Like Mary Poppins sweeping in with her magical bag, Shine Postnatal Services brings nourishing pregnancy, birth and postnatal care (including house cleaning!) into the homes of mama’s on the Sunshine Coast. Here we speak to the company’s savvy business creators about postpartum preparation strategies, modern motherhood challenges and the true meaning of midwifery.

Writer: Rebecca Walker, The Conscious Wordsmith

What inspired you to launch Shine Postnatal Services?

As midwives-in-training, we both shared the same concern about the lack of postnatal support women were receiving on the Sunshine Coast. Being mothers ourselves, and understanding how important that support is, we decided we wanted to help in whatever way we could. We sent surveys to new parents asking what they wish they’d had more support with when they had newborns; The two most common answers were ‘cleaning’ and ‘meals’, so we created Shine Postnatal Services to bridge the support gap. Our meal and cleaning packages quickly became popular baby shower and ‘blessingway’ gifts for mamas-to-be. We’ve since expanded our services to ensure that we are meeting a wide range of needs for new families. 

Why do you think it’s important for new mothers to be nurtured in the postpartum period?

There is so much emphasis on preparing for birth during pregnancy. You often see care providers 10+ times and the focus usually revolves around physical health during pregnancy and the upcoming birth experience. However, there is little guidance or preparation for the postpartum period. Women often have a few postnatal visits with a midwife or care provider in the first week or two, but after that you are really on your own if you haven't set up a good support network ahead of time.

After the birth of your baby, women experience the biggest drop in hormones they will ever experience in a short amount of time. Not only are they physically recovering from birth, but they are also recovering emotionally, mentally and spiritually. With birth trauma at an all-time high (1 in 3 women describe their birth as traumatic, and 1 in 5 women experience postnatal depression/anxiety), postpartum care has never been so important.  

Along with midwifery support, you offer antenatal & postnatal education services. What do these entail?

We have a 3-part series that is all online, as well as a partner course. We try our best to keep our courses balanced by focussing on the postpartum period as much as pregnancy and birth. We have a holistic approach that takes into account women's experiences, as well as discussing scientific evidence and medical research, in addition to providing couples with tools for making informed decisions. We truly believe knowledge is power. It's really vital to understand the recommendations and know what your options are.

Our packages include anecdotal information from real mother’s experiences and birth videos, along with downloadable e-books, expert interviews (with lactation consultants, physios etc.) and free mini-courses. We’ve tried to include a holistic spectrum of information, no matter how taboo the topic.

Along with postnatal and pregnancy massage, in-home lactation consultations, and cleaning services, you have a freshly-made meal delivery service. Who makes these meals and what are they comprised of?

We collaborate with other local businesses. It’s really important to us that the meals are fresh and in no way promote weight loss or a restricted diet. So we found local companies that aligned with our vision of providing warming, delicious, well-balanced, homemade meals, including curries, risotto’s, meat, vegetables, stir-fry, pasta and lasagne.

Motherhood is such a huge change for first-time mama’s who don’t know what’s coming. What advice do you give women who are anxious about this transition? 

Preparation. Make meals ahead of time, organise people to help with chores, ask for practical gifts from friends, or money towards a postpartum doula. Know who your local women's physio, perinatal counsellor and psychologist’s are, find a lactation consultant in your area and source a local massage therapist who does house calls. It’s also important to find a mothers group so you can chat with other mums who are going through similar things.

Along with educating mama’s, you educate their partners about how to best support them. What common advice do you give those in a support role?

We are huge advocates for partner involvement during birth and in the postpartum period. We often see partners at a loss as to how to help mama in labour. Being mums ourselves, we know partners often need direction when it comes to supporting their partners during birth and helping after bub is born. As new parents you are both navigating uncharted waters, but communication is so crucial during this time.

Tips for partners include knowing the mama's birth preferences so you can advocate for her and assist her during labour. Knowing what she does or doesn’t want is important if she’s struggling to communicate her needs herself while labouring. Postnatally, support includes bonding with bub with lots of skin-to-skin cuddles, baby wearing, changing nappies, preparing meals for mama and ensuring she’s always hydrated during breastfeeding sessions.

What are some of the obstacles that makes modern motherhood more challenging than it needs to be? 

Western society is guilty of expecting mothers to do it all, and to have it ‘together’ every day. There is a big emphasis on ‘bouncing back’ into a pre-pregnancy body shape, getting back to work, throwing yourself back into life and social activities, staying on top of the daily to-do lists AND loving every moment of motherhood. These expectations and pressures aren’t realistic. 

In other cultures, especially in the East, the first 40 days of motherhood is really honoured. The mother is held, fed, massaged and cared for. She has no other duties, other than tending to her baby and focusing on her recovery. The postnatal period is such a sacred window of time where the maiden becomes the mother. To truly honour that, we as mothers need to let go of societal expectations and outdated beliefs, while listening to our intuition.

First time motherhood is one thing, but sometimes the biggest challenges present themselves after a second baby is born. Do you have any top tips for women who are growing their family and preparing for life with siblings? 

With each pregnancy, your journey is different. Consequently, your birth and postpartum experiences are different as well. The biggest challenges mums face when welcoming in subsequent babies is mum guilt. Mothers of 2 or more children often tell us they are grieving the relationship they had with their first-born. Older children are no longer the baby of the family as the dynamics shift, so it can be tricky for mums to navigate all those feelings.

Including other children in the pregnancy journey can be really beautiful. We encourage mamas to take older children to appointments so they can see their sibling on a scan and hear its heartbeat. Another idea is to go shopping together, so older brothers or sisters can help pick out some baby items they can gift the new baby when it’s born. Postnatally, creating a box of play items for ‘special time’ when you are feeding bub is another lovely idea. It’s also important to set aside a special activity or dedicated one-on-one time with the older sibling/s so they feel included. 

What do you believe is the secret to thriving in motherhood?

Setting clear boundaries, preparing for life after pregnancy, asking for (and accepting!) help when you need it, making yourself a priority, and not comparing yourself to other mums.

What is the most gratifying part about doing what you do?

Knowing that we are helping bridge the gap where postnatal support was previously lacking is really gratifying. We get so much satisfaction from knowing women feel they can trust us and feel heard. Midwives genuinely want to make a positive impact, but often don’t have the time in a hospital setting, so the fact that our approach has no time restrictions means we can offer a more holistic approach, which is what midwifery is about. Midwife means “with woman” and we truly feel we deliver this philosophy with Shine. 

If you could offer mums one ‘mantra’ or positive affirmation to get them through the hard days, what would it be?

Your best looks different on different days.

To read more about Shine Postnatal Services, visit their website: www.shinepostnatalservices.com