We're back baby mama! We've had a little break from our blog but we're so breast-pumped to be back with more insightful content to help make your pregnancy and postpartum a lot easier, and to share the experience of motherhood in a personal, real and honest way.
Today we are talking to Saira Allen, a Postpartum Doula from The Nurtured Family. Based in Newcastle, in our gorgeous home state of NSW, The Nurtured Family provides in-home physical and emotional support to help new mums acheive a confident start to motherhood (we LOVE that!). Saira is a certified Postpartum Doula, and we are excited to learn more about her work as an angel for new mamas.
Hi Saira! We’re so interested to learn more about your work as a Postpartum Doula, firstly can we ask, what is postpartum? Seems like a silly question but I know with my first baby I was NOT prepared for it!
In a broad sense Postpartum simply means after birth. So essentially once you’ve given birth, you are postpartum forever. Which is something I love to remind women of, because we so often think after a few weeks we should be good to go.
There are also so many changes not only to our bodies, but also our brains during pregnancy and postpartum refers to that period of time where we are finding our feet again. Where we are recovering from pregnancy and birth whilst also learning to be a mother.
It's the biggest learning curve I have EVER had, but thankfully something that you can find your rhythm to. Tell us more about the services you offer as a Postpartum Doula?
I offer both in-home and online support. Some mums benefit from having an extra set of hands to look after their home so they have space to focus on recovery and rest, which is where a home visit is really beneficial.
Whilst other mums need to be held in a more emotional capacity. They might have the home front covered or have a great village of support, but they need a container to really explore their transition to motherhood. And that’s where my online support comes in. Becoming a mother can be a seamless transition for some, but there are so many of us who really struggle and we need a safe space to talk about all of that.
I could not agree more, I have to admit, the struggle was real for me, I wish I had known that there was someone out there like you that could help me in those cloudy first weeks. How did you come to be a Postpartum Doula?
Oooh man, I’ll start by saying motherhood has broken me down and rebuilt me like nothing else!
Before I had my first son, I was a career woman. I took 12 months leave, thinking I’d probably want to go back after 6 months. It took me 6 months just to feel somewhat like my former self.
When I did return to work, I felt like a completely different person, and felt so disconnected from my job. I decided then, that if I had to be away from my babies, I wanted it to be for something that I loved doing.
I really struggled with my transition to motherhood and I became really passionate about women knowing that transition wasn’t always easy. So when I heard about Postpartum Doulas, it felt like a natural fit, and the perfect way to support women through that transition.
Saira with her gorgeous little ones, mums know what other mums need!
That resonates with me SO MUCH. Returning to work after maternity leave is something you can never really prepare yourself for. You have to almost learn to split your brain in two in order to focus at work while inevitably you are always thinking about your baby, love that you turned that experience into working to help other new mums!
What are the most common things new mamas need help with, but probably won't ask for?
There’s two that immediately come to mind. The first being breastfeeding. It might be natural but that doesn’t mean it will come naturally to you! There’s lots of women who seek support in the wrong places and end up discouraged. Always see an IBCLC, they are the best of the best!
The second is the mental load. We have a societal narrative that mothers are either mentally healthy or they have postnatal depression. Not true. There is so much grey in between and we need mothers to know there is help available and they don’t have to carry that weight alone. As a postpartum doula, I don’t just nurture Mama after birth, I make sure she’s got the tools to share that load with those around her.
YES and YES. Breastfeeding did not come naturally to me (if you are looking for an amazing IBCLC lactation consultant you can see our interview with Kate from Milky Business Lactation here). And the mental load, that's a constant struggle for ALL mums.
What are the most common things you hear from your clients?
Communication with partners is always a big one! I don’t want to generalise all mothers and their partners, but I so often see mum trying to do all the things and then getting frustrated because their partner isn’t helping them. Meanwhile their partner thinks they’ve got it under control. Basically, we suck at asking for help. Mum waits until she’s at breaking point and then it’s a shock to her partner, which in turn makes mum feel like her efforts are unseen.
I am 100% guilty of this myself. So what are some ways that a new mama can take care of themselves?
Ask for help, before you think you even need it. And always accept any offer of help. It doesn’t make you less than or weak. It means you value yourself and you’ll be modelling that to your children.
And find 5 minutes every day to do something purely for you. Drink a coffee whilst it’s still hot, sit in the sunshine! The chores can wait, and you’ll feel much better for it!
Hot coffee, what's that! Tell me what you would like every new mum to know?
You deserve to be supported through motherhood and showered with love and adoration! Anything less is a disservice to the amazing role you play in raising the next generation.
Amen to that! On your website that you offer some incredible free resources, can you tell us a bit about them and go on, give yourself and your site a plug!
My free resources are all about making women the confident mothers they deserve to be!
There’s a guide to help you plan for postpartum, so you can feel confident that you’ll get the support you need and deserve. There’s a guide on being confident in your parenting choices, because nobody is better at raising your baby than you are and I want you to feel that!
And lastly, there’s a cheeky little printout to put on your fridge and get your visitors helping you when they come to meet your bub.
My whole aim as a Doula is to break down the barriers and allow mothers to feel confident asking for help!
Building confidence in every mama she works with x
Your work is so amazing and helps so many women ease into motherhood. Are there any TMM products that you would recommend to your customers?
The Village for Mama Postpartum Recipe book and cards – it’s the perfect way for Mama to be able to use her village and get the nourishment she needs after birth.
Such a thoughtful (and delicious!) creation from Leila at Village for Mama we couldn't agree more.
Saira how do people get in touch with you to learn more about your services?
We are so grateful to you for taking the time to be a part of our Profesh Sesh series. Women like you are actual angels helping new mums navigate motherhood at a time where they are dealing with the emotional and physical roller-coaster of motherhood, thanks so much Saira x