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February 24, 2021

"My name is Jean. I am a Registered Nurse of 17 years and an Endorsed Midwife. I have always found pregnancy and childbirth fascinating and if I achieved nothing else in my lifetime, it was to become a mother myself. Becoming a midwife and a mother was my passion. I find such joy in being able to provide education, comfort and reassurance to women and their families during their pregnancy, birth and post-natal journey."

Tell us your quick back story:

"My name is Jean. I am a Registered Nurse of 17 years & an Endorsed Midwife. I was born & bred in Brisbane, QLD and lived in our family home – a big old’ Queenslander, until the age of 26 when I met my now husband & moved out of home for the very first time to go on a working holiday in London, where we lived for three years.

I have a family of five – my husband, Richard, my six-year-old daughter, Macy, my four-year-old son, Ari, and our six-month-old golden Labrador puppy, Daisy. I also came from a family of five – Mum Linda, Dad Rodney and my two older brothers Grant and Sean.

I graduated as a Registered Nurse in 2004 and did my grad year at the RBWH in Oncology, Haematology, Bone Marrow Transplant. I worked in Oncology for 1 ½ years before deciding I needed a change. I then trained to become a Cardiac Cath Lab nurse which I really enjoyed & continued until I returned from London & decided I wanted to study a Graduate Diploma of Midwifery to become a Registered Midwife. I have always found pregnancy & childbirth fascinating & if I achieved nothing else in my lifetime, it was to become a mother myself. Becoming a midwife & a mother was my passion. I find such joy in being able to provide education, comfort & reassurance to women & their families during their pregnancy, birth & post-natal journey. The definition of midwife is “to be with woman”."

Describe briefly what you thought motherhood would be like before you became a mother!

"I can honestly say I did not think too much about what it would be like to become a mother. My main thoughts surrounded having endless cuddles with this cute tiny human that I had somehow magically created & grew inside of me & nourish them with this liquid gold my breasts would create. Although this was a real expectation, it certainly was not reality."

 

Did you have any ‘lightbulb moments’ about your sense of self after you became a mother?

"Without a doubt, I completely lost my sense of self after becoming a mother. Not only did my body no longer belong to me, but my mind also did not. I am an anxious person by nature – it runs in the family. I remember friends telling me that having a baby can either chill you out or make your anxiety worse. It did the later for me. Suddenly, I had this tiny human that I had to keep alive & I worried about anything & everything that I could – will she stop breathing in her sleep, have I fed her enough, have I missed her sleeping ques, will she become unwell because walked past a person on the street smoking a cigarette. The list was endless & oh so exhausting. Of course, none of these things happened & she is a completely healthy, well 6-year-old & there was all that worry for nothing. But at the time it felt justifiable & to be honest, something I felt I had no control over.

I was 30 years old when I had my first baby, Macy. Our first ever pregnancy (5 months before we conceived Macy) ended in miscarriage. With this in mind, we decided we would try to have a second baby relatively soon after Macy was born. We always wanted our kids to be close in age in the hope that they would consequently be close in the relationships they formed with one another. The plan was to have 3 kids as Rich & both have 2 siblings each also. We also wondered if we would have anymore miscarriages, so we decided to crack on. We nailed it first go & when Macy was 8 months old, we conceived our son, Ari. I was convinced we were having another girl so when little Ari came along, I could not believe it!

It was hard having 2 kids 17 months apart. My daughter was very slow to move & wasn’t even crawling by the time Ari had arrived – I had 2 babies essentially. Ari & I had terrible feeding issues & as a result, sleeping issues. He would feed hourly around the clock & did so for the first 4 months of his life. I knew the solution would be to feed him a bottle, but the little blighter refused to take ANY kind of bottle or ANY kind of formula or expressed breast milk (& trust me, I tried every single type of bottle & teat on the market at the time). This complete lack of sleep & exhaustion led me down the slippery path into post-natal depression."

Did you find those beginning days of Motherhood easy because of your experience as a Midwife?

"Pregnancy & birth complications, breast feeding difficulties, post-natal depression – none of these discriminate just because you’re a midwife or a health care professional. Being pregnant comes with its challenges – for me, hyperemesis. Labour & birth can also have its hiccups. Becoming a mum was HARD & if I’m being honest, it still is. Don’t get me wrong, it was still my main goal in life, to become a mum & the love I have for my children is one I have never come across before & is quite frankly, indescribable. Things happened to my body & mind that no one prepares you for & really, no one can prepare you for this. Everyone experiences childbirth & parenthood differently & I don’t think anyone can ever be fully prepared for it, no matter how hard they try."

 

 

Describe in a handful of words the woman you feel you are today.

"The woman I feel today – content that my family is complete with 2 children. Happy that I have these 2 beautiful children to cuddle & love & help grow into beautiful, kind, caring humans. Disconnected from my body. It’s been a long healing process for me both mentally & physically, but more the latter. It’s hard to find the time for self-love – something I need to work on."

What are the three pieces of advice you would like to pass onto other Mums?

"One -Don’t kill yourself with getting breast feeding right. My view on breast feeding is that your mental health trumps it. I always suggest giving it a crack & going into it with a positive mindset & if it works for you than fantastic. It’s important to talk to your midwife during your pregnancy about ways in which you can help prepare your breasts for breast feeding & to discuss some of the more common challenges breast feeding mothers come up against.

Once baby is born, if you have any difficulties with breast feeding, seek help from your midwife or lactation consultant but if it gets to the point where it’s affecting your mental health, it’s time for another feeding plan. That doesn’t necessarily mean formula feeding. It may mean expressing so that your partner can do some of the nigh time feeds, allowing you to get some more rest, or it may mean combination feeding – giving both breast & formula feeds. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how you feed your baby, as long as you feed your baby. Your mental health should not have to suffer because of other people’s expectations of how feeding should be done. Just like pregnancy, labour & childbirth, it is important to be flexible & have an open mind – not everything goes to plan or works out the way we thought it would. The most important thing is to have your supportive “village” around you to assist you in navigating your way through parenthood & helping to overcome any challenges that pop up along the way. Don’t be afraid to ASK FOR HELP.

Two - Join a Parent’s Group! Being around other people going through what are is important. It is reassuring when you hear that another baby is behaving similarly to your baby. It also gives you someone to bounce ideas off & it’s an excuse to get out of the house once a week which does the world of good for your mental health.

Three - Exercise! Even if it’s just pushing baby in the pram of an afternoon for 30 mins – GET OUT OF THE HOUSE. Those four walls of your house will drive you insane if you don’t leave them at least once a day. Not to mention the fresh air & endorphin release we get from exercise does your mind & body the world of good!"

What are some of the most common challenges you see women experience during pregnancy and post-partum?

"During pregnancy, some of the most common challenges I see women come up against are usually physical ones. In the early stages of pregnancy, it’s tiredness, lethargy, nausea & vomiting. During the second trimester the tiredness goes next level as often iron deficiency kicks in as baby takes the mother’s iron stores to help build their own red blood cells. The third trimester often results in leg cramps, reflux, hip & pelvic discomfort, difficulty sleeping/insomnia & just generally feeling uncomfortable.

Postpartum challenges generally surround tiredness – getting used to a new pattern of sleep or lack thereof. And of course, breast feeding difficulties whether that be tender, cracked nipples, difficulties with latching baby or milk supply issues."

What would you tell your old self (when you were a new Mum), knowing what you know now?

"I would remind myself to relax & breath. I should have asked for more help from loved ones & I should have let go of things like the housework & done what everyone always says to do - “sleep when baby sleep”. Don’t sweat the small stuff – enjoy your newborn baby as they grow so quickly."

 

 

What were your top three motherhood must-haves when your little ones were at newborn/toddler stage?

(i) A quality nappy bag & wipes holder – a new one! There wasn’t many things I bought brand new but a nappy bag was one of them! Baby wipes are an essential part of being a mum & I still use them to this day – perfect for long car rides & sticky fingers!

(ii) A good quality pram that is light weight (for getting in & out of the boot of the car) & easy to handle. Oh, & that fits through doorways easily! I purchased a side-by-side double pram after I had my second baby & it was fantastic!

(iii) Yumbox snack box. Snacks are essential & lots of them!