A little about why I am here…
I’m Gemma and I provide counselling to help you navigate early parenthood.
A few hats I wear (but actually don’t because…Mum bun…)
- Mother of two under five
- Wife/ partner of one over 35
- Accredited Social Worker
- Former HR professional
- Recovering perfectionist
Qualifications that I have done, (ironically, mainly for the hats) include:
- Master of Social Work (MSW)
- Bachelor of Creative Arts
- Diploma of Business Management
- Diploma of Yoga Teaching
My long story short is:
I lived a fast life, constantly pushing myself well beyond my limits while striving for success (along with adrenal fatigue apparently!). Then, I had my first baby and the rest is a complicated, messy, profound and joyful history, which has led me to this work, and to you.
My longer story is:
Before my first son was born, I had a high-pressure job and was juggling; postgraduate study, sprint triathlon training, french language lessons, yoga classes, community volunteering (in Australia and abroad), a crazy bulldog puppy, high anxiety, getting married, buying a family home, and managing an investment property, my relationship and my active social life.
I had a spreadsheet for everything, scheduled my activities back-to-back and pushed through anything I set out to achieve, even when my body and mind were screaming out for calm and rest. Despite this, I was almost always praised for how much, how fast or how well I could do things. And I loved that.
In my pregnancy, despite being very much planned and being excited about what was to come (especially after my intense morning sickness subsided!), I had started to experience feelings of fear, guilt and loss about my unknown future identity as a “Mum”. Who would I even be if I wasn’t going to be able to keep up my usual ultimate ass-kicking activities and achievements? Why do I feel so much apprehension about this change when I should be feeling grateful for my healthy, growing baby? I felt like I was already losing myself and then felt guilty about feeling that way. Being trained in social work, I sought counselling to manage this, which did help to normalise these feelings – but they didn’t go away.
I had never even changed a nappy before, but I did my best to prepare for birth and parenthood. I did pregnancy pilates, the pregnancy/birth physiotherapy class, a hospital antenatal course series, lots of reading and a practical course on yoga for labour and birth. I also saw my osteo, hired a birth doula and listened to all the solicited and unsolicited advice from family, friends and several strangers.
None of this really helped me to feel prepared because what I was actually yearning for was to be able to just talk openly about and plan for MY life with this baby. I hadn’t heard the terms postpartum or matresence at this point, so I didn’t even have the vocabulary to explain what I needed or why I needed it.
Fast forward to my last week of work when my gender equity program won a national award – this was the culmination of several years of work and the ultimate prize for an achievement junkie like me! Then, just like that, I had to stop work to start my maternity leave. Despite being very physically ready not to have to leave my couch, I didn’t feel ready to just stop my life as I knew it, to be cut off from my daily to-do list and my colleagues (many of whom had become my closest friends) to slow down and just wait, without really knowing what was coming next. To get around this I may or may not have created a maternity leave spreadsheet with an associated to-do list.
And in true Gemma fashion – the day after my last ‘to-do’ item was struck from my maternity leave spreadsheet, my waters broke spontaneously and my son was born.
My postpartum experience was so many things. But I think the best word to describe it is polarising. I had some of the absolute best and worst times of my entire life, often on the same day. I both deeply loved and hated the experience of new parenthood. What I learnt through this time (twice over if focusing on the first 12 months postpartum), is that postpartum is both unique to each individual while, at the same time, having three core ingredients that seem to be universal for postpartum ‘success’:
- Connection with others (particularly other parents)
- Practical support in many forms
- Compassion and care for yourself
I found myself desperately wanting to use my social work qualification and HR skills to do something about this, but couldn’t find any existing jobs at that time which quite fitted the bill.
After my second birth, I found out about a niche area of counselling I could provide (pregnancy support counselling) as an accredited social worker. This was it! This was what I had yearned for in my first pregnancy. This was the support I needed when I welcomed my babies. This was the support I wished I had when I was deep in the trenches of sleep deprivation and navigating my new identity. This was one answer to filling a gap in perinatal care that myself (and so many other women I had spoken to) had experienced. This was the perfect blend of my existing skillset, passion for helping others and newfound knowledge from my own experience navigating pregnancy, birth and postpartum.
So I trained as a perinatal counsellor while on my second round of maternity leave and now – here I am! I am here to make sure women like you (whether this is your first baby or your fifth) have appropriate, accessible support so you can thrive, not just survive, your transition from pregnancy to postpartum.
Gemma brings a friendly, warm approach to what can be an overwhelming and stressful time for her clients.
Not only is she extensively educated, she informs and provides insight to all aspects of the pregnancy journey.
We were fortunate to work with Gemma on our post birth plan and goals. She provided us with tools and techniques to help us make the best decisions for us in our first weeks as a family of 3!
Her personal experience and advice provide her clients with hands on, proven recommendations.
It was our pleasure to be Gemma’s clients!
Gemma was absolutely fantastic and provided us with an invaluable experience and vital information to prepare us for our lead up to birth, the birthing process and our first days post birth.
We thought we had most things covered but our session opened up questions we didn’t know we had and some conversations we needed to have together as well as a range of “to-do” items to ensure we were prepared for this life-changing experience.
Gemma was easy to talk to and very knowledgeable. We felt very comfortable asking any questions and she gave us some fantastic suggestions.
We love our personalised birthing care plan and how we can just hand it to those involved and not have to worry about having the same conversation many times over on the day.
Thank you Gemma for your support.