meet our modern mama - Leila

mama: Leila Armour

kid(s): Billie Iona (16 months)

where is home right now: Tugun Beach, QLD
photography: Jenna Aguis
mama & buba leila

Where did your buba’s name come from?

It took us about 2 weeks to name Billie, she didn’t suit the names we had for a girl. We both love unisex names for girls, pretty but with a little bit of spunk. My husband Ross is Scottish so we chose Iona as a middle name. It is the most beautiful island off the Ross of Mull in Scotland. We took Billie to visit it when she was 3 months old.

Any family rituals or traditions you wish to share with us?

We all jump in the ocean nearly every morning and we are lucky enough to have my family close by, so we have a big family dinner with games every Sunday.  

Tell us about what you love about where you live?

We have the ocean on our front door step and the rainforest behind us. Having both grown up in the UK, we are forever grateful to raise our family here in Australia - it’s magical. 

You are creating a book ‘Village for Mama”. Please tell us about it, including where the inspiration came from?

The inspiration for the book came from a few places. The idea of creating individual recipe cards came to me really early one morning after a coffee (don’t you love that first coffee inspiration and motivation burst). I was thinking about all the great books I had read informing me about the fourth trimester but how it was still such a foreign concept to so many people. I was gifted the book - The First Forty Days while I was pregnant which was such a wonderful present. I had to re gift it to my own mother though, in order to embrace the suggestions in the book and that only recruited me 1 set of hands as a support network. You can hire a Postpartum Doula to support you during this time or you can order postpartum meal delivery packages, but that isn’t always an option financially. And so Village For Mama was born… I decided I was going to develop a fourth trimester recipe book with corresponding recipe gift cards. So that expecting mamas can select the recipes they love the sound of, knowing that they have been specially designed to nourish a postpartum mama. Then they can gift them out to gather their support network. It would be a perfect way explain the idea of the fourth trimester and summarise the importance of nourishing the new mama to friends and family who have no idea about this sacred time and how important it is for the ongoing health of a mother.  I loved the idea that even though you were asking someone to cook for you, they also received the gift of a beautiful recipe to try and to make for their own family. I’m hoping the book and cards become a go to baby shower or blessing way gift. It would make a wonderful activity for the day too, gifting your villagers a special recipe for them to deliver you once the baby arrives. 

And when can we buy it? (if not mentioned above)

The book (once published) will be available on my website - and I will hopefully stock it in some local shops as I grow. 

You collaborated with some amazing women for the book, how did you connect with them to come together?

You know I actually reached out to all of these women via Instagram. I’m in awe over how many inspired brave women follow their dreams and run their own show. Instagram is such wonderful tool to find and connect with amazing people. I knew my Recipe Developer, Maddy (@maddytrueman) locally and she was a huge part of my own fourth trimester, without her even realising. My mum used to deliver me her nourishing chicken soup recipe she posted every second day for about 6 weeks. I’m still not sick of it! And yes, a special version of the recipe has made its way into the book. I reached out to see if she would be interested in helping me develop some recipes for the project. Maddy is such a natural talent, she is driven, motivated and willing, an absolute pleasure to work with. She has done some amazing food photography for the book too and has now become a close friend. 

It’s quite hard to find nutritionists who specialise in postpartum but Brooke, our Naturopath had her first daughter around the same time as me and having just been through the process herself, was really passionate and knowledgeable about nourishing the new mum. She too has been an absolute pleasure to work with, reviewing the recipes, providing incredible information and insights helping shape the perfect meals - I have learned so much from her. 

All our work has come together at the incredibly talented hands of Kristie ( Kristie has such a great eye and it is so exciting watching her bring the idea to life. I cannot wait for it all to go to print.

“It takes a village”. Do you think here in Australia we actually practice this well/or as best we could?

I think there is a very slow moving awareness around supporting women during their fourth trimester. Unfortunately the knowledge around this important practise seems to fall into the hands of the expecting mother and not the villagers. I honestly think that unless you have been through those early weeks of motherhood, you genuinely don’t understand what it involves and how you can be there for a  new mama. I still feel guilty for how I behaved when my Niece was born. Completely naive, popped round hours after they returned home, desperate to cuddle the baby and empty handed. I just didn’t know! That was another huge motivation behind creating the book. I wrote a  letter on the reverse of each recipe card, kindly informing villagers about ‘fourth trimester etiquette’. It educates your loved ones so that they can properly support you. I think in time, Australian’s will start to embrace this practice, it will just take some guidance and little nudges in the right direction.

How has your profession influenced your parenting choices? or visa versa!

When it comes to food, yes. I have made a conscious effort to avoid pre made baby foods and focus on huge variety of real whole foods. It is really hard sometimes but I’m passionate about nourishing the new mama, so she can flourish and I didn’t want it to stop there. Food really is magic and I want Billie to enjoy all the wonders of food.

And visa versa too, I didn’t want to go and work for someone and have someone else look after Billie. I wanted to spend as much time as I could with her, connecting, learning, laughing and growing together. I wanted to grow a business that allowed me to do that.

What are the challenges you have found & how may you have overcome/adapted from transitioning from a professional to becoming a mama as well as professional? 

It is really hard being a freelancer, growing a new project and being a mama. For me personally, it really is worth the juggle though. You have to make a conscious effort to put your work (and your phone) aside and make sure there is a balance of specific work time, and undivided play time. I think you just have to accept that some weeks your work progress will thrive, whilst your other tasks seem to pile up.

Having personally experienced the ‘fourth trimester’ What would be your best advice for pregnant mamas to prepare themselves?

Organise homemade meal giving. Don’t be afraid to ask people to cook for you. Giving food is just as fulfilling as receiving it. It feels good to help people and they will be honoured you asked. Build your own nest ready for your fourth trimester (I wrote a journal about this on the villageformama website). We spend so much time creating our babies nursery and forget to build our own nest. It will help encourage bed rest if make yourself an extra special fourth trimester space. 

Also, I wish someone told me to go shopping for comfortable breast feeding friendly clothes when I was about 17 weeks pregnant. I feel as though you end up around that size after birth and you want comfortable clothes you can easily breastfeed in! 

Top 3 recommendations a mama can nurture herself with during pregnancy?

Pregnancy acupuncture and massage, colourful homemade meals and popping to a yoga class whenever you like (I really miss being able to do that!) 

How would you recommend “the village” supports a new mama & her bubb?

No visitors, only staff. I love this. If you go to visit the new baby, make sure you bring a nourishing homemade meal. Before you hold the baby, load the dishwasher or pop a load of washing on. Make you both a cup of tea and encourage the mama to do something for herself while you hold the baby -  have a shower, or do some restorative stretching. And don’t overstay your welcome - an hour max! If the mama has other children, offer to take them out for a play or hold the baby so mama can give some undivided attention to her other babies. 

Fav book your buba is enjoying right now?

I am a Warrior Goddess - By Jennifer Adams

Your mum/nan/gran’s best advice? (first that springs to mind!)

My mum is a creative and always says Happy hands, happy heart. Create a life you love. 

Favourite flower?

Babies Breath 

Can’t leave the house without? 

Sunglasses and Water bottle

The perfect Sunday morning entails? 

Jump in the ocean and a family read and snuggle.

What does a ‘modern mama’ mean to you? 

 I think it is such a privilege to be a modern mama, we have so many incredible resources and information at our fingertips. To me it means being mindful, making educated decisions that work for your family and the future of our planet. Teaching your babies to be kind, brave, curious and the value, beauty and importance of our environment. We just need to keep reminding ourselves to slow down and be present. 

What is your buba enjoying eating right now?

She loves salmon and strawberries

In the busy world we may find ourselves do you like to connect with your wee one(s)? 

I’m still breastfeeding Billie which always brings us back together to connect, be present and slow down. She doesn’t stop moving the rest of the time, she is such an adventurous and curious little thing, it’s nice being able to hold her still and study her ever changing little self.

3 words you’d want your buba to remember you by?

Encouraging, Generous and Funny it still a dream to sail the world..buba in tow? 

Oh absolutely. More likely with more bubas in tow! I think it will be an adventure we take once our family is complete. My husband is so eager to set sail, I think it will be so much more fun when they are a little older. 

mama wisdom

Leila xx

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