International spiritual birth visionary and founder of EmbodyBirth and Belly Dance for Birth, Maha Musa, has joined forces with Pregnancy Yoga teacher and doula Cecile Colares to present The Mothers Centre, a full day of speakers and classes around birthing, babies and parenthood. Maha Al Musa spoke with The Echo.
What was the inspiration for this day? Is it mainly for new mothers? Or mothers of young children?
The original idea I had was called The Mothers Room. A welcoming place for the sharing and offering of information, resources, classes, therapies, seminars, workshops, conception, pre- and post-natal circles, conscious couples circles, grandparent interaction, Indigenous peoples’ offerings, foster parents multicultural sharing for families, lactation support, midwives, doulas, holistic doctors and more. An added idea was hotel-style facilities for mothers if they needed a night away to recoup and rest and be nurtured by a variety of services for those days when you just need some love and care!
And so the seed for The Mothers Centre was planted, now flowering into a mini-festival event day being held at St John’s Hall, Mullumbimby, on 26 November, showcasing the essence of this original philosophy as above – honouring mothers and family. I have collaborated with Cecile Colares, a new mother, incredibly talented pre-natal yoga teacher, doula, massage therapist, sacred post-partum belly-binding practitioner and all-round amazing woman to co-create this day. Cecile has always wanted a wellness centre in nature and had a vision for creating a place of healing for parents and children. Together we want to nurture mothers from conception, through pregnancy, birth, to menopause, grandmothers and also fathers, families and community.
What are the major challenges facing mothers?
When a mother is at her centre all else between family and society flows. The greatest challenge I believe we have as mothers is first and foremost that the role is not adequately revered or honoured as it should be. There is also a growing attitude that is affecting our society and that is the severance of mothers from their instinct and innate knowing. It is very worrying and seems to be escalating on a global scale. Mothers need to be cared for emotionally and physically and the flow-on effect of this will affect our children’s health and wellbeing, both physically and emotionally. This care of the mother also enables fathers to express their fathering in unison and balance because men also need a place to be seen and heard.
Having a baby for the first time is life changing, and terrifying. I can still remember it distinctly, I knew nothing! Five kids later I’m an old hand.
What is the best way to support new mothers?
The best way to support new mothers is to actually acknowledge the depth of the journey in a meaningful way that isn’t just lip service; it is one that acknowledges what their fears, joys, concerns and needs are. We have very worrying statistics on the rise of post-natal depression in mothers as well as a sense of being separated from community. It’s essential that we pay close attention to the way we treat mothers and babies through the pre- and peri-natal period as a beginning point because these experiences set up imprints for the baby’s emotional health and the mother’s wellbeing. At The Mothers Centre we want to provide a warm gentle healing place to come and be cared for through our offerings and natural therapies.
Often we as older more experienced mothers are disconnected from new mothers. Do you think it’s important to bridge the gap? Why?
Yes, so true, we are. I think today with social media and internet access new mothers have a sense of feeling connection in cyberspace yet I do believe there is a necessity to still meet face to face, heart to heart, womb to womb and receive and impart knowledge from the wisdom of our elders. Interacting and sharing in the women’s circle was always a daily part of women’s lives and I hope that The Mothers Centre can keep alive this important exchange between new and older mums as well as fathers and peers.
There seems to be a push to shorter breastfeeding and hiding away, and there has always been a social shaming for mums who feed for longer; why is this, do you think? Do we need to change our attitude towards breastfeeding again?
Don’t get me started on breastfeeding! Having been in the worldwide media and spotlight from 2012 till 2016 on the issue of public and natural-term breastfeeding I was appalled and amazed at the attitudes toward mothers’ breastfeeding! Doing what’s natural and normal and being vilified and attacked. It defies logic. Mothers are not responsible for another person’s uncomfortable stance. We have enough responsibility without taking on any more! The Mothers Centre welcomes breastfeeding and bottle feeding.
What’s available on the day for dads?
Fathers are absolutely welcome to our day in support of mothers, families and our community. We are all pulsating together in the union of life and fathers have an incredible value to us as mothers, especially fathers who also understand the need to support the mother at her centre. We will have a specific circle running in the afternoon with the incredible father, grandfather and counsellor Rama, who has 30 years of working with conscious-family programs. He will be speaking earlier in the day on spiritual fathering then taking a men’s/fathers’ circle at 5–6pm for all to join, share and connect.
Will there be activities for the kids?
We will have a kids’ area inside the hall with rugs and cushions with face painting, storytelling and free drawing. There will be a babysitter if any mum wants to have a treatment on the day. Get in early if you need care as spots are limited. Also don’t forget to bring clothes, books and toys for our community exchange.
What are you hoping mums get from the day?
We hope to inspire the essence of community through caring for mothers so that they know they are important and valued. We hope that they will come to engage, share and make new connections through The Mothers Centre event and philosophy as well as hear wonderful speakers and enjoy our market stalls. All are welcome to be a part of this important initiative so that we can collectively raise the vibration of family harmony and love for the wellbeing of humanity.
Saturday 26 November at St John’s Hall in Mullumbimby. Kicking off at 9am and running through until 7.30pm. Free.