Village for Mama w/ Leila Armour

Leila Armour is a Postpartum Doula, Holistic Nutrition Consultant and Mother of three (Billie, age 5 & Twins Noah and Joey, age 1) living in South-East Queensland. She is the author of the postpartum recipe book, Village for Mama - Nourishment for the Fourth Trimester. Her book has been created to help expectant mothers gather their village and organize homemade meals during their fourth trimester. Each book includes 30 recipe gift cards with a pre-written letter explaining the importance of the postpartum period and the essential role loved ones play in shaping a new mother’s experience. Leila is dedicated to helping new mothers feel held and supported through nourishing food and a village.

What should we look for in a postpartum doula?

There are a few things to consider here.

Ask Your Community
I think starting with where you find your postpartum doula. Most of the mamas I have supported have come to me through word of mouth. I love telling people this because so many doulas feel like they need a big thriving online presence to be able to support mums and I just don’t think that is the case. So when it comes to finding a postpartum doula, yes you can jump on a directory or search the gram but I think asking your village for recommendations is a really great place to start. If your best friend had an amazing experience with her doula that is a really great sign unless you are vastly different from your bestie which is rare.

Get Clear on Desires
Then when it comes to things to look for, I think getting a really clear idea of how you envisage your postpartum and how you see a postpartum doula being part of it. Different doulas have different offerings and you want someone to support you who is aligned. For example you may just want someone who really focuses on nourishing food or someone who does a lot of hands-on treatments. You may just want an extra set of hands and more emotional support. This understanding can help you both search for and pick a doula.

Complete Connection
Then connection is the final and most important piece and it’s also why word of mouth is such a great way to find a doula. You want to have a connection with your doula, to feel safe and understood. Postpartum is such a vulnerable, emotional and delicate time and you need to feel completely at ease with who you invite into your space.

What are some essentials for the first days after birth?

The three postpartum pillars I focus on a lot are rest, nourishment and support and these are acutely important during those early days. A support system or village that allows you to really rest and nourishing food which replenishes you and supports your recovery.

Warmth is also one of the key principles for postpartum recovery and keeping your feet warm is the first step towards healing. In Traditional Chinese Medicine they believe that the temperature of your feet is directly related to the temperature of your womb so a warm pair of socks or slippers are essential. Then this principle also applies to everything you consume too. Making sure to have warm teas, instead of cold water to rehydrate you. Warm, soft, easy to digest and nourishing food like broth or congee is amazing for those early days too. Just while your organs are moving back to their pre-baby home and your digestive system settles.

Then in terms of things - I love mama nappies for those early days where the blood loss (lochia) is at its most intense and then comfortable clothes with big soft waistbands so then you feel held if you aren’t ready to tackle compression clothing or belly binding.

You really don’t need much, just warmth, comfort, nourishment and support.

What are some rituals for you in your motherhood?

I think what I’ve really realized this second time 'round is how much your rituals can and should change with the season you are in. During the early months of my second postpartum, my ritual was staying in the magnesium bath for 5 minutes after the twins got out to have a moment to breathe before the night ahead. As your babies grow and your needs as a mama change, those rituals change too. At the moment my favorite ritual is having my morning coffee and watching the sunrise, usually with the little ones climbing all over me. I also have a 30 minute sauna when my husband gets home from work as a little quiet treat to help settle my nervous system at the end of the day. I usually read or plan my next day.

What is nourishing you right now?

I’m in the final tasting stage for my new upcoming ebook ‘One Handed Bites for Postpartum and Beyond’ and I can’t tell you how good it is to have the most delicious, nourishing snacks available every time I open the fridge. I’m really excited to share them with my mama village!

Who makes up your village?

My husband Ross is such an amazing dad and support. He is a huge part of my village and my biggest cheerleader. Then we are so lucky to live next door to my parents who have a really big part in the kids' life. They are so amazing and so helpful, I don’t think I would survive without them. I also have the most beautiful village around me of locals, other doulas, mamas, and neighbors who just make me so grateful to live where I do. It’s such a beautiful community.

How did early postpartum with twins look like for you?

It was so intense. I don’t think I slept more than an hour a day for the first 10 days. I think things get easier once you get to know your baby and their rhythms but doing that for two at the same time was really challenging. I feel like all three of my babies have been the same, a little colicky, unsettled, feeding challenges and just wanting to be held. I couldn’t just feed, swaddle and put them down. I would just sit, stuck under the tandem feeding pillow all day and all night until I found my groove. I rarely had a window of opportunity to sleep while both twins were sleeping. I set an intention of 4 weeks postpartum rest and so my entire postpartum was spent in my bedroom and in the lounge resting, eating and breastfeeding.

Overall I was both deeply sleep deprived but perfectly rested. I made sure everything else was taken care of (caring for my daughter, cooking, cleaning etc.) and so I could truly focus on rest. I had the most amazing support network and village, meals dropped to my door every day, mamas pumping for me so I had extra milk and just so much love. I couldn’t have done it without my village. I shared a more in depth blog about my experience here if any twin mamas-to-be want to read more.

What is something that is inspiring you lately?

Motherhood inspires me so much. It lights a fire in me especially this time 'round now that I have Village for Mama. It’s hard because it also leaves you with such little time to execute your wild dreams and ideas. But I am feeling really inspired by my new project (the ebook) and collaborating with other mamas in my village to bring it to life.


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