Business Chicks exists to make the world better for women
I've been following Business Chicks on Instagram for a few months now, but I had no idea how vast their network was until this week. I attended their 2 day 9 to Thrive event in Sydney on the weekend, and boy did it blow me away.
On day 1, I grabbed my copy of Winging It (in the hopes of meeting Emma Isaacs), planned my route, packed the pram + nappy bag because I had to bring my daughter with me. I knew the schedule, roughly, and that was about it.
When I saw the venue from afar, I was shocked, it was next level big. I was pretty self-conscious about arriving with a bub, and sheepishly asked the hostesses if it was OK to bring the pram in. All the business chicks support staff were in Grease Lightening-esk pink jackets were so kind and welcoming. They assured me that it was fine and pointed me in the direction of the creche as well as the Thank You baby room (which was amazing)! Off to a fab start: no line; efficient sign in, warm welcome... what's next?
The Royal Hall of Industries is MASSIVE. Business Chicks was hosting a legit business expo with the top brands and companies in Sydney. There were banners with inspiring quotes on them, pink everywhere, gift bags and merch galore. There were over 100 exhibitors at the expo That's right, 100.
A few stand outs were:
Bumble Australia was offering free headshots (including hair and make up touch ups).
The Green Elephant Creche was so cute!
On the spot monograming of some fab leather pieces
1 on 1 financial consultations
I made my way to the main stage, and got a seat to see Roxy Jacenko's interview. There were thousands of people there. Some were engrossed in the panel discussions, others perusing the stalls, buying merch or signing up to become Business Chicks members.
There was such a buzz about the place, there is no other way to explain it. Girl bosses were everywhere drinking coffees, pink frośe, taking quirky photos, handing out business cards.... the place was pumping. Women from all walks of life were there just living their best lives. There were gals in ripped jeans, gals in fancy frocks, mums juggling bubs, girls in their early 20's, women in the 50's.... all there for different reasons, but sharing the common thread of wanting to make the world a better place for women.
I did get to meet the inspirational Emma Isaacs which was the highlight of my day, and such a treat given my earlier than planned departure because things didn't go as expected with my daughter.
I wanted to hear from these working mums about how they execute their days and managed to keep their shit together (on the outside at least).
The line up included:
Kemi Nekvapil, Melbourne based coach, and MC of the panel.
Sally Obermeder, media personality and owner of SWIISH
Rachael Finch, model and fitness guru + owner of Body by Finch
Emma Isaacs, founder and global CEO of Business Chicks, and mother of five
Antonia Kidman, Australian journalist, author and mother of six children
The women were all so natural and it seemed like they'd been friends for years. I was absorbed in the discussion, as you do when in a room of successful, hard- working mums telling you their secrets.
Kemi didn't pull punches, asking the tough stuff and sparking excellent, engaging conversations. One of my favourite quotes was a mantra that Sally shared, which had been passed on to her from her sister Maha Koraiem.
"Do only what you can do."
Only do what you can do, and that's it. No more, no less. If you can't do something, outsource it. Take immediate control of the things that you can do, and focus on them.
How bloody simple is that? Makes so much sense - it's actually infuriating.
Why do we feel the need as women to hustle ourselves into the ground like some kind of martyr? Is this some kind of self-inflicted torture? Do we all have imposter syndrome? I sure as hell don't have anything to prove to anyone, or to social media, but I'll be damned if I'm not happiest when I'm flat out busy or flogging myself, getting shit done and kicking goals. Sometime I need to scale back on what those goals actually are. On any given day, it might be that I simply got to brush my teeth before 2 pm, I'll have to chalk that up as a win.
That's the beauty of this journey. Life ebbs and flows, motherhood is the constant, and work is the delicious cherry on top.
How do we marry them all?
That's a damn good question.
The gals gave various pieces of advice, but a common denominator seemed to be self-care. There was also a large agreement to not let mum-guilt get to you because it doesn't serve you, your partner or your children. It just weighs you down and makes you doubt your capabilities, and that's the last thing you need when you're already trying to wear all the hats your family needs.
I also was lucky enough to catch the tail end of the "How to start a business online" talk and I really enjoyed the "Tech Talks" with three leading women who are making waves in the tech world.
Below were a few of my favourite nuggets from the day that are worth remembering, and sharing.
"I believe that my relationship with my husband is as important as my relationship with my children. They wouldn't exist if our relationship didn't exist."
"It's not easy and it's not seamless, and shit goes wrong every day."
"Mother guilt is a waste emotion."
"Being underestimated is a powerful position to be in. It gives you the opportunity to prove people wrong"
I highly recommend getting your friends together if you're in Melbourne or Brisbane. Or, go alone like I did on day 1. There are plenty of people to meet, conversation starters and lots of fun to be had.
Make sure you are following them on their socials and subscribe to their newsletter to see what exciting things they are to up to, who is speaking, and how to win tickets to their next event.
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Melbourne, August 24th - 25th (Click here to see the schedule)
Brisbane, October 19th - 20th (Schedule is not yet released)
Journal Entry :: 23/7/18
"This morning was my last breastfeed with Ry. Dan brought her into the bedroom and she was wearing my favourite blue leopard Bonds jumpsuit. We cuddled up while she drank, like every other morning for the past 17 months.
I was so quiet and still, savouring the moment and trying to remember every little thing, knowing it would be our last feed together:
The way she felt.
The cute little noise she makes when she opens her mouth to latch.
Her sweet suckling sounds.
What she smelled like.
The pressure from both her feet pressing through her bunny sleeping bag into my thighs.
Dan took a photo of us, but I haven't seen it yet. Tomorrow will be a really rough day, and I'm dreading it so much. I have no idea what to expect or how she, or I, will cope. Sometimes babies chose when to stop on their own. I had a feeling that wouldn't be the case, despite the fact that's what I did to my mum when I was 10 months old. In some circumstances mums are unable to feed, opt not to, or you might have to stop feeding when you aren't ready, like me.
I think I cherished breastfeeding enough though. You have to wonder in times like these if you did, and I really think I did. My sweetest, fondest memories were breastfeeding her after our move to Brisbane when she was still only a few months old. Each morning Dan would bring her into our bed and she would fall back asleep on my breast and we would cuddle, wrapped up around each other in a sleepy haze.
Being a mum to this little girl changed my life in so many magical ways. I hope we have another baby because I'd love to relive those moments, and I take none of them for granted."
A little bit about my personal journey:
I always knew that I was going to breastfeed, or that I would at least give it a red hot go. I found my birth to be an incredibly positive experience, and easier than I anticipated. I didn't, however, expect breastfeeding to be so difficult. I was like the people mentioned above, focusing on how the baby would exit my body, and less about how I would feed it. I assumed my body would just make the milk, and that was that. I figured my boobs would: get full and hard, the baby would drink from them, and then they would get soft again... only to get hard again and full of MORE milk. Pretty simple, or so I imagined.
Wouldn't you know, it actually isn't that easy a lot of the time. So often there are feeding issues, latching problems, tongue ties, or low milk production. Some of these things are 100% out of our control, and we shouldn't berate ourselves about it. This incredibly moving blog post nearly brought me to tears, and it's all about the expectations we place on ourselves as new mums.
My milk came in on day 2. Day 2! If you're not familiar with having babies yet, let me tell you, that is crazy soon. Usually milk comes in about day 5-ish. Since we went private cover (5 days in hospital) I was lucky to have the around the clock support from the midwives, and boy did I need it.
I was in so much pain. The density and the weight of the breasts were insane. It was a euphoric experience when she would suckle and I'd get the sweet sensation of the let down as the milk poured out of me. I had crazy cracked nipples that were so (temporarily) damaged I couldn't even stand the air touching them as I walked around my hospital room naked. One night in particular stands out in my memory. I was in our hospital suite and my husband was holding her. It was time for a feed and I flat out didn't want to do it. I'd been dreading it since the moment I burped her after her previous feed, hours earlier. I was crying, really upset, and feeling like a bad mum. In my head I had the slogan on loop "Breast is Best! Breast is Best!" And while I knew that to be true, and I doubt people would argue with that, I still felt the weight and expectation to succeed heavy on my exhausted, sleep deprived shoulders. And let me tell you, it was heavy.
I was trying to explain my situation to my husband, "You don't understand what it's like! I have to feed her, and if I don't she will die." Now, now... talk about dramatic! I was hormonal as hell, and obviously there are other avenues to take, but in my mind, at this point in time I didn't want to continue. I was dreading the latch, that initial attachment that cuts you so sharp, it's like searing razor blades. The anxiety would slowly creep in as each feed got closer and closer. Why don't people talk more about THIS part, I had thought to myself. Thankfully we have some really supportive friends who are married and have two kids. They had actually warned us, and my husband in particular, about the trials of breastfeeding and how difficult it can be for a new mum. My husband was such a rock, God love him. He kept reminding me what a good job I was doing, and how tough I was. He also reminded me that I'd just given birth, and if I could do that, I was capable of anything. He'd sit with me while I fed her, stroke my head and get me fresh water to drink. That breastfeeding thirst is no joke.
Around day 4 my midwife gave me some frozen nappies which were an absolute godsend. Highly recommend this is you're suffering from engorgement. Place a nappy (diaper) in the freezer until hard, and viola! You don't need to wet it or anything, just place the cold nappy in your bra for instant relief.
Once we got established and my nipples were healed, life got so much easier. I would still dread the latch, but as time went on it kept getting easier and easier. I kept saying to myself, it won't be tough forever. I'd say it took me a good month and a half to really get the hang of it (and toughen up those nipples). I'd get my boobs out whenever and wherever they were needed. I'd breastfeed on the plane next to a stranger, at the park, during my husband's basketball games, the list goes on. I didn't do this to make a statement, I did it because it's my duty as a mother to feed and nourish my daughter. If that happened to be while I was shopping at the mall, then I'd snag a seat and feed her. I didn't see the point in scurrying off to find a parent's room on the other side of the mall to feed her in a sterile room. I would just sit down, get comfortable and do my thang. Sadly, I always felt the need to have a remark tucked away if some dickhead wanted to comment on how, when and where I fed MY child. Thankfully, I've yet to have that problem, but some women aren't so lucky as you can see here.
And while I'm ALL for normalising breastfeeding, and do it anywhere I please, you won't find me posting brelfies
(breastfeeding selfies) on my instagram. Why not? Personally, I'm not sure that's the kind of photo my daughter would want out in world when she's a teenager, or older. Having said that, I will like the hell out of anyone else's brelfies or breastfeeeding pictures, commenting with all the heart eyes I can #YOUGOGIRL
Nowadays the public feedings are less frequent since my daughter typically breastfeeds first thing in the morning and at bedtime. My goal was to breastfeed for a year, and I've achieved that. It's actually 396 days of breastfeeding and counting. Doesn't sound like a lot when I write the number out. Sometimes I feel like it's been an eternity, and other times I feel like I blinked and I have a babbling toddler.
I'm not sure where the breastfeeding journey will take us or how long it will last. What I do know is that feeding her has been such a wonderfully unique bonding experience, and one that I'm very appreciative to have had.
Now I'll tell you a little about the science about our magical bossums and their sweet nectar.
According to Doctor Ghebreyesus, the general director of the WHO (World Health Organization), "Breastfeeding babies gives them the best possible start to life. Breastmilk works like a baby's first vaccine, protecting infants from potentially deadly diseases and giving them all the nourishment they need to survive and thrive."
The first food consumed by most infants around the world is breast milk. Human milk has been engineered through evolution to provide the child with the best possible chance of survival. Making breastmilk is no small feat for the body, requiring 500 extra calories a day to produce enough for one child. When you're pregnant, the body only requires 300 more calories a day, and that's to grow a human. You'd think it would be the other way around!
Breastmilk is rich in fats, carbohydrates and proteins. It has custom antibodies for the bub
and it also contains HMOs (human milk oligosaccharides). They don't benefit the mother in any way, and they're impossible for the baby to digest, so why does the female body work so hard to make milk with this additional component? The sole purpose of HMOs are to feed the gut biome of the infant drinking the milk. Feeding the good bacteria in the gut is key, especially since 70% of the immune system is harbored there.
Baby's digestive tracks are super delicate in their first year of life, which was one of the reasons why I aimed to breastfeed for 12 months. Breastfeeding also helps mums to recover better after birth, and lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancers later in life. The act of breastfeeding has also been linked to lower maternal depression.
According to the 2010 Australian National Infant Feeding Survey, 96% of mothers initiated breastfeeding. After that, exclusive breastfeeding dropped. Less than half of babies (39%) were exclusively breast feed for 3 months, and 15% of babies were exclusively fed to 5 months.
So what's the moral for this post? It's sure as hell not for bragging rights or shaming formula users.
It's a call to action to help mamas out there, to build them up and give help when it's needed. So often new mums don't ask for help. If you say, "Let me know if you need anything " I assure you, your girlfriend won't ask. If you drop off a home cooked meal or offer to sit with her while she feeds, that's helping out. Remember what it was like for you, and be there for your new mum friends when their time comes. Haven't had a baby yet, that's cool. Remember this post and be there for your mates because they might find feeding difficult too. Conversely, they might have a walk in the park breastfeeding. Each and every experience is unique. We should all be delicate with our words and shroud mamas with continuous love and support.
I hope that this post is also a reminder to practice humility and non-judgment when you're talking to other women and mums that might be struggling.
If you're looking for some breastfeeding inspiration, check out these gorgeous Instragam accounts
Breast Feeding World, Normalize Breastfeeding, The Badass Breastfeeder, Breastfeed Without Fear, Black Moms Breastfeed, and Mother Muse Mag.
If you live in Australia, and want more information about breastfeeding and support, head to the Australian Breastfeeding Association or call 1 800 mum 2 mum
That's 1 800 686 268
Are you a breastfeeding mum that loves an online forum for tips and support?
Check out the this great community support page.
Are you super passionate about breastfeeding and want to help others?
The ABA would love to have you, click here to volunteer your valuable time.
Are you super geeked about boobies and breastfeeding and want to know more about Australia's breastfeeding expert group? If so, click here.
La Leche League is a fantastic resource for those of you living in the USA. They have a facebook page, as well as a blog, and offer local meet ups too.
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