High school biology class and social media highlight reels tell us that pregnancy and childbirth is nursery makeovers, fluffy swaddles, tiny fingernails and cute dresses stretched tight over baby bumps.
But cravings, nausea, cramps and hormonal rollercoasters are the untold plotlines of just about anyone living with a uterus, and they reach a soaring climax during most women’s preconception and pregnancy chapters. So why aren’t we giving voice to the real stories of women and their reproductive journeys?
It’s a question that Jess Rosenberg (she/her) began to ask herself after the birth of her sons, now six and three years old.
“I had a really horrific postpartum experience the first time around that I thought was normal,” she says. “But when I had postpartum recovery issues again, I realised that it was probably more common than I had originally thought. Everyone was talking about optimal health for the baby, but nobody was talking about what happens to the woman before, during and after birth.”
“I began to realise that the mainstream story sets women up for silence. We don’t know what we don’t know, and I want to be able to help change that.”
So, Jess started to talk about it herself. Chatting with friends and strangers at the local playground, she began her own research around others’ fertility stories. The feedback proved that she was not alone.
“Almost everyone would start by saying that their story was normal but, as we continued to talk, they’d reflect on their reproductive health, pregnancy and postpartum experience, and share the most incredibly complex, difficult and painful stories.
“We wear these stories with a veil of ‘normal’ but, as we share them, we’re given the opportunity to think differently, and we realise that it’s actually pretty horrific.”
Jess also noticed a common theme of women wanting to know more about preconception and pregnancy nutritional support to achieve optimal health for themselves and their babies.
From these conversations, Jess’s own experience, and a return to studying- naturopathy- something new was born: moode.
moode is a range of vitamins that is due to launch in early 2022. A nutritionally-formulated prenatal supplement will come first, followed by a family of vitamins to address all of the different lifecycle stages that make up a woman’s fertility.
“Taking a quality vitamin to support our reproductive health ensures our health is supported by topping our nutritional stores, so when a baby does appear on the ultrasound, there’s more of us to go around.
“And there’s plenty of evidence to support the impact that nutrient-dense supplementation can have on a developing fetus, too.”
But moode is much more than vitamins. It’s about opening up unfiltered conversations about all things women’s health, giving women the permission to better understand their body, cycle and fertility.
“There’s a range of experiences that we need to give voice to, and it starts way earlier than pregnancy. It should start with our education when we’re young women, but most people’s experience of reproductive education at school starts and ends with how not to get pregnant.
“It’s still not mainstream to have these conversations, so I want to bring these topics out of the shadows and put them in the forefront.”
moode also wants to fill the gaps in women’s awareness about other areas of their health, including contraception, preserving fertility and miscarriage.
“The conversation needs to be about inclusive fertility – the whole experience, and not just the joyful pregnancy that some people are lucky enough to have. moode approaches women’s health from all angles.”
While moode’s first vitamin range is perfected offstage, maternal health maintains the limelight. moode aims to put an end to women suffering in silence, and a growing community is finding its voice.
“Everyone has something to say, and everyone’s ready to talk, but there’s no space to share. moode is creating that space because every story is important.
“The more we talk, the more we’ll know. And the more we know, the more questions we’ll be able to ask so that we’re better informed about the whole fertility conversation.”