Long before she was a mother herself, Julia Jones recognised that there was something seriously lacking in how we care for Newborn Mothers in our modern, western culture. Armed with a deep mission and her passion, she threw herself into training and became a postnatal doula. She established her business training postpartum professionals and leads a worldwide renaissance in the way we care for Newborn Mothers. Julia has created a new paradigm for postpartum care by merging traditional medicine and culture with cutting edge research on hormones and neurology.
In this interview Julia shares what started her business journey and how her business has grown into a profitable and thriving 6-figure plus entity.
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Julia, it’s so good to chat. Thanks for coming on the show.
Thank you, Laura. It’s so great to catch up. Laura and I have known each other for a long time. So it’s always nice to chat.
I know! We’ve just spent the last half an hour yakking before we hit record. We probably had some of the best gold in that chat. But, that’s all private. We have been friends for a long time. You were one of my first online business buddies and I guess our businesses grew in parallel over the years, in different niches. We were doing some similar things and some different things, and then we got to support each other as well. It’s been great to see your business grow over that time.
For the benefit of our listeners, would you mind sharing what led you on the path to help postpartum professional support newborn mothers? Where did you start?
You’ve created a thriving conscious business around helping postpartum professionals support newborn mothers. What led you on this path?
Yeah, well, it’s a funny thing, because it’s not something that’s really done in our culture, and I learned about it because a long time ago, before I had children myself, I was really interested in studying Indian medicine. I learned that in Ayurveda they had these really specific detailed care protocol for new mums. So when a woman has a baby in India, there’s really amazing food and massage and even rules around visitors and roles and that kind of thing that are really embedded in their culture, and I was really fascinated by that.
What I found as I went along, was I realized that it wasn’t just India, it was, in fact, everyone else, except for me, you know, me and my little weird, modern culture. And the research shows that 178 different cultures do have really specific care protocols for mums after they’re born. And so I realized that that’s actually the norm and that our culture has deviated so far from what humans are designed to experience. And it really is no surprise then that motherhood is so stressful, and that the transition to motherhood is such a difficult, overwhelming time, and so many mums are experiencing depression and anxiety, can’t breastfeed their babies, experiencing a relationship breakdown with their partner. And all of that makes sense to me when I realized that it’s just because we don’t have our villages and we don’t have that cultural support anymore.
So I learned about that a little bit before I had my own babies. And then when I had my own baby, obviously, that personal experience just made it so urgent. It became really urgent for me to support some kind of cultural shift. I started out doing one on one support for new mums, and it’s kind of grown from there. Nowadays I teach professionals mostly and really what I’m passionate about is actually changing the way that we think about becoming a mother as a culture.
You strongly believe that birth is about making mums too. Can you explain what you mean by this statement?
It’s not just me who thinks that you know. I just saw a beautiful balloon actually. You know your usual balloon says “It’s a boy” or “It’s a girl” and it was a balloon that said “It’s a mum”. I just thought that was so great.
In our culture, everything is so baby centric, even all of the rituals and traditions and everything around, naming the baby or baptizing the baby, giving the baby gifts, having a baby shower. Whatever way you kind of look at it, so much of that stuff is around the baby. Whereas in traditional cultures, it was a lot more around the mum and this idea that, a healthy mum makes a healthy baby and that if we can support mums to be happy and healthy then obviously they’re going to be great mums.
For me, personally, I definitely had that experience that I was a whole new person when my baby was born, and no one could really explain to me why or what I was going through. It felt so unexpected that when I had a baby, I wasn’t just me plus a baby, but I was actually a whole new person as well. And it was only through studying that I found out a little bit about what I now call baby brain, which has a lot to do with the changes that mums go through.
A lot of people are aware of the changes that human brains go through during puberty, for example. But most people don’t realize that mothers go through a lot of the same kinds of changes when they become mums and you literally do become a new person. There’s an algorithm on a computer that can tell with 100% accuracy, whether it’s looking at the brain scan of a mother or a non-mother. That’s how actually physical the brain changes are. So it’s not just a nice idea that you’re born as a mother. It’s an actual scientific reality.
Wow! That blows my mind.
It’s interesting that you say we celebrate the birth of the baby. But you’re right, we totally don’t celebrate the birth of a mother. I find in our culture that a lot of our new mothers are quite neglected. I mean, there’s a lot of supports in place, but it’s such a big identity shift for so many women and I fell into this boat prior to motherhood. I was this high flying engineer that was kicking massive goals in the corporate world. And then I always felt that I was dumped into motherhood. It was like one door shut, another one opened, and I was left grieving my loss of career.
I was obviously celebrating the birth of my baby as well, but I felt like I’d been dumped on Mars and I had to learn how to speak a language with all the Martians. In the space of a week or so I’d gone from working in industry, in a male dominant profession, to sitting in a cafe, trying to breastfeed in public and not have my milk squirt everywhere. It was a whole new world. And I really, really struggled.
You’ve absolutely nailed it there. That transition from going from a masculine sort of career into this feminine role and not being prepared. Our whole lives prepare us to be men; everything we study in school, and the whole way our culture is structured, is around really masculine ways of looking at the world. And then a lot of the time we then fall into that when we become mothers too with charts, diagrams, routines, books and information and all of that kind of thing. It’s actually a very masculine way to approach motherhood. And there’s nothing wrong with masculine or feminine ways of doing things, but we need both and most importantly, we need to know when to apply. If we can’t be feminine in motherhood, when else can we ever embrace this and given that I feel the feminine ways of doing things are so, undervalued in our culture, then motherhood is the perfect time to actually embrace that as a strength. And to realize that that’s actually valuable. It’s actually powerful. It is so powerful, and yet it takes, it takes us a long time to recognize that.
What do you see are the biggest obstacles for women in our modern culture transitioning to motherhood?
The fact that we’re so unprepared and undervalued. I think for a lot of women in our culture, having a successful career and having their babies later on in their life when they’re used to all of this order and structure and routine. They’re even used to a certain level of comfort in their lifestyle, having nice things, eating in nice restaurants, having a bit of disposable income. I find that a lot of the time younger mothers transition more easily, not always but more easily because they don’t have that same kind of expectations.
But it is transitioning from that world where everything that’s valued is masculine to a world where the masculine way of looking things is actually no longer that helpful or relevant and being lost. Like you’re saying, speaking a new language and thinking “I don’t even know how to do this. Nothing in my life has prepared me for this”. So I think that kind of cultural change and the fact especially that our culture doesn’t have any kind of Rites of Passage or acknowledgement that this is happening.
This is a real experienced that mothers are having and it just makes everyone feel so alone. And often we feel like it’s our fault. A lot of mothers feel individually to blame, or shame that they’re not finding it easier or more enjoyable. When in fact, if everyone’s feeling that way, then it’s truly is a cultural problem, not an individual one.
You’ve just reminded me of when I was at a prenatal class at the hospital literally a few days before my first son was born. The nurse went up to the whiteboard and drew a graph, a graph of status.
Status was on the y axis and time was on the x axis. She drew the first graph for the developing world, countries like India and traditional indigenous societies around the world. So it had, when you’re born, and then obviously, as you achieve things in your life your status increased. So for a female, after you got your period you status goes up, and then you might get married, your status goes up, and then you have a baby, your status goes up, then that baby’s a boy, your status goes up, then you have a second child, your status goes up. And that was how she demonstrated status in some of those societies.
Then she did the same plot for Western society. And obviously, being in Australia, this was tailored to an Australian audience. She plotted the graph for the girl. When she finishes Year 12, her status goes up. Then she graduates from university, her status goes up, she gets her first job, her status goes up, she gets her first promotion, her status goes up, she gets married, her status might stay the same or slightly go up or maybe drop depending on her workplace. She gets pregnant, status goes down, she has a child, status goes down. She has a second child, status goes down.
The contrast between the societies was so clear, I actually burst into tears. It felt so real. A week before I had just walked out of the largest industrial site in Australia with no fanfare. No one walked out of the gates with me and said well done on all your work, good luck on having a baby. I basically walked out clocked off. That was it. And I walked out with a feeling of grief. And then in this prenatal class and after seeing that graph, I looked up at the midwife and our eyes connected. I saw her recognise that grief on my face and my realization that “I’m not sure I’m ready for this and I actually feel quite alone.”
Of course I want to talk on this podcast how you’re building your business, not so much my personal story but it just highlights the importance of the work you’re doing. It is so needed, especially in this modern world, and I kind of wish that I knew you 10 years ago because I think my own transition to motherhood would have been so much easier for me and so much more joyful than it was. I got so much joy in my baby but I still had to grieve that loss of career.
And you know, Laura to bring it back to your work, I really strongly feel that a lot of the issues we’re experiencing with climate at the moment is really strongly related to this. This suppression and expression of everything feminine. You know, I think masculine and feminine really needs to be in balance, we need both. But at the moment, as you said, you become a mother and your status goes down. I can’t imagine another culture, successful human culture and society that doesn’t value mothers. I mean, that’s like the backbone of society. It’s the very foundation of our entire culture and society. So I agree, I feel like it’s actually the same sort of problem in attitude and mindset that’s causing the exploitation of the planet. A lot of different cultures refer to the planet as Mother Earth and I’m sure it’s all related.
Indeed. We’re not valuing our Mother Earth, our highest mother in society. We haven’t been respecting, and valuing her for so long and it’s very clear that it that’s not working.
We just have this attitude we can take, take, take more and more and more, rather than having an understanding of rest and love and respect and peacefulness and reflection.
How do you believe professionals can better support Newborn Mothers in our modern society?
A lot of it is shifting away from this masculine way of support because like you said, although we have some supports in our culture, not a lot, but some, the ones we do have tend to all revolve around charts and diagrams and routines and books and information and advice and experts. It’s one sort of way of looking at motherhood and the way that Newborn Mothers professionals usually work with mothers is much more to do with respect and love and listening and compassion and empathy, and valuing a lot of these changes.
I was saying earlier that we have so many changes that happen in our brains, and largely those changes relate to two areas. One of them is neuroplasticity. So it’s changing the way that we learn and creating new sort of pathways in the brain. And the other one is around loving. Falling in love. So that’s all the love hormones like oxytocin. So those two changes together can really rewire the brain, but only if we embrace that as a strength. And if we’re rejecting it, and trying to continue to believe this, this myth that the masculine is always better, then we can’t actually find that strength because we’re fighting against it.
So I think a lot of the work we do as Newborn Mothers professionals is kind of much more about helping the mother to get in touch with her intuition to respect herself and her value. To give her confidence that as a mother, she’s strong and capable and kind and smart and valuable. So a lot of it really is just about changing the way that we think about things. And then that informs how we act, as professionals.
Like most businesses, you weren’t successful overnight. Would you mind sharing some of your biggest business learnings to date and how you’ve grown through them?
Gosh, so many things!
I think the main thing is to, if I could bring it just down to two things, the first is to keep trying.
I always say that success and failure aren’t separate paths. They’re the same path. It’s more like a bumpy road than a fork in the road. So you can’t have a failure and then think, “Oh, well, that didn’t work. I give up”. You have to know, “Okay, I had a failure. That means I’m actually on the path to success”.
There’s going to be failure and success and then more failure, and then more success and more failure and more success. So understanding that just to keep trying. And I think the way that I’ve managed to keep trying is really just being motivated by a really deep desire to be of service, you know, to really make a difference in the world. And as long as I know that there are women who are really struggling, and in the transition to motherhood, then that kind of motivates me to overcome any of my own ego, about failure, and to just get up again and try again for another day. So I think that’s really the main thing – you fail and that’s part of it. So just keep going.
Then the other kind of thing, as well is just knowing that fear, and I know that you and I Laura have talked about this a lot, but knowing that fear is a really natural part of the journey that’s going to always be there. People look at me now and go “Well, it’s easy for you to say because you’re successful.” And I’m like “Yeah, but it’s taken me 10 years to get here. It wasn’t a six figure business overnight.”
Understanding that even now I’m afraid. When I still think about what’s next for my business and things like that I still have all these fears come up and I still think “Who am I to do this?” I have doubts about my skills and my abilities and how I look and how old I am and all of this stuff. I’m sure you know, everyone has got their own stories that they tell themselves. So I think just accepting that that’s part of the journey. And again, just continuing anyway, just keeping going.
That’s brilliant advice Julia. You’ve had your books sitting right alongside Scott Pape and Michelle Obama in the Amazon Bestsellers list. Did you ever imagine yourself as a Bestselling author?
Did you ever imagine yourself as a bestselling author? What tips do you have for our listeners who have an inkling to write a book?
Well, it’s funny you say did I ever image because when it happened, people went “Wow! This must be a dream come true!” I was like, I didn’t even dream this. Like I couldn’t even have conceived that my book would be the third best seller and on the Australian Amazon list. That was just outside of the realm of my ability to imagine.
That’s not just driven by friends either, because obviously that’s thousands of people buying it to get it on the bestsellers list, which validates the need and the importance of your work.
Yeah, absolutely. And that was just the Australian sales as well. It hasn’t been on the New York Times bestseller list. That would be awesome if it did! But what I think made it happen is actually e-mail and content marketing. I come back to this time and time again, and I know that’s exactly how you operate your business as well, Laura.
At the time, I think I had about 30,000 people on my email list. So it wasn’t that hard to, have them all on a waitlist and get everyone really excited. When sales opened, I was actually camping in Margaret River and I didn’t have a very good internet connection. You know, I wasn’t at my desk. And it was mind blowing for me to see that I had nurtured this email list. I’d been preparing content, writing blog posts, warming everyone up, everyone in my audience knew a book was coming so that when it did land, there was actually no work to do. I didn’t have a launch party or do any interviews or anything like that. It was purely just my own list that I built up over many, many years of email marketing and content marketing. So I really think if you’re just starting out, that’s it. That’s where it’s at. And I think you’d probably say the same thing, wouldn’t you Laura, you do a lot of content marketing and you’re very good with email marketing. So, yeah, I reckon that’s what made the difference.
Yeah, I think content marketing is everything. It’s part of playing the long game. Content marketing is not a quick ticket to success. It’s putting out quality content consistently over a long period of time. But that content obviously grows your asset, your website and the search engine optimization links. You become known as the expert or the place to go. And a lot of the links in the online world come to your page when you’re putting out the best content. But it also builds that trust in your audience that value the content that you continue to give over time.
Yeah, that’s it. So when my audience of 30,000 people learned that my book was ready to order, they didn’t have to sit and think and go, “Hmm, am I going to like this book?” They already knew that they would like the book because I’ve been writing my newsletters, some of them for years. So yeah, it was very easy for them to make that decision.
You’ve successfully managed to balance business building and motherhood. What advice do you have for our mums listening who are perhaps struggling to manage both?
Yeah, I’ll start by saying my life is pretty chaotic, just like every mum. I have three small kids and we have our share of childcare falling through and me forgetting dates so it’s not like I’m breezing through it all. But definitely what gets me through is asking for help, and acknowledging that, you know, this is another thing I love talking about Baby Brain the other one is parenting.
In traditional cultures around the world, human babies would have had between eight and 14 adult carers on a daily basis every day. In between eight and 14 people would have cared for that child. And when I have that in the back of my mind, and I see how our current culture operates, obviously I don’t have eight to 14 carers every day – I wish they did. But what that understanding gives me his strength to ask for help. To know that it’s normal to have help when you’re a mother, and it’s not normal, it is completely abnormal to be in a nuclear family.
So whenever I feel a bit ashamed that I’m not coping, or if I feel guilty for asking for help, or anything like that, that’s what I remind myself. So really, I have built a large village of neighbours, school friends, including some family members, as well as some paid help. I have cleaner and a nanny. Between all of those it probably does add up to about eight to 14 adults who are involved in my children’s life, but it’s just different than how a village used to look and it requires me to really be brave and ask for a lot of help. So I really think that that’s the key – asked for all the help.
Yes please! With the lot!
Just on a side note, we’re now down to that nuclear family and the teacher. There’s obviously more pressure on teachers than ever before in the classroom. This model is obviously impacting the parents, but it’s also impacting that the teacher, isn’t it?
Absolutely. And then teaching is considered in our culture to be a feminine job and therefore not valued not worth anything, not paid, well, not respected enough. And unfortunately, what happens in our culture, and in all human cultures, is when you have this kind of different minority groups. I mean, it’s a funny thing, a minority group, a different cultural minority, because women are actually the majority of people yet we’re not. We don’t have the majority of the voice, and the power and that kind of thing. But when you have different groups that are both suffering, like mothers and teachers, then our culture sets us up to fight against each other.
So it’s almost like teachers are going well, mums should be doing more and mums ago, teachers should be doing more and when in fact, mums and teachers are all already stretched as thin as can be. We’re already working our absolutely hardest. And, you know, I’d be saying where are the men? Bring the men into this party. Provide a little bit more funding and make this a whole village. It really shouldn’t just be one mum and one teacher who are raising the entire next generation.
It’s not going to work and it makes it harder to raise quality people.
Yeah, we’ll burn ourselves out in the process for sure, trying to do our best in this system.
Of raising the future taxpayers! Maybe if we referred to children as future taxpayers people in power might pay more attention.
With the benefit of hindsight, what would you tell a younger Julia who is just starting on her business journey?
I remember so clearly, being awake at 3am and just not hardly believing. There was just so tiny a thread holding me to this vision in the future, hardly believing that it could possibly work. I remember I used to use affirmations a lot. So when I would wake up at 3am having a panic attack, because we couldn’t afford for me to quit my job, but we did it anyway. And I’m sure lots of listeners can relate this feeling like you just have to take the leap. And, yeah, I used to have these affirmations that would be like, “I’m rich and successful, I have lots of clients, I’m happy and I love my job, I can earn enough money to provide for my family.”
So I just used to lie awake, just saying these things that weren’t at all true at the time, but just in the hope that it would kind of calm my nervous system and help me to kind of really create that energetic anchor in the future. And it’s funny now to be all these years in the future, literally 10 years down the track, running a six figure business that only takes me a few hours week to run and now it just feels so normal. I feel so normal. So, I think a lot of the time we can’t imagine the future. You can’t really picture until it happens. And then suddenly you can’t imagine anything else. So just yeah, just trusting that and keep going.
Please share where our listeners can follow you online
Well, I’d love you to all sign up for my email list at newborn mothers.com.
Great! Nice and simple. If you are a postpartum professional, yourself needing some more help to help you support newborn mothers, Julia is your woman, or even if you’re a woman transitioning to motherhood, Julia has heaps of great tips.
There’s plenty of tips on my blog, and my podcast, and I do one course for mums at the moment called Newborn Mother’s Dreams, which is about how to create time and space in in motherhood for what you want to do. And not just want to do, but need to do because I feel women are really needed in the world right now. And we really need to find a way to make sure our voices are heard and our dreams come true.
Brilliant. Thanks so much for chatting today, Jules.
Thanks Laura. Always lovely to chat with you.
About Julia Jones
Julia Jones is a postnatal doula and trainer leading a worldwide renaissance in the way we care for Newborn Mothers. She has created a new paradigm for postpartum care by merging traditional medicine and culture with cutting edge research on hormones and neurology.
Julia is the author of Nourishing Newborn Mothers – Ayurvedic Recipes to Heal your Mind, Body and Soul after Childbirth and Newborn Mothers – When a Baby is Born So is a Mother. Julia is also the creator of a worldwide leading education resource for postpartum professionals: Newborn Mothers Collective.
Further information can be found at https://www.newbornmothers.com/
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