Our Team

Emily

Hi I’m Emily, mum to a toddler whirlwind and Founder of this little community, It Takes A Village, Crystal Palace (or more lovingly known as ITAV). I truly believe every mum has their own story to tell, and no matter what that is, your experiences matter and deserve to be heard.

My own early experience of motherhood was bumpy to say the least, with recurrent miscarriage, postpartum sepsis and separation, prolonged breastfeeding difficulties, and then pandemic isolation all taking a physical and mental toll. The care I received during my son’s birth and the first 12 months of his life was very much, shall we say, a mixed bag. Without a few key pieces of support from my family, two wonderful doulas and a handful of healthcare professionals, my journey into motherhood may have felt far more insurmountable.

Having been a professional jobbing actress for almost two decades, much of my industry came to an abrupt halt with the COVID-19 outbreak. Suddenly, I was unemployed at home with a six-month-old baby, and as was the case for so many, times were tough. In order to stay positive and proactive, I decided to use some of my time to train online with the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers as a Mother Supporter, with a view to volunteering within the NHS or postnatal health services.

Following my training, I came to understand the sad reality for new mums – it was going to take quite a while for in-person breastfeeding support groups to start again, and postnatal wards were all but closed to anyone other than one birth partner (sometimes, unbelievably, not even that). Knowing how hard those early days/weeks/months can be, I wondered how on earth I would have coped with just the odd Zoom drop-in and lack of a supportive social network. I felt a real pang to reach out to isolated mums during this horrible time. I took the plunge and applied to the local branch of the charity MIND for some seed funding. My vision was to set up my own peer support group in my local park: an outdoor, socially distanced picnic rug meet up to focus on building new mum’s breastfeeding confidence outdoors, and to help them foster new friendships. My application was successful and the first ever It Takes A Village session launched during Maternal Mental Health Week in May 2021.

I’ve now qualified as a Mindful Breastfeeding Practitioner, NHS trained Breastfeeding Peer Supporter, and am continuing my learning to bring my knowledge and skills to the group.

Sharon

Hi I’m Sharon, mum to two very energetic little girls! I met Emily when I started attending her free sessions at Crystal Palace Park in July 2021. At the time, my second daughter was six months old and like all the other mums who had “pandemic babies”, I was experiencing a mix of emotions – fear around my baby and I catching Covid, loneliness from being in lockdown/isolation throughout pregnancy and birth, and anxiety from being out and about for the first time, by myself, in a very long while. But I needn’t have worried, I was welcomed into a group of new mums and enjoyed hearing about everyone’s ups and downs of early motherhood. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I started volunteering my time with ITAV!

It was after a few months attending these sessions, that I only came to realise I had actually experienced post traumatic stress and undiagnosed post natal depression (PND) after having my first baby through emergency c-section. I didn’t realise at the time that all the feelings and thoughts were in fact symptoms of PND, and not just prolonged “baby blues”. I think my husband knew something wasn’t right and kept encouraging me to reconnect with my friends and the new mums I had met during our antenatal classes. Now looking back, I’m so thankful for the support I got from him, but it’s highlighted the immense lack of support a lot of families experience from our overstretched health service when they become parents – and this was pre-Covid times!

I’m now taking a break from my day job in the Finance industry and retraining as a Postnatal Practitioner to better help mums and their babies. Having experienced those dark and helpless days of early motherhood, and caring for both my babies who had severe colic/reflux, allergies and eczema, I’m so passionate about sharing my journey with others and providing support to local families.