A couple of weeks ago, I did a lovely interview with Inner West Mums about the work I’m doing with MamaCare Health, and more generally about my life as an Inner-West Mama here in Sydney! You can see it on their website, but also read the full text below.
Tell us about yourself
I’m originally from Brisbane, though I’ve lived all over the world, and we relocated to Sydney five years ago. I have been a naturopath for nine years and prior to that worked in the arts. I’m in the final months of a Masters in Acupuncture, which I’m looking forward to finishing! Over the past decade I’ve worked in a mixture of big integrated medical centres and smaller natural health clinics and have found that both have their benefits and strengths.
I am married to Jon, a public health academic, who also has a background in naturopathy and we have a 3-year-old daughter, Molly. We still travel a lot and spent my maternity leave year in Boston, where Jon had a visiting position at Boston Medical Centre. During our time in the US, I took the opportunity to do some work with Natural Doctors International, who are based in Nicaragua and run a free health care service for the community there. I took Molly with me, who at six months was a wonderful travelling buddy and very well received; this has been one of my favourite adventures to date.
At the start of this year I launched my new business, a passion project that I have been thinking about for years, MamaCare Health Services.
Tell us about MamaCare Health Services
MamaCare provides an in-home postpartum health care service that is aimed at supporting women after they’ve had a baby, whether it’s their first or fourth time. It comes from the idea, seen in many traditional health care practices, that women need dedicated care and attention after giving birth. It’s a vulnerable time for many of us. As new mothers, all of our focus and energy goes into the new baby and we need someone to make sure our needs are being met. That’s what I want to foster for modern Mums in my work with MamaCare Health Services.
Society places a lot of expectations on looking good, getting back into work, single-handedly managing other kids after having a baby and, in most cases, without much of a support network. I’ve spoken to many women in clinic, heard stories from friends and even surveyed the IWMs – all who’ve related a similar experience: that motherhood was a huge life change they went through without enough support or connection.
We have an awesome healthcare system; one that’s focused primarily on pregnancy, labour and birth and postpartum doesn’t really get a look in. After the birth, all attention shifts to the baby and we lose focus on the Mum. You get a 6-week check up with your Doctor and, depending on when you’re discharged from hospital, you may get follow up visits from a midwife. If you’re lucky, you’ll have family or a friend network around to help you. But many people do not.
There’s so much support and care that a woman, her partner and family requires after the birth of a new baby but many, many women miss out. MamaCare Health service bridge’s that gap and aim to provide continuous care and support for new Mums.
I’m a clinician, so during each visit I do a thorough health assessment and make recommendations for remedies that support your health. But I’m also a Mum, so I can empathise and relate with your experience. I can make you a cup of tea to sip while we talk, we can sit on your couch and talk in comfort while you breastfeed or change a nappy, with other children at our feet, or family in the background. I will adapt to whatever makes you most comfortable.
To make it as easy as possible, I come to your home for appointments, and also offer ongoing phone and email support. I can also link up with other services and act as a referral guide to follow up with your GP, obstetrician, midwife or lactation consultant.
Which services do you provide and to whom?
I offer naturopathic support and advice for pregnancy and birth recovery, which is delivered in the comfort of your own home.
Ideally, I will visit you at least once before the baby’s born, during which we’ll go through a thorough health check, talk about your plans for the birth and beyond and how I can best support you. I’ll bring with me resources and information for you to use both in the lead up to birthing and during your postpartum recovery. I will also give you a medicinal herbal bath blend to use after the birth (for relaxation and to aid recovery) and, depending on the level of service you’ve selected, herbal tea, healthy food items and remedies.
Regardless of how many visits are scheduled, I also offer unlimited text, email and phone support for my postpartum Mums; from the time of our first appointment, through to the end of your fourth trimester (first 12 weeks).
After the baby has arrived, I’ll do a series of follow up visits to check in with how you’re going, physically (e.g. healing, after pains, breastfeeding, hormone balancing) and emotionally. I’ll review your health, birth recovery, ensure you’re eating well. Because of my acupuncture training, I can also do moxibustion (a warming technique for the abdomen and lower back) and acupressure, and show you how to do it for yourself (or train a family member to do it for you!). The type of service you select will determine how often we have an appointment and whether any additional services (e.g. food hamper) are included. Some women only want to follow up once or twice in person, whereas others schedule a visit every 1-2 weeks during the fourth trimester.
Mums also have the option to have their appointments in the Pyrmont clinic, rather than at home, if that’s what makes them feel more comfortable. I’m flexible about this and happy to adapt to individual needs.
I am Sydney based and my services extend across metropolitan Sydney. For anyone outside of a 30km radius from the city, there is a loading fee.
How does your service compliment the midwife checks that a baby and mum receive after birth?
It’s designed to work in conjunction with them, and I am not in any way looking to replace the services of midwives or doctors! I provide additional support that focuses on nutrition and self-care practices, promotes overall birth recovery; helping new mums to balance their energy and emotions, establish good milk supply and bond with their babies.
What are some of the typical issues new mums have?
Simple questions around: what to eat, how to balance energy, getting digestive function back, how to improve milk supply, and whether supplements or herbal teas are safe when breastfeeding… all of these are common questions in the days and weeks after giving birth.
Then there’s also the role of ‘sounding board’. Having a baby is a physical, emotional and spiritual transition – one that continues well beyond the process of birth itself. Everything changes in an instant and that can really stretch or challenge a woman’s sense of identity. For a new Mum, the value of knowing she has someone on tap – someone who can answer questions without judgement, who can validate how she’s feeling and help to ensure she’s getting the right care – is immeasurable.
I also think having a real person to talk to is super important. Although virtual communities (like IWMs!) are excellent and help to connect people going through similar experiences, real-time face-to-face contact cannot be replaced.
This service sounds like a beautiful gift to a new mama. Can people purchase a gift voucher for your services?
Absolutely! I’ve had quite a few people ask me about that. Any and all of the MamaCare Health services can be gifted to an expectant mama, or you can give a credit towards one of our services. Honestly, giving a woman the gift of care and support after birth is priceless, whether she’s a first or fourth-time Mum.
What is the best feedback or thanks you have had received from a new mum that you would like to share?
Some of the best feedback I’ve had from women who’ve used this service is that they’re so glad to have something that’s just for them. And that is music to my ears, because it is! This is ALL about nourishing, supporting and growing mothers. For themselves and, ultimately, for their families. Everyone benefits.
If you could change the world, what would you start with?
Ditching disposable containers. Seriously. Why are we all still using them?! Environmental waste, plastics and pollution makes me a bit nutty. But that’s a whole other discussion we could have…
In an ideal world, what would motherhood look like?
It would be revered and respected for the integral role it plays in growing and nourishing our current and future generations. Motherhood is a super power! And it would be recognised for the powerful transition it offers each woman herself, and the shift in identity that comes along with that.
The favourite aspect of your travel experience?
Oh, so many. But I must say, we were incredibly fortunate to spend most of Molly’s first year on the road – in Australia and overseas – and it was one of the most magical (and challenging at times!) experiences. Firstly, knowing that you can still have amazing adventures once you become a parent (which many people are swift to tell you is not the case). And secondly, showing my fat little baby off to the world and seeing her being loved, supported and cared for by other people was beautiful – we found our village wherever we were. It gave me faith in ‘us’ as a global population and I was heartened to see how kind and accommodating people can be.
Favourite spots in Sydney’s Inner West?
I love that even though we live in a tiny little house in Ultimo, we’re surrounded by parks and waterfront and greenspace – so we don’t miss out by not having a big living space or yard. There are so many wonderful cafes, museums and venues near us – sometimes we just meet up with neighbours around the corner, other times we ride over to Newtown to visit the garden centre or Marrickville to eat delicious foods and check out the markets. We spend a lot of our free time out and about and have found a wonderful community in the Inner West; it’s really unique to be doing that in such a big city.