PARENTS

How A Traumatic Birth Experience Inspired One Woman To Pamper Mums And Babies

13/07/2015 09:36 BST | Updated 13/07/2015 09:59 BST

Justina Perry, mum-of-two and founder of MamaBabyBliss said being pregnant with her first child was an absolute dream.

She felt fabulous, blossomed and bloomed, and she had a very blasé attitude to birth - if women all over the world do it, it was going to be "easy peasy".

"But lo and behold, I did not have that experience - it was far from it," Perry told HuffPost UK Parents.

"When I gave birth, it felt like I had been hit by a truck on the inside and that led to me really struggling with being a mum.

"I was diagnosed with postnatal depression and I just found the whole thing an incredible rollercoaster."

justina perry

Justina Perry

It was Perry's own experiences of becoming a mother that led her to create MamaBabyBliss in 2006 - a company which aims to nurture and pamper mums, babies and mums-to-be through massage and yoga.

"My eldest was nine at the time, and my youngest, Alanna, was just a baby," Perry said.

"Fast forward nine years from when I gave birth - I was made redundant from my job in advertising and marketing and I got a little bit of money as a package.

"I had never forgotten what that early time of motherhood felt like - I didn't know what I wanted to do but I knew I wanted to help and support mums and babies."

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Justina Perry with her two children - Tash, 18 and Alana, nine

During this time, Perry decided to train in baby massage. She soon realised she wasn't the only one who had struggled with the early stages of motherhood.

"It was a universal feeling," she said. "There were all these mums sitting there feeling exactly how I had been after giving birth - shell-shocked and on this rollercoaster, wondering whether their baby was going to survive in their hands for the first three months."

It was at this point the idea behind MamaBabyBliss came to Perry.

"I just thought - what about the mums? The babies are getting the nurturing but it's actually the mums that need that support," she added.

Perry trained in pre- and post-natal massage, and her business was soon booming.

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So how does MamaBabyBliss work?

Massage, classes and "pamper parties" are offered through local salons who become "MamaBabyBliss affiliates". Although Perry is based at the head office in Hertfordshire, she has a network of teachers and therapists throughout the UK.

"Our mission is to enable women and mums to see that it doesn't always have to be complicated to be pampered - 20 minutes and you will feel amazing, absolutely amazing, and this is what we should all be doing on a regular basis," Perry explained.

"Women come back to our classes regularly. They come back with their second and third babies and the company has grown through baby massage to toddler and children's massages because of it."

The idea is to provide a range of natural holistic services that support mothers throughout their pregnancy and the early months of motherhood.

The benefits of baby massage - as Perry explained - are quite straightforward.

She says baby massage soothes your baby and strengthens their digestive system, so you can help alleviate wind and colic and it's also relaxing for them because it stimulates oxytocin, which helps them relax.

New mums, often experience ailments from carrying the baby - these typically manifest in the neck, shoulders and head, so that's where their massages are focused.

Perry believes the benefits from her business are two-fold - the physical benefits of having a massage, but also the emotional support and instilling confidence in new mums they didn't believe they had.

"But MamaBabyBliss was also providing a forum for the mums to share their wisdom and advice. We all live on the internet and in books and I think it's a whole new world for them," admits Perry.

"We're so used to being in control and it was lovely for mums to come and be able to be open and honest with each other and say: 'Yes, this is hard and on the surface I may be coping, but actually I'm not'.

"Stats show that it can make a massive different to postnatal depression if the mum is looked after. In modern times that's hard to do because we don't always have our families nearby," she added.

"Women are often isolated and don't have that support - there's an expectation you have to be Superwoman so we are just trying to encourage women to be more honest and accept it is the hardest job in the world."

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When discussing the challenges she faced when setting up, Perry admitted she didn't have a big business plan to begin with.

"I just knew that if you do something really well, it will grow and if it was about helping people and having a purpose, it would happen naturally," she said.

"I think my biggest challenge was doing everything by myself at the beginning - whereas now I have a team of mums who all support me."

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Perry also launched a new mum and pregnancy skincare range in 2008, and soon realised she wanted her business to benefit other mum's careers too.

So, the company offers training courses for mums to give them a flexible business to fit around their family's needs.

"I started offering an associate teacher license, rather than a franchise, but it means women can operate autonomously depending on how much work they want to take on.

"The training came about a few years ago when I read an article in the recession about mums who were penalised for working part-time.

"I got incensed about that because I thought if we want to keep women in the workforce, we have to respect the fact they have families and childcare in this country is expensive.

"I wanted to create something to enable women to have what I have - I can pick and choose my hours pretty much. It was very much top of my mind to create something that would help women in their careers."

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When discussing expansion plans for MamaBabyBliss, it's clear Perry has no intention of stopping any time soon.

"We're looking at really developing the corporate wellbeing offers," she told us.

"We want to develop bespoke packages encouraging companies to look after mums-to-be and those who have just gone back to work.

"Our teachers and therapists would work with local companies, to bring in the benefits of massage and yoga to parents at work."

And it doesn't stop there. Perry is also looking at going overseas and, through the MamaBabyBliss Charitable Foundation, supporting even more parents and babies who wouldn't normally have access to what other mums do.

"We want to work with the deaf and the blind, as well as mums and babies in prisons and parents who might have lost babies.

"There is so much work to be done!"

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