What a naturopath wants you to know | with Mother’s Mylk co founder Alana.
Introducing Alana, a naturopath, co-founder of Mother’s Mylk and mama to a gorgeous boy (with another baby arriving soon). The path to naturopathy started with Alana’s own personal experience when she was a teenager - her periods stopped causing her concern but unfortunately not the health practitioners that she consulted with. This prompted her on a journey of discovery, using naturopathy to get her cycle back and then later to fall pregnant with Hudson.
Experiencing first hand the benefits of naturopathy for wellbeing, Alana became passionate about women’s health and fertility. Her work in supporting mamas-to-be fall pregnant led her to the realisation there was missing information and support for mums, particularly when they enter the postpartum period. This inspired the collaboration between Alana and Shannon (a mama who experienced both postnatal depression and depletion), who together co-founded the business Mother’s Mylk.
In this article, Alana shares openly about her motherhood journey and how naturopathy has changed both her life and the lives of so many women she has had the privilege of supporting through Mother’s Mylk. Let’s dive in…
Tell us a little about you and who is in your beautiful family?
My name is Alana, a mumma to Hudson (with another little baby on the way). I have the most beautiful partner in life, who I’ve been with for 12 years (high school sweethearts). I am very lucky to have him. I am also a naturopath, co-founder of Mother’s Mylk and co-author of Nourished Postpartum.
I’ve always been passionate about women’s health and fertility - naturopathy is my absolute passion! My work has been supporting mummas-to-be to fall pregnant and this led me to learn that there was a lot of missing information and support for mothers in postpartum, which is when I teamed up with Shannon and we created Mother’s Mylk.
We would love to hear more about your own experience of pregnancy, birth and postpartum, and in particular how you approached this journey as a naturopath?
My own experience really starts with my fertility journey, which was a confusing road for many years. When I was a teenager I stopped getting periods, which was very concerning for me but not very concerning for my health care practitioners. I was told that when I wanted to have a baby, “come back then and we will look at ART.” This really led me on my own journey to understand health and get my cycle back.
“I used naturopathy to get a regular cycle again and fell pregnant with Hudson in one cycle”
Pregnancy with Hudson was really straight forward, except I was horribly nauseous most of the pregnancy and experienced frequent vomiting from weeks seven to 16. My second pregnancy has been much the same with nausea/vomiting but no other concerns. The only way that I have been able to manage this is just lowering my expectations of what I “should” be eating and focusing on what I can stomach. We also have a pregnancy membership with heaps of “morning sickness” recipes - I basically lived off these for weeks. In both pregnancies, from 20 weeks I have been able to increase vegetables back into my diet and all the wholefoods I need to support my bub! I also ensure I am on a nutrient supplement regime which includes omega-3’s, choline, iron and methyl folate.
Just like my pregnancy, my birth with Hudson was pretty straightforward (minus the induction). I had a private midwife, which is the best decision I made in pregnancy. She was amazing, holistic and calm. In preparation for birth, I did a hypnobirthing course and really focused on mentally preparing my mind for birth. I chose not to listen to anyone else's birth stories at this time as I didn’t want their experiences to impact my idea of what birth would be like. At 38.5 weeks Hudson had reduced movements, I went to the hospital and after a scan my private midwife recommended an induction. My induction was done using the Cook Cervical Ripening Balloon catheter, I had this inserted and left overnight. The next morning I was three centimetres dilated (from memory). This was then removed and a few hours later my waters were broken. I wanted to see if my labour would process naturally without oxytocin, so my midwife agreed to let me go one hour before using the drip. My contractions started quickly after my water was broken and were getting stronger and stronger so I didn’t need to have the drip. My total labour only lasted two hours before Hudson was born (maybe I went too hard on the Raspberry Leaf tea, haha!). Unfortunately, after birth I had a haemorrhage - the room started going spotty and I instantly knew what was happening. Luckily this was managed quickly, I spent the night in hospital and was home with my baby boy the next day.
I am about to enter my second postpartum period which I am really excited about. I am curious to see what life with two under two will be like. I can speak about my postpartum experience with Hudson, which I can truly say was probably the best I’ve ever felt in my life! I was sooo obsessed with him and really took the time to soak up those newborn cuddles. I also had a great support system in place in the early weeks and was developing all the recipes for Nourished Postpartum at the time, so my freezer was stocked with nourishing meals. I can say though my most challenging time postpartum for me was about the six to nine month mark when Hudson was starting to climb EVERYTHING and I returned to work a lot more.
My biggest learning from my first postpartum experience is that the level of support you need changes every day, week and month.
“With my second baby, I am going to focus on supporting myself beyond the initial few months postpartum, and instead see my postpartum recovery as something I need to prioritise for my whole motherhood journey to thrive and prevent burnout”
Can you share with us the importance of naturopathy in wellbeing and health, especially for mamas-to-be and new mothers?
Of course, naturopathy is more than what supplements to take or what foods to eat. As a naturopath I was always looking at each mother as an individual and investigating WHERE she needs to be supported. Often it is multiple areas. Mothers don’t just need a good multivitamin after birth, they need to support, nourish and learn easy health practices that can fit into their busy lifestyle. Mothers, especially first time mothers, are learning and changing so much. As a naturopath I am also looking into the root cause of health conditions, we don’t just look at your health at a surface level, we dive into everything! This is the whole focus on Mother’s Mylk, we have so many different levels and types of supports to suit the different needs of each individual mumma.
“Naturopathy can help mothers through this time by looking at health as a whole and finding easy and practical ways to support the body, mind and spirit to thrive through this time”
What is one piece of advice you would share with expectant mothers to help them prepare their bodies for birth and beyond?
When you are feeling symptoms like low energy, mood changes, headaches etc, take this as a warning sign from your body. This is the time you need to stop, reflect and ask yourself - what is it that my body needs right now? What is one thing I can do tomorrow to move towards feeling well? If you don’t know the answers to these questions then it's time to seek professional help.
“Your needs will change every day, week and month - getting in touch with what your body needs is important to keeping on top of your health”
We absolutely love your beautiful business Mother’s Mylk, which you co-founded with Shannon. Can you share what led to the creation of this business and what you’ve learnt on your journey of entrepreneurship so far?
The creation of the business came very much from our shared passion to support mothers through this transformative time and fill in the missing gaps. I’ve definitely learnt a lot, that is for sure! Also, out of office email and turn off notifications is a lifesaver.
“One of my biggest learnings is that mother-work balance doesn’t exist everyday and that is okay”
Here at biglittlethings, we believe that your book ‘Nourished Postpartum’ is an essential resource and should be read by every mama. Tell us more about the process of writing this book and what kind of insight and inspiration a reader can expect from this book?
The book is an essential resource! It is designed to teach mothers how they can support their health through their whole motherhood journey and the recipes are really family friendly! My toddler LOVES so many of the recipes, so I know with my second postpartum journey I will be able to nourish my body and his everyday. Shannon and I started writing the book while we were both pregnant and finished while we were both in the postpartum period. I honestly think writing this book is the reason I had such an amazing journey with my first, because I was practising everything I was preaching and I can say first hand that it paid off!
Can you share what’s ahead this year for both yourself and your brand Mother’s Mylk? We can’t wait to see what magic you and Shannon create!
We have two super exciting products launching, hopefully both this year! It’s almost a rule that someone needs to be pregnant or postpartum when we are launching our most exciting products haha!
And lastly, a very important question, what are your top 3 favourite biglittlethings?
Ok there is more than three and obviously Nourished Postpartum would be number one but other than that, I am going to say:
- Snuggle Me Organic Lounger - A sleep nest was honestly my saviour with Hudson. He loved being close (and still does), so every morning in those early postpartum days, the only way I could shower was putting Hudson in a sleep nest on the bathroom floor. I got my daily morning shower in, which was how I felt human every morning.
- Haakaa Silicone Breast Pump - Honestly I found mine so handy to have!
- I’m a naturopath so obviously herbal tea needs to be on this list! The Mayde Nursing Tea is delicious and lovely for calming the digestive system.
You can learn more about Mothers Mylk & Nourished Postpartum co founder; Shannon here.