My husband and I won’t be spending Valentines Day together this year. Not because we don’t believe in celebrating and think it’s an over the top marketing exercise, but simply because we won’t actually be in the same country on the day. We’ve recently moved back to Sydney after living in Dubai, and after the first few weeks of getting organised, my hubby had to go back to work out his notice, and arrives back here for a short break on February the 15th, one day after Valentines Day.
We all enter parenthood without a manual, and no matter how many parenting books we read while expecting, nothing truly prepares us for the onslaught of real life parenting once our little ones arrive. Most of us can admit to having had preconceived notions on what kind of parents we will be before we have kids – how our kids will behave, what food we’ll feed them, how much screen time they will be allowed, whether we will breastfeed or bottle feed, co-sleep or sleep train…and yet it’s only when we are in the thick of real life parenting that we realise how unrealistic our ideas of parenting really were.
I can still clearly remember an evening when my husband and I, newly engaged and yet to have kids, were having dinner out in a restaurant with some friends who had a 2.5 year old – their little one couldn’t sit still, was noisy, clambering on and off his seat and under the table in between bites of food. I remember thinking that I would never allow MY future child to do that and scoffed silently when the dad said “ah he’s such a boy” and that he didn’t believe in raising his voice to children. Looking back, I can now see that this little one was in fact being extremely well behaved for a boy of his age and that his parents were doing an amazing job taking him out with them, staying calm and collected throughout the entire meal.Continue Reading →
Thinking about packing your hospital bag and not sure where to start? If you’re in your third trimester, this is one of the most important things to do in the lead up to the arrival of your new baby, and early in this trimester is the perfect time to get all the essentials together!
Working out where to start can be a little overwhelming – you want to make sure you have all the must-have’s covered, but there’s also no reason to go overboard either! Read on to find out what you really need in your hospital bag, and when to pack it!
by Catherine Nelson-Williams
Helping your child adjust to the new baby is an issue a lot of Mums worry about – I know I certainly spent a lot of time worrying about this during my second pregnancy. After all, my toddler had enjoyed my undivided attention for 3 whole years and had never had to worry about sharing me with another child!
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.
Our Favourite Easter Products and Exclusive Discounts!
Easter is just a hop, skip and a jump away and there is so much more available for our precious little ones besides chocolate! (although we love our Easter eggs too!)
We are so excited to bring you our first Easter Edit which is choc-a-block with beautiful and unique Easter themed products available from our wonderful Nursery Collective boutiques. And because we love a good Easter sale, we also have some ah-mazing and exclusive Easter discounts available for Nursery Collective customers...so make sure you read ALL the way through to get the details of which boutiques you can use the code TNCEASTER to grab some amazing discounts and start hop-hop-shopping!
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...
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.
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.
By Amanda Cavallaro (The Anxiety Wellness Queen)
“Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry – all forms of fear – are caused by too much future, and not enough presence”. Eckhart Tolle
The modern life we live in can be quite complicated at times. Our attention is demanded in so many different areas that we find ourselves constantly on the go. Trying to keep up with our busy schedules, work, kids, family and friends invites stress and anxiety right through our doors! Even when we find time to relax, our minds are always wandering. Pregnancy and motherhood is one of the most precious, intriguing, rewarding, empowering yet fearful and stressful times in our lives. Therefore caring for your mental health and emotional well being should be placed high on your priority list!
It is amazing how far mental health awareness has come, to shed light, support and educate women and their loved ones about important issues such as Pre/Postnatal Depression. Women are becoming more knowledgeable and aware to look out for signs that may be of concern, thus receiving the care they need and deserve. Pre/Postnatal Anxiety, is another pressing issue. The statistics are continuously increasing and it is now estimated that 1 in 3 women will experience anxiety. Regrettably it is one of the most common mental health conditions in Australia today. Fear and anxiety often happens when you are physically in the here and now, although your mind is wandering in the future. Thankfully research is beginning to demonstrate the positive effects of practices such as mindfulness during pregnancy, to help reduce the symptoms of stress and anxiety.
So...What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the awareness of being in the present moment by paying attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them. It’s the practice of slowing down the mind rather than letting it wander in so many different directions. Unlike some of the other practices, the beauty of mindfulness is that with awareness you notice your thoughts and you then allow them to come and go without any judgement and interpretation. It’s important to understand that learning how to be present in your life takes time and practice! You have most likely practiced mindfulness on several occasions without even realizing.
Elisha Goldstein, a mindfulness expert, talks about practicing mindfulness in 2 ways – Formally and Informally. When practicing formally, you are ‘Intentionally’ setting aside time in your day to practice. By focusing and meditating on your breathing, your emotions and your thoughts with awareness. Informal Mindfulness practice incorporates the same sort of technique into your everyday life and tasks. You can do this by simply consciously being aware during your daily tasks.
Pregnancy and motherhood is a great time to learn and practice Mindfulness. It encourages awareness and a real sense of curiosity, it can be one of the most important tools that you learn during pregnancy and carry through to motherhood. Pregnancy can create a sense of fear and vulnerability. Mostly due to the unknown. Not knowing what will happen next, how you will feel and the constant change in physical sensations. Having the knowledge and tools that mindfulness provides can be a God send!
Mindfulness for Anxiety
Anxiety has a way of capturing your undivided attention! It consumes your thoughts, your body, feelings, and emotions. One of the common key elements of anxiety, is focusing on the future. The future, meaning a year from now, a month from now or even what could happen later that night. There is A LOT of ‘What Ifs’ involved and as a result making you feel more and more anxious. So then HOW does mindfulness come into the picture I hear you ask?
Mindfulness focuses on the here and now, the present moment. The total opposite to anxiety. It’s about training the brain to A) Slow Down & B) Discover this wonderful sense of awareness you have hidden within, removing all the chaos and enabling you to focus.
Have you ever had the experience of getting in the car to go somewhere and then before you know it.. YOU'ER THERE. How miraculous hey? The strange part is, most of the time you have no memory of the steps you took to get there, because so much of what we do is on auto pilot. With anxiety, your mind wonders constantly, mindfulness teaches you to pay attention to the moment by using awareness, observation and a sense of curiosity.
Practicing mindfulness can be experienced ‘Informally’. You achieve this by placing your focus on the task at hand, such as, eating, showering, walking, cooking etc.. For example, while eating your breakfast you may already be thinking about what your day has in store for you, what you are going to wear for the function on Saturday or what is on the menu for dinner. When you introduce a more mindful approach, you are then able to take note of the aromas from your meal, the tastes, the textures, the visual aspects, such as the colours of your food. Using all your senses is KEY and a good way to start.
Why is Mindfulness important during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, we can spend so much time thinking and worrying about what’s ahead, that we spend little time enjoying the now. Part of the reason anxiety increases so much for women during pregnancy is that so much of the process is out of our control. It is scary not knowing how things are going, what the different pregnancy symptoms are and if they are considered "normal". Women often worry about having everything organised for the nursery, wondering what will happen during the labour and how they will cope when the baby arrives. So much pressure is put on a couple to make the perfect decisions, such as birthing choices, eating healthy, exercising and taking vitamins. If there is anything you take away from today’s post I would like to highlight that taking care of your mental health needs during your pregnancy is just as important as your physical health.
Top 5 Benefits of practicing Mindfulness during Pregnancy
1. REDUCES STRESS, ANXIETY AND WORRY
Practicing Mindfulness during pregnancy has been shown to lower a mother’s stress and anxiety levels and improve overall emotional and physical health. Mindfulness allows you to alleviate the feelings of guilt and judgement by placing your focus on the present moment.
2. CONNECT TO YOUR CHANGING BODY
Let’s face it. There is so much going on during pregnancy that we often can’t keep up! Mindfulness practice allows you to tune in and listen to your body and its needs. There is no better time to be in touch with your body than now!
3. GREAT PREPARATION FOR THE BIRTH
Focus and awareness during the birthing experience is essential and ties in very well with #2. Understanding that some things are out of our control and being able to go with the flow is part of the recipe for a positive birthing experience.
4. CREATES A POSITIVE MINDSET DURING LABOUR
The first thing we hear when we fall pregnant is everyone’s horror stories! Which in turn only creates more fear and anxiety. Mindfulness allows you to notice any potential negative thoughts during your birth
without getting caught up in it all. Simply just by observing, letting it go and continuing to be present of the sensations and happenings of the NOW.
5. SELF CARE AND COMPASSION
We often judge ourselves based on expectations, social norms and feelings of fear and anxiety. Mindfulness supports self-compassion through the pregnancy process because it allows us to observe our feelings and thoughts with self-awareness. This is very important because we often hide the way we feel due to the guilt or fear of experiencing them.
- Amanda Cavallaro (The Anxiety Wellness Queen)
If you're a new or pregnant mama, please feel free to 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!
If you haven’t already joined our mailing list, please do so you can be notified of our blogs as soon as they go live! Added bonus when you sign up - you will also 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.
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).
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Guest Post - Bettina Rae
Has pregnancy been a bit of a struggle? Sickness? Aches and pains? Uncomfortable? Are you feeling afraid around what is to come?
What if there was a something you could do, today, that would ease all of these things?
Pregnancy yoga is more than just a trend. It’s a practice that can help you to connect with your baby, overcome fears around birth and motherhood, ease the typical aches and pains AND give you the tools to actually enjoy labour and birth.
Sign me up you say?
Awesome. A few things you should know first.
What you need to know about practicing yoga whilst pregnant.
Pregnancy and birth are sacred processes in becoming a mother. Life changing rites of passage. Typically in the West we don’t honour these times of transformation as well as other cultures. We often gift the mother-to-be with everything she will physically need for the baby, when what she really needs is our love , support and wisdom. There is however a growing consciousness around women and the need to return to the ‘village’ approach when birthing and raising children.
The path to motherhood involves every aspect of us as women – it transforms our physical body, our thoughts and our emotions. The way we approach these changes can heavily influence how we feel about ourselves in our new role as a Mother and how we feel about life in general. If we resist or ignore the transformation and continue on as we always have, life becomes a struggle. But if we honour and celebrate these changes it is easier to surrender and embrace our new lives as mothers. By valuing the changes we go through to become a mother we can empower ourselves in this new role.
Pregnancy yoga helps you soften and surrender to the process of becoming a mother and trust that everything will unfold exactly as it should, without needing to control or try to change the process. It is also a beautiful way to grow your own network of women going through the same experience and I thoroughly recommend joining a class if that option is available to you. The connections you make during these classes will be so valuable to you when you are in the depths of your mothering experience. You will NEED the support of other women going through the same experience to cheer you on, and to listen when you need to vent.
You may find the recommendations don’t apply to you every day and some days you feel strong and can do more than others. This is why now more than ever we need to connect mind and body and be aware of the choices we are making, for our safety as well as our babies.
- adjust poses to accommodate growing belly and changed centre of gravity by widening stance to hip width or wider and not practicing closed twists which constrict the belly.
- be careful not to overstretch. Hormones are already allowing your ligaments and tendons to relax more than usual.
- avoid abdominal work that causes strain as you risk causing the abdominal muscle separation to worsen
- move slowly especially when moving the head from high to low as changing blood pressures may make you feel faint.
- earn and practice correct alignment of the pelvis to help with back pain, sciatica and instability of the pelvis
- avoid deep back bends are weakening core muscles mean you do that have the muscle support to practice these poses safely.
- after the fourth month it is recommended that you do not lie flat on your back as this places pressure on a major artery and can affect blood flow to the baby.
- avoid overheating by wearing cool clothing and coming to child’s pose to rest when you need
- when moving in and out of poses, use the arms to support you to avoid straining the core. Eg. rising from lying to sitting
If you’d like to dive straight into a yoga class, try this pregnancy yoga flow for beginners.
Bettina Rae is a yoga teacher, counsellor and Mama to two young boys. She runs an online yoga studio for mothers to help them through pregnancy and birth, to practice yoga at home and to reconnect with themselves after having children. Her active community of women also gather monthly for women's circles (both online and in-person) for yoga, group meditation, healing and sharing their stories. She facilitates the online program; VIVE - 21 lessons to ditch overwhelm, reconnect and truly enjoy motherhood.
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