Here at Modibodi we find ourselves constantly inspired by incredible people who challenge the status quo and shed light on issues that are so prominent yet remain invisible. Recently, we had the pleasure of interviewing the lovely Steph Thompson from Bravemumma.
MB: Can you tell everyone a little bit about yourself?
ST: I'm Steph Thompson, wife and mumma to two beautiful little people. Elsie, 3 and Louis 2. Before becoming a mumma, I was a small business owner, triathlete, educator and consultant. Following a cancer diagnosis in 2007, and after working through a year of treatment, I was on a mission to live life to the fullest. I was always up for a challenge and busy is what I did best, which led me to start the Bravemuma-hood. The Bravemumma-hood was born from the fact that I no longer wanted to feel alone. As a mum who was struggling to manage the normal day to day tasks, I felt like I only ever showed the outside world the very best of me. The one that would smile and say how much I loved being a mum. And yes, that is very true, but at the same time I was suffering - in silence. The Bravemumma-hood Facebook page was created to inspire mums to change the way they see themselves as mummas, in an honest and real way. That it is okay, not to be okay.
MB: We love what you’re doing with your Bravemumma Tribe, what made you start this community?
ST: After Bravemumma launched, I started getting private messages from women asking me questions about my posts. I soon realised that there are so many other women who are also suffering from birth trauma and/or pelvic organ prolapse. It was at this time I started a private group called; Tips & Tricks for living with POP (pelvic organ prolapse). We have women from all around the world learning and sharing ways to cope and manage their POP. I knew there needed to be much more than simply a Facebook group, there needed to be a change. We need to start with education for young people. I never even knew what a pelvic floor was until my first baby. It just wasn't spoken about. I didn't know, what I didn't know.
MB: What made you start writing this book?
ST: In 2015, I suffered a birth injury that has changed my body and life forever. There's nothing I'm more grateful for in this world than my healthy children. But because of my injury, every single day of my life needs to be carefully planned and managed to minimise my pain and help me be the best mum I can be.
For years I coped with the invisible side effects and pain that came as a result of my traumatic birth - in silence. I never knew the words to describe something, I myself didn't fully understand...Until now, by writing it down, I have finally been able to describe what happened to me and what that now means for me and my family.
MB: Could you tell us a little bit about what ‘'The Day My Vagina Broke' is about?
ST: This book tells the story of my journey to motherhood. It talks openly about my birth and the physical, emotional and psychological impacts of my injury that persist to this day. It is also a story full of hope, courage and heart that explores ways to adjust and live with this new reality.
This book aims to break down the culture of silence and judgement surrounding childbirth and motherhood. It is written to challenge the ingrained ideologies and systemic issues that leave women feeling isolated and abandoned after birth trauma. It makes the case for moving away from a one-size-fits-many approach to how we inform mothers prior to birth and shifts towards a model of individualised assessment and care.
MB: How has this post-birthing injury impacted your life?
ST: I can no longer be a triathlete, tea business owner or educator. I struggle most days just trying to be the best mum I can be. I have a pelvic organ prolapse which makes standing or walking for longer than 10 minutes painful. My image of becoming the mum I wanted to be, vanished that day. I was not able to use my new jogger pram along the beach, take my kids for bushwalks or even the simple stuff like cooking, cleaning or shopping. It is all now done in a way we call 'work-arounds'. We try and live the best we can every day and make the most of all we have.
MB: What are your goals for Bravemumma/The Day My Vagina Broke?
ST: My big, wild dream for this book and for Bravemumma, is to make sure my girl Elsie, and all the girls in the world, will have childbirth experiences that prioritise the health and wellbeing of both baby and mumma.
To do this I am working hard to break the taboo and start the real conversations about childbirth. To give expectant parents access to unbiased, factual information so they are genuinely informed to make their own choices. We want to create a culture where the outcomes are best for bubba's and their mumma's. Bravemumma also is working towards being a space for support and healing, where women can share their stories and feel inspired to change the way they see themselves as mummas.