Celebrity Nutritional Therapist Amelia Freer on Positive Nutrition and Her Road To Motherhood - Episode 22 of The Grace Tales Podcast
Like so many women, British celebrity nutritional therapist and best-selling author Amelia Freer just assumed she'd one day be a mother. But as she ended her thirties, she suffered a spate of miscarriages - including one that occurred while Freer was appearing on live TV, promoting one of her best-selling books - and doctors told her to prepare for a life without children.
Her chances of becoming pregnant, they said, were incredibly low. "It was quite brutal to accept that my future was going to look different to how I had imagined," she says. "But I don't think I really accepted it or gave up, I just quietly hoped for a miracle. I saw it as yet another of life's hurdles and I do have an attitude of just seeing how things turn out." It's this attitude – and a healthy dose of reproductive luck, of course – that saw Freer fall pregnant at 41 with her first child. Her beautiful daughter, Willow, is now two and a half.
During her pregnancy, Freer's attitude to health stayed as sensible as it has always been. With a focus on gut health, vegetables and good fats, Freer has always steered away from fad diets and trend-based superfoods when it comes to her clients (who include Victoria Beckham, James Corden and Sam Smith, among others). Victoria Beckham has said Freer taught her "so much about food; you've got to eat the right things, eat the right healthy fats."
She's written four books (her fourth book Simply Good For You celebrates the joy and the nutrition of food, and features over a hundred delicious, quick and non-nonsense recipes that are as healthy as they are tasty). Her third book, Nourish and Glow: The Ten Day Plan was borne of Freer's no-nonsense approach to nutrition. Based on a modified version of the Mediterranean diet, Freer says the book is a great place to start for anyone looking to improve their nutrition. As in all of her work, there's an emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and complex grains.
We caught up with the inspiring Freer to talk motherhood, the experience of miscarriage and more. In our conversation, we cover:
-The joy and the nutrition of food.
-The psychological and social aspects of nutrition.
-How Amelia's approach is driven by 'Positive Nutrition' and it's not perfectionist.
-Why we aren't understanding that diets simply don't work.
-What should we actually eat in a day?
-How many of us are dehydrated and how this has a massive impact on our wellbeing.
-Pregnancy loss and her motherhood journey
-How to nurture our bodies after we have children.
-Time management and the power of "no"
To find out more about Amelia Freer, go to ameliafreer.com
Amelia Freer holding her book Simply Good For You
Amelia Freer with her daughter Willow
If I asked you if you embrace your body, what would you say? When was the last time you looked in the mirror and loved what you saw? And if I told you that the largest problem for Australian school children is their body image and 70% of Australian school children consider it to be their number one concern, how would you feel? As Body Image Movement founder Taryn Brumfitt discovered when creating her documentary Embrace - the most successfully crowdfunded documentary in Australian history – body image is a global problem and it begins far younger than we'd like to believe. "No matter where I travelled to, the stories were still the same. There was still an expectation of what beauty meant in particular countries and cultures. And if you fell outside of that beauty standard, then you were like most women, on that road of battling against your body," she says. Embrace Kids is now in the works and you can donate to the funding of the documentary here. Teresa Palmer, Celeste Barber and Natasha Stott Despoja are all executive producers - what a line-up!
Here, we hear more about the defining moment that lead Taryn to begin her journey of learning to embrace her body and how we can all follow her lead and also her latest project, a new children's book entitled Embrace Your Body.
What happened to your body image after you had children?<p>When I had my three children, everything changed. I think it was the loss of control over what happened to my body. I had three kids in three and a half years. There really wasn't a lot of time of recovery. It was basically being pregnant, breastfeeding, having another baby, and doing that three times over. By the time I had my third, Mikaela, these feelings of how I felt about my body had really become amplified into, "I'm just going to have to fix this. I can't go through this for the rest of my life." And that's when I went and had an appointment with a plastic surgeon to fix what I considered to be my broken body. <br></p>
Standing there in the surgeon's office, how did you feel?<p>I was so excited. I was excited because I was going to get my body back. He was going to cut part of my body away, and stitch it up. I was potentially just a few months away from having what I'd wanted for years.<br></p><p>Then I had an epiphany while I was watching Mikaela play – I couldn't go through with it because what kind of example would that be for my daughter? I spoke to my trainer at the gym, and asked her what it would be like to have the perfect body? Would it make me happier? She suggested I get into body building. </p>
Tell me about the training involved for the bodybuilding competition you entered?<p>The road to the stage was very intense. It was 15 weeks of a very, very strict diet. Lots of protein, and lots of vegetables, and not many carbs, no dairy, no splash of milk in my coffee. Short blacks only. It was really regimented.<br></p><p>The training regime was pretty intense too. It was six days a week, sometimes twice a day. I lost about 15 kilos over 15 weeks and got quite muscly in that time. Walking onto the stage at the competition was probably one of the craziest things I've ever done. <br><br>I always joke now when I speak to audiences and say, "I think a part of the feminist in me died that day, being on stage in a silver bikini and porno shoes, and having people judge my body." It was a life-changing moment for me, standing on stage and looking out to this crowd of 800 people, and looking at these judges with their pens, writing down notes about my body. </p><p>I realised my body is not an ornament in life. It's the vehicle in life. I got off stage, and I felt this sense of freedom. I didn't have to weigh my food anymore, count my calories, obsess over the gym. I started moving my body for pleasure and not punishment.</p><p>That was a big one, because a lot of women train their bodies to look a certain way, or they train their bodies because they had a piece of cake, or too much food on the weekend. What happens is the relationship with moving your body becomes one of punishment, and pain, and misery and, "I've got to do this," and exercise. <br><br>The real missing piece is that moving our bodies is glorious. It's so much fun, and there's a million ways to do it, and we don't have to do it in one particular way, if that doesn't serve you or make you feel good. </p>
Before: Andre Agnew After: Kate Ellis
Tell me about the moment you posted the before and after photos to Facebook…<p>Those photos were a sliding doors moment for everything that's happened since. I posted those photos because I just wanted to help some other women that I'd been speaking to. I was proud of my body in the after, because there was real joy in that image, and I felt that joy. <br><br>We need to learn to feel more into our bodies, and enjoy our bodies. It's actually not hard once you get a little taste of how good it feels when you embrace. <br><br>There's real power in the sharing of stories, and having the conversations, and revealing the pain, and lifting the shame, and giving permission for other women to then go, "Fuck this, I'm not going to buy into those messages anymore. I want a piece of that," and that's the road you get on. No turning back either. </p>
What does it look and feel like to embrace your body?<p>There's such a sense of freedom, and just pure joy. A really deep connection to mother nature, to other people, relationships, life in general. It just feels so free, and so fun. I love the energy that I feel from having now embraced. I didn't always have this boundless energy. I never felt this good in my teens or my 20s, or my early 30s. My kids have to keep up with me, and most people have to keep up with me.</p><p>I really believe, truly, that it has to do with removing that enormous chip from the brain that's hating on my body, worried about my body, wishing I had her body. Oh my gosh, that mental torture is so weighing us down. When you let go of that, it just creates space in your life.</p>
Is it about training our minds to fight negative thoughts?<p>No, I don't think we need to fight them. I don't want to go into a battle with my thoughts. I want to observe them, understand them. Awareness is the first step. We don't want to battle our thoughts. It's like a ping-pong conversation that gets us nowhere. </p><p>There's a more effective way of doing that. Observation and awareness. It's the unpacking of the stories. And it's really taking a pause and a moment in our lives to go, "Why do I feel this way? What impact does it have in my life? Do I want to continue living my life this way?" If the answer is, "No, I don't want to hate my body. I don't want have these thoughts." Then what can I do? And that's the big one, what can I do to move towards a life that's more graceful, embracing and loving, and cherishing of who I am? <br><br>Then you're on the road, which might mean reading books, watching films, or detoxing your social media feed. You become aware in everyday life of all of those messages that come at us, that we buy into that serve us, and don't make us feel good. You don't need to battle against them, but you can choose to not fall victim and buying into those messages. </p>
Embrace - Official Trailer 2016 - Taryn Brumfitt Documentary HD<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cd949bf40f7d252a2a48162f385f6046"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/5eypB_G7Ztc?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
I want to talk about Embrace, the most successfully crowdfunded documentary in Australian history. What was your mission?<p>The mission was to discover why so many people hate their bodies, and what we can do about it. We've impacted millions of people's lives with the film. It was on Netflix, shown in a 190 countries. In Germany, it was number one at the Box Office and beat blockbuster movies like Guardians of the Galaxy and King Arthur. I love a good underdog story.<br></p>Professors from Flinders University and Victoria university, Dr. Zali Yager and Dr. Ivanka Prichard, they did a global study on the impact of Embrace, and it's just been published in a medical journal which is amazing. So anecdotally we know the film has changed millions of people's lives, but now we've got the data. That's a real coup for us. That feels really solid and juicy.
What were some of the biggest insights you took away from Embrace?<p>No matter where I travelled to, the stories were still the same. There was still an expectation of what beauty meant in particular countries and cultures. And if you fell outside of that beauty standard, then you were like most women, on that road of battling against your body.<br></p><p>One of the most shocking things was meeting a woman in the Dominican Republic. She had never left the island, and her village didn't even have electricity. However, she still wanted to have a breast enlargement because she'd seen women with larger breasts in a magazine. The globalisation of media had had an impact, and it's just so mind-blowing when you actually see that in a small, remote village on the other side of the world. A woman who's not exposed to TV, but has a magazine and still wants to change her body.</p>
How do you teach your children about body love?<p>The way I raise my boys and daughter is the same, because it's not gender specific. It's very much teaching them that their bodies are not ornaments, they're vehicles in life. They're here to enjoy their bodies, and what's most meaningful in life is the connections that you have with people, and the experiences that you have. <br></p><p><br>A big part of it is fuelling their bodies. There's lots to be done, and there's lots of adventures to be had, and to go on those adventures you need to have the energy, and you need to fuel your body well. We don't talk about good food or bad food, because we don't want to demonise food, but we certainly want them to make great choices that feel good for their body. <br><br>The other part of the conversation around body image with kids is the celebration of diversity and how unique we all are, and how we come in all different shapes and sizes, and abilities of bodies. And there's no right way or wrong way to have a body, and I also think it's about helping them to have a real sense of appreciation, and gratitude, and pride for their body. That, that's the body they'll have until the day that they die. They need to really respect it, and nourish it, and enjoy it. </p>
An Embrace Kids documentary is in the works, due to be realised in 2021. Can you tell me about it?<p>Teresa Palmer, Celeste Barber and Natasha Stott Despoja are all executive producers. We're working with the professors from Flinders University and Victoria University to make sure the content is safe and effective in the classroom. And once this documentary is made, we're giving it to schools for free as a resource for schools across the globe.<br></p>
Embrace<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ab16c46013c40b50810d55f2c69293f4"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/axK1syPpxyw?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>Provided to YouTube by Universal Music Group Embrace · Pevan & Sarah · Taryn Brumfitt Embrace ℗ 2019 Pevan & Sarah, exclusively licensed to Australian Broadc...
Embrace Your Body by Taryn Brumfitt
Tell me about your new children's book Embrace Your Body?<p>The largest problem for Australian school children is their body image. 70% of Australian school children consider it to be their number one concern. That is a really alarming statistic. I think actually having a plan of attack in your home is paramount to helping raise a child that has a good foundation of values that's based on who they are, and what they do, and how they feel as opposed to what they look like.<br></p><p>I spent a lot of time in schools with teens during Q&A screenings of Embrace, the documentary. What I was discovering was that it almost felt too late. Some of these kids had hated their bodies for two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine ... a crazy number of years. I just knew we were getting to them too late. We needed to do something earlier. We have already set about making the documentary for girls aged eight to 12, which we're in production for now. <br><br>The book came about because I thought, "Okay, that's eight to 12-year-olds. That's going to be another 18 months. We need to create something and get something really early in those really formative years." And I wrote a song with a group, a children's entertainment group called Pevan and Sarah. We released that song, and kids loved it, and parents loved it, and it went number one on iTunes, and it beat Baby Shark. It knocked Baby Shark off for a moment in time off the number one spot, which was hilarious. <br></p><p>So that lead to turning the song into a book. Although I'm the front person, there's a team of amazing people who I work with. Sinead Hanley, the illustrator. Her illustrations in that book are just so dreamy, and I think we've done a really good job collectively of making sure that everyone is seen in there. Whether you have a walking stick, and you're blind. Or whether your arm has been amputated, or what colour you are, or what religion you are. We've covered a lot of bases in that book to make sure everyone feels included.</p>
What are the biggest messages that you want to get through to the tween and teen-age group?<p>It always comes back to their bodies are not ornaments. They're vehicles in life. Also, that they've got such a short amount of time in the world, and they need to enjoy that time. I think also the kindness piece is a big piece, probably more so for the younger ones, but kindness is key. And celebrating diversity and our differences is really important. And diversity is beautiful. We don't want to all be the same or look the same. What sort of world would that be? I think it just comes back to enjoying their bodies and their experiences, and their experiences with other people. </p>
I want to talk about manifestation. You posted a photo of you Drew Barrymore, and you wrote about how you had manifested that you were going to meet her, and then there she was at your yoga class. Do you manifest a lot?<p>Manifesting is having belief. I believe in the non-physical world, and I believe that the non-physical world often champions our dreams and what we want. I believe when you're aligned and living consciously, leading with life, and gratitude, and generosity you are more likely to attract the outcomes that you want with ease and grace. <br></p><p><br>We can push, and we can hustle, and we can nudge, and we could do it that way. Or there is actually an easier way, and that's something I've been working on for a handful of years. I've always been very much wired to go, "Here's my goal. This is where I'm going. This is how I'm going to get there." There's vision boarding, meditation, being super grounded, and spending lots of time in nature. </p>
Taryn with Drew Barrymore
I want finish by talking about the self-beliefs we have which can hold us back. How do we overcome limiting self-beliefs?<p>I think questioning the why. Why I have that thought or belief? Start unpacking it. For me, a big one was public speaking. I didn't think I could speak in front of audiences, and I carried that for years, and years, and years. And now I do, and I love it. But I couldn't even raise my hand in a boardroom situation in my 20s. I would get so nervous and so clammy, and my voice would quiver. One day I said to myself, "Enough. I have something to say. Taryn, you need to get out of your own way." Deeper reflection is important. I feel little nerves, but they're fun nerves, and I dance with those emotions as opposed to being drowned by those emotions.</p><p>Another thing which might sound a little bit cheesy, is being your own best friend in life, and being that champion of yourself, and showing yourself enormous amounts of kindness. Be your own cheerleader. That is what embracing means. </p><p><br><br></p>
Embrace Your Body by Taryn Brumfitt and Sinead Hanley | Book Trailer<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3641e381f403d6879e6a38938231ba17"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/xS0ko2U8jR8?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>Embrace your body – you’ve only got one! Based on the #1 hit children’s song, this picture book encourages everyone to love who they are, inside and out. Tar...
Do you cleanse your face properly?
For so many of us, the answer is probably no (and it doesn't help when you have a small child at your feet trying to get your attention). Which is why we like to keep our skincare regime simple and effective, and also why we opt for oil-based skincare.
Enter Smoosh, a fuss-free, natural skincare range based on the hydrating power of oils, created by Sydney mum of three and teacher Mim Gascoigne.
"Cleansing is such an important step in your routine. If the cleansing step is too harsh and dries out the skin, you are a few steps back and you've only just stepped onto the starting block," she says, referring to that feeling of dryness that can come after cleansing if you've stripped all the hydration out of your skin. She set about solving that skincare dilemma. Smoosh's Silky Cleansing Oil, contains six organic and natural plant oils, including camellia, peach, jojoba, watermelon and passionfruit and leaves your skin feeling soft, supple and hydrated (the opposite to the aforementioned dry, tight state).
Next in the Smoosh skincare regime is a serum, and there are three in the range, so there's something for all skin types. "Pregnancy, menopause, hormonal changes, illness, travelling, seasonal changes, stress, shaving (men love our Soothing Balance oil serum) are just some of the things that can change how skin is behaving and its specific needs," she says. "I wanted to offer three multifaceted organic and natural face oil serums, free from fragrance and essential oils, that would offer nourishment and visible results to skin during the different phases life throws our way." As for what serum actually does (i.e. how it'll help us glow), she explains that a serum is that extra step after you cleanse and before you moisturise, that will deliver a concentrated dose of vitamins, antioxidants and/or actives to your skincare routine. If your skin still feels dry after you apply serum, Mim advises you to keep your skin damp when you apply: "our oil serums absorb quickest when skin is damp. after cleansing or misting is a great time to smoosh. Three to four drops massaged into damp skin should leave skin supple, bouncy and moisturised never greasy."
Her passion for plant-based skincare products came from her mother, who is a GP and studied naturopathy. "She has a real passion for research so was great at teaching me, from a very young age, all about plants, their great benefits as well as their contraindications," says Mim. And as for the name Smoosh, it was inspired by the feeling you get when you see chubby baby thighs. "You really want to 'smoosh' them," says Mim. "Whatever age you are, healthy skin has that beautiful glow and softness that brings about the desire to touch and smoosh it."
Here we talk to Mim about how she got her business off the ground (and the ups and downs of that journey), the key ingredients in her products and why your skin will love them, practical time management tips for the working mother, and most importantly, how to Smoosh.
Go to www.smooshskin.com
Smoosh Silky Cleansing Oil
Smoosh's range of serums
There are so many cleansers in the market, why did you decide to launch an oil cleanser and what are the benefits of oil cleansers?
So many cleansers, yet I still felt like I hadn't found my perfect one. Personally, having such sensitive skin I really wanted to create an oil cleansing blend that was free from essential oils and fragrance, yet was also light and silky enough for all skin types. A cleanser that is gentle yet thorough is crucial. This is where an oil cleanser shines, it has the ability to cleanse away the most stubborn makeup and sunscreen yet leave your skin soft, hydrated and your skin barrier healthy and intact. I also had customers asking for me to create one.
What skin types would this product suit? For example, should oilier skins steer clear?
All skin types can benefit from our Silky Cleansing Oil, each plant oil in the blend has been thoughtfully chosen to provide just the right amount of slip for a beautifully smooth massage and cleansing ritual, without overloading the skin. Once massaged in and gently removed with lukewarm water and a soft cloth, your skin will be perfectly cleansed, super smooth, nourished and glowing. No greasy oil slick in sight.
Smoosh has three different serums. Firstly, what role does serum play in our skincare?
A serum is that little step that will deliver a concentrated dose of vitamins, antioxidants and/or actives to your skincare routine. Our oil serums can be used alone or added to your moisturiser. Luxurious, potent and brimming with goodness each of the three oil serums is loaded with omega fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants to help nurture and bring about healthy and glowing skin.
What is the difference between the three serums you offer - and how did you settle on three?
I settled on three, as I feel within the trilogy, all skin types can find a a blend to support them. Whatever skin season they are having. Pregnancy, menopause, hormonal changes, illness, travelling, seasonal changes, stress, shaving (men love our Soothing Balance oil serum) are just some of the things that can change how skin is behaving and its specific needs. I wanted to offer three multifaceted organic and natural face oil serums, free from fragrance and essential oils, that would offer nourishment and visible results to skin during the different phases life throws our way.
Radiance oil serum is a nectar-like oil serum, deeply moisturising so wonderful for very dry and/or mature skin. It turns around lack lustre skin really quickly and it's also wonderful in cold windy weather. Soothing Balance oil serum is for all skin types, especially those prone to breakouts, it's silky and light yet still provides beautiful moisture. It's calming on inflammation and brings clarity to confused skin. Nourish oil serum is a satiny, berry packed oil serum, it gives dewy hydration, nourishment and is really rejuvenating for normal to dry skin types. It's a bit like a super berry smoothie in a face oil!
Natural skincare has always been part of your life - tell me how your mother influenced your skincare decisions and how you approach your skincare regime?
My mum is a GP and also studied naturopathy so I was surrounded by tinctures and natural skincare products from a very young age. She has a real passion for research so was great at teaching me, from a very young age, all about plants, their great benefits as well as their contraindications. She was also instrumental in teaching me about the benefits of nutritious healthy food, the benefits of having a healthy lifestyle and how both can impact skin health for the better. She was into bone broth long before it was trendy!
Skincare has changed a lot over the years, what are some ingredients or products which have stood the test of time?
I think face oils have been around for a long time but have definitely become more mainstream which is great as I think they are really transformative. Oil and balm cleansers have been used by actors and stage performers for decades to remove heaving makeup so their credentials are pretty good too. Weleda Skin food is a great classic as is Dr Haushka Rose Cream. Lanolin is another ingredient that has stood the test of time, Lanolips 101 ointment, is such a great formula. Glycerin is a bit of an underrated ingredient, it's been around for ages and is so healing for dry skin. It seems to be having a bit of a resurgence though!
The term "clean beauty" is very trendy - how would you define clean beauty?
As there is no official definition for the term, I feel the term can sometimes be confusing. One brand's clean list can vary from another. I would say Smoosh Skin is a clean beauty brand insofar as it is organic and natural, plant-based, free from added fragrance, vegan and cruelty free.
What are the hero ingredients in your products?
This is a hard one; we source 26 of the highest quality organic and natural plant oils and create all our formulas in small batches so they are fresh and vibrant. They all play an important role, but special mention to the luminous coral red of the organic Rosehip fruit oil, and the dark vivid green of our virgin Hemp seed oil, however, they are all such a delight to blend and work with.
Where do so many of us go wrong when it comes to skincare?
I think trying too many new products, all at once can often send skin into a spin. I speak from experience in this area! Adding one new product to your skincare routine at a time and using it for a few days before adding the next, is the best way to see if a product is working for you. Also, when using actives like retinol and acid toners it makes you even more susceptible to sunburn so it's so important to practice good sun safety.
Smoosh founder Mim Gascoigne
What lead you to launch your own business - was there a defining moment where you made the decision?
I'd thought about it for many years, however, once I started having babies it took a back seat. Once I had my third child, I somehow felt ready to start a new chapter and had the confidence to jump in. I've always been naturally driven by creative projects and have a genuine passion for skincare so it helps to have a real love for what I'm doing.
The beginning is often a stumbling block for so many women when it comes to launching their own business. Where did you start and how quickly did you launch?
Much of the product line is a culmination of decades of my own research and experience so developing the products has taken years. However, once I decided to go for it, building the brand and business itself, took about six months to solidify. I drew on a bit of knowledge I had from some marketing subjects I did at university. My husband works in marketing so he offered to give me a framework to build the business from i.e. key steps to follow in launching the business, which was very helpful.
What has been the most challenging part of starting a business?
The most challenging parts have been sourcing packaging, labelling and suppliers. Some of our oils have been very hard to source. Covid-19 social distancing and restrictions hit just as I was launching, which brought new challenges as many of our oils were suddenly out of stock. Lastly, being from outside the skincare business, it is a challenge to build brand awareness as a small start-up as it is a crowded market, so that is our biggest challenge right now.
What about the most rewarding?
Customer feedback. Seeing our customers' skin transformations from our products. Having sensitive skin myself and dealing with eczema and more recently rosacea, I know how hard it can be to find a product that works and supports your skin. I genuinely love that we can help our customers get relief for their skin condition and attain healthy, happy skin.
Now, how do you manage your time between your children and your business?
It is a constant juggle, especially as many of the aspects of starting a new business are completely new to me, so I feel like it takes me more time than the next person, I have to do more research and this comes with more frustration! I have three kids, 9, 7 and 2, so working with them around makes any task infinitely longer! When possible, I plan ahead and carve out pockets of time to work when they are otherwise engaged. I have moved into a casual teaching role which gives me more flexibility to work on the business too.
How do you look after your skin daily? What products do you personally use?
I cleanse every night with our Silky Cleansing Oil and a soft cloth. I then use one of our three oil serums depending on how my skin is feeling.
In winter I mostly reach for Radiance oil serum in the evenings, it's so deeply moisturising and wonderful for dry winter skin. I then often choose the lighter, Soothing Balance oil serum in the morning. In the summer it's more often Soothing Balance in the day and Nourish oil serum at night.
I don't cleanse in the morning unless I've used a mask overnight. Skipping the morning cleanse has been really helpful in calming rosacea flare ups.
Every 7-10 days I use the Allies of Skin retinal and peptides overnight mask. I also use a pure white french clay mask mixed with one of the Smoosh oil serums if I need a soothing mask.
Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Moisturiser and RMS Un-Cover Up
Baby Cheeks Blush Stick by Westman Atelier
Tubing mascara as I have hooded eyes and no mascara stays put!
Lanolips 101 Ointment
"I ended up tandem feeding my two children until my daughter turned 4.5 years old," says British mother of two and model Jess Bowen.
As it happened, tandem feeding was never part of the plan and it was only after reading about it online that she knew it was possible. Jess now shares her story online too, through her blog and Instagram account @modelmother, in the hope that it'll inspire others, just as she was once inspired. "I'm still breastfeeding my son who has recently turned two and we are both happy with how it's going although the plan is to night wean him as soon as his final tooth is through because mama needs some rest!"
Tell me about your breastfeeding journey and where you are up to now...<p>I started breastfeeding in February 2015 and haven't stopped since! My labour with my first child, Eliana was a long one, lasting a few days and although it was a very positive, natural and well supported experience, by the time she arrived we were both so exhausted that it took us a while to get to that first feed. The midwives let us sleep for a couple of hours before coming to tell me that it's important she had her first feed. It wasn't until much later that day that Eliana latched when my mum came to visit and confidently showed me what to do. There was no going back from there. Bar the initial cracked nipples and blocked ducts I was very lucky that it was plain sailing. I fell pregnant with my son 2.5 years later when my daughter was still a feeding machine and so I just carried on. I remembered reading one small caption about tandem feeding online and it opened up a whole new thing that I didn't even know was a possibility. I find it amazing that one small drop of experience shared by a stranger had such a huge impact on me so that's why I share my story online too. I ended up tandem feeding my two children until my daughter turned 4.5 years old at which point, I gently weaned her because I had nursing aversion that repelled me every time I fed her, even when it was only her latched. I can only assume that was my body sending me the signal to say time's up. I'm still breastfeeding my son who has recently turned 2 and we are both happy with how it's going although the plan is to night wean him as soon as his final tooth is through because mama needs some rest!<br></p>
How has breastfeeding enriched your life? And also your children's lives?<p>I find it almost impossible to capture the sense of enrichment in words. It just makes me feel in tune, with the kids and with myself. It's been such a visceral and instinctive experience and somehow that's enough to deflect all the knocks that come with continuing to breastfeed beyond the 'normal' age. It puts a fire in my belly and it brings out the lioness in me when anyone contests the way I feed my children because it is so evident to me how much goodness it has brought to our family life. It soothes wounds, reduces teething pain, gets them through illnesses, helps with transitions, gives me some quiet time, releases the pressure valve of life for us all and brings a closeness that has continued beyond breastfeeding with my eldest. <br></p>
What are your thoughts on the attitude towards mums breast-feeding in public and the reservations some mums have about feeding in public?<p>I believe mums should be allowed to feed their children wherever and whenever they want and need, without feeling they have to be discreet or cover up if they don't want to and without fear of judgement. I know reservations come in all shapes and forms and from a deep-rooted place that is hard to override but in my experience, the fear is worse than the fact. Most people won't even notice what's happening if you breastfeed your baby in public. What they will notice is a screaming, hungry baby (especially those newborn cries that pierce the heart!) so feeding them is by far the less offensive action. Also, if you just do it like it's the most normal thing in the world then people will trust your confidence and be more likely to accept it. They're often more afraid of you making them feel uncomfortable than the other way around. The more you do it, the more normal it will feel and the more confidence you will gain.<br></p>
You were a pregnant, breastfeeding mum of a three-year-old and have said you were "well outside of most people's version of 'normal' when they think of a breastfeeding mum". How did that make you feel? How do we shift our mindset on what normal is/looks like?<p>As a person who has always been quite prone to people pleasing, not rocking the boat and fitting the mould, especially within my working life, I've often wondered where my resilience, courage and confidence stems from when it comes to challenging the norms of breastfeeding. I can only assume it's me reverting to my default setting; my natural instinct to do what's right by my kids overrides whatever anyone else thinks on this matter. I just have this really strong sense of knowing it's the right thing for me and I've been so lucky to have the support needed to see it through. I wish this confidence extended to all aspects of parenting for me but unfortunately, I'm as guilty of second guessing myself as the next mother.<br></p>
You've said that breastfeeding a baby in public was never something that bothered you - why was this?<p>I think it was the influence of my mum. I come from a line of breastfeeding (and breadwinning) women who have fed beyond one year, some for several years. I saw my mum breastfeed my sister, who was 12 years younger, in public and she now recounts the criticism she used to receive but I didn't see that at the time. I just saw my mum doing her thing. When it came to breastfeeding outside of home for me, I remember her being almost forceful in her encouragement and absolutely adamant that it was no-one else's business. I think that I was so used to being undressed in front of strangers with my modelling work that I had no fear of exposing a very small amount of flesh, even in the early days when my daughter would only feed if I was reclined back and she could lie down the length of my tummy. She was also quite noisy about it which wasn't ideal but it was what it was and she needed her milk! Thankfully I was also fortunate in having an antenatal group that included women who also breastfed beyond two years who made it a very enjoyable experience in the early days. We spent hours in coffee shops laughing and feeding and making sense of it all.<br></p>
What are a few tips for anyone struggling with the idea of feeding in public?<p>* Start small - go somewhere familiar, friendly, somewhere where nursing is actively encouraged or if it's nice weather, in an open space outside.</p><p>* Look into your baby's eyes - it's a great way to tune out the outside world and avoid observing any unwanted attention and it gets the oxytocin flowing when under pressure. Maybe even quietly hum a tune to yourself to block out any noise.</p><p>* Know that a lot of the looks come from genuine human curiosity or an appreciation for the act of breastfeeding and not from criticism or disgust. I find if you smile at someone who looks at you while breastfeeding then they often smile back or at worst, look a little embarrassed that you caught them at it!</p><p>* Make sure you're in good, supportive company the first few times</p><p>* Wear something that is easy to breastfeed in and take any equipment that you might need like a feeding cushion. </p><p>* Arm yourself a one line retort for anyone who actively criticises. I've yet to master this but I'd love to deliver a perfectly timed shot to give the recipient something to think about!</p>
You work in a very image-based industry. How did your respect for your body change after you had children? Did you feel more or less self-love?<p>I have spent my whole working life, from 17-years-old onwards, making sure my body is looking as it 'should' be, making it look polished and presentable and always shoot-ready. I hadn't realised how exhausting and time-consuming that constant upkeep was until I had a baby and all of that slipped far, far down the priority list. While I've always had a good relationship with my body I realised after having a baby that I had always been assessing whether it would meet outside approval because that's par for the course in the modelling industry. I usually thought that it would and so I was confident in it but now I realise that was still an unhealthy way of seeing myself. Pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding have been such positive experiences for me because I went in believing my body was capable and that they were all natural processes that didn't need any undue intervention. But I hadn't anticipated how those things would also make me feel so much more rooted and empowered, physically and mentally and I'm still genuinely in awe of what my body has been capable of. I really have absolutely no interest in what other people think of my body now because I love it more than I ever have, despite it looking different to before, and in fact, if anything it improved the scope of my modelling work as suddenly my body and face looked more lived in, opening up opportunities to work with a more diverse range of brands. </p>
What would you say to women about body love after babies?<p>It's so hard to comment here because so many women come to parenthood with body issues that have been a constant presence throughout their life. Pregnancy, birth and motherhood only exacerbate those anxieties which is understandable when you've spent your lifetime seeing celebs' postpartum bodies pulled apart by the media. </p><p>I spent my pregnancies fascinated by what my body was doing and read as much as I could to fully understand the process. There is something so wild and raw and feminine about it that I felt like a warrior. Reading books like Ina May Gaskill's Guide to Childbirth connected with that feeling and gave me so much appreciation for my body which definitely carried through to the postnatal period. </p><p>I would also say that your babies think your body is the most wonderful thing - their first home and their safe place - and I only wish that more women were able to see themselves through their child's eyes. </p>
How have comments such as "Oh, you're still breastfeeding" or "When are you planning to stop" made you feel and how do you respond?<p>It has taken me a while but I am now able to understand that these comments come from a place of ignorance and ingrained prejudice that stems from living in a patriarchal society and until confronted with an alternative view people will accept their beliefs as truths. I am also conscious that language can be a fickle thing and that word, 'still', isn't always intended as a criticism. Sometimes it can reveal admiration or curiosity which then allows me to open up the conversation. I have an opportunity to challenge the status quo by showcasing an alternative way of doing things. I don't do it to push breastfeeding down people's throats but simply to show that continuing to breastfeed for as long as you and your child want it is an option. </p>
What have been the ups and downs of motherhood for you?<p>I really had no clue how demanding, all consuming and relentless motherhood would be. The shift in gear came as such a shock and it took me several years to adjust and to feel full acceptance of my new version of normal. I've read a lot on matrescence since having my second baby and particularly love Dr Oscar Serrallach and his work on postnatal depletion because it made me feel seen and heard and I realised everything I felt was perfectly normal and part of the process. I really feel like I'm into my stride with it now though and we've reached a place that my friend describes as 'the promised land' where we feel like a proper unit and the kids will play happily together while I get to enjoy a hot coffee!</p>
What was your experience of lockdown - how did you manage it as a family?<p>In all honesty, I loved lockdown. At the beginning it was a strange thing to acknowledge that life under lockdown was remarkably similar to my normal life in a small, rural village as a mostly stay at home mum but as soon as everyone else in the country (keyworkers excepted) were willingly incarcerated I suddenly felt much more at peace, less like I was missing out or that the world was carrying on at a pace while I was at a standstill. Staying at home with the kids felt proactive and a more valuable contribution to society than it is usually deemed to be and the slowness offered up a wonderful opportunity for reconnection. Having my husband there for every meal which we mostly ate outside and for bath and bedtime removed so much of the daunting loneliness that comes with motherhood. I understand all of this comes from a place of great privilege and good health, but I can honestly say it was one of the happiest periods of parenthood for me. </p>
If you could go back to before you became a mother, what would you tell yourself?<p>If you take the time to tune into yourself, you will find you know how to do this. It will take time to process and learn, but the love and the strength is there for you and it's limitless. I would also say it is really, really hard work, unfathomably so in the early days, but there is a direct correlation between the work you put in and the benefits you reap so hang in there. Work out what self care really looks like for you and don't compromise on it, even if it's as little as brushing your teeth twice a day which can feel like a mini win with a newborn. And one thing that I've learned with my second child is that they will teach themselves. They are hardwired to learn through play so just wait and watch and resist the urge to step in to complete something for them or push them towards the next milestone, because they will get there in their own sweet time. </p>
Culture influences birth on so many levels, through beliefs we hold about our bodies, our sexuality and our innate power for example
Byron Bay-based doula and mother of two boys – Dei, 10 weeks, and Pablo, 6 - Nathalie Solis Pérez had an incredibly eclectic childhood. She was born in Lübeck, raised in Germany, Guatemala and Spain, before she began her adult life in the USA and Australia. She now lives between the hinterlands of Byron Bay and before COVID-19, Berlin.
You were born in Lübeck, raised in Germany, Guatemala and Spain, and later moved to the US and Australia, and now live between Byron Bay and Berlin. What was your childhood like?<p>My childhood was spent growing up in northern Germany (which is where my Mum is from). What I loved about growing up there was the mild summers we spent swimming in the Baltic Sea and going for long walks through ancient lush green forests. The city I grew up in always felt very cozy to me due to its narrow cobble stone streets, buildings dating back a thousand years and old ships along the port.<br></p><p>Every year we would fly to see our family in Guatemala and my time there was spent playing with wild animals and absorbing all the tropical sights and sounds of parrots and monkeys, the smells of tortillas and black beans always on the stove. I loved the social gatherings and feasts my grandmother would put on and everything seemed to have a different kind of magic over there. </p><p>I went to primary school in Barcelona and have strong memories of the hustle of that city, summers spent in swimming pools, weekend drives into the Pyrenees to collect fresh spring water and visiting little Mediterranean villages for lunch. </p><p>These places I grew up in really couldn't have been more different to each other but as a child I just thought that was completely normal. My childhood is an eclectic mix of places, people, languages and cultures.</p>
Do you see lots of differences in the maternity systems here and in Europe?<p>I think overall the birth systems are quite similar. In Germany you have better access to birth centres and midwifery care. Hospital midwives often also offer acupuncture, homeopathy and naturopathy, all of which provide additional pain relief for labouring mums. In Berlin we even have an Anthroposophic labour ward where women have access to both conventional medicine and naturopathy. They even make an effort to move all technology into the background so that mother and baby are really in the centre of attention. <br></p><p>Germany has slightly lower intervention rates than Australia, but both birth systems suffer from similar problems. High-intervention births are financially 'rewarded' which makes it less likely that a wait-and-see approach is adopted where labour can unfold on its own. Labour wards are often already under-staffed and lack funding, so this system makes it difficult to support physiological birth. Care by independent midwives (in the home birth and birth centre setting) is also under threat due to rising insurance rates.</p>
You have a background as a cultural anthropologist and you've said that in your work as a doula you "derive inspiration from many different cultures and traditions". In what ways do you think culture influences birth and the postpartum period?<p>Culture influences birth on so many levels, through beliefs we hold about our bodies, our sexuality and our innate power for example. The language we use to talk about birth also affects how we perceive and experience it. Take the word 'delivery' for example. It's surprising that this term is still in use as it suggests that women are not active birth-givers but someone else 'delivers' their baby. Babies are not delivered - mothers give birth to them!<br></p><p>Culture also influences the way we perceive the postpartum period. In Western societies this time is seen as a time of transition, but it does not have the same significance for the woman's future health, strength and wellbeing as it does in countries such as China, Japan or Latin America for example. These cultures have more practices in place to honour the 'First Forty Days' after birth. We can learn so much from them in this regard and I think it's important for mums to know that their need for rest, recovery, healing and nurturing after birth is so valid. It's hard to live in a culture that does not fully acknowledge this as it makes us feel as if this adjustment should be easy, but without the support of our community and culture it certainly is not.</p>
Your first birth inspired your transition to becoming a doula. What was that birth like?<p>I gave birth to my first son Pablo at home after a beautiful and calm five hour labour. It was beyond anything I had ever hoped for at the time and that sense of empowerment I felt after birth has stayed with me ever since. I loved how labour and birth was simply a natural part of our day together at home. This feeling of homeliness made me feel safe and enabled me to find my way of coping with the rising intensity and pain of the surges. I love thinking back of the moment where I talked to my unborn baby assuring him I was ready and would follow him wherever he'd lead me. I knew I had to give myself over completely to this process so that labour could unfold smoothly and quickly. An hour later he was born and to this day I feel so grateful to my midwives for creating the safe space for me to do the work I needed to do.<br></p>
Did you choose to do anything differently for your second birth? Why or why not?<p>During my pregnancy with Dei I invested a lot more time preparing for breastfeeding and postpartum as I knew this would be challenging again for me. With my first I had such a hard time breastfeeding and was in tears and ready to give up on day three after birth. At the time I didn't know that lactation consultants existed which would have really helped me as I was trying to breastfeed a tongue-tied baby which caused so much pain and lead to recurring mastitis infections. I did not want to go through months of pain again with my second so I started preparing for breastfeeding in late pregnancy by working with a lactation consultant and coming up with a plan. It was so worth it and although breastfeeding has been difficult again I was able to push through all these challenges with the help of my support team. To prepare for the postnatal period my partner André and I had a postpartum planning session in pregnancy with one of our doulas which was amazing. Having a plan for this period is a great way to make this transition as smooth and enjoyable as possible for your family.<br></p>
You've referred to the mother's partner as the 'postpartum manager'. Tell us about the importance of this role?<p>After birth the partner's role is to keep something cooking on the stove, put the phones on silent, ward off or let in visitors, look after older children, put on the laundry and bring the mother water, food and snacks or whatever she might need. Keeping everything running smoothly and freeing the mother from all her usual chores is key to ensuring she can fully recover from pregnancy and birth, learn how to breastfeed and bond with her baby.<br></p><p>Traditionally a female relative would have moved in to provide this type of support but nowadays the partner often needs to fulfil this role whether by choice or necessity. </p>
When it comes to birthing and postpartum, do you follow your own advice? And do you hire a doula?<p>Yes, absolutely. Everything I teach I also applied to my own pregnancy, birth and postpartum period. André and I had several doulas and midwives supporting us through our journey this time around which has been wonderful. <br></p><p>In pregnancy and birth, we are all equal and even though I am a birth doula I need as much support as any other mum going through this life transition. </p><p>I realised that as birth professionals we sometimes need to work even harder to get out of our head and back to a place of trust and surrender as we embark on this journey ourselves. Because I'd been to so many births and seen so many things, I constantly needed my doula's and midwife's reassurance that everything was ok and would be fine, and that other people's experiences had nothing to do with my own. It was a really beautiful experience to be on the receiving end of this type of support and just reaffirmed its value to me.</p>
What do you think we could learn from traditional 'village' models when it comes to the postpartum period?<p>We could learn the importance of surrounding the newborn family with community support in the first forty days after birth. Organising a 'meal train' or some sort of meal delivery, or for someone to come in and cook is so helpful. Looking after the mother is looking after the baby. She is giving to her baby 24/7 so she needs to be cared for too. The newborn mother might need a shoulder to cry on, nourishing and warming foods and drinks, a massage, a chat, someone to tend to her older children, someone to hold the baby so she can rest or have a shower. No traditional culture would <em>ever</em> leave a mother with a newborn baby alone, but in our Western culture this is considered normal once the partner needs to return to work (which is often after two weeks). In the 'Fourth Trimester' (the first three months after birth) no mother should be without the support of her community. It's a very vulnerable and significant time for the future of this family. So, we can learn a lot from traditional cultures who have always known this and put practices into place to ensure there is a circle of support around the mother and baby in the first forty and sometimes even the first hundred days after birth.<br></p>
What's the number one thing you think women can do to prepare for birth?<p>Understanding the concept of <a href="https://spinningbabies.com/" target="_blank">Spinning Babies </a>and Optimal Fetal Positioning during pregnancy. If we want an optimal birth experience we need to become proactive about ensuring our body is in an optimal state of health, balance and alignment. Gail Tully introduced this paradigm into the birth world to teach mothers how to create balance in their body to bring comfort and ease to their pregnancy and birth. Simple exercises and techniques can be applied to create more space in the pelvis and lower uterine segment so baby can settle into an optimal position for labour. Many issues in childbirth are due to fetal malposition, so this knowledge is vital to have during pregnancy but not something that is commonly shared by our care-providers. Many interventions and Cesarean births can be prevented by applying this knowledge in pregnancy. This approach is all about using balance before force and while there is no magic formula to help all women to have a physiological birth this has been helping many women. Optimal Fetal Positioning is enhanced by receiving regular osteopathic care throughout pregnancy and research has shown that this has benefits for all pregnant mums, not only the mums with posterior or breech babies.<br></p>
What's been a career highlight or a favourite birth you've attended?<p>Every birth I attend is a highlight. I mean how could it not be? Seeing parents meet their baby for the first time always makes me cry, every single time. It's always an absolute miracle and something so special and powerful to witness. I feel incredibly privileged to be invited into the birth room by my clients and feel honoured to serve them during this most pivotal time in their life.<br></p><p>My career highlight was to learn from Dr Michel Odent and Liliana Lammers, his doula friend of 20 years. They embody such a wealth of knowledge, wisdom, inspiration and their candid humour is refreshing. I have learnt more by spending time with them than I have in any other training. They instilled in me an unwavering faith in our bodies, the birth process, and our sovereignty as birthing mothers. I feel so grateful to have been able to spend time with these luminaries of the birth world.</p>
What's the most challenging thing about your work?<p>Definitely the night shifts, and the unpredictable working hours. Especially while also juggling family responsibilities. I couldn't be a doula without the full support of my partner, as I might head to my client at an hour's notice at any time of the day or night, so both of us need to be organised. We've become an amazing team over time, but it's challenging to not know whether I'll be home in three hours, or two days<u>.</u><br></p>
If you could change one thing about the Australian maternity care model, what would it be?<p>It would be for all women to have a primary midwife who cares for them during pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Being able to establish a relationship with your care provider is so important, and research has shown that midwifery-led continuity of care is the safest type of care for most mothers and babies. Women who receive this need less interventions at birth, less pain relief and are more satisfied with their birth experience. It's frustrating, exhausting and carries more risk if women receive so-called fragmented care and see different clinicians at each prenatal visit and don't know who will care for them during labour. We are not meant to give birth surrounded by strangers, but instead with a team of respectful, caring, nurturing and supportive people which we have built a relationship with.<br></p>
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