Leonie Caines is a motherhood journey consultant – a title we don’t often hear, but we should. She explains why it’s so important to shift the focus to mothers and their wellbeing, if we want to raise healthy children and a healthy society.
Welcome Leonie! Tell us please, what does a motherhood journey consultant do?
I help them to recognise and understand their needs, to honour those needs, and to be able to build healthy, sustainable relationships with themselves and their children. I do this so that they’re able to take care of their emotional and psychological wellbeing throughout their motherhood experience.
What made you realise there was a need for this service?
Being a mum is a minefield. It’s like being on a roller-coaster without a seat belt, and you never know what will happen next – and you do need the emotional support to get through it. But mothers usually don’t get this emotional support.
There’s a stigma and a lot of noise out there that can be quite distracting, and it doesn’t exactly help mums to be able to have the confidence to have the type of motherhood experience that they want to have. They think that they’re having the wrong experiences, or not doing the right things, or they’re missing out. I had a very hard start in the sense that when I had my child everybody was telling me what I should do, what I shouldn’t do; and it just became very overwhelming. And eventually I had to say “right, I’m the mum, this is what I’ll do with my son or my daughter, and this is the way I’m gonna do it.”
Why is it so important to support mothers emotionally?
Your every thought is a molecule that makes up your baby’s life experience – even in pregnancy a mother is shaping her children from within the womb with her thoughts and her feelings. It is important that her feelings are positive, that she’s getting the support she needs, that she feels in control of the process of motherhood.
I started Womb to Birth Consultancy because at 20 weeks a baby is a thinking, feeling individual, and it remembers everything that it’s taught in the womb. And then it starts to build that reality based on what the mother is feeling. It’s really important that the mother is supported throughout her pregnancy emotionally – and this is still very much missing from antenatal care.
When you go to the doctor they always tell you to be careful what you eat, be careful what you drink, don’t smoke, don’t take drugs – but they never say be careful how you feel. They never say that chronic stress can cause early labour. They never say that the way you feel, pressure and anxiety, in the first year of a child’s life, then shapes the child’s reality. And this experience of childhood has an effect on adulthood. Children learn to pick up everything the mum shows them, and that becomes their culture and reality.
“Your reality becomes your child’s reality.”
So just imagine that if a mum is always stressed, or she’s volatile, or she lacks confidence, or during the pregnancy she was very depressed or very anxious, then that can cause chronic illness later on in a child’s life. Also, the child starts to see that life is suddenly not possible, they might not be able to thrive or they might not be able to have those good jobs or good friends because they think “if my mum didn’t experience that, that means I can’t experience that”.
How can mums be prepared emotionally?
Motherhood is a journey. It’s not a destination. I think a lot of people forget that, or they don’t acknowledge that there is a journey. We don’t prepare mums enough emotionally, we don’t say it’s okay to fall apart, it’s okay to not feel like you wanna do this today, it’s okay to feel like your whole life revolves around your child, or you feel kind of down about the fact that you don’t get to do things for yourself. It’s okay to feel like that.
But once you acknowledge that that’s the way you feel, seek help – because if you spend too long feeling unhappy, that has an effect on the child, that has an effect on the relationship, and that has an effect on who they become as adults. And that cycle continues for years and generations to come.
It’s okay to feel the way you feel – but you have to do something about it. What’s not okay is that you stay the same, what’s not okay is that you don’t grow, what’s not okay is that you don’t keep challenging yourself to be better – so that your children can be better. That’s not okay.
Why is pregnancy a good time to work on ourselves?
Pregnancy is a most powerful time, because you have the ability to create life – which is a miracle. And if you can create life which is a miracle, you can pretty much create anything. This is a time for you to rebirth yourself, to ask yourself “actually, what is it that I want to achieve in society or in this world, how do I want to show up in this world”.
“You’re a woman experiencing motherhood – but you still have needs as a woman.”
I’m teaching mums to really ask themselves and work out what their needs are, what they desire, and what it is that they want to achieve as a woman experiencing motherhood. You’re a woman experiencing motherhood. Motherhood is an experience – but you still have needs as a woman that you need to fulfil in order for you to have that balance in your relationship with your child.
Mums are building a relationship with their child, so therefore, like any relationship, it needs to be balanced. If your relationship with your child is unbalanced, it becomes unhealthy – and then you start to resent the level of care that you give them, the level of love that you give them, because you’re thinking “what about me, what about me”.
Mums need to understand this and be okay with it, not to be scared of it, not to feel judged by the fact that they want to go to work, or they want to go to college, or they want to work out – because it makes them feel good.
It helps you to be a better parent when you’ve had that time to think, to breathe, and to take care of your own wellbeing. You can then take care of your child’s wellbeing, because you have more to offer, more to give.
I love how you compare mothers to leaders.
Mothers are leaders of the next generation – and it is very important that we change the narrative of motherhood from sacrificers to leaders. Once you have a child, your emotional state, your thoughts, your feelings, your culture, your behaviour; all of that makes up the child’s reality and what the child believes is possible. So in effect the mother is shaping society by her knowledge and wisdom and experience – and also the way she leads her children. She creates a blueprint, which is the foundation which the child will grow from, and expand their world and what they think is possible in their world.
“The mother is the leader that stands behind the next generation of leaders – her children.”
We create legacies with our children, we are succession-planning for the future. So changing the narrative of motherhood from sacrificers to leaders is really important because mums are social influencers. They shape society. And the gift that they have they impart to their children, as the dominant caregiver.
Mothers don’t get enough praise for what they do. We spend a lot of time looking for faults instead of praising them and raising them up. And a lot of what I do is giving mums the tools to be able to praise themselves, and to raise themselves to the standards that they want to be, so that they can succeed, and help their children to succeed. To understand how powerful their position is, as a person who shapes society. If the mum is not feeling good, or if she’s suffering from mental health problems, that has a massive effect on the child, because the child spends most of his time with the dominant caregiver.
How can mothers work with you?
I offer two services. I have my Womb to Birth Consultancy, where I work with mums from 20 weeks pregnancy until the baby’s one years of age. This is a very exclusive service, I only take 20 women a year on that program. We do a lot more work in terms of the psychological side of things, perinatal mental health, helping mums to connect with their babies, getting them to understand how sacred that bond is, the meditation, the consciousness, it’s a very in-depth program. We have online calls, and if you work with me on the Womb to Birth Consultancy I go and meet you; so if you’re in Australia I meet you in Australia. Because if we’re gonna work together in such a sacred time, I want to meet you and you should want to meet me too.
But I also work with mums up until the baby is 8 years of age, or however old they are, as long as they want to have a better relationship with their baby, or they want more self-fulfilment, or they want to create harmony between their personal goals and their parental responsibilities. I can do online coaching and coach them as long as they need. I talk about their goals and their expectations, what they want to achieve, and I make sure that they achieve those goals.
I want mothers to feel more confident, to know what they want, and realise they’ve got such an amazing role in society. I want them to feel inspired and empowered, and to know that they’re the leaders of the next generation of leaders. And that is such an important thing for me, because it has an effect not just on the mums I work with and their children, but also on other children and on society as a whole.
Thank you Leonie for sharing your thoughts with us. ♥