We spend so much time during pregnancy preparing for the birth, but not so much time planning for the fourth trimester. Would you like to emerge from the postnatal months as a calm, connected and confident mother? Expectant parents, are you overwhelmed by the conflicting parenting advice being hurled at you from all directions? Are you already feeling the pressure of balancing work, family, friends and self-care? Antonia is a Canberra-based postnatal doula. She started Peaceful Postnatal because she believes that it’s your birthright to feel valued and nurtured during your postnatal journey.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
After I had my first baby nearly eight years ago, I was a mess – completely unprepared for the reality of life with a newborn. I had no idea that breastfeeding took many weeks to establish. I was so sleep deprived that I experienced auditory hallucinations. I was on an emotional rollercoaster.
When you’re in that state it’s hard to reach out for help. It took me five months to access help for a postnatal mood disorder, because I didn’t recognise it as depression or anxiety. I thought I was just a failure as a mother.
For a long time I assumed I was alone in this experience. But when I started asking other women in Canberra, many mothers had a similar story. Everyone was saying, “I was shocked by how isolated I felt, I didn’t know it would be this hard, I didn’t know it would be possible to love someone so much and feel so overwhelmed by responsibility.”
It felt terribly wrong, that we give so much attention to the pregnancy and birth, and neglect women through the postnatal time. So Peaceful Postnatal came from a desire to help women navigate early motherhood, and most importantly, to experience it as a positive transformation. From an evolutionary perspective, we’re wired for intensive support during the postnatal time, and I believe that is every woman’s birthright.
Peaceful Postnatal came from a desire to help women navigate early motherhood, and most importantly, to experience it as a positive transformation.
The Launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
I first started connecting with practitioners in my local community, and building my own village of support. Then I started running informational workshops for expectant parents, and supporting new mothers in their homes.
I also opened the Mothers Circle, a year long membership program, and this was immediately one of my most popular offerings. Mothers are hungry for connection. They’re longing to to be heard and to deeply listen without judgment. This is such a crucial aspect of a woman’s experience of motherhood, and when mothers don’t have this, they can really suffer.
My business has been a lot of trial and error. I’m lucky to have an amazing support network and wonderful mentors.
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
Realising I don’t need to have all the answers. That I can be my imperfect, ordinary, flawed self, and still do this work. It’s not necessary to be an “expert”. At the end of the day, I’m just another mum. I’m here to walk alongside you, to support you every step of the way, but not to tell you what to do. I’m here to hold the space for mothers to find their own way.
Once I realised that, I started to relax into that role, and it feels really good.
Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
I try not to do any work when my kids are around, because that’s just a recipe for frustration and resentment. And I try not to do anything trivial in my child-free time, because those hours are so valuable for working on my business. So between kids and work, I don’t have time for much else. My house cleaner is the best business investment I’ve made!
I also have a really supportive partner. From the very beginning, when I was spending money on training, and setting up my business, and not actually bringing in any income, he has always just assumed that it would succeed. He’s always had this attitude of, well you’re passionate about this, you’re good at this, and it’s totally normal that it takes a couple of years for a business to get going and be sustainable. That level of unquestioning support is priceless.