HOLISTIC MOTHERHOOD. A tête-à-tête WITH TALITA SHEEDY OF LAHLITA NATURAL MEDICINE


You are what you eat. But food isn’t the only thing that fills your wellbeing cup. Here we speak to Sunshine Coast-based Naturopath, yoga teacher, author and mama, Talita Sheedy about the immeasurable value of women’s health, kid’s immunity hacks and the importance of self-care for mamas.

Writer: Rebecca Walker, The Conscious Wordsmith

What is your personal definition of ‘optimal health’?

Personally I associate optimal health with ‘individualised health’. Ultimately optimal health is about aligning with a practitioner who can help you figure out what YOUR individual definition of optimal health is; and to evolve with you at certain stages of life…tweaking health strategies as your life changes. No two people have the same physical/mental/emotional constitution, health challenges or goals, so it’s important to identify the elements of health that are most important to each individual in THAT moment.

Female hormone health is one of your specialities. Do you have any top tips for women who are trying to rebalance their hormones postnatally?

Focus on reducing sugar and stress – these two factors have a huge impact on hormone regulation postnatally. Limited knowledge of dietary care, or an unsupported mother are the top reasons women reach for comfort food; and without sufficient emotional support, stress dramatically effects the hormonal cascade and metabolism of the body on a biochemical level. Unfortunately, we live in a culture where mums rely on a coffee in a morning and a wine at night to ‘survive’, rather than practising self-care through nourishing foods, exercise and adequate emotional support to process one of life’s biggest adjustments. So, try your best to reduce your coffee/sugar/wine intake and increase your support network. 

There is so much opportunity for growth and rebirth as a mother if you seek support that nourishes your body and soul’s changing needs. Seeking out authentic connections with people who you can be honest about your mama journey with, and feel supported by, is a huge part of that. Additionally, investing in your physical health with an integrated practitioner who can create an achievable plan for your hormones is a game changer. Your physical and emotional health are both vital for your children’s wellbeing. Parenting doesn’t have to be a struggle of survival. 

Anaemia (low iron) is common during pregnancy and postnatally. What are some iron-rich foods women can eat to avoid this fatigue-inducing ailment?

This is totally dependant on the mother’s gut health, liver function and dietary choices – so it’s not always as simple as food sources. However, my go-to’s that I regularly prescribe are diets with adequate protein sources to assist the heme-binding of the iron-rich foods such as my loves: chlorella & fresh parsley. I recommend mixing these in a citrus (high vitamin C) juice or smoothie with other protein sources.

One of your services is a post-bub (post-breastfeeding) cleanse. What are the benefits of cleansing after birth/breastfeeding completion?

Once breastfeeding is complete, it is the perfect time to align the hormones with the health goals of the mama. During a cleanse, I focus on cleansing and optimising a woman’s hormones to help get her reproductive and neurotransmitter hormonal health get back on track; Sometimes even more optimal than before they gave birth – which is common with mamas who struggled with hormone dysfunction conditions such as PMS, skin disorders, endometriosis, PCOS or fertility issues.

Additionally, we look at strengthening the mother’s emotional/mental health and view of where she would like her overall health to be. After children there is an unexplainable, irreversible change that happens in a woman and once the depths of that baby time have passed, it is the perfect time to focus within and review long-term health goals on all levels. It is a super exciting time for a mama and I love working with women during this phase.

What inspired you to write ‘Baby It’s Only Natural’?

Being a mum myself, I started researching first-food advice and was appalled by the out-of-date advice that was being given to mums. This research made me realise why so many children are struggling with immune & gut issues, allergies/intolerances, behavioural disorders, and chronic diseases. Rather than waiting to treat these conditions in clinic, I realised I could PREVENT them from occurring in the first place by educating families about giving children the best start to life – by feeding babies correctly. So after a lot of long hours and sleepless nights (while mothering a young baby myself), the book was born.

 

You also wrote a week-by-week holistic pregnancy guide called ‘The Essential Holistic Pregnancy Kit.’ What does the term ‘conscious pregnancy’ mean to you and why do you think it’s a valuable approach to pregnancy, birth and beyond?   

To me, ‘conscious pregnancy’ implies mamas who are making empowered and educated decisions throughout their pregnancies. They are reading and researching a wide range of sources then aligning with their personal path, based on the information they’ve gathered. Most importantly, they are making decisions based on what feels best for THEM, their family and the baby they are birthing. Unfortunately, too commonly today, women are handing over their power by trusting a medical body to make important decisions about pregnancy and birth, instead of empowering themselves by deciding what’s best for them.

The traditional obstetrician/hospital/medicalized model doesn’t suit everyone. We all have different views, experiences and conditioning, so one size does not fit all when it comes to pregnancy, birth and parenting. The parenting journey begins with the decisions you make during pregnancy, and it is during this time that you are faced with some of the most sacred decisions you will ever need to make. Decisions that will impact your family’s future. So making conscious steps and choices every step of the way is an individualised, educated approach where you can reduce regret or making decisions that aren’t aligned with you and your family. My advice to mamas is to be open to a different path than the ones your friends or family have taken, if it feels right for YOU. Conscious parenting can severely reduce stress within the family and result in empowering contentment as a mother because you know why you made the choices you did. 

Let’s talk kid’s immunity. What are some of the best foods, vitamins, minerals, herbs and nutritional supplements mums can give their little ones to build natural immunity and ward off germs?

Firstly, not all germs are bad, so we need to make sure we’re warding off the ‘nasty germs’ and encouraging the growth of ‘good germs’. When I first started practising I went to a children’s health conference with some of Australia’s top practitioners. The leading integrated doctors recommended the two best things you can do for your child’s immunity is to let them eat dirt and have a pet to expose them to a variety of microbiome. There is buckets of research to support this. Sadly, in today’s over-sanitised world, we’re seeing a decline in children’s immunity as parent’s fear germs.

My favourite immune-boosting nutrients are zinc, vitamin D & vitamin A. That includes sun exposure for the vitamin D, especially in winter. Adding herbs to cooking (bone broth) such as thyme, oregano and garlic, are also great. My favourite liquid extracts for kids include herbs such as elecampane, pelargonium, cat’s claw and echinacea.

Finally, focusing on increasing the intake of pre & probiotic foods (daily) helps the microbiome building process and fortify immunity. Foods such as coconut kefir and sauerkraut are fantastic, along with dandelion greens. Growing your own veggies in your own garden where microbiome can cultivate and flourish in the food your child is consuming is ideal; or at least buying local produce that is organic and pesticide-free.

As well as naturopathic and nutritional consultations, you teach yoga and meditation. How do these practices serve you as a mother?

My yoga and meditation practice is such a vital aspect of my wellbeing. It serves me not only as a mother, but in all elements of my life. Years ago I use to believe I could ‘herb’ or ‘food’ my way out of any ailment or state I was in. But that’s definitely not the way I look at health nowadays after doing my yoga training and becoming a mother, with all the challenges along the way. My service to my emotional self comes first – whether that be yoga, meditation, journaling, beach walks or laying in the sun.

Life can be very busy and fast-paced, and my excessive passion to help others is what commonly unravels me. Hence the reason slowing down has become the gold in my health. I’ve also learnt to be more gentle with myself and to identify my stress/adrenal triggers. Too much ‘output’ not enough ‘input’ results in one exhausted mama, so I now see the immense benefit of spiritual/emotional practices. At the end of the day we aren’t just a physical body!

You homebirthed both of your boys. What insights and advice would you give anyone who is considering a homebirth?

I would absolutely support and encourage all families to consider it! Rather than simply ruling it out as an option, book a consult with a private midwife and break down the abundance of health and wellness benefits, as well as any potential ‘what-if’s’ and fears. Like any birth, at home or hospital, it is vital for parents to do their research and know all there is to know about birth. Education = Empowerment, which reduces fear. The more knowledge you have about birth improves your birthing outcomes.

It’s also important to identify the societal conditioning that is driving your choices around birth. What you have been told, versus what feels right for YOU. For me, homebirth was the most empowering and blissful experience. Birth is the most sacred and natural experience a woman can have, so for me I felt the safest at home where I was comfortable…trusting my body and this naturally occurring experience.

How do you juggle running a business with motherhood? Any advice for other working mama’s out there?

Finding balance didn’t come easily to me, and I still (frequently!) have my unbalanced moments. My boys aren’t in school yet so at this stage I’m not as available for clients as I’d like to be in future, but I’m want to spend these beautiful moments and years with my kids, so I’m happy to compromise for now. But the key to everything is sticking to BOUNDARIES.

Also, saying yes to help when offered; and seeking help when its not. Knowing you don’t need to be super mum and super business woman. My business journey has helped me discover what my strengths and weaknesses are (which can be hard to admit). Outsourcing when you can, is of tremendous benefit once you know where your weaknesses lie. Getting people to help you in your business so you can be as present as you want to be with your children, even if that means making less money, is so important. I see it as an investment in my children’s life – being able to pay someone to help my business while I spend time with my boys. I wish I figured that out years ago. Holding strong to my values has been so essential. My business has aligned and thrived in alignment with those values, which I am so thankful for.

You are obviously very passionate about supporting women and mothers in their search for health. What inspires you about this particular field of health?

I believe a woman’s health is a potential gateway for her to find her true self. The opportunity for personal growth is immense once women let go of the unhealthy societal conditioning that they’ve been exposed to. Rather than being treated as yet another statistic, we need to be valued, heard and held.

I’m very passionate about what I do! I really love supporting women on their health journeys – whether it be helping them feel stable during an emotional, premenstrual phase; or supporting them while they journey deep, unravelling themselves after child birth. I especially love my long-term clients, where I’ve been part of their complete hormone journey – from no children, to a having a family, to rebirthing themselves postnatally. It is so rewarding and beautiful to see the growth a woman can experience. I’m still learning how to separate ‘work’ and personal life. The connections I make with the women I treat are so beautiful, and hold their worth in the results I’m able to achieve with clients by being so invested.

To book a consultation with Talita, visit her website https://lahlita.com.au/ ‘Baby It’s Only Natural’ is stocked in The Mumsie’s Noosa retail cottage.