Can you tell us a little bit about yourself
I'm 33, a mumma of two beautiful boys (Hamish 3.5y and George 11m). I live to love, write, create, chat & give things a crack. I've always been a homebody, hugging my comfort zone - yet I learn by watching people and observing how things are done. I'd never turn down a delish hot coffee or glass of red! Exercise & magazines are my vice ... and ... fresh air and natural light is where my happiness peaks!
What was life like before you became a mother
Before I became a mother, I'd say I was less confident in my mind & body. I was always trying to find something that held me firmly grounded and made me feel wholeheartedly content.
Since becoming a mother, I've found true comfort in my own skin, my surroundings, my friendships, my work. I have firmer boundaries.
I know where I am meant to be ... with my boys (...or first in line at the coffee shop!)
How was your book AFTERWARDS ‘born’
At 29, I was fit, healthy, active and I had a wonderful pregnancy. I adored it! My birth was a little prickly but fine in the end and out popped my little guy, Hamish Spencer.
I bled. I was unable to control my bladder. I was sweating through my sheets (for months!). My boobs were engorged & dripping milk at all hours ... I was terrified of going to the loo and in a constant mindset of 'WTF is happening to my body? Why can't I control or even predict it's movements!"
AFTERWARDS was my 'diary' so to speak. I started taking notes as I learned the 'why' behind the many 'awkward' moments, seeking council from midwives, my GP, my mum, other women, my physio, friends, Podcasts etc. AFTERWARDS is my attempt to 'pay it forward' to all other women who have babies ... and who, like me, might not be privy to the many 'changes to self' this time of their life will bring.
Yes, we all have a basic understanding that a newborn needs X,Y and Z ... but women seem to forget what WE need!
Looking after yourself is looking after your baby & your family. A little self love & extra empathy towards your own well being is hugely advantageous, in countless ways. AFTERWARDS champions this thought.
Your second book BEFORE, can you tell us a little bit about this one.
Similar to AFTERWARDS, I wrote BEFORE during my second pregnancy when I was once again curious about the WHY. Why do we have random cravings, why do we have such dips in our mental health? Why does our sex drive become spiked or non-existent? Why do we experience pain in particular areas (i.e. our pelvic/lower back/sciatica/groin), why do we become insomniacs?
My 2nd pregnancy was vastly different from my first, and this led my curiosities to grow & grow. BEFORE was again, an expansive diary, where I delved deep into all aspects of women's health while carrying a baby. I teamed up with many women's health professionals to create a well rounded look into life with a bump.
I'm a huge believer in 'knowledge is power.' If women are able to understand their body & mind in 'layman's terms' ... we can start to understand, appreciate, prepare, empathize ... acknowledge, value, respect ... and all the rest, on a deeper level.
Women 'go go go'. BEFORE is my attempt to remind women that yes you can, 'go go go' but you'll experience dramatic fatigue & hormonal rollercoaster if you don't allow yourself adequate time to rest. Your body is operating with a sense of 'tunnel vision.' It's task; Grow Healthy Baby. We need to respect the pureness of this focus & nurture it by adjusting our everyday pace.
Postpartum. What is it. What was it like for you. Why do we need to educate mothers about this phase, open their minds, and be OK to talk about it.
Postpartum is life after birth! As you adjust, heal, bond, recalibrate ... and transition from woman to woman & mother.
It is an intense period of time where the world, in your eyes, shifts. All of a sudden life expands & becomes centred around something new ... someone new. It can be liberating, magical and joyful. It can also be a time where you feel depleted, less worthy and alone.
This magnitude of this transitional period can physically test us and emotionally fill or drain us (or both). As new mums travel through the postpartum days.
Being honest & open during moments of overwhelm, fear & 'ick' can ignite a sense of healing 'togetherness.' When women hear stories that mirror their own, they're less inclined to feel like an outer & more inclined to feel acknowledged & seen.
If there is a time women should unite, it's when matters of fertility are at stake. Women supporting women creates pure strength. And strength raises wonderful babies.
What was pregnancy, birth and postpartum like the second time around for you.
Round 1... Hamish
Pregnancy - Bliss! I was mentally strong, physically well and calm.
Birth - Oh my golly. Induction, almost 3 days of labour, 2 x epidurals, forceps, episiotomy ... emotional crash when Hame was earthside.
Postpartum - Luckily, considering the complex birth, I was ok! I was very sore and tender for weeks - but over time I healed & learned to control my engorged boobs (going from an A cup to a DD is INTENSE). The Postpartum days with Hamish were beautiful but the shift from 'woman' to 'woman who is also a mother' was quite intense. There were days when I struggled to connect & feel centred ... or grounded? It was a wild time - but my husband and I became an ultimate team ... and overtime life with baby Hamish became the new normal. It was (and still is) a beautiful normal.
Round 2 ... George!
Pregnancy ... wild. I was hormonal, sore (so many aches!) and exhausted. Despite enjoying the pregnancy, I found it this 9months far more challenging on every level & had to stay on antidepressant medication to see me through the months. Chasing a toddler and having limited down time probably had something to do with it!
But depsite the fatigue, I was a little more fragile emotionally. I'm not very good with change & this became hugely apparent while expecting baby #2 as I already mourned the special moments when it was just me & baby #1.
Birth ... HEAVEN! I went into spontaneous labour at home 2 weeks early. After about 2hrs of intense labouring at home, I went to the hospital and arrived at 6cm dilated (around 11pm).
I had an epi & a spinal tap around midnight (George was posterior) so the pain was relentless hence the spinal tap), ... and after a night of dozing in & out of sleep, come 7am my darling boy was born. Natural light streamed through the windows, windows played ... It was absolutely magical. I loved my birth.
Postpartum ... This time round, instead of inviting a newborn in the middle of the house, it was the middle of winter which I much preferred! It was cosy, warm and ... it just felt nice to be inside with my darlings. Colic hit ... so I was awake ... 24hrs almost for 4months! That wasn't pretty, but fortunately Georges's colic was silent, so despite the lack of sleep, I didn't have to contend with histera (thank goodness!)
I healed exceptionally fast this time round which was amazing. Bleeding stopped earlier, my wound healed (I had another episiotomy), my uterus readjusted to it's pre-pregnancy state quickly (without any cramping) ... and we had some good red wines in the house ;)
You are the producer of THE FIRST WORD – a modern day’s mother group. Why is it so important, nourishing, normalising to listen to what other mothers go through, feel and experience.
Mother's tend to be categorized too often, too quickly. They're the Stay At Home Mum or the Career Mum. They are the Hippy Mum, the Fitness Mum, The Helicopter Mum.
But you know what ... I think we can be ALL of those things & more!!
Women can have 'contradictory' layers and interests - but this is what makes us all unique. Instead of constantly judging ourselves & determining what kind of 'mother' we'd like others to perceive us as - we should spend our time learning to feel comfortable, content & as if we are fostering a frame of mind that invites growth & aspiration.
The First Word enables women to see & hear that mums (despite their family situation, age, career status etc), can enjoy conversations about motherhood, money, careers, health, sex, relationships, wellness, identity, self worth, beauty, style ... They can cry, laugh, teach, ask, learn ... and not have to justify that enjoyment or justify why they do/don't agree.
Sometimes just to listen to others without feedback, comment or critique is incredibly educative. It helps us evolve as open minded people.
I wanted to see women such as Dakota, Bridgette & Tash on mainstream media, hence why I chose to produce the series as a visual (i.e. not a Poddy).
What does a ‘new age woman’ mean to you.
A new age woman to me, is a woman who is layered and has opposing interests, yet stands by them as they allow her to be open, accepting, fair and kind. Being brave enough to allow yourself to dip into 'contradictory' measures should those measures be true to who you are & contribute to your ability to cope ... is new age, to me anyway!
Take me for example! I LOVE to exercise, stay fit, eat clean & treat my body as a temple - because it is a temple, my temple. But come 5o'clock ... Pour me a red, please! Come 2am when the baby is up - slather some Lurpak on a croissant please! Come Saturday afternoon when I get to leave the house & join friends at the pub, pass me the hot chippies please! A contradiction to my everyday health mantra, sure! But I don't care anymore. These little bits of pleasure & indulgence are deserved and enjoyed!
I'm a mixed bag, but I am confident in who I am as a person. So yes, my daily habits might change from time to time, and go a little rogue! But I am not shy to admit that. I stand by my choices ... I don't pretend to be something or someone else.
New Age women are those who are open minding, open hearted & candid in their approach.
Breastfeeding. Can you tell us your highs and lows.
High's ... the closeness with my baby. Whatever the time, day or night.
Low's ... the constant dependance ... all day & all night ;)
We know you have worn our leakproof nursing bra. How did it make nursing a little bit easier for you.
First of all, it made it SO much easier (not a little). Everytime I fed on one boob, I didn't fear leaking on the other.
Everytime I left the house, I didn't break into a sweat when I realised I was without nipple pads.
It gave me reassurance, comfort & confidence.
Your three favourite postpartum products / brands
Apart from the MM Leakproof bra of course (as it's up there)
1. TOMS Maternity Pads
2. The BABY BJORN Baby Carrier One - great for fresh newborns
3. The White Noise Machine by The Sleep Escape (I have 3 ... one in every room...and yes, that includes my own!!)
How does being a mother make you feel
It makes me feel grounded. Content. Comfortable. Loved & loving.
How do you juggle being a mum, running a household, running a business, and, everything in between
One foot in front of the other! Yes you can 'do it all' but it doesn't mean you have to do it all at once. I now take my time, I accept ALL help when it's offered and I ask for help when it's needed. I allow myself far more kindness than ever before and I remember to eat well, drink lots of water and prioritise alone time with Will. I love being a mumma, but I also love my relationship with my husband, and I love carving out time when it's just us.
In terms of work, I let the boys see ALL versions of mum. Someones I am on the floor with them, in the bath with them, on the slide with them! Other times I am at the kitchen table with my laptop while they watch a movie or play with each other. I used to be guilt ridden in these moments but these days I feel really good about allowing them to see a working, dedicated and committed woman. It's not only healthy - it's real life!
In an age of social media, where one tends to show the ‘glamorous side’ of life, we are shifting as society by opening up and speaking about taboo topics. Why do you think this shift is so important.
To be honest, I think we all tried to 'keep up with the Jones's' & replicate the 'social media version of life' ... but I think a lot of us burned out while doing so! I certainly did. A balanced person, with flaws and days where shit hits the fan - this is real life! And this doesn't make us any less amazing or successful. It proves we are all human.
Your idea of an ideal afternoon
Sunshine, magazines, a good snack & two happily playing (or sound asleep!) children.
Or a wine with my love, Will.
Your go to meal – when you have two kids tugging at your trousers.
Fruit toast!!! And fresh, cold soda water. Amen.
The words you live by
Just give it a crack.
Your best bit of advice you can empart to a new mother
Try not to raise your baby & align your routine with 'the book' or what 'she' does or what 'they' do.
Remember that your baby's routine can align with your own personal lifestyle. The more comfortable you make your days, the more natural and intuitive it'll feel ... and the more you'll enjoy motherhood.