Mama Muse • U-Fhern Chang

Mother to Juliette, Keira and Leighton​​​​​​​​ - Melbourne, Australia 

I am U-Fhern, founder of Elan House of Wellness, COO of the Ji household and Mama to Juliette (5.5), Keira (3.5), Leighton (1.5). It is definitely a busy season of my life, having 3 little ones, running my aromatherapy business @AuricAlchemy whilst also bringing Elan H.O.W to life. I love learning and have spent the last few years dedicating myself to learning more about postpartum. I have just finished my @Innatetraditions training and getting certified this year, am in the midst of my @ohbabynutrition Masters Certification and have just started my Meditation Teacher training with @thebroadplace and Motherhood Studies with @drsophiebrock.

My journey to motherhood was an interesting one. I got married at 24 but hubby and I decided to travel, try our hand at business and didn't think about kids 'til much later. When we decided to grow our family, it took us a year to conceive. It was an emotional journey, but towards the end I turned to Traditional Chinese Medicine and soon after we were pregnant with Juliette and she arrived in her own sweet time at 42 weeks. My second pregnancy with Keira was successful just after one go. All my pregnancies were pretty smooth sailing except with Leighton we had a scare early on as there was very little amniotic fluid around him at one point. I put myself on bed rest and turned once again to TCM and things improved within a week and we now have a healthy & vibrant boy. My births were all natural and speedy! The longest was two hours and the shortest was 45 minutes of active labor. With my third, I had a postpartum hemorrhage, requiring an iron and blood transfusion the next day. I practiced confinement for all 3 births and with each baby I took more time for myself. We had Leighton at the height of Melbourne's lockdown but it was a beautiful quiet time spent in the home and with just family.

What was your favourite thing about the newborn phase?

The snuggles and knowing all things shall pass. With Juliette who had colic, I held her for the first 3 months of her life - day and night but feeling totally anxious and thinking I was doing everything I was not meant to do. By the time I had Leighton, my third, I would happily enjoy snuggles and naps with him on the couch and just be present in the moment, take in their sleepiness and their newborn smell.

What did you find challenging about being a new mother?

The juggle - being a business owner I never had maternity leave and was back working very soon after birth but just working from home. I am constantly feeling guilty whether it be from the feeling of not giving enough at work or at home. But after a few years of being a mum now, I've learnt that I can't be 100% to everyone 100% of the time and feeling ok with that.

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

For my first two births I was supported by my Mum and Aunt during the 4th trimester. For my third, I had a doula and midwife as we had international travel restrictions during the lockdowns.

If I could go back in time I would have the same set up I had for my third, for my first and second. I would have loved for my family to come as visitors from overseas and be additional help and bond with the older kids rather than helping with night duty or tending to a new-born which often made them nervous as its not something they do day in day out. I'd then feel guilty and try to compensate the next morning which really defeated the purpose of observing confinement.

Having paid help, although it may seem luxurious, meant I felt confident leaving my baby with a professional and I didn't have any guilt attached to the support I was getting. I do think us women need to start accepting we are worthy of support and care and we are worthy of that investment.

List your top 3 essentials for a new mother.

  1. Vedic Meditation (or any form of meditation)
  2. A large thermos bottle that you can easily open and close with one hand
  3. Support - whether it be in the form of recovery shorts, or another person to hold space for you and tend to you.

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

Within the first week of each of my births I would hand write a letter to my babies recounting their births. I thought it was a nice way for them to know how they entered the world but also a way for me to remember my feminine power as I birthed them.

I observed the traditional Chinese "confinement" for 30, 42 and 60 days for my children respectively. It is such a sacred time and I truly enjoyed turning inwards during this time and focusing on my needs which I don't do enough of day to day.

If there is any advice I'd share it is that I'd encourage mamas to find their worth and invest in themselves during the 4th trimester. Don't be afraid to reach out for help. It is so essential for our future generations that our mothers are cared for and that really is the essence of Elan - caring, nurturing and empowering the mother.

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