It takes a village

Holding the Mum

In many cultures the fourth trimester, or period after giving birth, is a time for healing; a time when new mothers are held, cared for, and revered for the journey they have undertaken. Increasingly, however, our society sees birthing as a business – get in, get out, get on with it – oh wait isn’t that a Mitre 10 slogan?

Faulconbridge resident, Aimee Honess, started The Village Community to encourage families to take a different approach in those early weeks after birth, and reach out for help in the form of cooked meals and emotional support. The Co-op caught up with Aimee to learn more about the initiative.

Firstly, a little about Aimee. Who is she?

Aimee: I’m a mother of two, Jack who is three years old, and Billie who is one. My partner and I moved to Faulconbridge about seven years ago as we’ve always loved the community of the Blue Mountains and the endless bushwalks we can immerse ourselves in. Pre kids, I was a devoted Primary School teacher, passionate about working in the public system and creating a safe place for students to learn. Now, although I still love teaching, I would say my passion has moved towards creating a safe place for all mothers to learn the importance of a supported Postpartum, as well as, coming back to our knowing of how-to mother; our intuition and the rite of passage from maiden to mother; Matrescence.

What motivated you to start The Village Community and why is it important to support mothers in this way?

Aimee: I was gifted the book “The Fourth Trimester” by Kimberly Ann Johnson, during my first pregnancy. This is where I first read about the immediate postpartum period, the fourth trimester, and the importance of rest and accepting all the help from your family, friends and neighbours; your village. How powerful, I thought. My first baby was born, I returned home, and life returned to a somewhat normal rhythm. Not yet familiar with the term “matrescence” I was left feeling the heaviness of becoming a mum,  I was shocked, confused and alone. Mum life is hard work and I felt unprepared. I was also curious about where this magical sounding “village” was.

The more I connected with new and seasoned mums in my community, I began to understand that our lack of village and community support is a cultural issue rather than an individual issue. I know that in other cultures, the mother or mother-in-law will move into the new mum’s home for the Fourth Trimester, to take care of the cooking, cleaning, and other household chores so the new mum can rest from the traumatic changes her body has gone through in the last 9 to 10 months of growing a baby. During this time the new mum is encouraged to rest so she can heal and recover from the birth and devote her time to bonding with baby and learning the art of feeding baby if she chooses to. All while being nourished and cared for by her loved ones.

Unfortunately, we do not have that cultural practise here in the west and there’s a lack of knowledge of how to plan for a supported postpartum, especially the first forty days. There’s so much research being done that tells us that having a well-supported fourth trimester can reduce the risk of postpartum depression and anxiety. So, my overall goal of The Village Community is to remind new mums, and mums in the thick of their mothering season, that there is a community supporting them, perhaps not on the physical level, but holding them emotionally. I hope they feel less alone while being fed with the food made lovingly by others within our community.

What services do you offer and how does it work?

Aimee: I am currently offering a box of homecooked meals, baked goods, and fresh produce to mums in their Fourth Trimester or any mum needing support, which ever season they’re in of their postpartum. The boxes are filled by volunteers who have connected with our online community, which is accessed through Instagram. There’s a weekly story informing the community of how many families we will be supporting that week and if there are any special requests or dietary needs that need to be met. Anyone and everyone is welcome to respond to these stories if they are in a place or have capacity to offer something for a family. I like to drop off the box of goodies on a Sunday to give the volunteers time over the weekend to cook their dishes. A mum is nominated to me through a message on The Village Community’s Instagram account.

I am incredibly grateful for the support from small businesses around the mountains and in the Hawkesbury who have made donations of their services and products to be added to our boxes. Thank you to Little Knick Knacks, Botanik_co, The Young Blonde Salon, The Golden Dandelion, The Sisters Collective, Community Resilience Project, Natural Focus Birth Photography, Sorelle Eats, Studio 2774, and Blue Mountains Food Co-op. Our community is so beautiful!

What are your hopes for the future of The Village Community?

Aimee: My big dream is to create a space for women to have access to everything they need for motherhood and as a woman. A one stop drop-in centre. This is a big dream and in reality, there’s still a lot of work and years ahead of me before we can get there. For now, I am studying a holistic nutrition course specific to postpartum health. With this knowledge I can better support the women and their families in our community with positive nutrition practices during their postpartum period.

Postpartum Doula training may be on the cards also. I’m a self-proclaimed birth nerd and would love to become a doula and offer birth support in the future as part of The Village Community’s services. This is more likely when my babies are older. There’s a lot I’m still learning and that I’d love to offer to support women on their motherhood path.

I believe that postpartum is forever, a non-linear journey which is unique for all mums. I’ll never deny any mum the right to a box of lovingly cooked meals, as she moves through the seasons of postpartum. And alternatively, I’m always open to new ideas of what we can offer the mums in our community to best support them through The Village Community.

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