Mama Muse • Ava Matthews

 Mother to Art - Melbourne, Australia
1 child, 12 weeks, co-founder of Ultra Violette. Journey to motherhood was tricky-ish but not totally soul destroying. I have PCOS which I didn’t figure out until I started trying to conceive. I also was 34 at the time, so I didn’t want to waste much time trying “naturally”. So we went to a fertility specialist pretty quickly. I was put on letrozole and after a handful of months on that we conceived. It was right before we were about to go down the IVF route (you hear those stories all the time but I didn't think it would happen to me). I was actually pregnant when I started on the IVF drugs and when I went for my ovulation scan my fertility specialist was like “oh there’s a sac”. I, of course, thought it was a cyst or cancer and couldn’t actually believe I’d fallen pregnant.

What was your favourite thing about the newborn phase?

Um.. hmmm. I found it all pretty tricky and monotonous to be honest. Once they start properly smiling post about 8 weeks and he was sleeping more solidly, I was able to enjoy him/ it a bit more. It then became a bit more predictable and I was a bit more comfortable in my role as mother - and he became a bit easier to read and predict too. I also was shocked at how much I loved him and how quickly, and also how that love has grown each day as we get to know each other. I’m just obsessed.

What did you find challenging about being a new mother?

Everything. Breastfeeding I found beastly. I have low supply and he was a small baby and we both just struggled. After 6 weeks it became a bit easier but he's been mixed fed from birth. I wanted to be able to breastfeed for some of his feeds which I’ve been able to do. I also really struggled with the repetitiveness of the newborn phase - eat, poop, sleep repeat. Artie also has a few allergies and intolerances as well as reflux - so we’ve been navigating through that which has been a bit tricky in terms of his settledness.

I also really struggled with the role of mother and the drastic change to my life and lifestyle. I had a great life before Artie and I like to do what I want to do when I want to do it - the scheduling and lack of independence was also hard. He’s divine and I adore him beyond words but I do miss “old Ava”.

How were you supported during your postpartum period and what would you change if you could go back in time?

My amazing mum came down from Sydney for four weeks which was a lifesaver. I literally could not have done it without her. I was triple feeding for those first four weeks so breastfeeding, bottle of EBM, bottle of formula and then pumping so it was gruelling. I see what they say about how people can BF easier with a lot of support. I didnt quite understand what was meant by that until I was in it. I also had a doula for 6 weeks/sessions which was great even just for a few hours a week to be able to hand him over to someone else. My husband has also dropped down to PT (utilising some of his annual leave) so I can go back to work a couple of days a week. We have no family in Melbourne, so after my mum left we had to outsource a lot of help. I have a few amazing friends here who have been a great help too.

I would have seen a LC during pregnancy. You don’t know how hard it is going to be until you’re in it. If I’d seen one prior to giving birth I would have known that I may not make much milk as my PCOS has meant I have insufficient glandular tissue - so it wouldn’t have been such a bad shock and I would have had time to adjust mentally.

List your top 3 essentials for a new mother.

  1. Food. Anyone who can feed and water you is a lifesaver, if you dont have family or friends nearby, outsource help as much as you can afford: cleaners, doula, night nurse.
  2. Anything that’s going to allow you sleep is never a waste of money, therapy is also a lifesaver because the fourth trimester is ROUGH. It’s the hardest of the hard.
  3. In terms of things for baby, I’ve found Art doesn’t like to sleep in a cot during the day so a carrier has been my ride or die. I love the Baby Bjorn and also the Portier carrier.

Are there any rituals or practices during your 4th trimester you'd like to share?

Therapy. I went back a few weeks after birth and boy was it needed. Also probably helpful if you have a traumatic birth, which I didn't, but just knowing that what I was feeling was normal was great.

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