Here is my interview with TechRound, discussing how I set up Postpartum Plan and why I am so passionate about supporting new parents.
I did an interview with the U.S community company Entreprenista about Postpartum Plan and how we have launched internationally. This is an extract from the article; you can read it in full here.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
My reflexology business inspired me to launch Postpartum Plan. Through my reflexology practice I have helped women through stress, trauma and imbalance. But I found the time when women needed support the most was postpartum yet this was the time that clients stopped having treatments because all their energy and love went to their baby. I was then called in 6 months postpartum to treat a host of issues including burn out, PTSD, insomnia and some more serious emotional and physical issues. This is what has led me to launch Postpartum Plan, to help women mentally and physically once they’ve given birth. Then, lockdown really forced me create and launch Postpartum Plan in only 5 months. I could not stop thinking about all those new parents giving birth in lockdown with no support network, no visitors, no midwife home visits. It made me really think about how it takes a village to support a mother and these lockdown parents needed Postpartum Plan more than anything.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
I have a varied background but I truly believe my bizarre career path has led me to Postpartum Plan!
I worked as a management consultant win my 20s which gave me business and management training. Then in content production at MTV and other production houses where I learnt to produce and create video and podcast content. Then I became a reflexologist in 2011 which taught me about the impact of stress on the body and inspired me to heal and help women, especially new mothers. All these paths and practices really have helped in creating Postpartum Plan.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I don’t think I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur but I have been coming up with ideas for businesses since I was 21 so it must have been in me somewhere! I also think that passionate entrepreneurs find themselves there because of a love of what they do instead of wanting to be entrepreneur in the first place.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
The first thing I did was get a business coach and it was the best decision that I made. She supported me through all aspects of company creation and gave me the confidence to pursue my passion of helping postpartum women. Marketing was quite organic, and an accident! I created the Instagram page months before launch to save the name @postpartumplan and then one of the support team posted about her involvement before I was ready to market it! However, this was a blessing in disguise as the pre-launch Instagram marketing really built anticipation and also helped me better understand the audience through that interaction.
This is an excerpt from my interview with The Daily Struggle. Full interview here.
What is EFT?
EFT, or the ‘Emotional Freedom Technique’ is referred to as ‘psychological acupressure’ and involves tapping on various parts of the arm, face and chest to relieve stress, pressure and blocked energy.
As with many other therapies, EFT therapy works on the premise that the body contains energy channels, and when these energy channels become blocked or unbalanced, it is believed to lead to emotional and physical illness.
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) works to unblock these channels, in order to relieve stress and help to improve mood. There are now over a hundred research papers demonstrating the effectiveness of EFT, and studies have shown that the tapping therapy can reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) by 43%, increase antibodies by 13%, reduce anxiety by 40% and improve happiness by 31%.
Meg said: I first came across EFT when I was recovering from postnatal PTSD and just by tapping and speaking about my birth experience with an EFT practitioner I immediately felt lighter, more free and less anxious.
I know others who have used EFT to help them through PND, postpartum overwhelm and their own parenting stresses and I now use it whenever I feel particularly anxious or when my thoughts start to run away with themselves. EFT has been described as ‘niche’ by one of our members and she is right; it is relatively unknown and can seem a little weird! However, EFT is a form of body therapy that we do subconsciously on ourselves every day to relieve tension (think about when you rub your temples when you are stressed).
- 5 mins of EFT can change your thoughts instantly. There is nothing else that I know of that’s so effective in literally a few mins.
- 5 mins of EFT each and every day can improve your mindset, sleep, self-esteem, stress levels, fluctuations in moods and hormones and happiness.
- Your brain is a muscle. If everyday you do 5 mins of brain work through EFT, you’re building a muscle of being able to be in control of thoughts, feelings and emotions.
Imagine having a tool that with 5 mins each day can make you 31% happier?
Read more at The Daily Struggle
This is an extract of the article written by Lizzy Silverton. You can read the full article here.
This month, with a new baby on board, I’ve been exploring the recently launched programme for pregnant women and new mothers: Postpartum Plan. And this week I was lucky enough to interview the founder of the programme, Meg Murray Jones.
About the plan
The Postpartum Plan is designed for women from 35 weeks pregnant to six weeks postpartum. However, as I’m finding, the material and tools it provides have a life way beyond those six weeks. Having come to the plan at five weeks postpartum, I can personally attest to its value. It is no surprise to me that a lot of the women on the platform are second time mums who have previous experience of the drop off in support for mothers post birth.
I couldn’t have come across the Plan at a better time for me. After a traumatic first birth experience – which came back to haunt me in the days leading up to the due date of my second – the birth of my second daughter couldn’t have gone better. Yet three days later we found ourselves back in hospital for a stressful and anxious week. The days I’d planned for us to spend together as a new family of four were swapped for lonely hospital days worrying about my baby, missing my elder daughter and struggling with bleeding, an infection of my own, night sweats and leaky boobs.
By the time we made it home again I was so physically and emotionally exhausted that all of the good intentions for a healthy, energetic postpartum period had evaporated. With a toddler to look after thrown into the mix, I found myself eating unhealthy treats and with little motivation to exercise.
Discovering the Postpartum Plan really helped me to get my physical and mental wellbeing back into alignment.
In my interview with Meg, the founder of Postpartum Plan, I found not only a compassionate person who wants to reframe attitudes around birth and the postpartum experience for all mothers, but also an innovative business woman, who has taken an idea from concept to delivery in five months with amazing results.
Tell us more about your first postpartum experience and how this motivated you to start Postpartum Plan.
With my first child I had a great pregnancy. I was planning on a water birth, doing hypnobirthing and everything that everyone says you should do and then something went wrong and I had to have an episiotomy and there was a risk to my baby of brain damage and he had to be put in an incubator for 72 hours and I wasn’t allowed to touch him. At the end of the day, the birth was fine because I had my baby, but I don’t think as mothers we are ever trained in the emotional recovery of birth and I got really bad PTSD.
I had a really bad trauma response; I had to deal with the fact that my birth hadn’t gone to plan. And the interesting part is that I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t tell my husband about it. I was having flashbacks and visions in the night. In the back of my mind I had this idea that I was supposed to be a perfect parent, but I didn’t have the support I needed. While I had friends around me, what I needed was an expert to go ‘everything is fine. You birthed really well. Here are the tools to deal with PTSD’.
And then I got pregnant again very quickly when my son was nine months old and I was like ‘I’m going to do things properly this time’. So I invested, financially and emotionally, in experts. I had a doula and a physio – basically everything that’s on the Postpartum Plan – and the difference in the birth and my recovery was so extreme I felt like that is what everyone needs it just that not everyone can afford a lactation consultant, plus a physio, plus doula etc. So what can we do to make that more accessible?
And then lockdown happened and I was like ‘wow, so many women out there are so alone and that’s when I realised it had to happen now.
A major thing with Postpartum Plan is that I do believe there needs to be a societal shift. Society has made us believe that everything needs to be about the baby – and of course it does – but in days gone by there was also a village who would look after us, the mother. We don’t have that any more so when people say ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ we can’t do that, because we are on our own. Society isn’t built for motherhood anymore. There isn’t enough known about what happens to us physically and emotionally when we have babies to understand the level of support that we need.
How did you come to your primary pillars for the Postpartum Plan?
I really thought about what I needed when I had my kids and then did a lot of research into rehabilitation programmes and their structure. The difference being is that I changed the language around the pillars – so instead of ‘exercise’, for example, we focus on ‘movement’, because I believe as women we have quite a distorted idea of what ‘exercise’ mean. Movement is good for you and you don’t have to be on a spin bike to move your body. Movement, Mind-set and Reflection were really important to because we’ve lost that connection with body and with loving our bodies. Recovery was the first one I made because we should all recover, and then Nutrition was just a really important one for identifying nourishing food that you need to recover. What is it we need to bring back those nutrients that get so depleted in pregnancy and birth?
This article was first published on the Pure Earth Collection Parenting Blog
Written by Megan Murray-Jones, specialising in stress, hormonal rebalance, pre- and post-natal care
What is the Fourth Trimester?
The Fourth Trimester is a relatively new term, describing the 3 months after your baby is born. However, it has always been associated with the baby; we are told that due to a baby’s head size we give birth before full gestation and, therefore, our child needs the Fourth Trimester to truly be prepared for the world. We are also told that colic usually lasts 12 weeks and that babies stop being newborn after this time. But this focus on the baby misses the real point of the Fourth Trimester. Here is why I think Western society has it all wrong:
Women are offered support, love and care throughout pregnancy but as soon as we give birth all that focus is diverted to the baby. Whilst our baby is worthy of all this attention, our society has forgotten how to nurture the postnatal mum; this leaves her exhausted from birth, sleep deprived and sometimes physically or emotionally traumatised.
I personally experienced postpartum burn out after the birth of my first child so I know why and how new parents ignore their own bodies when it needs nurture and nourishment the most. Firstly, it is assumed that post birth the hard work is done. But, for a woman, labour is one of the biggest physical challenges our body will go through. Our hormones are spiking. From the time the placenta is birthed to when breast milk comes in, a woman’s estrogen and progesterone levels plummet to the levels of a menopausal woman. The process of hormonal rebalancing goes on for months causing mood shifts and extreme highs and lows. And our brains change. That is right; activity increases in regions that control empathy, social interaction and, crucially, anxiety. (It is interesting to know that a man’s brain also changes when he is involved in caregiving so this isn’t just for new mums!)
Secondly, with this shift in brain activity, a woman’s focus has shifted to their new baby (for all the reasons above) meaning that her health and wellbeing takes a back seat. At new parent collaborative Takes A Village I have seen baby weaning workshops sell out whilst parent nutrition courses are cancelled due to lack of interest.
The fact is that the Fourth Trimester should be about the birth of a new woman; a mother. As Sarah Walker describes it; ‘becoming a mother is like discovering the existence of a strange new room in the house where you already live’. This also inspired me to develop my Fourth Trimester Treatment; treating a client in their first three months postpartum.
So what can we do to change how we view the Fourth Trimester and a woman becoming a mother? I look to other cultures for inspiration:
The tradition of “Sitting the Month” or Zuo Yuezi in Chinese medicine goes back thousands of years and inspired the book ‘The First Forty Days’. Zuo Yuezi recognises that the month directly after childbirth is crucial to the future health of the mother and newborn. This programme has become an ingrained tradition in Chinese culture and involves strict rules for the month following childbirth, some of which are still followed as closely as they were 2,000 years ago. This includes food delivered to your door, rest and a constant stream of family and friends helping around the house for 40 days. It is now a full industry involving luxury hotels with doctors on call in house and a nurse in the room at all times. Families who can’t afford a luxury hotel still do a version of Zuo Yuezi where the new mother stays with a family member so she can have help recovering and focus on her baby. It is sad (and a reflection of our societal expectations on new mothers to ‘snap back’) that the British press recently reported on Zuo Yuezi by ignorantly presuming it was a negative ‘confinement’ process.
And it is not just Eastern society that understands the importance of postnatal care. For decades, the French government has subsidised “perineal re-education,” i.e., physiotherapy that helps strengthen a new mother’s pelvic floor. As Claire Lundberg explains in her 2012 Slate essay ‘The French government wants me to tone my vagina’:
“When I gave birth to our daughter last November, my husband and I spent five government-sponsored days in the maternity ward at Clinique Leonardo Da Vinci, where we learned that French hospital meals come with a cheese course and that as part of my postpartum treatment I would be prescribed 10 to 20 sessions of la rééducation périnéale,”
Compare this to the U.K. model where we are just given a 6 week GP check up and simply asked ‘how are you?’ – and given less than 10 minutes to answer – and you see why I am so passionate about giving women postpartum care.
So how can you make your fourth trimester work for you?
Taking inspiration from the above, I keep this simple. I have created the Fourth Trimester Treatment for the Association of Reflexology to encourage new mums to focus on their own health and wellbeing. I also run self-care workshops for new mums where I focus on the 3 N’s; nurture, nourish and naturals.
Nurture: we need to re-programme our brains that self-care isn’t selfish; you need to be fit and mentally well to care for your child (or children). Book regular ‘you’ time; ask for reflexology sessions as postnatal gifts (we don’t need more 3 – 6 month old babygrows!); and, if possible, find your ‘village’ in your local community. Blogger Mamalina has written a brilliant article about the importance of your village to raise a child.
Nourish: I bet you ate healthy nutritious food when you were pregnant, so why do we not take the same approach after the baby is born? Our cafes and coffee shops are set up so mums have to grab a croissant or cake each time they take the baby out. Neither of these fuel the body to feed the soul. I provide recipe advice to my postnatal clients that encourage slow releasing energy, freezer friendly batch cooking (which saves money and the environment) and makes mums feel better from the inside out. I still use some of the recipes from the First Forty Days book for friends who give birth, providing hearty stews at their door rather than clothes for the baby.
Naturals: we should all be cautious of plastics and chemicals in our house but even more so when our immune system is low. I use doTerra oils to make natural surface cleaner and immune boosting infusions for the house to stop me and my family getting ill. If you have any questions about how to use essential oils please do get in touch.
I hope this has been helpful. If you have any questions or want to discuss reflexology treatments or workshops please do get in touch; I love a chat!
Meg Murray Jones is a MAR qualified reflexologist with over 8 years experience. She specialises in pregnancy and postnatal care as well as female burn out.
Mobile no. 07969912873