The Delivery’s health and wellness expert, Jessica Hoskins, is a picture of vitality and it’s clear the mother of two practices exactly what she preaches. A Nutritionist and Herbalist specialising in nourishing mamas and children, Jessica has mastered the elusive art of balance. Learn more about Jessica and her secrets to navigating life and motherhood…oh and what you’ll find in her pantry.
Best experienced with the support of other mothers.
Can you share a little about your journey into motherhood with us?
My journey into motherhood has been nothing out of the ordinary, but life changing all the same. The day I found out I was pregnant with my first born, I unquestionably felt an enormous shift in my mindset take place. All of a sudden I was very aware that what everything I ate and how I treated my body was not just affecting me, but also my baby. I really love being pregnant in the sense that I’ve always felt so healthy and powerful. Of course, like most mums I had some of the usual grumbles like a little nausea in the first trimester and sciatica in the last few weeks, but I still felt great nonetheless.
In preparation for birth, we were fortunate to have been able to attend a She Births course with the wonderful Nadine Richardson. The knowledge we gained from Nadine, I believe led to two wonderful birth experiences. I also read many books including Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth, a wonderful book sharing inspiring birth stories and the capability of women’s bodies. I am an advocate for eliminating the preconceived fear of birth that is instilled in us from very early on, and arming ourselves with all of the power and ancient wisdom of the women that have birthed before us. Going into the birthing room I felt really empowered and confident that I had this, ready to accept and be flexible in whatever situation was coming at me.
Both of my births were midwife led in the birthing clinic at Royal Women’s Randwick Hospital. With Harper, I was already at the birthing centre (about to have an induction) when I went from zero to full on labour contractions in a matter of minutes. I clearly remember thinking ‘there is no way I can do this for 24 hours!’ Fortunately, I birthed Harper, an extremely intense four and half hours later. Lila’s birth was somewhat similar in that it was quick (two and half hours and very intense). My membranes ruptured at 12:30am on New Years Day when we were living in an inner city suburb of Sydney (think major road closures due to fireworks and street parties) so it was an intense drive across the city to the birthing centre!
I birthed both of my babies in the water as this is where I felt naturally at ease. During both labours I was very primal. Despite being calm and strong between, my intense labour contractions ensued a particularly vocal response. I remember apologising to the midwife as I was worried I might have scared some poor pregnant woman waiting for her antenatal appointment!
The first 40 days (aka the fourth trimester) after birth are so important to the wellbeing of the mother and her infant. With this in mind I really cocooned my babies during this period, allowing myself to rest as much as possible and nourish myself with the best food on offer. We only left the house for fresh air or if we really needed to. Honouring this fourth trimester helps to connect mother and child, establish healthy feeding patterns and allows the mother to heal physically, mentally and emotionally. We had our challenges like very painful breast engorgement and freaking out during the first feeding frenzy. But I loved this time with both of my babies and am thankful for it. Fast forward five years and I’m still learning. When things start to feel like they are about to hit the fan, I draw back on that period. We pare everything back, whether it be switching off for a few hours or just having a weekend at home to reconnect with each other. It usually works a charm.
“I have learned to take the time to ask myself several times a day how am I doing? What do I need right now? and I might just take a few deep breaths, have a stretch or even just call a girlfriend to debrief.”
What is the biggest lesson your journey has taught you?
I’ve learned to trust my gut, surrender and accept help when I need it.
What has been your greatest challenge in motherhood?
Without a doubt my biggest challenge has been finding the balance between looking after others and looking after myself. I am still only figuring this out for myself. Like most other mothers, I experience the pressure that comes with having young children, a career and all of life’s other stressors. Burnout can happen so quickly if we don’t check in with ourselves on a regular basis. I’ve learned that those buzzwords such as “self care” are not about having a massage or getting my hair done (although those things are nice too), but about small daily actions. I have learned to take the time to ask myself several times a day how am I doing? What do I need right now? and I might just take a few deep breaths, have a stretch or even just call a girlfriend to debrief.
And the thing you are most proud of as a mother?
I am proud of my body for birthing and feeding my children. I am proud I was able to achieve a science degree with two kids in tow. I am proud that I have been able to establish a business, but still have the capacity to make my children feel loved and secure. But sometimes I’m simply proud of just getting though the day without losing my mind or the kids… seriously!
How would you describe your parenting style?
Holistic, rhythmic, conscious and imperfect. The long term view is that my husband and I are helping to shape incredible adults for the future, and so we try to model with our own actions. I believe that children learn by imitation and that they will really show you who you are (it can be very confronting when your child starts yelling at her dolls to get her shoes on, true story). If I am flustered, they are flustered. If I am truly calm and centred, the day usually works well for everyone. Our days are very rhythmic but with some flexibility. I find that everything works smoother if we all know what to expect from our day.
What does the first hour of your day look like?
l wake up before the kids at 6am and the first thing I will do is have some apple cider vinegar in warm water. This helps to promote gentle detoxification, stimulate digestion and increase circulation. I’ll then try to do little stretching or meditation (this does not always pan out!) before checking some emails and planning the day.
“Honouring this fourth trimester helps to connect mother and child, establish healthy feeding patterns and allows the mother to heal physically, mentally and emotionally.”
What does your night time routine/ritual involve?
My kids are usually in be by 7:30pm and sometimes this is the first moment I’ve had to myself all day. I try very hard not to any work in the evenings, although occasionally this can be out of my control. My evening ritual is very simple; no screen time at least 30 minutes before I want to sleep, a warm shower or magnesium bath and a cup of herbal tea. We don’t ever have TV, laptops or phones in the bedroom as this is a sacred space.
How do you perform the great balancing act between work commitments and motherhood?
It is tricky, but I try to save work for when my kids are in school or daycare. I’ll also often work over the weekend when my husband is around. It is tempting to check emails throughout the day on my days off, but I find that I end up with my mind in two worlds and not really focusing fully on one thing. To avoid this I allocate specific times, such as the early morning or nap time to quickly jump online and reply to emails, post on social media etc. Single-tasking is much more productive than multitasking.
Do you have any personal goals you are working towards?
I have many personal goals! Obviously the number one goal is to guide these little humans of mine into wonderful people. I’m also looking forward to growing Sage & Folk and creating a space that women can easily access the knowledge and empowerment that they need to take control of their own health and the health of their children. I would also love to learn to surf!
Who is your ultimate mama muse?
My mother, my sister, my mama friends and all of my beautiful clients. I take a little inspiration from all of the amazing and inspiring mothers that I’m touched by on a day to day basis. I believe that all mothers have some wisdom to offer you.
Your best kept health or beauty secret for busy mums?
Not a secret but often overlooked: Rest, water and stretching. Along with this is connecting with nature when you can. Even just walking on the sand or grass barefoot can calm the mind and feed the soul.
“My philosophy is if your fridge and tummies are full of the good stuff, there is little room for anything else.”
Time management tip for busy mums?
If you are the main cook of the house, my favourite time management tip is to batch cook healthy meals. Making a slow cooked stew? Cooking up some pikelets? Triple the recipe and freeze the remainder and use as needed. If you do this regularly, you will have a selection of ready-to-go meals and find that your time cooking and cleaning up is reduced considerably.
Favourite family friendly holiday destination?
Anywhere I can switch off completely and spend time with my family. Oh, and good food!
What is your approach to feeding your family?
We tend to avoid foods that contain flavours, colours and preservatives as these can wreak havoc on little digestive systems. In saying that, I try not to put too much emphasis on what we should avoid, and prefer put more focus on increasing REAL FOOD. Fresh, local, organic produce. My philosophy is if your fridge and tummies are full of the good stuff, there is little room for anything else.
Go-to healthy family meal when you are time poor?
If there is nothing in the freezer, then we sometimes have tasting plate made up of whatever is in the fridge. Usually we would have some hardboiled eggs, olives, cheeses, pickles, sauerkraut, maybe some sourdough bread.
If we open your fridge/pantry what items are we guaranteed to find?
Eggs, butter, sauerkraut, lots of fresh local veggies.
Personally, what does your day on a plate look like?
At 6am I have some apple cider vinegar in warm water. 7am I keep our mornings very simple, we alternate daily between something I’ve made a big batch of, like my choco-granola, and eggs. On time poor mornings I’ll have protein smoothie. We also all have a shot of kefir for some extra probiotic goodness; I am a huge advocate for functional foods.
I have one espresso coffee per day and will usually grab this wherever we are headed for the morning (in my keep-cup of course!). We have some morning tea around 10am consisting of a piece of fruit or a carrot, and maybe some buckwheat and banana bread (I usually make a loaf of this and some sweet potato pikelets at the start of the week). On my consulting days, I will have smoothie with some, cacao, banana, coconut milk, protein powder, collagen and some wholefood supplements.
Lunch is often dinner leftovers such as meatballs and salad or I might make something fresh like rice paper rolls, or even gather some fridge items (such as pickles, sauerkraut, cheese, olives, hardboiled eggs, avocado and veggie sticks) to make a ploughman’s style plate.
Our afternoon snack is at 3pm, either consisting of veggie sticks with homemade pâté, or I might have some smoothie based icey-poles in the freezer (this is a great way to reduce food waste). I make up a weekly batch of gummies that contain wholefood supplements and this is when the kids will have one.
I love to mix it up and experiment, so dinners could be anything from fresh fish tacos, to a quick veggie stir-fry or a simple slow cooked lamb stew. On Fridays we usually meet up with friends and eat sourdough wood fired pizza in a local paddock! My husband and I have a glass or two of organic wine with dinner on weekends too. The kids either have my homemade jelly cups or some biodynamic yoghurt with stewed apples for dessert (both recipes in The Nourished Toddler e-guide). They are also currently having a dose of cod liver oil at this time, to help strengthen their immune systems now that school has started for the year. My husband and I will usually skip dessert, but if we are feeling like a sweet treat we’ll have some locally made chocolate.
Tips for mothers who want more energy?
Eat regularly. One of the problems with being on the go all of the time is that it can affect our glucose metabolism and therefore mood and energy levels. I talk to so many women who get “hangry” and feel constantly fatigued just because they are not eating regularly enough!
The Red Tent, Anita Diamond.
TED Talk or Podcast recommendation?
Janet Lansbury: Unruffled (a parenting podcast).