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.
Steph, you are the first person to join the Village for Mama team, and I thought this would be the perfect way to introduce you to our village. As a first time mama to the beautiful Giulia, I would absolutely love for you to share a little about yourself and your postpartum experience.
FIRSTLY, WOULD YOU LIKE TO INTRODUCE YOURSELF AND SHARE A LITTLE ABOUT YOU AND YOUR FAMILY?
Absolutely! I’m Steph, I live in Sydney with my husband Rob, and our beautiful 9 month old baby girl Giulia (and our cat Tobi). I work as a Freelance Marketing Consultant for brands in the wellness and lifestyle space. I absolutely love all things pregnancy and birth and was so excited to start the journey into motherhood for myself.
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 GIULIA?
Giulia’s birth was an unexpected cesarean after a really beautiful and relaxed pregnancy through the MGP program. Birth was such a practice of deep surrender. Of trusting the process and letting things unfold as they should. A dance between staying soft and being strong.
Labour started spontaneously at home, and I laboured in the bath and shower for hours before sneaking off to the hospital in the middle of the night where I continued to labour using water, TENS machine and Juju Sundin’s Birth Skills. After almost 19 hours and a very slow dilation we knew that something wasn’t quite right and discovered her head was deflexed and she couldn’t descend.
Despite ending up in theatre, her birth still felt so calm and beautiful, the women in the room held the space so beautifully. I vividly remember requesting to have delayed cord clamping moments before she arrived; a request that was honoured without hesitation. It’s small moments like these that make me smile with pride; that after such a long journey I still had the strength to advocate for her and I. Moments after she was born we had skin to skin and she latched immediately, it was so special. It taught me that birth didn’t need to look a certain way for it to be beautiful, poignant and transformational.
HOW WAS YOUR RECOVERY FROM BIRTH AND DID IT IMPACT YOUR POSTPARTUM EXPERIENCE?
Recovery felt slow but steady. It impacted my postpartum experience in the sense that I took it very slow for the first few weeks, if not months. I really did try to rest and be horizontal as much as possible. There were definitely moments of frustration with the process, but for the most part I was in awe of what my body had created and wanted to give myself as much patience and grace as I could.
I made sure to see my beautiful Acupuncturist and TCM Practitioner as soon as I could post birth to help with the recovery. She gave me some herbs and suggested warm castor oil packs for the incision which I tried to do as much as possible. I also had lots of warm baths with the lovely Mere Botanicals postpartum bath salts.
WHAT ARE YOUR NON-NEGOTIABLES FOR POSTPARTUM RECOVERY?
Definitely rest, nourishing food, good quality supplements to rebuild my body, comfortable loungewear from Deiji studios, and lots of grace and patience 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?
I’m someone who does love to be on the go most of the time! I went from a very active pregnancy to feeling quite restricted in my movement in my postpartum. I found it a little hard at times, but I knew the most important thing for my body after such a long labour and major surgery was to really truly slow down. I can’t say I ‘slept when the baby slept’, but I did try to be sitting either reading, watching a show, doing a meditation or taking a long warm shower or bath. I also found just sitting and chatting with girlfriends while cuddling with Giulia such a nice form of rest for me.
As tempted as I was to take my brand new baby for a walk in the pram, I knew I had to wait as long as possible, and even when I finally did, I did push it too much and ended up feeling very tender. The body has a lot to say about the healing process and we need to trust its innate wisdom and power. It was such a process of surrender.
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 GIULIA?
My husband brought me a big bowl of chicken Ramen and it was one of the best tasting meals I think I’ve ever eaten. He also brought my jar of Foraged to the hospital so I could start rebuilding myself immediately.
WHAT WERE YOUR FAVOURITE MEALS DURING YOUR POSTPARTUM?
Definitely lots of broths and soups. We made a big batch of broth using Chinese herbs from my Acupuncturist which felt so healing. We also had a fresh loaf of Village for Mama Banana Bread in the oven each week which was the perfect one-handed snack for a very hungry, breastfeeding mama.
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?
There were so many lovely instances of support throughout the postpartum period. I had a beautiful girlfriend who shared the same midwife as me a few months prior and on one of her early visits they were both in my living room together chatting and offering words of encouragement and compliments while we were finding our feet breastfeeding. There’s nothing like that soft feminine energy in those early postpartum days.
My husband was also incredible, he kept the household running smoothly and protected our newborn bubble so well. My mum was also there for whatever I needed, doing loads of laundry, changing the sheets and making cups of tea.
WHAT WAS THE MOST HELPFUL THING SOMEONE DID FOR YOU DURING YOUR POSTPARTUM?
Oh there’s so many things that come to mind, but I think the most helpful thing was definitely the homemade food and snacks being delivered. There’s nothing like a home cooked meal in those early postpartum days!
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?
Breastfeeding was something that was so important to me. I remember collecting colostrum in those last few weeks before she arrived feeling so hopeful we would be able to breastfeed and I’m so grateful it has come so naturally to us both.
We have had such a beautiful breastfeeding journey (now 9 months on) and some things I can credit that to are Silverettes and also pushing through the initial discomfort. I remember my girlfriend telling me that it’s quite uncomfortable in those early days and to ‘curl your toes over’ to push through the initial discomfort as it gets easier. I will never forget sitting in the hospital during those early feeds with my toes curled over, thinking of all the women who have come before me and had done the same thing. Breastfeeding is so sacred and beautiful, but it’s also hard and a lot of work, and I definitely want to acknowledge the effort that goes into that. Oh, and not to mention the thirst! A good drink bottle with a straw is a must!
THIS WAS YOUR FIRST POSTPARTUM EXPERIENCE, WHAT DO YOU WISH SOMEONE HAD TOLD YOU?
It’s all so big. The labour and birth and breastfeeding and postpartum. It is gritty and raw and transformative and magical. It’s potent and poignant. It’s fertile ground for a new beginning. For the transformation from maiden to mother. It’s all so big, but don’t expect to have it all figured out straight away, you haven’t been here before. Give it time and give yourself grace as you find your feet in this new season of life.
I love this quote by Nikki McCahon ‘Becoming a mother leaves no woman as it found her. It unravels her and rebuilds her. It cracks her open, takes her to her edges. It’s both beautiful and brutal, often at the same time.’
AND LASTLY, WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE RECIPE FROM THE VILLAGE FOR MAMA BOOK?
Definitely the Banana Bread! We have made it so much that my husband jokes when he sees bananas going brown in the fruit bowl…haha. But I won’t stop.
AT VILLAGE FOR MAMA, WE ARE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR THE PERFECT WAYS TO SUPPORT NEW MAMAS ON THEIR POSTPARTUM JOURNEY. WE ASKED STEPH WHAT HER TOP 5 POSTPARTUM ESSENTIALS ARE AND HER IS HER LIST:
- Bare Mum Pads
- Mere Botanical Postpartum Bath Salts & Nipple Cream
- Bink Mama Bottle
- Foraged for You Mothers Blend
For more of our favourite postpartum essentials, download our guide here.