s postnatal yoga. But you want to connect directly with other moms and are hungry for belonging to a group. Besides, you spent the last class soothing your baby. 

Being cooped up in a room somewhere or in an environment where your baby has to be quiet isn’t going to cut it. With the disrupted sleep, recovery process and baby’s needs, whatever you do should be relatively easy and replenishing for both of you.

Immersing yourself in nature sounds really good and sharing it with your child is a priority but you are not sure how accessible it is and the learning curve of motherhood is steep. Venturing out with your baby would be more comfortable if someone reliable had your back. So you could take care of your baby and be taken care of yourself. 

Without a support network, proverbial village, or rituals, many people are deprived of the chance to process one of the most potentially personal, profound, and transformative experiences of their lives. 

Wild Return is a way for new mothers to reconnect with themselves, their babies and each other in the healing context of the natural world where intuition, instinct and innate wisdom are reawakened following the initiation into motherhood. Babies respond marvelously, too. 

After all, we don’t need all the studies to tell us about the necessity of time outdoors and away from screens to support our moods and well-being or about nature deficit disorder in children and the symptoms that come from deprivation of it in adults. Nor do we need to read the scary environmental statistics to prove that the natural world needs us as much as we need it. 

Wild Return follows the heroine’s journey as a framework. The group is structured around an ancient myth which functions as a map and connects to ancestral ways of knowing that are timeless and still relevant for modern people.

In recognition that motherhood does not happen in isolation, weekly themes help participants explore key relationships, family dynamics, and identity shifts including partnerships and co-parenting.

Wild Return provides both a safe and a courageous space to authentically connect and co-create a mothering culture that is compassionate, nonjudgmental and sustainable. A sense of community and belonging spontaneously arise.

The sharing tends to be deep and occasionally edgy but not without some practicality or humor. This is not group therapy but some of the activities and discussions have been described as therapeutic, healing and transformative.

Wild Return is for any parent who has given birth in the last 4 weeks to 9 months and their baby, regardless of how many children they have already birthed or raised. 

Typical participants might be described in any of the following ways: 

Heart-centered Helpers & Healers, Mindful Explorers, Creative Souls, Adventurous Spirits, Nature Lovers, Courageous Introverts, Embodied Activists.  

San Francisco & East Bay Locations.

Intimate. Nonjudgmental. Supportive. Safe. Unbound.

May/ Late Spring 2024 SF: May 14 – June 25 | $360 (6-week session, skips 6/4)

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Just Added! May/ Late Spring 2024 East Bay: May 16 – June 27 | $325 (6-week session, skips 6/6)

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September/Fall 2024 SF: September 10 – October 29 | 2 monthly payments of $250 OR single payment of $450 (8-week session. Save $50 if paid in full)

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September/Fall 2024 East Bay: September 6 – October 25 | 2 monthly payments of $225 OR single payment of $400 (8-week session. Save $50 if paid in full)

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January/Winter 2025 SF: January 14 – March 4 | 2 monthly payments of $250 OR single payment of $450 (8-week session. Save $50 if paid in full)

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January/Winter 2025 East Bay: January 17 – March 7 | 2 monthly payments of $225 OR single payment of $400 (8-week session. Save $50 if paid in full)

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March/Spring 2025 SF: March 18 – May 6 | 2 monthly payments of $250 OR single payment of $450 (8-week session. Save $50 if paid in full)

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March/Spring 2025 East Bay: March 21 – May 9 | 2 monthly payments of $225 OR single payment of $400 (8-week session. Save $50 if paid in full)

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What if I am not crunchy or an environmentalist?

Wild Return is a guilt, shame and judgment-free zone. We will be supporting each other to build community, sisterhood/kinship and a network of resources without shoulds.

What if my baby cries?

All baby behavior and communication is welcome. Many babies find the walking and nature setting very calming but we embrace crying, fussiness and cooing. We do not view these behaviors as an interruption or inconvenience. Babies get to have their voices heard. None of these are a sign of bad parenting. There will be no apologizing for your baby or how you mother.

What if I need to feed my baby? What if I am breast/chest-feeding? What if I bottle feed?

Babies deserve to get fed no matter how you do it and we’ll make space whether you are a pro at whipping out your boob/chest, require patience to get the mechanics down or the placement of a nipple shield just right or rely on bottles. This may mean that we spend more time in the sharing circle or pause during the hike to accommodate whatever needs to happen. Lactation support is available.

What if I am out of shape or still recovering from birth?

Our first walks will be light to moderate intensity and difficulty will be assessed on the basis of the group. Everyone moves at their own pace and an assistant is usually available so that nobody is ever left alone or behind. A range of abilities is represented. Our time is divided between the sharing circle while seated on the ground, walking/hiking and mindfulness practice/communing with nature/interactive exercises either sitting or standing. The emphasis is on mindful, embodied connections and movement, but this is not a substitute for those who desire a workout class.

What about inclement weather?

To a small extent, we are influenced by the Scandinavian philosophy that there is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing. We will meet despite some variation in weather conditions such as light fog, slight dampness, cold or mud. You are encouraged to wear/bring layers, good shoes with tread and be prepared if rain is in the forecast. However, rain, strong winds, poor air quality or any conditions judged to put you or your baby’s health or safety at risk will be cause to meet indoors or reschedule. You should be able to check your messages an hour before the group meets in case a concern arises and changes need to be made.

What about ticks, poison oak and coyotes or other hazards?

Participants need to be aware of these hazards and while we do our best to take precautions, educate and help the group to steer clear of these, it is a risk inherent to the natural environment. Your participation in the group requires signing a waiver and is an implicit acknowledgment of the risks along with agreement to be responsible for yourself and your baby. Some steps we take as a precaution are to avoid tall grass whenever possible, encourage long pants, provide a natural tick repellent recipe, stay on trails and generally make enough sounds to discourage coyotes and other animals from approaching. We also carry tecnu for any poison oak exposure and tweezers for removing ticks. Your facilitator is trained in first aid and follows park and weather updates. Seasonally, the trails are assessed to see if they are being appropriately maintained and reasonably safe.

What do I need to bring?

This group requires that you have a baby carrier and sturdy footwear. We can help you get comfortable with wearing your baby. Long pants are recommended. You would also benefit from having some basic diaper supplies and a change of baby clothes, whatever you would need to feed your baby, adult water bottle and an optional baby blanket (to place on top of our picnic blanket).

What if I need to use the facilities/toilet?

Most of the meeting locations have been chosen because they are close to parking and a bathroom by the trailhead. It is encouraged that you try to go to the bathroom before leaving your home. The meetings are only two hours but there are some cases where someone needs to go “nature pee” and we help to make sure there is privacy.

Where do we meet each week?

Prior to the first meeting, you will receive a list of the meeting locations which are subject to change due to weather or other circumstances. A few are accessible by public transportation and carpooling is encouraged though we are aware that it can be challenging with a car seat. However, most of the locations require a car. The meeting location changes every 1-2 weeks.

For the San Francisco group, we meet at locations around the city that can include Glen Canyon Park, Golden Gate Park and the Presidio. In the East Bay, most circles are held throughout Tilden Park as it is central to Berkeley, Oakland and surrounding areas.

New locations are being explored for groups in Marin County and Lafayette/Walnut Creek.

What is your refund policy? Can I try out the group before joining?

Your registration holds your space in a group with limited spaces and represents your intention to co-create community. There are no refunds and it is not possible to try out the group as the “tourist” mentality undermines the cohesiveness of the entire group and can feel discouraging to others who have committed to the group and may feel judged. If you are not sure whether this is a fit, you can sign up for a consultation call. Periodically, we offer one-time events and single hikes where you can get a taste for what the group is like.

Are there discounts?

Efforts have been made to keep the fee as affordable as possible for a fair exchange of value while making it sustainable to run these programs. While there are no discounts per se, 1-2 partial scholarships will be made available for each session once it has met a minimum number of participants. Priority is given to BIPOC. Service-providers or independent contractors who have been without income during Covid can also apply. Email Reise to be considered for the partial scholarship .

As we do not have to rent a space, 5% of proceeds from each session will be donated as a land tax to the Sogorea Te Land Trust (https://sogoreate-landtrust.com) in recognition that we are occupying Ohlone lands and that healing is a community endeavor.

Who facilitates the group? What kind of instruction or facilitation can I expect?

Each circle will include facilitated discussion and time for sharing free-style. Discuss prompts, silent reflection periods, experiential activities for deeper connections will be given as invitations but are never required.

During walks, you will have the opportunity for personal time, talking with others one on one or in small groups or to receive some deep listening or laser-coaching from Reise and her assistant who are knowledgeable on a wide variety of topics such as childbirth, postpartum recovery, hormones, breast/chest-feeding, parenting philosophies, babywearing & perinatal psychology.

Reise facilitates the group with the support of an assistant whom she mentors. Assistants come with a wide-range of experience and knowledge and are available as extra hands to help and enhance safety while bringing a compassionate presence to hold space.

How about Covid safety?

Given the vulnerability of babies and many people in our community, we will err on the side of caution in response to Covid. This means following the most current safety recommendations by medical authorities, which may include masking while in close proximity and physical spacing. Meeting outdoors mitigates some of the risk. All participants are required to be fully vaccinated before the first meeting. If anyone has symptoms or was exposed to Covid, we ask that they have a negative self-test before resuming participation in the group.

What if I have been diagnosed with postpartum depression/adjustment disorder?

While several past participants have struggled with postpartum depression and anxiety and it is not an obstacle to joining, Wild Return is not group therapy and does not replace diagnosis or treatment. If you have a mental health concern, please contact a mental health professional before registering and communicate this to Reise. Whatever you share will be held in confidence. That said, there is evidence that suggests belonging to a group such as this can be preventative and potentially curative of mood disorders for some people.

I want to join the group but my maternity leave doesn’t line up with the dates. What can I do? What else is offered?

Unfortunately, scheduling remains a challenge when trying to accommodate everyone. The United States is doing a poor job of providing adequate parental leave. If you are interested in a group and the dates don’t match up, please reach out via email in case there is enough interest in adding a group during that time or there may be a different program that could work for you. The intention is to begin offering weekend immersions and retreats in late 2022/early 2023 for people that will also be available to parents of older children.

What happens when the group ends?

Many participants continue to get together weekly or semi-regularly. They also keep in touch in self-regulated text-chains, what’s app groups and on social media. Long term friendships emerge. These kinds of connections are encouraged throughout the program and we are developing more formal ways of continuing the Wild Return Alumni community. Anyone who has completed the group is invited to repeat for 50% off the fee. Wild Return alumni receive priority registration for select events and are eligible to join special groups that are not open to the public.

“I loved being outdoors and gaining the confidence to use the carrier and explore nature with my baby. I loved meeting other moms who appreciated similar things. I loved the healthy snacks and tea each week. That was so nice! I loved how much thought and energy was put into each week. It really showed. I always felt secure that help was there if I needed it.”

“I benefited from making connections with other mamas, time in nature, confidence from trying things in a supported environment and the thoughtful readings and reflections.”

“I grew my mama friends community, felt more connected and less isolated as a new mom because of this group.”

“I really appreciated the attention to detail, clear communication, organization and extreme thoughtfulness for how this group was held. The experience was fantastic.”

*Though we alternate between the terms new mothers, birthing people and gestational parents, this group is for any parent who has given birth during the extended postpartum period regardless of gender-identification, sexual orientation or family constellation and no matter how many other children they might already have birthed or parented because there is always an adjustment period and new material to integrate. All ethnic, racial, religious, cultural affiliations, identities and intersectionalities are welcome.