New Leaf
SE2: Ep9 Illy Morrison: Mixing Up Motherhood

SE2: Ep9 Illy Morrison: Mixing Up Motherhood

June 3, 2021

IBefore we begin - Click the following link to subscribe to the New Leaf Nutshell, breaking down the most controversial of motherhood topics and doing all the Googling, so you don't have to. This month, I'm debunking Sleep Training and exploring its murky waters, as we discover the secret (or lack thereof)... of getting your tiny terror to sleep --> https://newleafpodcast.substack.com/p/the-new-leaf-nutshell-should-i-sleep?r=aze8z&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web&utm_source=copy

 

lly is a midwife, hypnobirthing teacher, mama to 2 and a half year old Ihsan, and also post/pre-birth debrief consultant with her business mixing up motherhood. Illy helped me to fulfil a dream of mine for this series, which is to interview a midwife who has become a mum, to see how the process of becoming a mum changed both their professional and personal practices. Illy gave me so much more with her interview, and challenged a lot of my perspectives about advocacy, as well as reminding me of the importance of questioning ‘the norm’ whatever that norm may be - which we all already know, but occasionally forget or allow to pass us by when it matters most.

 

Having suffered from her own traumatic birth, something she said to me really stuck out - which was that if you suffer from a traumatic birth of a difficult birth, or have a complaint about your care, very often the last place you want to return to is the ‘scene’ of the crime. It is so obvious when you say it aloud or hear someone describe it but quite honestly I’d never thought of it like that, and how so many women must be avoiding those conversations with their care providers because they feel frightened, ashamed, weak or frankly just too traumatised to reach out and ask. Illy’s training as a hypnobirthing provider is undoubtedly a massive asset in this space, as she understands all too well the power of language. I know myself how simple adjectives people use to describe your birth can be devastating, even if well-meant, if you are still getting over something incredibly emotionally painful. This is where Illy’s power clearly lies and is something that I’m sure is a huge contributor to her success. 

 

Illy mentions a few times her frustration with an excessive focus on mark schemes and policy around things that have a lot more nuance. Something I found incredibly frustrating at school and with my own education was the fixation on following an extremely ‘set’ path - our mark schemes were decided, the ‘right’ answer agreed even on more philopshiocal or interpretative subjects like English and Art, only to find that the so-called ‘right’ answer would change like the wind with a new exam board or mark scheme.

 

In a lot of ways, I think all of us feel at some point that the mark scheme mentality hasn’t really left us, and no more so than the space of birth. Whether it is judging our method of pain relief, our mode of delivery, our birthing location even, the baby’s birth weight, your own weight gain, how quickly you ‘snap back’ (ugh), we often hold ourselves to these arbitrary mark schemes. It is worth noting that these also change like the wind, as does our understanding of birth and the evolution of what being mother actually is. My 93 year old grannie had 5 babies at home and had to fight for that right to do so. In 2021, home birth these days is often not only celebrated and lauded but also encouraged by an increasing number of providers in the UK. In Turkey, the USA, and in many other countries, the caesarean is often the norm. There are huge variations between countries where birth is more or less medicalised in culture - another perfect example to me of how there is no right answer when it comes to motherhood. 

 

What matters most is our perceptions of our experience, the importance of awareness and education, and kindness from whomever is supporting us in our birth experience. Birth is its own miracle with its own path, and is one of the few things in our overtly micro-managed lives that we can’t apply the same tick boxes to. Reading every book isn’t going to get your A star. The secret is, that the A star doesn’t exist, and feeling confident, safe and powerful about your birth experience is the most important things. Ah so much more to say on this, but I’ll let you have a think for yourself. 

 

Introducing the amazing, Illy Morrison. 

SE2 Ep 8: Jessica Hatcher-Moore: After Birth

SE2 Ep 8: Jessica Hatcher-Moore: After Birth

May 20, 2021

Before we begin - Click the following link to subscribe to the New Leaf Nutshell, breaking down the most controversial of motherhood topics and doing all the Googling, so you don't have to. This month, I'm debunking Sleep Training and exploring its murky waters, as we discover the secret (or lack thereof)... of getting your tiny terror to sleep --> https://newleafpodcast.substack.com/p/the-new-leaf-nutshell-should-i-sleep?r=aze8z&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web&utm_source=copy

The inspiring author and journalist Jessica Hatcher-Moore joins me on today’s episode of New Leaf podcast. Believe me, this one is a good one.

Jess’s new book, After Birth, really made me understand that there is another birth story, the After Birth story, which can be just as twisting, just as physically dramatic, and just as emotional for the mother. And yet so often, it is not told. Birth injury consequences are so often written off as ‘normal’ with a deathly silence of proper research around their recovery. At 6-week checks, stitches are often not checked, compounding a sense of shame, with incontinence dismissed without proper support, with women having to advocate for themselves often in a situation they have never experienced in their whole life. It can affect their relationships, their feelings towards their child, their ability to get back to work, their mental and physical health, and even their journey in old age. Jess’s book navigates the journey from pregnancy to After Birth, quoting absolutely fascinating bits of research to really challenge the current ways in which we ‘do’ birth, and the postnatal period. 

There is a so far an enormous, and untapped, power waiting to be unleashed - of prenatal information and education to pregnant women, around the physical process of birth, what can happen, and the postnatal consequences. I talked about this with a guest in my second ever episode of New Leaf, saying that information shouldn’t equal fear, and Jess’s book is this very message but in spades. 

She bravely discusses womankind and society’s need to drag birth and its physiology away from being the ‘dark secret’ that mothers wink wink nudge nudge to each other while eye rolling at the blissfully naive pregnant friend, towards an informed and confident pregnant woman, who doesn’t have to say “why didn’t anyone tell me” following their birth experience. I could not agree more. It shouldn’t be this way. Knowledge is power.

As a c-section mother myself, I had other physical consequences of birth, but pelvic floor issues weren’t one of them. I dealt with abdominal separation, the pain of major surgery, and the sometimes longer abdominal recovery period that comes with a csection. But I simply hadn’t lived through how debilitating vaginal birth injuries can be, and my naivety is a consequence of the silence that still surrounds these. Jess hilariously refers to the book as an ode to the pelvic floor, which in some ways, it is, but actually it is so, so much more than that. It walks you through the whole pre-, during and after birth process with humour, factual information, and amazing stories from women just like you and me, in an inclusive and non-judgmental way. Jess’s book opened my eyes to what millions of women go through as part of the birthing process, and places it in a wider context of how better information can make for better births, better birth outcomes, and better long-term health outcomes for women. 

Introducing the amazing, Jessica Hatcher-Moore. 

SE2 Ep 7: Susie Allison: Not Rushing Childhood

SE2 Ep 7: Susie Allison: Not Rushing Childhood

May 6, 2021

Before we begin - Click the following link to subscribe to the New Leaf Nutshell, breaking down the most controversial of motherhood topics and doing all the Googling, so you don't have to. This month, I'm debunking Sleep Training and exploring its murky waters, as we discover the secret (or lack thereof)... of getting your tiny terror to sleep --> https://newleafpodcast.substack.com/p/the-new-leaf-nutshell-should-i-sleep?r=aze8z&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web&utm_source=copy

The incredible Susie Allison, aka the legendary Busy Toddler @busytoddler,  joins me on today’s episode of new leaf.  

Susies 1.3MILLION follower Instagram account of nearly free / zero charge creative, exploratory and innovative activities for taybies and toddlers alike is unbelievable testament to the service she is providing for so, so many women stuck at home staring at our phones or the clock, waiting for the time to tick by. It came as absolutely no surprise to me that her followership simply boomed in the pandemic, where so many women and their children were deprived of the typical plethora of activities that keep both ourselves and our babies sane. 

The sheer creativity Susie puts into her ideas, her page and her site and the wonder that she clearly experiences from the inside out when talking about the magic of the toddler is absolutely extraordinary. I genuinely hung up the call feeling inspired, grateful and in awe of how wonderful this age that gets terrible press actually is. 

We talk fertility, giant babies, birth, c-section 'shame' and the need for us to not rush childhood - and reframe how we care for our very special tiny people.

Introducing... Susie.

 

 

SE2 Ep 6: Christine Armstrong: The Mother of All Jobs

SE2 Ep 6: Christine Armstrong: The Mother of All Jobs

April 22, 2021

Before we begin - Click the following link to subscribe to the New Leaf Nutshell, breaking down the most controversial of motherhood topics and doing all the Googling, so you don't have to. This month, I'm debunking Sleep Training and exploring its murky waters, as we discover the secret (or lack thereof)... of getting your tiny terror to sleep --> https://newleafpodcast.substack.com/p/the-new-leaf-nutshell-should-i-sleep?r=aze8z&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web&utm_source=copy

 

I am over the moon to have the amazing writer, vlogger, speaker and consultant Christine Armstrong joining New Leaf.

Christine is a mother of three, and author of the incredibly successful book, Mother of All Jobs, which explores the battle to make modern parenting actually work - from fertility all the way up to having school age kids and balancing lengthy school holidays with working hours, our relationships, our careers and our own sanity whilst also trying to be there for our kids . Not a particularly easy subject - and one she battles through whilst also managing to make you laugh and want to be her friend, of course. 

What Christine also talked about at length, is the absolutely essential role our partners play in navigating this minefield. In New Leaf, I’ve so far rather neglected talking about our other halves, which I know seems a bit mad as obviously it takes two to tango, and is so essential to modern feminism, in terms of making parenting more equal. Christine really, really made me think hard about this afterwards. In the episode, she talks a lot about her mum, a 1970s feminist who had strong ideals about her daughters not ever ending up being dependent on a partner, and there is a moment where she talks about her mum’s desire that she ‘married well' - something I misunderstood initially, as I thought she was basically saying marry rich - but instead she talks about basically marrying a decent human being, who actively wants to be involved in the parenting and wants to be actively supportive of whatever your choices are following a baby. And if they aren’t your partner any more, someone who still parents equally can make all the difference to your professional and personal life.

We discuss where life, relationships, babies, jobs and society all crash into each other - and everything in between. Introducing, Christine.

SE2 Ep.5: Charlie Barker - The New Normal

SE2 Ep.5: Charlie Barker - The New Normal

April 8, 2021

Click the following link to subscribe to the New Leaf Nutshell, breaking down the most controversial of motherhood topics and doing all the Googling, so you don't have to. This month, I'm debunking Sleep Training and exploring its murky waters, as we discover the secret (or lack thereof)... of getting your tiny terror to sleep --> https://newleafpodcast.substack.com/p/the-new-leaf-nutshell-should-i-sleep?r=aze8z&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web&utm_source=copy

The sparkling, bubbly Charlie Barker joins me on Episode 5 of New Leaf to talk all things identity, body image, fertility, self- judgment and work life balance this week and wow she does not disappoint. 

 

I think this episode was in my top five of all time favourites to record, I actually didn’t want the conversation to end. What was supposed to be just an hour morphed into nearly two, so this was a challenge to edit but for all the right reasons… 

 

Charlie is a great example of doing things her own way, and embodying the ‘my motherhood, my choice’ mantra that I keep plugging away at in this series, continuing to work and grind away after having Alfie because she is quite literally so committed to the cause of what she does - it is truly her calling - and is riding on a wonderful wave of success. 

 

She is a picture perfect example of someone who is so utterly passionate about what they do that success greets them with open arms, of course after a tonne of graft and hard work. For someone like Charlie who has been embroiled in the maternity world for such a long time without being a mum, I found her journey from recurrent miscarriage all the way to her little rainbow baby fascinating and inspiring. Of course, Charlie had more of an introduction to the fertility and motherhood community than most women - six years worth from when she launched b&b in 2014 - yet she still grapples with the same challenges all mums do - how do I get time to myself? Gosh I’ll be so much freer when I stop breastfeeding - why won’t they take puree off a spoon - etc., It goes to show that there really is no book, as she says, because so much of early motherhood feels like poking around in the dark praying that you’re doing the right thing. The secret is that you’re always doing the right thing.

 

I thought Charlie’s commentary around birth experience was deeply refreshing. Charlie had an extremely positive birth experience, but because of her mode of delivery, people were quick to jump in with a label or an assumption that it was ‘traumatic’. It reminded me to not presume people have had a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ experience based on what we are made to believe is positive or negative, according to what society is pushing at the time.

 

We have a fantastic ‘positive birth movement’ wave at the moment, centred around empowering women in their own birth experiences. But for what it’s worth, I interpreted this, and the course I did in this vein during my own pregnancy, that if I had intervention, it would be ‘bad’, and would make it somehow a negative experience - and because of something I had done, or hadn’t tried hard enough with, whatever that means. And I wonder how many other women feel this way - that they had a good experinece, even though other people were saying or implying that it should be ’bad’. 

 

So when I had my (pretty much) maximum intervention experience, I judged it, and it took me a while to accept that actually it had been very positive! Charlie is an excellent reminder to do things our own way, which feels particularly poignant in my second pregnancy.

 

I am extremely intrigued to see where Charlie goes, because as you’ll hear in the interview she is a force of nature. Absolutely watch this space because this girl is onto some very big things. 

 

Introducing, Charlie Barker.

 

SE2 Ep 4: Helen Wills: Life in Multicolour

SE2 Ep 4: Helen Wills: Life in Multicolour

March 25, 2021

To read about the Breast and Bottles debate, debunked: subscribe to the New Leaf Nutshell here: https://newleafpodcast.substack.com/p/the-new-leaf-nutshell-breasts-and

I found Helen through the Instagram algorithm (yep!) where her insanely colourful and vibrant photos kept popping up on my explore feed until I decided to do something about them....... as a #toddlermum myself, my world is light years away from teenagers and all the additional challenges that comes with them - orrrr..... so I thought . Helen corrected me on this one pretty quickly ..... 

 

Helen discusses her crazy journey to the blissfully rainbow world she now lives in, from managing 100+ London pubs as a 23 year old, to the brewing (and managing) of severe anxiety, to a gruelling #IVFjourney 16 years ago, to the incredible heartache that comes with unsuccessful medical intervention in fertility, to #PCOS, to saying #fuckit to everything to emigrate to Canada to be a ski instructor, to be given one more shot and be granted a baby , to #PPD / #PND - twice - and her incredible journey to finding her voice through her baby daughters voice to make a living through a highly successful blog, following and (recently!!) podcast Teenage Kicks (song now officially in my head until end of the day)

 

Quite apart from how obviously wise Helen is , she is also just out and out 50s glamorous goals tbh, who shows us that if we are really, really passionate about something - that we don’t have to put up with the 9-5 and can create our own colour 

 

#colourfulmums #motherhood #mymotherhoodmychoice #mumofteens #workingmama #pregnancy #birth #newpodcast #teenagekicks #actuallymummy 

SE2 Ep 3: Kate Jarman -The Juggle & the Struggle

SE2 Ep 3: Kate Jarman -The Juggle & the Struggle

March 11, 2021

To read about the Breast and Bottles debate, debunked: subscribe to the New Leaf Nutshell here: https://newleafpodcast.substack.com/p/the-new-leaf-nutshell-breasts-and

Introducing Kate Jarman, co-founder of Flex NHS, as my third guest for series 2. Kate is a mother of three, and also manages to squeeze in a job as director of corporate affairs for milton keynes university hospital in the UK.  Flex NHS is a movement championing flexible working and innovative thinking for the 1.5 million people employed by the British national health service in the UK, as a vital part of recruiting and retaining staff now and in the future. 

 

I found Kate in the weird and wonderful world of twitter, something I’m still new to and something that has taken me a long time to come round to. When flicking through the “who to follow” while setting up my twitter account, of course I clicked follow on the NHS and sure enough Kate’s tagged tweets kept popping up over and over again. Her humour, undeniable sharpness and propensity to drop some major truth bombs - which you can hear by the sheer speed at which she talks! - was undeniable. This is someone who is really, really passionate about what she does, which of course was an instant dingdingding moment for me to have her on as a guest. I love people who love what they do - and it is so obvious that Kate is in her absolute element. When she says later in the interview that she’d love to be an MP, it’s not hard to see why.

 

In the episode we discuss a huge range of things. Of course we talk a lot about flexNHS, why it is exists and its brilliant birth story. We explore why flexible working should be the default and not the exception, whether you’re a parent or not. We also talked a great deal about the importance of the female network - of women who make up the giant and sometimes invisible web of support for the millions of families trying to head back to normality after a baby, whether it’s the nursery assistants, childminders and nannies, primary and secondary school teachers, who all as a vast majority are female dominated professions - without which our economy and country would grind to a halt. 

 

Kate did the ‘back to work’ cycle three times, and her wisdom on the topic is fascinating. As a currently mother of one, I only have to juggle one childcare schedule, so the thought of juggling 3 and holding down a senior job was both obvious yet also intimidating. It brings home to me personally the absurdity of a school day that finishes at 3, and a workday that finishes at 5, which company annual leave being totally unaligned to school holidays. This is not beyond the realm of the possible to resolve. In Sweden, nurseries and workplaces close at the same time. There, and in France, august is a month off for most to give families a chance to go on holiday together. In Slovenia, all school holidays align with work ones. Just because these things are undeniably hard does not mean that they are not worth pursuing and exploring. Covid has brought some amazing innovations forward. The fact that the education secretary is considering longer school days to help catch up the millions of children held back nay covid, shows that this is indeed possible. I saw Claire Balding at a Sunday Times Women in Business conference back in 2018 who pointed out that we are in an obesity crisis - and that two hours of sport or physical activity after formal ‘lessons’ have ended could be a possible solution to both this obesity crisis as well as the crisis of women being held back from participating in their full working day by structural sexism.

 

There are many answers to the tricky question of how we can get women back to doing what they love and reclaiming their personal identities - but more than ever it is clear to me that we need a radical overhaul of our working practices to make the motherhood tax no longer the accepted norm, to make the phrase ‘she chose not to go back to work’ as a euphemism of ‘we can’t afford for her to go back’ obsolete, and to support FAMILIES, dads included, to have happy and well cared for children AND parents. Ok, speech over. Time for my next brilliant guest. Introducing, Kate Jarman. 

SE2 Ep 2 Mary Daniels: The Bad Doesn’t Stay Bad Forever

SE2 Ep 2 Mary Daniels: The Bad Doesn’t Stay Bad Forever

February 25, 2021

To read about the Breast and Bottles debate, debunked: subscribe to the New Leaf Nutshell here: https://newleafpodcast.substack.com/p/the-new-leaf-nutshell-breasts-and

 

Mary Daniels is a lady of many, many hats.… Mum of one, and until recently stepmum of 3, she now travels the world (when it’s allowed, that is) mentoring, coaching, running retreats, designing programmes to empower women and young people, and is a published author of an incredible book entitled: Wild Awakening: The 9 questions that Saved my Life. She’s currently a consultant working for a Human Rights Group, and has also done a Ted Talk on her experiences. Maryis a frequently booked speaker on her incredible life story and attitude towards living and self-help, and having now heard it myself it I’m not at all surprised as to why. Essentially, she is pretty intimidating whilst also being the loveliest person possibly ever. We worked together at NCS, or the National Citizen Service, an enormous social enterprise helping young people all over the UK, and although I had no idea at the time the extent of her talents or the darkness in her past it was blindingly obvious that there was definitely something about Mary.

 

I just wanted to say before we start that although I promise this journey has a happy ending, we do talk briefly about sexual violence, and in some more detail about maternal mental health, postnatal depression and psychosis, suicide and abuse. I wanted to place this up front. If it’s not for you, no problem, just click the fast forward button on the episode as you listen.

 

Mary’s childhood was a pretty stormy one, to say the least, and never in a million years would you guess it. You’ll know exactly what I mean as she starts speaking - she laughs often and freely and is relentlessly sunny and upbeat. With spells of being fostered, Mary suffered from life changing serious abuse from her own father. She was removed from her home at 17, became a stepmum at 19 to 3 children under 5, and then a mum herself at 21 with a man who was 16 years her senior. She was also trying to run 2 businesses, and deal with a deeply upsetting rift in her relationship. The relationships described in this episode really made me think about the fine line in our families and romances. Passion, love, control and coercion can too often become intermingled, and more of us than we think have perhaps had a partner like this at one time or another, where with the highs come enormous lows. Mary’s harrowing experiences in this vein made me reflect a great deal about what this can do to our self-confidence and approach to life, and how confusing abuse must be at the hands of a close relationship. Mary ended up standing on the edge of Tower Bridge with her baby boy, and about to jump, before something intervened in her life. The rest is a wild and winding story to get her to where she is now - doing what she absolutely loves with incredible success and optimism, despite an impossible past. Introducing, Mary Daniels.

SE2 Ep.1: Helen Rankin: Taboo or not Taboo?

SE2 Ep.1: Helen Rankin: Taboo or not Taboo?

February 11, 2021

Laetitia kicks of Series 2 with Helen Rankin, Founder and CEO of Cheeky Wipes and mum of 4, exploring her journey from Northern Ireland and working a 9-5 in a bank, all the way to founding her now multi-million pound company (whilst 37 weeks pregnant, with her third child. As one does). 

We discuss how the topics of pee poo and sex are not exactly no-go subjects in her household and the massive contrast to her socially conservative upbringing in 1970s Northern Ireland. We also talk Sex Ed, her desire to have sons that understand and embrace the very real, everyday bodily functions of women, and the role of social media in how young people view sex today. 

Helen's journey is a slow and steady success story, and also is a real reality check.  We're so used to hearing about overnight success companies, so-called unicorns, startups, or influencers who've made millions in five minutes, when actually the vast majority of success stories are long and hard grafts whose successes ebb and flow.  Helen was right place, right time with a lot of hard work with her products, and there's no denying we are all certainly thinking more and more about how we can do things more sustainably to make the world better for our little people.

 

Introducing - Helen. 

 

Interested in New Leaf News?

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SE1 Ep9: Little Gems - Christmas Special

SE1 Ep9: Little Gems - Christmas Special

December 22, 2020

So my FINAL guest for Series 1, Episode 9 is not ONE guest at all... but is a Christmas collection of FOUR guests who are going to be making up my collection of #littlegems of advice, lessons, joys and sadnesses of motherhood and 2020 (4 for the price of 1? You can’t say I’m not spoiling you this Christmas.....)

From 4 very different backgrounds...

--> Hamisha Metha mama to Anya and Neha, talks mother AND mother-in-law moving in with you post C-section, Indian food traditions for new mamas and how she prioritised mental stimulation on mat leave
->Laura Cutajar @lauramalteaser mama to Logan, talks shared parental leave, owning your parenting decisions, and about mothering without a mother, after she lost her own when she was 7 months pregnant 💔
-->Emily Button-Lynham @emilybuttoncreative , mama to Rufus and Business / Life Coach talks identity shifts, quitting the rat race, reprioritising and being your own boss
--> Becs Scottorn mama to Teddy and Principal at LEK Consulting talks practical advice for curating your own return to work and carving your own path, as well as the perils of pandemic parenting

These are all EXTRAORDINARY women with incredible stories. 2020 has been an absolutely bananas year. We’re all going a bit mad. And we all need a break. So let’s go out with a bang.

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