Maddison: At the moment I am loving the Women’s Vitality tea. As a busy mum and business owner, I am always looking for ways I can support my nervous system and create little rituals for stillness and grounding in my day. I am loving all of the ingredients in this tea and find it is exactly what I am needing during this season of my life.
Roogenic: Tell us about your holistic philosophy when it comes to your practice as a dietitian. And why is it important to you to specifically support women who are pregnant or are considering becoming pregnant?
Maddison: When it comes to how I support my clients and what I believe to encompass truly thriving, I always look at the whole person. The whole system. For me, this involves all four of our bodies - the physical, the emotional, the mental and the spiritual. These four systems are intricately linked and all impact each other to make up our current being and state of wellness. I believe all four need to be in balance and harmony to reach a point of truly thriving, so in my work I am always looking to support each of these bodies. I started my journey studying nutrition and dietetics and saw many great outcomes when clients and myself included, started tuning into how they nourished their bodies. But for me personally, and for many others in my life at the time, diet alone improved say 70% of symptoms, but there was still something missing. I felt like there were still more pieces to this puzzle.
I then started down the path of yoga and meditation and cultivating a practise within my own life. This led me to completing my yoga teacher training in India, half way through my nutrition degree. I was so fascinated with blending the two and how by calming the nervous system, we can also see huge improvements in gut health and digestion. This was further cemented for me during many periods of immense stress in my own life. I was eating an incredibly nourishing, whole-foods diet, but experiencing a lot of ongoing stress and my gut health was being impacted hugely, this has been seen time and time again. So yoga, meditation, mindfulness and nervous system calming practises started to play a huge role in my life and practise. With this I felt like even more layers of the wellness puzzle I was trying to solve, peeled away and I started to feel better and better.
The past year or so, I have been diving more into the emotional realm, studying Australian bush flower essences and how we can support our emotional & spiritual body. I very much blend all of these (nutrition, yoga, meditation & flower essences) and draw from each of these different tools, techniques and frameworks in my work. The philosophy that underpins my work is not only around supporting clients with their digestion of food (through a whole food, organic and close to nature diet), but also with how they digest life, using nervous system balancing techniques. I strongly believe this is how we thrive - by looking at our beings as a whole and acknowledging and working towards balancing any imbalances.
As for my work with women and in particular, those who are pregnant or close to falling pregnant, this all really started for me after birthing my son! I realised just how truly powerful this season of life is and realised just how powerful mothers (and women!) truly are. Mothers have the power to shape the future of this planet directly. The mothers state of health plants the seed for her future little one’s health and then their future little one’s health. The flow on effect is huge! I believe mothers have arguably the most important job when it comes to the health of our society, future generations and planet. They are shaping the future earth keepers. Our future health care workers. Our future innovators. Our future leaders. The foundation for what our future will be built upon. How well the mothers are nourished is a major defining factor for how well they can nourish their little ones - our future. So a huge part of my work is supporting women and mothers to be deeply nourished, on all levels of their being. I believe this to be our radical action for the earth!
Roogenic: You've shared that you have a connection to native plants from childhood. Can you tell us more about that?
Maddison: Yes absolutely! My mum has always been a true wise woman healer - with bottles of flower essences and homeopathics ready to go for any symptom we were experiencing. These shaped a huge part of my childhood. Something that I was initially embarrassed of (when my friends came over wondering what all of the tiny bottles were) has now engrained such a strong message that I still carry with me today. One I am very thankful for. My mum always taught me to turn to the earth first and Australian natives were a huge part of that. She always spoke of their power, so much so that my mum birthed me into this world with the support of Australian bush flower essences alone. So for me studying and learning about the flowers more in-depth over the last couple years, has really felt nostalgic. I find myself turning to native plants and bush flower essences now more than ever, being a new mum and navigating all of the challenges with raising a strong willed little human. I am incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to live on this land and work with these plants. I acknowledge the Kaurna people, the traditional custodians of the land I live and work and I pay respect to the elders past, present and future.
Roogenic: You’ve recently given birth to a beautiful baby boy. Congratulations! How are you nourishing yourself in these early days of new motherhood?
Maddison: Yes, thank you! What a wild ride it has been, that’s for sure! Birthing during a pandemic - who would have thought. But my son Reef has been such a blessing and light in our lives!
During postpartum I really focused on warmth. Warm, simple and easy to digest foods to make sure my body could be filled with the most amount of nourishment for the least amount of energy spent digesting. This is something spoken about a lot in Chinese medicine. My diet consisted of a lot of porridges, stews, soups, casseroles and puddings (my black rice pudding in particular). Bone broth, ghee and eggs were also big staples to help rebuild the blood I had lost during birth. Warm drinks were also a big focus. I drank a lot of herbal teas to support my milk supply and in particular, nettle to replenish nutrients.
I tried to keep warm socks on my feet, my belly and back covered to avoid the cold and I also used heat packs a lot. Another huge factor is rest, and lots of it! I was in no hurry to get out of the house and be out and about. I gave myself full permission to stay in bed all day, and to be honest this was tough at first (I’m usually quite a busy person) but rest is exactly what I needed. I took the time before birth to stock our freezer so my partner could just warm some food for us and we didn’t have to worry about cooking. I was also gifted an incredible postpartum meal service for 4 weeks after those freezer meals ran out (couldn’t recommend this more). Not having to worry about what meal I need to prepare next was a true life saver. As part of this meal service I was also lucky enough to have a couple massages and acupuncture sessions post birth and my oh my this was delightful! If you can, I really urge you to do this if you are a new mum. Your body goes through so much during birth.
Roogenic: Do you have any advice for new or expecting mothers on how they can continue to nourish themselves during pregnancy and new motherhood?
Maddison: The biggest takeaway I have learnt from my motherhood journey so far is if you’re well - everyone is well. If you aren’t, it’s likely that everyone else in the house can sense this and isn’t either! We are very much the centre point of the family, the glue that holds everything together. So please don’t be afraid to tend to your needs. We’re so accustomed to giving, especially as we step into the role of mother but the most important thing is that you keep giving to yourself too. We can’t pour from an empty cup! So try and set aside some you time each day - whether it be 10 minutes to yourself in the morning before everyone wakes up, or maybe the last 10 minutes of your day. Go to that yoga class, book yourself a massage, do that meditation. Prioritise whatever your thing is that makes you feel good.
Meal prepping also really changed the game for me. Setting aside a Sunday afternoon and preparing some staple nourishing foods to have in the fridge for the week, like roast vegetables, a soup or a pudding. Also my best advice is to get a slow cooker, thank me later. I also really want to encourage you to ask for help in this department! Don’t be afraid to lean on your friends and family. Maybe set up a meal train (there is an app on your phone for this) or even organise a postpartum meal delivery service. My mum still buys a postpartum week of meals to be delivered for me now and then when I am having a tough week. You need support during this time and the simple act of someone cooking a meal for you takes so much pressure off you.
For the mothers to be, if you have the window or luxury of planning your pregnancy and when you are going to start trying, the best gift you can give not only yourself but also your little one - is to spend the time preparing your body. We share a lot around this on Women’s Wisdom Co, so if you would like to learn more, you can find us on Instagram.