Mother to Jules and Freya - Australia
"It was so lovely to wake up with our baby and eat a warm breakfast in bed with nowhere to go except be right there, together and cosy."
My name is Sophie Ward Koren, I was born and raised in Western Australia but live in California with my (also Aussie) husband Isaac. We have two children, Julius (Jules) is 9, and Freya is 3 months old. We conceived Jules very easily, he was born on the east coast (New York/PA) and we moved to CA when he was 8 months. Freya is an IVF baby, conceived after 6 long years of secondary infertility. Both are beautiful empowering home births.
I’m a poet and self-published author of three books and a certified holistic health counselor specialising in postpartum and pre-conception. I’m the founder of Milk & Seed, a wellness resource for the maternal space, focusing on postpartum nutrition for mothers & babies.
I love to sing on my karaoke mic in the kitchen, grow roses, bake, and watch any British television to connect with my English roots.
What was your favourite thing about the newborn phase?
My two-week confinement period. Being supported to stay in our bedroom, in bed, with every meal and all drinks brought to me was a gift I will never forget. Sometimes I would go out on the deck to lay in the sun, but other than that I had the freedom to just bond with my baby and allow my body to heal and rest.
What did you find challenging about being a new mother?
Missing my older child! I didn’t expect to miss him so much. We arranged for a babysitter to take him after school so I rarely saw him, some days not until 5:30 or 6 pm. It was a grief I didn’t expect: I missed just being with him, driving around, doing things together. Slowly we got back to it all, but it was really difficult in the beginning to feel that grief which I absolutely did not anticipate.
How were you supported during your postpartum period and what would you change if you could go back in time?
My husband took on the role of defender and protector of my postpartum space. He also cooked and provided all my meals, bringing galactagogue drinks (I love the Bodily lattes), and lots of water! He held a strong boundary for me so I felt very safe and protected from outside influences. I was so sensitive and delicate at that time, it was very important for me to have that support, and vital for him to feel like an integral part of the new family dynamic instead of feeling left out as many new fathers feel.
If I could go back in time I would 100% never allow any family members to come from overseas or interstate before my due date. Not even a week after! I would tell them to arrive at least two weeks after my due date. And none of them would stay with us. The pressure I felt to give birth before their return flights back were completely unnecessary and didn’t contribute to the energy of surrender I needed to cultivate. I wouldn’t invite any of them to stay with us, as having house guests during late pregnancy or during early postpartum isn’t ideal either: for many women it’s really difficult to step out of host mode, not to mention allow other people (often strong women liable to trigger us, think mother or sister/s!) to take over your kitchen or home at a time when we are very sensitive to energy and truly in a watery dissolved state. In your final days of pregnancy you really need to be in a high oxytocin state (cuddling, making love!) so think carefully about who is coming in and out of your house. Ideally, it’s just you, your partner, and other kids! If you need the support of someone in your family, have them stay nearby so you can visit them, not the other way around.
List your top 3 essentials for a new mother.
• Postpartum doula or someone close to you to make your meals and bring water/ warming food to you for the first 2 weeks. All visitors should be comfortable taking out the trash, doing laundry, doing dishes, etc. If they aren’t, they shouldn’t be there.
• Feeding support pillow. I love this moon-shaped one by Snuggle Me Organic as it can live in your house or kid's room after its life as a breastfeeding pillow!
• A cosy robe to live in, I love this recycled poly one for colder months, and this organic cotton waffle one for warmer weather
Are there any rituals or practices during your 4th trimester you'd like to share?
I don’t have any solid rituals at the moment because things have to be very fluid. I try not to be too rigid with my plans. I’ve been doing the same yoga stretch routine for about 15 years and I love it. If I do that in the morning (ideally outside with some sun on my skin!) I don’t care what other movement I do in the day and I know my body will feel good. I’ve just started plotting out my current priorities as I juggle a lot between and during nap times, so we’ll see how that goes! I have to admit one favorite ritual has been sleeping in with our baby while my husband does the morning school routine for our older son, and for many weeks he brought me porridge in bed. It was so lovely to wake up with our baby and eat a warm breakfast in bed with nowhere to go except be right there, together and cosy.
See Instagram post here.