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Self-care and postpartum recovery: why we started Mum Bub Hub

20 Nov 2018

Images by Mum Bub Hub

I’ve always had an interest in women’s health and wellbeing but motherhood was definitely new territory to me as a reformed party girl and avid traveller. I always knew I wanted children. Although I enjoyed taking care of other people’s children, it’s such an emotionally investing time when having your own. Now I have my son and daughter and it has been the most joyful, humbling experience. Before our babies, Nyree and I were just two friends who loved to eat (give us sushi or dim sum any day), drink and go to concerts. We met six years ago at a natural hair event when Nyree had just moved here from the US. I fell pregnant six months after Nyree, and as exciting as it was, we both realised that we hadn’t been given a heads up on the realities of giving birth and the aftercare.

Nyree was able to keep it real with me about what some aspects of the recovery would be like — she warned me about the heavy bleeding, for example. We both had different birth experiences. Nyree gave birth by emergency caesarean and I had two vaginal deliveries. This gave us a rich perspective on how challenging recovery can be. It enabled us to share our stories, and when we spoke to other women, we realised that there was definitely a lack of information out there.

“Why is it so taboo to talk about how seriously uncomfortable stitches may be? Or how it stings like a b*tch to pee after a vaginal birth?”

As beautiful and joyful as it is having a baby, the topic of becoming a mother is overwhelming and complex. Not many discuss the realities of the postpartum period (the first six to 12 weeks following childbirth and beyond) which is a crucial time in respects to mental and emotional wellbeing. We combined our lived experiences as mothers and professionals, Nyree’s background in product development and my project management skills to create the Mum Bub Hub solution: we offer carefully created natural products with simple plant-based ingredients to help women heal, rest and recover immediately after childbirth. To complement this, we deliver community workshops concerning pregnancy, wellbeing and postpartum recovery. It’s a self-care regime that is readily available — we know how tough it can be and this is why we created this platform.

We want to empower women and their friends and partners, to have that “missed conversation”. Why is it so taboo to talk about how seriously uncomfortable stitches may be? Or how it stings like a b*tch to pee after a vaginal birth? And let’s not get started on constipation and haemorrhoids! You may be grossed out but let’s be real here – women are experiencing this every day when they have babies. And even if you are child-free, someone in your family would have experienced the same thing.

As a social enterprise, our profits are re-invested back into the business through the provision of workshops. We were able to deliver our first community workshop for young mothers within the East London area over summer to discuss their experiences during pregnancy, their maternity care and recovery after birth. It’s really important for us that we’re able to provide a platform for women within our communities, as they inspired us to create Mum Bub Hub – a safe space for mothers to share their stories.

We are advocates of self-care. Once the baby arrives, a lot of the attention is diverted from Mum and the focus is on the baby. Very few take the time to really check how Mum is doing and it can be such a vulnerable time for us. Once we had babies we realised that “me-time” was super limited so we had to be realistic about how we could take time out for ourselves. I remember after I gave birth to my first, naturally, everyone was so excited about meeting our new arrival, and it was literally a blur of visitors, days of little or no sleep and trying to heal and adapt to our new life. In between all of this I was bleeding heavily and expected to continue as normal! Once the baby blues hit, I cried in the bathroom and realised that actually, I need to take responsibility and make my health and welfare a priority also. It’s okay to ask our partners or family members to watch the children for a few hours, so we can take a moment to breathe. Indulgence and self-care tend to go out the window, especially in those first few weeks, so our products are also a nudge to remind women to take a few minutes out of their day.

“Once the baby blues hit, I cried in the bathroom and realised that actually, I need to take responsibility and make my health and welfare a priority also”

Our hand-made natural products are designed for the areas that matter most. For perineal care (the perineum is the area including the vagina and anal region, which is most likely to be sore and swollen after pushing!) we offer a spray and balm to provide a soothing, cooling effect and to ease discomfort for those trips to the bathroom post-birth. We also have self-care products for women’s bath-time regime to encourage blood flow and circulation. This promotes healing to the affected, sensitive areas.

We use natural, plant-based ingredients – simple formulations derived from homoeopathic and traditional practices. We both have an interest in unrefined products generally, so when I became pregnant I tried to remove as many additives and unnecessary chemicals from my beauty regime. I often blended my own shea butter and hair oils just to keep things pure and safe for baby and I. Nyree also studied wound healing with plant-based remedies for her Masters, so it’s something she’s really passionate about and has been able to put into practice with the creation of our formulas. She’s the Queen of potions! We love ingredients like lavender, chamomile and witch hazel, which are “anti” everything! They have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties, which can help to soothe, cleanse and heal the vaginal area.

As you may be able to tell, we are big on keeping it natural!

So many of us get confused because society and more recently social media has moulded its own opinions and views on what childbirth is like. From our choices on how to feed our babies to our physical appearance post-birth and even our parenting style. We believe that nothing should alter what natural means to us as individuals. If it’s safe and feels instinctive to you then you should feel empowered to follow through with your decisions, opinion or lifestyle choice. It’s about understanding that we are all living a shared experience, however, there are intricacies that make our stories worth sharing. We are encouraging mothers to start this dialogue and to recognise and accept that we all have different ways of doing things.

Mum Bub Hub are launching our first campaign, the #NaturalIsProject which you can find out more about here.