Welcome to the Village for Mama Postpartum Stories Series, where we chat with some of our favourite Mamas on their birth, postpartum experience and how they gathered their village.
Amelie, you are the incredible mama behind our favourite postpartum recovery brand, Bare Mum. You recently gave birth to your gorgeous daughter Gabrielle and we would love to hear about your postpartum experience. But first, can you share a little bit about Bare Mum and its evolution?
Before Bare Mum, I lived a busy corporate life in marketing. I loved the creativity and fast paced environment, but I also longed for a greater sense of fulfilment. Finding out that I had endometrial polyps and a breast hamartoma made me realise that I needed to slow down and reconnect with myself.
I was told that I would need multiple surgeries, would struggle to conceive and be unable to breastfeed. It shattered every preconceived idea I had around fertility, conception, labour, birth, and postpartum. In my world, these things happened naturally and easily.
They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and after I struggled through my own recovery so early in my motherhood journey, I simply didn’t want to go through the same hardship in postpartum. And so it all started with an old pair of knickers, an ice pack, and the desire to do better for myself and for other women out there.
We so often prepare for the birth and forget to prepare for postpartum. Something else we don’t tend to acknowledge is how much the birth can impact your postpartum experience. What type of birth did you have with Gabrielle?
I had done a lot of preparation ahead of birth and was really hoping for a water birth at home. Around the 20 week mark I developed placenta previa and a marginal cord insertion, which meant that I had to mentally prepare myself for a planned caesarean birth instead.
At 37 weeks, my placenta had moved just enough to aim for a vaginal birth, and so our plans changed once again. Gabrielle’s birth was calm, powerful, and beautiful. My waters broke just after midnight and I laboured in the comfort of our home for as long as I could before giving birth at our local Birth Centre, unmedicated 17.5 hours later. She was born surrounded by our wonderful midwife, my loving husband and I, and we were at home that same night, blissfully together.
How was your recovery from birth and did it impact your postpartum experience?
I was lucky enough to have a positive birth experience and I feel like this gave me a strong foundation for a positive fourth trimester. My recovery from birth was swift – I had minimal perineal damage (just a couple of grazes) and although I felt exhausted from the long hours of labour, I am very grateful for how well supported I felt immediately after birth and how in turn, this allowed me to recover better and quicker.
I had decided to observe a traditional Golden Month (or 40 days) of confinement and this was one of the best decisions I made for myself and our family. It felt like a sacred time which I wanted to honour and I’m really glad we got to spend it getting to know our bub and slowly finding our feet together as a family. I will forever look back on this season of life so fondly, for me it was absolutely magical.
What are your non-negotiables for postpartum recovery?
I found that recovering from birth was just the tip of the iceberg. For me, postpartum recovery is a physical, mental, and emotional transformation that takes place over a long period of time and so I think it’s important to consider it as such and get the help you need throughout the entire journey.
Personally, I tried to focus on equipping myself with the right tools and support team for me to recover, ensuring that I always have nutritious and nourishing meals on hand to avoid postpartum depletion (especially whilst breastfeeding), and having open conversations with loved ones to manage expectations, avoid undue pressure on myself and prioritise rest and bonding with baby.
I actually found it most challenging around the 3-month mark because that’s when I found that most people expected me to be ‘back to normal’, but postpartum goes well beyond the first 6 weeks or 3 months. It takes at least 9 months and often much much more for your body to recover from pregnancy. I’m currently 9 months postpartum and don’t feel fully recovered yet. I am still trying to be gentle and patient with myself.
We are often told to sleep when the baby sleeps which can feel impossible. Yet rest is so essential for postpartum recovery! Did you manage to have moments of rest during your postpartum and how did you achieve these?
It’s so difficult to properly function when sleep deprived, let alone to care for a little one. Rest was my number one priority for recovery – I knew that the more rested I felt the better it would be for my recovery and for our bub, but I also knew that this wouldn’t happen unless I had a plan in place.
For me, making sure that work and everyday chores were taken care of was a crucial part of letting go and allowing myself pockets of rest throughout the day without being tempted to swoop in and/or feeling guilty. So we stocked up our fridge and freezer ahead of Gabrielle’s birth, we hired people to help us with work, and we called upon my husband’s family to lend us a hand with Gabrielle where possible (being an expat, I didn’t have my family to support us).
I’m very well aware of how privileged we were to even be able to do this and this may not always be achievable so my best recommendation would be to plan ahead as much as possible.
There are some things we never forget and I think the first meal you have after birth is one of them! What was the first thing you ate after having Gabrielle?
I have very vivid memories of the food I ate in postpartum and the way it made me feel. My first meal was leftovers from a heart-warming beef stew after we got home with Gabrielle for the very first time – it was absolutely perfect. I felt hungrier than ever before during this period and every bite I took needed to be nutrient-packed.
I had stocked up on some nourishing pre-made meals from the Golden Month and made pretty much every recipe from your beautiful book, Village for Mama. As I am still breastfeeding, we still cook a lot of your food and have started incorporating some gorgeous new recipes from Boob to Food since Gabrielle started solids.
What were your favourite meals during your postpartum?
I think it would have to be the amazing snacks that sustained me whilst I felt like I could never eat enough, especially in the first few weeks and months of cluster feeding throughout the night.
My husband would make us a batch of the Village for Mama Midnight Muffins, Banana Bread and Breastfeeding Brownies every week. I have such fond memories of sinking my teeth in one of these, along with a cup of tea whilst feeding our baby girl at night.
A village can be one person, it doesn’t have to be a tribe of support! Did you have a village of support for your postpartum? How did they impact your postpartum experience?
My husband was (and still is) my biggest supporter. Whether during Gabrielle’s birth or throughout postpartum and beyond, he has been by my side, holding me, and loving me unconditionally. My in-laws also supported us in a big way – they (briefly) visited us every week to drop off food and hold Gabrielle for us while we would shower, go get some fresh air, or get some sleep. I had handed out the beautiful recipe cards from your book to friends and family and my father-in-law alone (a proud Italian cook) ended up making a dozen recipes for us.
My village also included my amazing friend who performed a healing massage and closure of the bones ceremony for me, as well as the physios who supported me in my recovery since birth. My village was small, but made a huge difference in my experience of postpartum and I will forever be grateful for this.
What was the most helpful thing someone did for you during your postpartum?
Hands down, bringing us a wholesome homemade meal. And still is!
Something that most mums are most surprised by is breastfeeding. It is biologically normal yet rarely comes naturally and often impacts our postpartum experience. It is also something we spend the most time doing during those early months! Would you like to share anything about your breastfeeding journey? Insights, tips or essential products?
My breastfeeding journey was a bit atypical because I had (wrongly) been advised by a surgeon that I would never be able to breastfeed. With the encouragement of our midwife, I consulted with a few IBCLCs who helped me come up with a plan and made me feel confident heading into our feeding journey. I wanted to try breastfeeding Gabrielle, but I knew that it would be a difficult road and so I didn’t want to force it if it didn’t work for us.
We had to work through many obstacles, such as nipple damage caused by a poor latch and frequent instances of engorgement and mastitis due to oversupply and scar tissue, but eventually we found our rhythm and are still going strong 9 months later! My number one recommendation would be to talk to an IBCLC who you feel will give you the right tools to support your feeding goals before you give birth, as well as to invest in good breast/nipple care and any items of clothing that will make your experience that little bit easier!
This was your first postpartum experience, what would you decide to do differently next time around?
Hire a birth and postpartum doula if you can – it doesn’t matter how prepared you are, you won’t regret it!
And lastly, what is your favourite recipe from the Village for Mama book?
Same answer as above… all of the snacks!
Thank You for sharing Amelie x
Bare Mum is on a mission to better prepare women for the unfiltered realities of motherhood and support new mums throughout their postpartum journeys. Created for women by women, our postpartum essentials combine thoughtful design and the best that nature has to offer, always with the environment in mind.
At Village for Mama, we are always looking for the perfect ways to support new mamas on their postpartum journey. We asked Amelie what her top 5 postpartum essentials are and her is her list:
- The Vaginal Birth Care Kit
- Village for Mama Book
- The Breast Care Kit
- The Tenth Co
- Franjos Kitchen Hydration Powder