Up Close & Personal with Anna Wythes from Modimade

Juggling Motherhood with Running a Business

Today I am thrilled to welcome the lovely Anna Wythes, owner of Modimade, to The Nursery Collective Blog. Anna is a mother of two, and recently welcomed her little girl Adhya Devi to her family and the world (and how gorgeous is that name!). Read on as she shares about her recent birth experience and just how she’s managing to juggle being a mama-of-two and running a business!

Hi Anna! Congratulations on your new arrival, how are you settling into motherhood? Are you getting any sleep?

Thanks Cathy, it’s been quite a hectic time - in a good way, since little Adhya arrived. I definitely appreciate why we have maternity leave - not so much to overcome the lack of sleep, but to fit in all the new born appointments both with friends and baby checkups. I think second time around, my body has taken to the interrupted sleep like it’s an old friend - it just fits right in and life moves forward which has been a life saver. Nights haven’t been quite so good though. Adhya went through her P.U.R.P.L.E phase at about 4 -7 weeks old; her doctor said this is a new term to explain ‘colic’ like symptoms at this age. She was really unsettled and had a lot of tummy pain in the early evenings and at night. The only way I managed to function on a normal scale was to take on co-sleeping and a lot of skin to skin contact to help settle her through the night. This saved my sleep as it meant I could easily pop her on the boob when she wanted it and quickly go back to sleep. There’s no time for Mummy day sleeps in this house.

Anna

We would love to hear about your birth experience! What was it like and did it differ to how you expected it to be?

Absolutely! It’s had all the drama you’d hope for in a birth that ended well. I don't think anyone can plan a birth and have it go according to that plan. One thing I experienced with my first birth was that my birth plan was quite useless during the actual birth. Nothing could have given us insight to know where and what was going to happen. So this time around I used it as a resource for my own mental preparation more than a ‘how to guide’ for the birthing suite. Everything changes once you’re in labour and it’s 100% directed by your body and the little body and soul that is making the journey to meet you. This time round we chose to be induced due to bubba’s decline in growth during the last few weeks. I was really uneasy about this, but I knew that she was directing the advice given by the doctors and there was obviously a reason why she needed to come out early. She came super quickly once they gave her the go ahead. My labour took a while to get going - I laugh now as I think I used the time to finish popping together my orders and messages on Facebook for the sale I was doing for Modimade. Great way to occupy the mind! Once she decided to get moving she was out in a 40 minute labour! I don't know who was more surprised - the nurses in the ward where I was due to stay overnight, my husband who had gone home to sleep for the night because we thought she wasn't doing anything or me when I was told her head was right there! Yes, I was in whole world of pushing pain but I’d expected it to go on for hours like my first. And then we saw that a SHE had arrived! A little girl was such a beautiful surprise. But it didn't stop there. I was able to have skin to skin with her and feeding time immediately but then my placenta didn’t give way. I was taken to surgery and had to undergo a general anesthetic because my heart rate was butterflying all over the place and I’d not had an epidural for the birth. It wasn’t even something i had any idea would have entered into our birth plan but it’s the road that our birth took and I’m so thankful that we had wonderful skilled doctors to lead me through it. Because we now have a little baby girl!!! Can’t you tell I’m just smitten by baby fever!

I don't blame you, she's divine - I just love this photo of her snuggled with her Sleepy Snoogu Dog and other Modimade goodies! What an amazing birth, and you raise such an important point about being flexible and not rigid with your birth plans. I have to ask though – how are you finding juggling a newborn with running your business, I find it hard enough with 2 older kids! How are you managing?

I’m doing pretty well actually. It sounds silly but I feel like I have heaps of time now compared to before she was born - I was teaching full-time and running Modimade before I started my maternity leave. Adhya sleeps reasonably well during the day and my 5 year old son is in day care most days so I’ve been able to maintain a good workflow with my business Modimade.

Amazing! So tell us, what's one item you can't live without as a new mum?

My stash of cloth nappies. I’m getting into using my cloth nappies again now that Adhya has grown enough to fit into a newborn size. I’ll be honest, I’m not down to using cloth for every nappy change but the money I’ve saved already is such a help to our family budget and of course there is that little satisfying feeling that we’re doing it the eco-friendly way.

What are your top tips for being out and about with a new baby?

I’m pretty lucky that I’ve already done the mother thing once so i can say hands down it’s being organised. Haha, however it did take me at least three trips down the street to actually get out my own baby bag from Modimade to use. I developed this style of nappy bag / fold-out change mat when I was pregnant with my first child, and drew inspiration from a nappy swag bag I used as a nanny 15 years ago. For me (and I hope loads of other Mums with our bag) I think I’ve mastered the perfect nappy bag now. Over last 5 years I’ve been working with a small social enterprise in Cambodia to have the bags produced ethically, supporting fair employment and now it’s great to test drive again and see just how quick it is to use - just unbutton and fold out, then everything is sorted and ready to use. But whatever style of nappy bag you go with it’s got to be compact and well organised. I guess my tip would be to make sure you choose one that is a ‘no-brainer’ so that sleep deprived Mums and Dads can use it.

modimade-nappy-bag

What are you finding most challenging about being Mum?

I’m not sure if I’ve made it sound like motherhood is easy but it’s not. There are definitely times when I feel like I’m neglecting my 5 year old and my hubby, for the needs of my new daughter. It’s part of the realisation that mothers aren’t just one person. We are multiple. In my case, I’m a mother, a wife, a teacher and a business owner, but it’s a skill and a strength that women have (and a challenge too sometimes) to find a happy place, a place where all these elements blend together and work.

I love how you’ve articulated that – multitasking is an inherent skill that women have and as mothers it’s taken to the next level to challenge us, but It sounds like you are doing an amazing job! Thanks so much for sharing with us today. Before we sign of, we’d love to know what's next for Modimade?

To go and wake my baby daughter up because my boobs hurt! But that’s me as Modimade Mum. For Modimade I’m looking at expanding the sales of our handmade toys and mobiles, also the baby bag. I have started working directly with a small group of home based women in the Phnom Penh, Cambodia to continue their efforts to make brightly coloured and vibrant soft toys and baby rattles. By building a wider wholesale reach for the toys and mobiles here in Australia, I’m hoping to be able to give them the opportunity to support their vulnerable families and train others who may need to additional skills and employment.

Anna-0434EXCLUSIVE OFFER: Anna is offering all Nursery Collective customers an exclusive 15% discount storewide using the code MUMSLIFE at checkout! Code expires July 31, 2017 and is valid as one code per customer.

To find out more about Modimade click here

To shop Modimade products at The Nursery Collective, including the fabulous nappy bag, click here

Keep up to date with Modimade on social media here: Instagram and Facebook

Photos of Anna & Adhya courtesy of Helen Flint Photography, Blue Mountains NSW.

 

 

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WHAT IS THE FINNISH BABY BOX CONCEPT?

finnishbabybox

Guest Blog: Susanna Heiskanen of Tuutu Baby Box

Did you know that in Finland, expectant mothers are given a special baby box by the state - a starter kit of clothes, baby items and toys that can even be used as a bed. This beautiful tradition dates back to the 1930’s and some even believe it has helped Finland achieve one of the world’s lowest infant mortality rates.

Today on the blog, we have the lovely Susanna Heiskanen, co-founder of Tuutu Baby Box, the first Finnish designed and Australian made Baby Box, sharing with us a little bit more background about this wonderful concept.

What is the Baby Box Concept?

The Finnish baby box has been around for over 75 years. Over 3 million boxes have been given to families by the Finnish government over the years. It was written into Finnish law in 1937 that expectant mothers were entitled to a baby box and in 1949 this was expanded to include all expectant mothers unrelated to their socio-economic circumstances.

Why has the baby box been so popular with the Finns? One of the reasons is that the box really has everything you need as a parent. Having receiving the box you would not need to buy a thing if you did not want to – the box doubles as a bed and the content is enough for the first few months and beyond. The box also promotes equality amongst parents and kids. Everyone has the same start in life and you can tell what year children were born in based on the clothes they were wearing. There are some products in the box such as muslin wraps that have been there since the beginning.
The baby box was introduced together with the Neuvola program. Neuvola is a midwife driven anti and post-natal clinic system that everyone is entitled to. It was a condition of receiving the baby box that the mother has to attend the prenatal program that educated mothers about breastfeeding, vaccination, safe sleeping practices and many more useful topics. The Neuvola system is still going strong and it reaches nearly all expectant mothers and their children under school age.
Image from Finnish Labour Museum Werstas

What are the benefits in using the baby box?

The baby box promotes safe sleep practices and the clothing and products included are all useful and something that you would have had to buy if you had not received the box from the government. The crucial early pregnancy care with free essential goods makes the box such a great preventive public health care initiative. The parents are also more likely to attend post-natal care after receiving the box and having already attended the pre-natal care.

Has the infant mortality rate dropped because of the baby box scheme?

Believe it or not, there has never been a clinical study in Finland or any other country (at the time of writing this) investigating the benefits of the baby box. The drop in the infant mortality rate in Finland is linked to better anti and post-natal care through the Neuvola system that together with the baby box has addressed some of the issues that were linked to high infant death rates. The baby box was a freebie for the parents, that in turn motivated them to attend to the anti- and post-natal care.

What about Australia?

There are already countries like Canada, USA and UK who have pilot programs to study the benefits of the baby box concept. These countries have higher infant mortality rates than Australia and it’s hoped that the baby box concept will help to address some of the underlying causes. Countries like Scotland are rolling this out as a nationwide scheme and the rest of the UK is trialling and providing baby boxes in geographical areas where the infant mortality rate is high.
At the time of writing this blog there are no large-scale study programs underway in Australia. There are few pilot programs in different States and we will follow these trials with interest. It would be a great thing to be able to provide the right start in life to all babies in Australia and we hope that the government will consider having the baby box scheme adopted here. If such a program is developed the hope is that it also has an educational part attached for the parents as it does in Finland through the Neuvola program.

Although the Finnish Baby Box comes with all the required necessities we know how confusing it is to decide what you need to buy your baby. We have taken the stress out this and offer a free checklist for parents based on the Finnish model listing the basics you need to purchase when shopping for your baby.
FIND OUT MORE about the TUUTU Baby Box range HERE and enjoy FREE SHIPPING in Australia!

TUUTU are proud to be Gold Sponsors of the 2017 Cloth Nappy Awards, run by the Australian Nappy Association, supporting their love of sustainable products such as cloth nappies that are included in the Tuutu Baby Box. Find out more about the awards here.

Susanna Heiskanen

After more than 10 years on the corporate ladder, and two baby boys, Susanna was ready for a new challenge and starting her own business was exactly that.  Susanna thought the Finnish Maternity Package that the government was giving to expectant mothers was a great idea and that it would be something she would love to endorse in Australia. “Although the infant mortality rate is low in Australia, more can be done. With this in mind we have designed an Australian version of the package and we are passionate advocates of our products and mother and baby wellbeing. We hope that Tuutu Baby Box is something you will love and it will be multifunctional for you and your child, just like the original one in Finland was meant to be.
- Susanna Heiskanen (Co-Founder)

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If you're a new or pregnant mama, please join our Facebook support group over at Find Your Village – a truly supportive community of new and experienced mamas where you can vent frustrations or share your excitement in a space that is free from judgment. Whether you are suffering from anxiety or sleep deprivation we are here!

Don't forget to join our mailing list below to receive your FREE download of "Your New Mum Checklist" - all the checklists you'll ever need when planning for baby, all in the one place, plus additional parenting tips around Baby Sleep, Feeding and Nutrition.

Up Close & Personal with Sarah Renae Clark

How one mum used her PND experience as inspiration for her business

Today we are closing out our monthly focus on Anxiety, Depression and Mental Health in early Motherhood with a special interview. We are pleased to welcome Sarah Renae Clark to The Nursery Collective, a creative business owner, illustrator and designer - and a mother who has battled with Post Natal Depression. Her story is raw and yet so inspiring, read on to see how she turned this experience into an truly positive new path...

Hi Sarah and welcome to The Nursery Collective! Can you tell us a little about yourself? How would you describe yourself to others and what do you do for a living?

I’m a full time mum and business owner in Melbourne, Australia. A few years ago, I married my best friend and now we’ve got a beautiful little boy, Zac, who is about to turn 2. I’ve always been a creative person and have started a number of businesses over the years, from doing balloon animals for children’s parties to designing websites. Most of my businesses have only ever been side-hobbies while I worked full time, however everything changed when Zac was born. I stopped full time work and gave up most of my side jobs too. After a few months, I started working on some new creative ideas and eventually started my “Sarah Renae Clark” colouring book and printables business.
My business has already grown far beyond the hobby that it started, so now I’m looking at new ways to build it further and grow it into a full time income without the full time hours so I can continue to be a stay at home mum to my beautiful son.

What has your motherhood journey been like so far?

Motherhood has been a real rollercoaster for me! I was that super confident pregnant lady who read all the books and was convinced that motherhood was going to be amazing. Then, I had an incredibly traumatic labour and my son ended up in the special care nursery for a few days. I was unable to feed him and couldn’t get up to see him for the first day because my body was still in shock from the labour. He was discharged a few days after me, so we spent our first few days as parents without our son at home, which was challenging.

The first 2 months weren’t much easier. I wanted to breastfeed but Zac wasn’t able to, and that’s something nobody had prepared me for during my pregnancy. When he was finally able to start feeding, it was agony. I wasn’t mentally prepared for the challenge, so I pushed through and dreaded every feed, feeling like I was a failure when we had to use the formula.

After 2 months, things got easier and Zac was able to start feeding without causing me pain. Things really picked up at that point, except that I was struggling with post natal depression (PND) and didn’t realise it.

PND looks so different for everyone. For me, it was the feeling of being overwhelmed by what seemed like nothing. I felt lonely, even after spending hours with friends. I just wanted a break, but a break didn’t make me feel any better. I lived in constant fear that something terrible was going to happen to my family. I saw the worst case scenario in every situation and would let my mind run off in crazy day dreams that would completely overwhelm me with the feeling of grief or fear over a situation that didn’t exist. I couldn’t drive the car without picturing a fatal car crash and imagining my child growing up without me – or worse – me without him.

Zac was such a good baby that I felt guilty for feeling sad or overwhelmed. I even felt guilty that I wasn’t “sad enough” to call it PND. Eventually I was able to identify what was going on and work through the PND, which meant I was finally able to start enjoying motherhood and spending time with my son. It still pops up every now and then, but I can easily recognise the negative thoughts and I choose not to allow them to take over again.

What has been the biggest challenge so far, and how have you overcome it (or what are you currently doing to overcome it)? I believe you used your struggle as an inspiration in setting up your own business?

I think my biggest challenge has been not feeling guilty. It’s something that comes up in every aspect of my life as a Mum – from feeling guilty about not spending enough time with my son, to feeling guilty about going out with friends for a coffee while my husband was at work. A lot of my guilt was connected to my PND and to the high expectations I set for myself. Even now, I still struggle to take a break without questioning whether there’s something more important I should be doing… but I’m working on it!

One day, I decided to let myself have some creative time and started working on a colouring book. Adult colouring had just become popular, and I needed something creative to keep my mind active and help me to stay positive. I decided to post the colouring book on the internet, and was really surprised at the positive response I received! So I worked on a few more books and started selling them on Etsy. A few months later, I decided to look at getting them published and that was the beginning of everything for me. I have now self-published more than 10 adult colouring books and I sell a huge range of colouring pages and other printables on my website.

I started getting a lot of feedback from customers who were using colouring to get through similar mental health issues, disabilities or even loneliness. I saw an opportunity in the market to create a positive colouring book that actually catered specifically to people who were looking for encouragement. Because of my own experiences as a mum, I created my book “A Year of Coloring Affirmations for New Mothers” full of colouring pages with positive affirmations aimed at helping new mums through the ups and downs of motherhood.

I included all of the encouraging words that helped me to get through my hard days. One of my favourites came from a good friend of mine, who told me “if you’re out of your pajamas by noon, it’s a great day”. I still laugh, but it definitely got me through a few days where I would be crying because it was lunch time and I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet… my husband can verify this!

I also released a second affirmations book called “Coloring Through Cancer” for my own mum who has been fighting breast cancer on and off for over 15 years now. Both of these books have had amazing support from my community and I get constant emails from people who have been encouraged by their messages.

 Coloured by Raychell Henry

What has been the biggest blessing of motherhood?

My son has been such a blessing to me. He makes me smile every day and he makes every moment worthwhile. I would do it all again in a heartbeat for him. I’m also very blessed to have an amazing husband who has supported me through motherhood and through starting my own business. He works full time, but still helps with so many aspects of my business and I love watching him spend time with our son.

Is it difficult managing your time between being a Mum and running your own business?

I’d love to say “no, it’s easy, I have a great routine and my schedule helps me to keep a great balance” – but unfortunately, it’s not the case. I do have a great routine, and I believe it’s essential to keeping your sanity as a working Mum, however even with the best routine, it’s hard to feel like you’re giving your child and your business the attention they both need. I am constantly assessing my time and changing my goals to work smarter, not harder. I try to find new ways to automate my business and set up long-term plans so that I’m not overwhelmed with the day-to-day workload and can spend more time with my son.

Unfortunately I don’t have family that live close by, so most of my productive work happens during my toddler’s nap time. As any mother knows, nap time can be unpredictable, so sometimes my entire day can be thrown off course.

I use a yearly diary as my to-do list, so I can allocate jobs to certain days of the week based on their priorities. This means that I’m not looking at a huge list each day, instead I can just focus on the plan for today. This has probably been my biggest key in not getting overwhelmed. If my day is looking busy, I re-assess and move tasks to another day before I’m even half way through the day. My goal is to finish each day feeling like I’ve accomplished what I set out to do, not feeling like I didn’t get my list done. Some days, this means just pushing the entire list to another day so I can spend the day with my son without feeling guilty.

Working from home and raising a toddler isn’t an easy combination, but I love it. It takes a lot of commitment and you need to love your job. The key is to find your balance, set achieveable goals, and know when to say no (to your work, not your children). I’d love to have more time for my business, but family always comes first for me and I would drop my business in an instant if I had to make that choice. Knowing this makes it much easier to put work aside or say no to certain opportunities when I know they will take too much of my time away from my family.

Coloured by Emma Turnbull

If you could share some advice for other new mums who might be experiencing PND or other mental health issues, what would it be?

Find someone to talk to and stop feeling guilty. I went through months of PND before I spoke up. I never spoke to someone because I didn’t feel like I was “sad enough” to call it PND. I felt guilty for not being a good enough mum, guilty for not keeping the house clean, guilty for annoying my friends with all my baby talk, and then guilty because I had such a “good baby” and had no reason to be upset!

I didn’t call people to talk to because I didn’t want to constantly bother the same people. Instead, I’d just lie down next to my baby and cry. It wasn’t until a friend spoke up about her own PND experience that I realised I was feeling all the same things. She was the first person I spoke to, and then to my husband. As soon as I identified what was going on, the daily battles became easier and I was able to start working towards recovery.

Nobody expects you to do this alone, so find someone to talk to. If you don’t have friends or family, don’t be afraid to call a helpline or local service. You are not the first person to go through what you are going through, and there’s no shame in feeling like you can’t cope.

Thank you so much for sharing your story Sarah!
CLICK HERE TO CONNECT WITH SARAH AND HER WEBSITE AND TO DOWNLOAD YOUR OWN FREE COLOURING BOOK!
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Dealing with PND & Anxiety in early motherhood

By Amanda Cavallaro (The Anxiety Wellness Queen)

The transition into motherhood can be bitter sweet for many. The excitement of starting this new beginning with your new bundle of joy not only brings about a learning experience but significant challenges and changes to your life. For many mothers, these challenges and changes are difficult to adjust to and they find themselves dealing with emotional, psychological and physical struggles.

Postnatal Depression (PND) and Anxiety are common mental health conditions new mums experience during this transition. PND can often be difficult to identify due to the typical ‘Baby Blues’ that so many women experience postpartum, unfortunately this can make things confusing. PND is commonly suffered by a new mum following childbirth and typically arises due to a combination of psychological challenges and adjustments, hormonal changes and result of fatigue or trauma.

Postnatal Depression affects up to 1 in 7 women and symptoms usually develop between 1 month and up to a year after the birth of their child.

Common symptoms of postnatal depression include, but are not restricted to:
- Low Mood
- Feelings of inadequacy
- Feelings of guilt or shame
- Emotional ( you might find yourself crying a lot more than usual )
- Feelings of anger and irritability
- Fear of being alone
- Insomnia
- Reoccurring negative thoughts
- Loss of interest (of things you usually would be interested in)
- Changes in appetite
- Feeling unmotivated
- Withdrawing from social situations
- Thoughts about harming yourself or your baby
- Feeling unable to cope
- Loss of concentration
- Loss of confidence and self esteem
- Feelings of anxiety, stress and panic

Awareness and Treatments of PND has come such a long way over the years and it has really been fantastic for women to feel heard, understood and given the proper care, support and treatment during this difficult time. Treatments for PND vary depending on a person’s individual needs and situation, either way addressing this early on is very important in the recovery process.

Likewise, Anxiety is also another very common issue women are dealing with in motherhood. Unlike PND, perinatal anxiety is only newly spoken about although women have been dealing with the symptoms and stress of it for many years! Depression and anxiety often work hand in hand and are interlinked in many ways.

Anxiety, alike depression does not discriminate age, gender or culture and the symptoms and severity differs from person to person. A woman who has experienced anxiety prior to pregnancy is at a higher risk of also experiencing it during her pregnancy and motherhood. Some of the common symptoms of anxiety may include:

- Irritability
- Panic Attacks (which include racing heart, sweaty palms, shortness of breath, feelings of nausea etc..)
- Hot or cold flushes
- Dizziness
- Tightening of chest
- Fast breathing
- Feelings of restlessness
- Excessive worry
- Excessive Fear
- Obsessive thinking
- Catastrophising
- Avoidance of situations, people or places that make you feel anxious
- Obsessive Compulsive tendencies
- Dry Mouth
- Tingling in hands and feet
- Problems sleeping
- Muscle tension

The most common cause of anxiety has been debated about for years although it really comes down to a combination of genetics, life experiences and environmental factors that contribute to the onset of anxiety. The most reassuring thing is that both anxiety and depression ARE treatable and there IS hope and a light at the end of the tunnel even though it may not feel like it at the time.

Below are some tips that you can implement to help manage your anxiety and depression

1) SUPPORT
During this difficult time the support of your family, friends, professionals and partner is very important. Once again, every woman’s needs are so different therefore ensuring you have the care you need to tailor to your needs and wellbeing is what really matters. We are so lucky that technology has come such a long way, giving us access to online education and support groups as well.

2) ASK FOR HELP
If you don’t feel right please reach out and ask for help. Speak to your GP, Maternity Nurse or health care professional and just let them know what your concerns are, that will then enable them to discuss all options with you and direct you to receive the appropriate help. And there are many options out there!

3) KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
Learning more about and understanding what you’re going through really does help in the treatment as it removes a lot of the fear of the ‘unknown’.

4) PRACTISE SAYING YES
The world we live in often portrays the message that as a mother we are super hero’s that need to do everything by ourselves (YES in regards to mums being amazing superwomen and a big NO to having to feel like you need to take on the world on your own) this is just a reminder that its ok to say YES every now and then, if people offer help in those early or even later stages of motherhood just say YES! Yes to a home cooked meal, a hand around the house, a nap while someone looks after bub, yes to dropping the kids at school and picking up some milk for you. We all have those bad days and you are at no exception - You can’t do it all and by no means are you expected to!

5) TAKE SOME TIME OUT
Making sure you put aside some much needed you time is SOOOO important. It doesn’t have to be anything $$ or major, just some time for you to recharge, regroup and become ready for whatever the day throws your way. This could be a nice warm bath when everyone goes to bed or putting your feet up with a nice hot tea or coffee when bub is taking a nap. There is no need to feel guilty for taking some time away - as they say you cant pour from an empty cup!

6) REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
Motherhood is really portrayed in a very fairy-tale like way these days in magazines, TV and social media. We are shown the ‘expected’ way to look, act, feed, feel and think. Those expectations have had such a huge negative impact on women all across the globe. This is just a reminder to have realistic expectations of yourself during this time, its ok if you don’t get 35 loads of washing on today, its ok if you don’t have your hair washed today, its ok not to have a picture perfect looking house, its ok to have an all day pyjama day sometimes ( I loveeee those days!) For goodness sake, you have a lot on your plate, don’t be too hard on yourself you are doing the best you can. Listen to your body and what its telling you, it will give you the cues.

At the end of the day its important I reiterate that you ARE doing the best you can so please don’t be too hard on yourself, motherhood is one of the hardest jobs in the world!

- Amanda Cavallaro (The Anxiety Wellness Queen)

CLICK HERE TO CONNECT WITH AMANDA AND HER WEBSITE AND TO DOWNLOAD HER TOP 10 TIPS TO MANAGING YOUR STRESS & ANXIETY

Follow The Anxiety Wellness Queen on FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM and TWITTER

If you're a new or pregnant mama, please join our Facebook support group over at Find Your Village – a truly supportive community of new and experienced mamas where you can vent frustrations or share your excitement in a space that is free from judgment. Whether you are suffering from anxiety or sleep deprivation we are here!

Don't forget to join our mailing list to receive your FREE download of "Your New Mum Checklist" - all the checklists you'll ever need when planning for baby, all in the one place, plus additional parenting tips around Baby Sleep, Feeding and Nutrition.

 

Behind the Brand – The Parents Village

Featured Business - The Parents Village

Today we are interviewing two amazing Aussie Mums in business - Kirsty and Lana from The Parents Village! These lovely ladies have created a very special business and support network for new parents, which was borne out of their own experiences as new mums.

Hi Kirsty and Lana and welcome to The Nursery Collective! It’s a pleasure to have you on our blog! Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves and your families?
Kirsty is a Psychologist and Careers Counsellor who is married with two boisterous beauties - aged 3 and 5. Lana is Social Worker and Counsellor, who is also a married mum of one little delicious dictator - aged 2.

I am very passionate about mums having a support network, a village if you like to help navigate the early days of motherhood. Can you tell us about the idea behind The Parents Village – what led you to start your business?
In our lives before kids we thought we had it all together – we were independent, career focused, high achieving, spontaneous, super social and in control.
We were like…”we’ve got this!” During our pregnancies, we were inundated with loads of advice from friends and family – everyone had their two cents to offer. But we both felt like few people gave us an honest, raw ‘heads up’ about all that needed to be considered, prepared for, and embraced after childbirth.
The combination of sleep deprivation, hormonal fluctuation, and loneliness on top of the huge responsibilities of caring for a newborn left us feeling overwhelmed and isolated. We desperately felt the need for a “village” to learn from, lean on and laugh with.
Our little bundles of joy brought us “poop-losions, and “spew-namis”, litres of dribble, endless loads of dirty laundry and tons of tears (theirs and ours). They also brought us abundant love, unimaginable joy, laughter and wonder that is beyond comprehension. Children seem to break and then make us…teaching us the hardest lessons in letting go and embracing the unpredictable, whilst honing our multitasking skills, all on minimal sleep!
And so in 2016 we formed The Parents Village in our living rooms. United and motivated by our mutual experience of being completely “motherwhelmed”, bloody exhausted and craving a village.

I’ve always wondered how it would be like to go into business with a friend. How do you find working together?
We just love working together. We had known each other for many years before we went into partnership (through Kirsty’s brother who is a close friend of Lana’s). We have so enjoyed getting to know each other on a deeper level, sharing and supporting each other with our own experiences of motherhood and building this beautiful village together. We always say we are like Yin and Yang as we have different skills, gifts and expertise and ways of seeing things, but all with common values, so the working relationship flows so well and we are always in admiration and appreciation of the other for bringing something different into the working relationship and our services.

Can you tell us a bit about the different services you have for new parents?
We currently provide six main services that start prenatally all the way to postnatal and beyond.
Birthing The Parent is a prenatal workshop that helps couples prepare for the challenging and rewarding experience of becoming a parent. Centered on the transformation into parenthood, this interactive workshop empowers couples to better manage changes to their body, mind and relationships and adjust to their new role and identity.
Mama Nurture supported others groups were created with the knowledge that Mamas need nurturing too! New mamas bring their Bubs (0-6months) to our facilitated mothers group led by qualified counsellors. In these groups we foster Connection, learning and sharing as we weave in common themes, challenges and joys of adjusting to motherhood in a supportive environment.
Mama Blessingways facilitated by The Parents Village are a beautiful celebration and honoring of a woman’s transition into motherhood. This divine ritual will showers the mama- to- be with affirmations, blessings and practical support to build up her mind, body, and soul, together with her closest female family and friends.
Counselling Services at The Parents Village help clients to process all the feelings and challenges that come with pregnancy and new parenthood. We offer a space for you to explore and better understand yourself and your relationships, so that you can make positive changes, achieve growth and gain fulfilment.
Birth Story Healing sessions help mothers (and their partners) process, reframe and release any trauma they might have attached to their childbirth experience. We support our clients to gain deeper insight and create new meaning from this transformative rite of passage, so they can heal and move forward.
Careers Counselling & Coaching is a service that helps our clients explore their work options, renovate their resume, realise their full potential and find their true calling! We empower our clients to navigate work and family life before and after baby so that you can achieve a meaningful and sustainable career balanced with parenthood.

Wow it sounds like you've covered everything a new parent might need! To end our interview, if you could both offer one piece of advice to new and pregnant mamas, what would it be?
Forget about the superficial stuff, pretty nurseries and the best pram on the market… what really counts are the people who will be around you and your new little family particularly in those early weeks and months…that first year and beyond. Be sure to start to round up your village when you are pregnant so you have that support network readily available when bub arrives. No parent should feel they should do this parenthood thing alone… it isn’t how us humans we were made to be.
Also you don’t have to be the “best” Mum… All you have to be is “Good Enough”.

Thank you so much Kirsty and Lana for your time and for sharing your beautiful business with us! You can click here to connect with Kirsty and Lana at The Parents Village and here to follow them on Facebook.

It's so important to find your support networks when you are expecting and as a new mum! You can join our Facebook support group over at Find Your Village – a truly supportive community of new and experienced mamas where you can vent frustrations or share your excitement in a space that is free from judgment.

Don't forget to join our mailing list to receive your FREE download of "Your New Mum Checklist" - all the checklists you'll ever need when planning for baby, all in the one place.

 

The Benefits of Using a Doula

Guest Post - Sam Ross (Birth Doula)

If you are anything like I was during my first pregnancy, I had no idea what a doula was or why on earth I would need one. Thankfully, with the support of an amazing midwife, I had a great birth without a doula. With my second pregnancy, circumstances meant I didn’t have the luxury of a continuity of care midwife during the pregnancy or birth. Thinking everything would be fine, I decided not to go ahead and hire a doula. Worst. Decision. Ever. Not even exaggerating, my birth was horrendous and I wish I had known exactly what a doula was and why every woman needs one!

WHAT IS A DOULA?

A birth doula, pronounced ‘doo-la’, is a pregnancy and birth support person. Doulas have been supporting women for centuries, in many different cultures.
There are many different types of doula, including antepartum, postpartum and bereavement doulas. I will be speaking specifically about birth doulas. Typically, a doula is a woman who has given birth (although not always) and is a trained professional in supporting women during labour. She knows all about natural birth processes and the interventions that go along with hospital births.

During pregnancy, a doula will help to alleviate any fears you may have about the birth and post-partum period. A doula is someone you can call on any time of day for reassurance and support.
Most doulas will also offer a birth planning session, where you will sit together and go through your ideas and preferences for the birth. She is available to educate you about labour, breastfeeding, postpartum, and provide any advice you may need from a non-judgmental, unbiased perspective.

A doula will attend your labour and birth, whether that be at home, hospital or both. Her role is strictly non-medical, purely physical, emotional support and advocacy. Doulas are very skilled in alternative pain relief techniques, giving you an endless supply of ideas to try before you ask for the epidural.

WHAT DOES A DOULA DO?

• Provides emotional support during pregnancy, birth and beyond
• Uses comfort measures including (but not limited to) massage, relaxation techniques, position change, heat packs, showering, hip squeezes, etc.
• Create a home-like environment in the hospital, by using aromatherapy, music, flameless candles, ensuring privacy etc.
• Gives clear, unbiased information to assist you in making decisions both before and during labour.
• Continuously reassures and comforts, a doula never leaves your side once labour is established.
• Advocates for the mother and helps facilitate communication between the mother and care provider
• Ensures you are drinking and eating, she may even brew herbal tea for you and make coffee for your partner.
• Provide emotional support to your partner, as well as ensuring they are hydrated, rested and fed.
• Works together with your partner in supporting you.
• Help you to get cleaned up and comfortable after birth
• Offer assistance with establishing breastfeeding
• Provide in home support after the birth.

Ultimately, the doula you hire will perform the tasks you wish of her, whether that is to remain by your side the whole time, or primarily to give support to your partner.

BENEFITS OF HAVING A DOULA ATTEND YOUR BIRTH

The benefits are plentiful. Studies have shown that women that use a doula are much more likely to have a positive birth outcome and birth satisfaction. Women are less likely to ask for pain relief medication (60% less likely to ask for an epidural).
Also, by having a doula attend your birth you will reduce the length of labour by 25% (average of 40 minutes), decrease your chance of a caesarean by 50% and lower the need for augmentation with syntocinin (synthetic oxytocin) by 40% (1).

 

WILL A DOULA MAKE YOUR PARTNERS ROLE REDUNDANT?

This is such an important point to mention, partners are often concerned a doula will replace them and push them out of the way. Simply not true, doulas are there to ensure your partner is comfortable, informed and participating (if they want to).

Some partners may feel completely overwhelmed and intimidated by seeing you in pain. They may feel completely helpless and have no idea how best to support you. This is where a doula can step in, give him some encouraging words and suggest some massage techniques or positions he can support you in. Perhaps your partner needs some space, and would rather sit back away from the action. That’s ok, especially because your doula can step in and play an active role in supporting you.

By taking the extra pressure off your partner, they will be able to eat, rest, and move the car etc, whilst feeling reassured that you’re being looked after your doula. Your partner will be more emotionally present and may actually even enjoy the incredible birth journey.

ARE DOULAS ONLY FOR WOMEN PLANNING A HOMEBIRTH/NATURAL DRUG-FREE BIRTH?

Absolutely not. In my opinion, women birthing in a hospital need a doula more than those choosing a home birth. Hospital births are difficult to navigate through without someone there to support and advocate your decisions. Doulas are familiar with local hospital policies, and can keep you informed about them. A doula will also facilitate communication between you and your health care provider, this is important especially when you haven’t met the midwife/doctor before. Ensuring effective communication can make the birth much less stressful for everyone involved.

As for women choosing to use pain medications, a doula will support you in whatever decisions you make. She is not there to sway you decision or judge your choices, she is there for YOU. If you choose an epidural, you will still need emotional support during the application of the epidural and help with it comes to pushing. It is reassuring to know your doula is there to help you ask the right questions regarding hospital procedures to ensure you have all the relevant information to make decisions should they arise.


Photo Credit: Jen from Heart of Motherhood

WHAT QUESTIONS SHOULD I ASK A POTENTIAL DOULA?

• What services do you provide?
• What is your philosophy regarding birth?
• Do you have experience with VBAC/twin birth/planned C-section?
• Do you have a backup plan in case you can’t attend my birth?
• How many clients do you take per month?

I hope this article has made you consider having a doula attend your birth, it is certainly a worthwhile investment into having a positive birth experience.

- Sam Ross (Birth Doula)

1. Hodnett ED. Gates S Hofmeyr GJ. Sakala C. Continuous Support for Women During Childbirth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. CD003766, (2003).

To connect with Sam and her services at Sage, Birth & Beyond click here

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Love,
Cathy

 

Postnatal Health & Nutrition

Nutrition Series Part 3 - Postnatal

The day has finally arrived and you’ve welcomed your bundle of joy into the world. You’ve taken all the necessary steps for pre-conception care and looked after yourself throughout pregnancy - now what? This period is referred to as “post- natal” and supporting your health now, is just as important as the previous stages. It is not uncommon for new mums to experience exhaustion, cracked nipples, infection, mastitis, post-partum hypertension, post-partum thyroiditis or post-partum depression; with approximately 19% of women experiencing post-partum depression in the first 3 months after childbirth.

Although there are numerous health concerns that may affect a mum post-natal, the following are perhaps the most recognized.

POST-PARTUM DEPRESSION

This accompanies symptoms of feeling disconnected from their baby, feeling down, anxiety, irritability, exhaustion, sleep disturbances or thoughts of harm to their child.
Diagnoses can be done through your doctor, who will ask a series of questions to assess mental health. It is important to remember you are not alone and there are specific support networks to help.
Supporting a mother’s nervous system through diet, should be done regardless of a PPD diagnoses. Studies have shown intakes of EPA/DHA’s (Omega 3’s), reduce depressive symptoms in pregnant and postpartum women.
Sources include salmon, sardines, flaxseed and walnuts.
B Vitamins are also required for brain and neurotransmitter function. Sources include egg yolk, anchovies, broccoli, liver, eggplant, sunflower seeds and spinach.

MASTITIS

Affecting approximately one third of lactating women, Mastitis refers to inflammation of the breast tissue. Mastitis may occur at any point whilst breast feeding but often presents during the first 12 weeks. Common causes include blocked milk ducts, breast engorgement and infection. Breast tenderness, nipple pain, cracked nipples, fever and fatigue are all associated symptoms.
Diagnoses is made with your doctor, who will examine the area, looking for signs of redness, inflammation, cracked nipples and breast tenderness.

Include rich sources of zinc, to support wound healing (Red meats, eggs, sunflower seeds, mushrooms) and if prescribed antibiotics, a probiotic is recommended to restore healthy gut flora and prevent yeast overgrowth. Also avoid high doses of Vitamin C, as may cause diarrhoea in the breastfeeding baby.

NUTRITIONAL MANAGEMENT

Whilst many mums find they will eat on the go or end up skipping meals altogether, ensuring you eat to sustain energy, to allow for milk production and to support any post-partum health issues, is incredibly important. I recommend for all new mums, to invest in a slow cooker. Unless you have a personal chef or a family member/ friend providing you with meals, finding the time and energy to prepare and cook, is often the last thing you feel like doing. Finding simple ways to still eat well, will reduce extra pressure you may put on yourself and provide nutrients to support your own health.

Good sources of protein at least three times a week should be included in the diet. Consuming 1 gram per kilo of body weight is ideal. Sources include eggs, chicken, lamb, beef, legumes and cheese.
Breast feeding will require a higher intake of carbohydrates and including oats, wholegrains, quinoa, sweet potato and chickpeas, are all ideal. Also Including fats from nuts (if you choose to eat nuts whilst breast feeding), avocado, dairy and oily fish such as salmon.

SAMPLE MENU PLAN

Breakfast – 2 scrambled eggs, 1 cup spinach, ½ tomato, 1 cup mushrooms
Morning Tea – Smoothie. Banana, coconut milk, honey, raw cacao
Lunch – Toasted sourdough topped with 1 can of tuna, ½ avocado, cucumber
Afternoon Tea – 1 cup of Greek yoghurt, ½ cup mixed berries – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries
Dinner – In slow cooker – 1 lamb shoulder, served with sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower
Water – 2 litres filtered

RECIPE
Slow cooked lamb, served with veggies and a rosemary sauce

Serves 4
Ingredients: 1 lamb shoulder, 2 large sweet potatoes, 2 carrots, 1/2 pumpkin.
Method
Cut sweet potato, pumpkin and carrots into smaller sized pieces (approx. 3-4 cm in length)
In a slow cooker, add sweet potato, carrot and pumpkin. Place lamb shoulder on top. Turn setting to low heat and allow to cook for 8 hours.

Rosemary Sauce
Ingredients: 2 garlic cloves, 2 tbs lemon juice, 1 tbs butter, 2 tbs fresh rosemary, 2 tbs olive oil, ½ cup veggie stock
Remove lamb and vegetables from slow cooker. Do not wash slow cooker. Turn to high heat.
Add garlic, olive oil, rosemary, lemon juice and veggie stock and whisk with pan juices.
Add butter and stir. Serve.

If you are experiencing any health concerns post pregnancy, please see your doctor.

- Janine Watkins, The Holistic Nutritionist

To connect with Janine, click here to find out more about The Holistic Nutritionist

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Cathy

 

BABY SHOWER TRENDS FOR 2017

Guest Blog Post: Sherise Adkins from Occasionally

Header image via Miss kyree loves

The anticipated arrival of a brand new baby is such a magical time for expectant parents and everyone around them. A baby shower is the perfect chance for everyone to join in the excitement and celebrate this special time for the expectant parents.

Do baby showers still have a place in 2017? I say yes, absolutely!

Do you have to play games and open gifts? Not if you don’t want to!

Baby showers have come a long way over the last few years and are moving towards a more relaxed and refined sophistication. Rules are being broken (in a good way), and new themes and trends are emerging.

If you want to plan a modern, knock your socks off baby shower that the mum-to-be and all of her guests will love, the very first step is to select a theme. Having a theme in mind from the very beginning affords you a cohesive event - from the invitations, which are the guest’s very first impression, down to the favours, which will be the last thing they will remember.

Not to be underestimated, a well picked and executed theme will also give all of the guests and the mum-to-be a sense of excitement and festivity while they are there, leaving a real impact.

If this all sounds hard, rest assured that having a theme in mind will simplify your planning process. It will help you hone in on exactly what you need, and give you a way to filter out everything that it unnecessary. This will save you time and your sanity!

Now for some inspiration! Take a look at these gorgeous themes that you will see trending in 2017.

BOHO FLORAL


- Image via Style Me Pretty -

This is a whimsical baby shower theme that makes for a laid back feel. Team any combination of colourful floral arrangements, lace, floral crown, feathers, succulents, and foliage together. Add an outdoors setting and you’ll have one magical setup!


- Left image via Style Me Pretty | Right image via Pretty My Party -

TROPICAL

The tropical theme is a fresh new trend that your guests will love. With this theme you can create beautiful colour schemes and throw a shower fit for this lovely warm weather we’re having.


- Left image via 100 Layer Cake | Right image via Studio DIY -

BRUNCH WITH GRAZING TABLES


We are going to see baby shower brunches becoming even more popular. Add a delicious grazing table to the mix and you will be very on-trend. Think savoury, fresh or sweet – anything goes!


- Images via Miss kyree loves -

MONOCHROME

The monochrome theme will feature more throughout the year for those who don’t want to go down the traditional route for their baby shower. Monochrome can be sophisticated, playful or non-traditional to easily suit the mum-to-be’s personality.


- Images via Rebecca Judd Loves -

GENDER REVEAL

Gender reveal baby showers are becoming more and more popular. Apart from the excitement of finding out the baby’s gender, what makes them really great is that you can include the Dads and their mates and turn it into a couples baby shower.


- Images via Grey Likes Baby -

By running with one of these themes you really can’t go wrong. Make Mum (and / or Dad) the star and the shower will be perfect!

About the Author
Sherise Adkins is the owner of Occasionally, the Australian curated online marketplace (LAUNCHING SOON) where you can find everything you need to create the perfect occasion - from invitations, partyware and decorations to favours, gifts and more. Occasionally have done the searching for you, handpicked small makers, designers and retailers and brought them together at occasionally.com.au so that all of your occasions will be truly inspired, cohesive, and less stressful. And for a personal shopping experience, once you buy from them, the seller will send your items directly to you.

Head to Occasionally and leave your email addressed to be notified as soon as they launch!

For gorgeous party, event or unique gift giving inspiration make sure you follow them on Instagram and Facebook!

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Love,
Cathy

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HYPNOBIRTHING

Guest Post - Kerry Sutcliffe, The Hypnobirthing Mum

As a pregnant woman hopefully you are feeling excited about the upcoming birth of your baby but you may also feel nervous, worried or even fearful of childbirth. We often hear how painful or scary birth is from TV, movies or from family and friends, but what if you were told it doesn’t have to be this way? What if you could give birth in a calm, positive and empowering manner! Well hypnobirthing can help you achieve this!

WHAT IS HYPNOBIRTHING?
Hypnobirthing is an approach to birth that prepares the mother, baby and birth partner towards a positive birthing experience.

The hypnotherapy aspect of hypnobirthing concentrates on eliminating any fears we associate with birth in order to break the fear-tension-pain cycle. Alongside the self-hypnosis skills that hypnotherapy teaches, techniques including relaxation, breathing and visualisation are also incorporated so that both the psychological and physical elements of birth are covered. These techniques are designed to reduce the level of stress hormones and act as natural pain-relieving methods in order to achieve a calmer, gentler birth. In fact, did you know that endorphins which are a hormone naturally released by a woman during birth is up to 40 times more powerful than morphine – and hypnobirthing can show you how to condition yourself to release these!

WHAT ARE THE OTHER BENEFITS OF A HYPNOBIRTHING APPROACH TO BIRTH? 
Hypnobirthing is viewed by some as an unscientific or hippie-like thing to do. However, a recent study evidenced a range of benefits from this type of approach to birth, which showed advantages to both mother and baby including:

• Significantly reduced rates of epidurals and caesarean births
• Less perineal trauma
• Shorter second stage of labour
• Shorter hospital stay following birth
• Reduced need for pharmacological interventions
• Decreasing the fear associated with childbirth
• Less likelihood of newborn requiring resuscitation

So hands up who would like a birth like this!!!

WHEN SHOULD YOU DO HYPNOBIRTHING? 
Pregnant women can attend hypnobirthing classes, such as those run by The Hypnobirthing Mum, at any point during your pregnancy. The ideal time is between 20-30 weeks so that you have time to practice the techniques and alter your mindset towards one that views birth in a more confident manner, however with the right level of determination and enthusiasm a mother can attend anytime up to 37 weeks.

WHAT IF THINGS DON'T GO ACCORDING TO PLAN?
Sometimes there are special circumstances that mean you may not have the birth you wished for - but hypnobirthing mums are great at managing this! Mums who undertake hypnobirthing classes are provided with information regarding the choices they have during birth, giving them the comprehensive knowledge needed to make informed decisions about their birthing experience. When you are informed and educated you are more able to make good, considered decisions about changes to your birth preferences (should the need arise) during your birth.

Hypnobirthing mums and birth partners are prepared to calmly manage whatever path their birth takes and can positively approach any given situation ensuring they know that they gave their baby the best possible birth from the circumstances they were given. There is even a course from Hypnobirthing Australia™ specifically designed for caesarean births!

When a mother and her birth partner can approach childbirth feeling prepared with the right knowledge, information and tools this results in a positive and confident mindset that can lead to the beautiful births that so many women hope for – and which CAN be achieved!

About the author
Kerry Sutcliffe is a Certified Hypnobirthing Practitioner and Childbirth Educator (HPCE) based in Sydney. She is a hypnobirthing mum to 3 gorgeous children – Hollie, Bethany and Jack – and doing a hypnobirthing course was “without doubt the best thing I did to prepare for birth and welcome them into the world!” Three calm and positive birth experiences led her to being a passionate advocate for this approach to birth and she now runs ‘The Hypnobirthing Mum’ where she delivers the Hypnobirthing Australia™ programmes to pregnant women and their birth partners. Kerry loves teaching this approach to other women and would love to hear from you if you are interested in hypnobirthing so that you too can start your journey towards a wonderful and beautiful way to meet your baby!

Connect with Kerry here:
Website
Facebook
Instagram

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