Meet Shelley McClure MidCoast “Mama to the mummas”!
The common saying goes “It takes a village to raise a child” but I believe it also takes a village to support a Mother and family, especially in the early days, weeks and months after birth. Support the Mother and the child will thrive. The postpartum period, or first year after birth has always been a vulnerable time for Women and families.
Thanks to modern advances in health and medicine we have much better outcomes than we did in the past centuries. However, there is another threat, a silent elephant in the room, postpartum mental health. The leading cause of maternal death in the first year postpartum in Australia is suicide (1), up to 1 in 5 Women and 1 in 10 Men experience postpartum anxiety and/or depression (2).
Sorry to open up with such grim statistics but this is the reality. The good news is that there are solutions! The solutions are, in part, based on traditional wisdom that has been lost, at least in Australia and other “1st world” countries. Did you know that almost all cultures have had very strong postpartum care practices for new Mamas. You may have heard of postpartum confinement in China, Malaysia and India, Women staying in bed, being massaged, cooked for, not leaving the house and washed with herbs for 40 days. Whether this seems like a dream or torture, there are some key lessons we could learn from this type of support. Also, it’s important to note that many more countries still practice similar traditions, all through Central and South America, the Arab Nations, the African Continent, all though Asia. Also, there is solid documentation that European countries also practiced this up until about 100-150 years ago.
Recently postpartum care gained a little more media attention with Meghan taking up the practice after reading the book, The First Forty Days by Heng Ou, which incidentally was the same book that led me to be passionate about this work.
So, what are the similarities:
Rest & Retreat, protects mother and baby from outside illness and preserves energy for recovery and breastfeeding.
Support, essential ingredient to ensure meals are cooked, household duties are taken care of and emotional needs are heard
Nurture & Nourish, traditionally easy to digest, nutritious meals were cooked to aid in recovery
Warmth, due to the physical shock of birth, lowered immune system and the energy required to breastfeed, staying warm helps to prevent complications for mother and baby
Ritual or Ceremony, optional and may be religious or not. It has long been recognised that birth is a huge rite of passage, that Mothers play a very important role in society and it was honoured and respected as such via special Mother celebrations at around 6 weeks postpartum.
Growing and birthing a child is an immense act that takes a lot of energy and needs recovery. Even if a Mother feels good, she may experience health problems in the future if care isn’t taken, such as nutrient depletion, prolapse and above mentioned mental health issues.
If we truly slow down for the important recuperation phase of the first forty days then we allow the nervous system to relax, in turn allowing for oxytocin our “love hormone” to kick in, assisting with breastfeeding, bonding and healing. We also allow our stress hormones to wind back, or remain at a healthy level. By eating delicious and nutritious meals and herbal teas we begin to replenish our body with required nutrients to recover from pregnancy, birth and nurture our baby in arms. All of these elements are going to give Mama and Baby the best start to thrive and possibly minimise the chances of postpartum depression.
So, could postpartum care be the next revolution for Mothers? I believe so. By revitalising ancient wisdom traditions in a modern context to ensure the Mothers in our communities are treated with utmost care and respect. No longer do we need to hold onto the old yet modern image of the “Super Mum” who does everything on her own, strong, independent, but really deep down, tired, depleted, sometimes lonely and in need of physical healing and soul nourishment.
Sure, we may not have all of our Sisters, Aunties and Mother close by but we may pay someone to clean, massage or care for us and we can also rally our friends and family together. We may choose to shower and wash our hair everyday whereas many traditional cultures did not, but rather herbal “washes”. We may not sit on a bed on top of warm coals, but we may rug up with our hot water bottle, heater or fireplace and watch netflix.
With Postpartum depression, anxiety, depletion and other health issues on the rise, I believe we may look back on this short time in history and wonder how we survived before we revived. There are many tools and services available now to ensure Mothers and Babies have the fulfilling Fourth Trimester they deserve.
Interested in learning more and supporting a shift in postpartum maternal care? I would love for you to join me for a Luncheon Fundraiser to support PANDA Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia. A 3 Course Meal by the by the amazing and delicious Carinya Catering, celebrating traditional nourishing foods. Come gather, celebrate & support. There will be entertainment, talks, prizes, raffles and more.
July 13th 12-2pm
Queen St Hall, 25 Queen St,
$70 Bookings Essential:
Shelley 0426837432 or firstname.lastname@example.org
PANDA supports women, men and families across Australia affected by anxiety and depression during pregnancy and in the first year of parenthood. PANDA operates Australia’s only National Helpline for individuals and their families to recover from perinatal anxiety and depression, a serious illness that affects up to one in five expecting or new mums and one in ten expecting or new dads.
I also run a monthly Mothers support group in Taree for Mamas with babies not yet crawling:
1st Monday of the Month at The Makers Way
63 Pultney St, Taree
10:30 – 11:30am
Also Nurture & Nourish cooking workshops throughout the year for all the community, tailored to be delicious and nutritious!
My name is Shelley and I’m a Mama & Partner living on the Mid North Coast of NSW near Taree on a quarter acre with my family, gardens and chickens. I’m also a Postpartum Doula, Home Herbalist and Feminine Ecologist dedicated to helping Women and Communities flourish, especially during times of intense transition such as Motherhood. I have a background in Social Work, Community Development and Sustainable Gardening.
As a Postpartum Doula – some of the many services that I can offer to make this a reality are:
Warm Nurturing Meal and Drinks, made with organic home grown and local produce and herbs
Organise a Meal Train with Friends and Family
- Relaxation Massage
Non-judgemental support and referrals if needed in in all areas postpartum
- Belly binding support
Household assistance with chores and children
Photography in-house and informal to capture the beautiful realness of this time
You, your baby and whole family will benefit immensely by honouring and practising what our Ancestors have done for many generations before us.
You can find out more about me at and the above-mentioned events at:
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