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Holistic Healing: Inside Shannon Powell's Doula Practice

Interviews

From tender postpartum rituals to nurturing her brand of Ceremonial Grade Cacao, Birth and Postpartum Doula Shannon Powell offers a glimpse into her multifaceted approach to nourishing and empowering women.

Name: Shannon Powell
Pronouns: She / Her
Day job: Birth + Postpartum Doula and Founder of Nourish Hub Cacao
Location: Melbourne
Flow: Medium for the first 3 days, light after that.
Length: 60+ (PCOS)

 

Tell us a bit about your work?

I’m a Birth and Postpartum Doula. I also own a Ceremonial Grade Cacao product, Nourish Hub Cacao. I was led to become a doula after caring for a close friend after her first baby. Without even realizing it, I was intuitively being a Postpartum Doula as I dropped off a week’s worth of food, held her baby whilst she showered, washed the dishes, and made her bed. She told me that I had to be a doula, and from that moment on, I never looked back! I’ve been a Postpartum Doula for a few years now, and at the end of last year, I completed my Birth Attendant training with the renowned Rhea Dempsey. I absolutely love this work!

 

What’s the difference between a doula and a midwife?

An easy and important distinction is that a doula is not medically trained. Whilst a midwife is often there to care for the baby and offer a medical presence at birth, a doula is there to care for the mother through emotional, spiritual, and physical support. I work with clients from early pregnancy through birth and postpartum.

Alongside providing emotional and physical support, we act as a voice of advocacy for the birthing families, ensuring that their preferences are met no matter where or how they’re birthing and that they feel heard, empowered, and affirmed.

 

Tell us about the act of Ceremonial Grade Cacao?

I’ve been offering Ceremonial Grade Cacao to my community for four years. I had been using the product for two years, so I knew of the amazing effects and benefits.

I started packing the Cacao into brown paper bags for my friends and family, and the response (and demand) was incredible. I went on to design 100% waste-free packaging, and we’re now stocked in 80+ stores Australia-wide.

Ceremonial Grade Cacao is made from the highest quality cacao beans, sourced from small farms that use organic and sustainable farming methods. These beans are carefully selected, hand-harvested, and processed to preserve their natural flavours and properties. To be classified as “Ceremonial Grade”, Cacao must be minimally processed, organically grown, and harvested in small batches using traditional methods.

Criollo Cacao (the strain we source) is rare, representing only 5% of the world’s cocoa/cacao production. This strain has more complex, creamy, and naturally sweet flavours and higher nutritional benefits than other strains. By sourcing this strain of Cacao, we are protecting and supporting the Indigenous communities in Peru and the traditional and intended uses of Cacao.

 

How do you support womxn during postpartum?

  • Practical support and taking the “mother lode” off. Helping with household chores, running local errands, and cooking.
  • Caring for older siblings so that mum and baby can have time to bond.
  • Caring for the baby so Mum can shower, nap, etc.
  • Foot soaks, belly binding, making a cup of Cacao and debriefing/holding space.
  • Food is a huge focus of my work, with lovingly prepared meals inspired by traditional Chinese Medicine principles.

What does a doula carry in her bag of tricks?

For Postpartum visits:

  • Rebozos
  • Food (normally an esky full!)
  • Cacao or ingredients for a hot, soothing, herbal drink
  • Tub and herbs for a foot soak
  • Affirmation / oracle cards

For birth:

  • A TENS Machine
  • Rebozos
  • Candles, diffuser, oils
  • Fairy lights
  • Affirmation cards
  • Multiple printed copies of the birth plan 
  • A speaker with playlists ready to go
Postpartum Doula Shannon Powell

What are some tips for preparing for postpartum?

Prepare as much food as possible and ask your friends and family to do the same. If you can, set up an online Meal Train. They’re free to set up and easy to share with friends and family.

I also recommend a ‘Postpartum Trolley’. You purchase one of those cart trolleys from Ikea and fill it with everything you need so it’s at your side when you’re feeding, nap-trapped, resting, etc.

 

Is it common to have irregular periods after birth?

Everyone is super different. Some will regain their period almost straight away (even whilst breastfeeding), and for some, it can take up to 12 months or longer. It’s also important to remember that ovulation precedes a period, so the myth of “breastfeeding is a contraception” is not always true!

     

    What's your top piece of advice for parents?

    Follow your own intuition and protect your vulnerability, especially in those early days. You and your mother instinctively know best, so only surround yourself with people who respect your choices and support you rather than question every decision you make.

     

    What is your monthly ritual?

    I like to allow myself to vision and dream as much as possible in the first few days. If we deeply lean into rest during our period, the veils are thinner, and access to knowledge is immensely powerful! On day 3 or 4, I set intentions for the cycle ahead and pull a card to guide and anchor me throughout.

     

    Your thoughts on your period being the fifth vital sign?

    Our menstrual cycle is more than just the cycle itself. It can give us an incredibly in-depth insight into all areas of our lives. Often, we can discover other undying imbalances, such as gut health, mental health, and spiritual wellbeing, that the menstrual cycle highlights.

    I stand by this quote: There is nothing that I love and cherish more than being a cyclical being. One that transitions through various seasons throughout the month and one that connects to the wisdom of her body every day.

     

    MY CYCLE

    My period in 3-words: Restful, inward, release.

    On day 1 you'll find me: In bed or on the couch.

    Period self-care toolkit: I love using clary sage, a heat pack and period undies! I like the Boyshort - SUPER comfortable and I still feel sexy wearing them.

    Contraception method: Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) and condoms.

    Best period hacks: Harness the power of your premenstrual phase! Reschedule any appointments needed, meal-prep and write a list of anything that you’d like to let go of alongside the physical release of your bleed.


    You can follow Postpartum Doula Shannon Powell on Instagram and read more insights from her via her website.  

     

    Medical Disclaimer: This blog is for information purposes and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice. Always consult a healthcare provider or a qualified medical expert for concerns or questions regarding your own health.

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