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Mandy Rees, Mother For Life

Who am I?

Circa 2010, you would have found me suited and booted working as a lawyer for an international law practice. Not quite Suits but managing my own clients and mentoring junior team members.

I loved being a lawyer but the juggle of a legal career and being a mum of two left me exhausted, never feeling like I was doing anything well and unfulfilled. I could see that if I chose to push for partnership, it would mean making compromises that I wasn’t prepared to make. The jump was scary because I’d worked for years to get to a senior position but sometimes you have to make that leap.

Mandy Rees, Mother For Life

I set up a maternity wear business - I did not like it in retail and maneuvered my way out of that quite quickly. I actually gave myself some time to think about what I really wanted to do - not what others might have expected me to do. I trained as a pregnancy and postnatal yoga teacher because I wanted to help women navigate the motherhood journey. I set up my own business, initially as a franchisee and then on my own. I haven't found any of this easy as old thoughts I held around not being a businesswoman or brave enough re-surfaced. I’ve learned that I am determined and that it’s never too late to step outside of your comfort zone.

I’ve always felt what other people feel and I’ve always wanted to make other people feel comfortable and safe. I hold space. I make sure mums feel really comfortable around me and I help you to get to where you want to be. That might be a class with your baby, it might be learning to be a Mother Circle Guide and becoming your own business owner, it might be navigating your way through postnatal worries or returning to work. The organised lawyer is still there in me but there are many, many more layers to her now.

I’ve probably been where you are and felt how you’re feeling. I get it. There are no judgments here. You are safe.

Why do I do this?

To save my own daughters.

I have two girls, Grace and Neave. I want them to have the best pregnancy, birth and mothering experience that they can possibly have. I want them to know that there are spaces they can go to where other women and mothers will hold them really safely. I want them to feel confident that, if they're not feeling right, they can speak to someone or go somewhere, and no one's going to judge them.

I want the world to be a very different place for mums. If my girls decide to have their own children, I want them to be held, nurtured and loved. I want them to be able to be open, authentic, and honest. I want to change the motherhood journey for my babies, and your babies, and all the babies that are going to be mums in the future, from one where mums are pretty much left to worry alone, to one where no mum feels alone, or lost or that she is failing.

And that's why I'm doing this.

At the moment, the world doesn’t value or honour mothers enough. I'm scared that when my babies come to have their children, they'll feel as lost, anxious, isolated and sad as I did when I had Grace - I suffered with postnatal depression and intrusive thoughts and I was too ashamed to ask for help. I don't want that for them. I want their journey to be full of joy, empowerment and love. I want them to sit with other mums without worry and know that it's okay to share all of their emotions. I want them to be able to come to me, or to speak to their GP or their midwife and health visitor, and know that they're really going to get the support they need.

Mandy Rees, Mother For Life

If we are going to change things, we need to do this from a grassroots level. If we sit together as mothers we can be honest about how we feel and ask for what we need. This sharing makes us strong enough to let go of what society expects us to be, and be exactly who we want to be. Then we will begin to change the world. This is why I created my Mother Circle Guide Programme - to spread Mother for Life Circles all over the world and to ignite the change.

I create opportunities for mothers to belong. Places for you to belong. Places where you don’t have to worry about what anyone else thinks because you know it’s safe to be yourself. It’s here that you can let go of expectations and be who you want to be again. That’s what Mother for Life and our Circles are all about.

Guess What?

As I’ve mentioned, before I did all this, I practised for 15 years as a commercial real estate lawyer at an international law firm. I returned to work after both my pregnancies - I know exactly what a guilt ridden juggle that is. Grace was less than 5 months old when I returned full-time and I secured promotions whilst on both my maternity leaves. I understand the complexities of career, family, working out what you really want and being brave enough to change course. I have been on something of a journey since then.

I left law because the juggle wasn’t making me or my family happy. It took me a long time to finally make the leap - it’s scary to leave what you know and the security of a good income. I trained as a 200-hours certified yoga teacher to specialise in pregnancy and postnatal yoga. I’m also a Birthlight postnatal yoga teacher, Spinning Babies techniques trained guide, postnatal doula and a passionate baby massage teacher.

My own journey through depression, anxiety and a big heap of self-doubt has led me to qualifying as a Women’s Emotional Health Coach, energy guide and healer. I use all of my skills in helping mums be the best version of themselves. I’m not a believer in one-size fits all so if you work one to one with me, you will find that what you get is as unique as you are.

Other juicy bits

I spent my childhood with horses, they were my best friends. I represented Warwickshire County as captain of the Prince Phillip Cup Gymkhana Team. I’ve travelled around the world twice. The first time, I went with my best friend. We arrived in Mumbai in the middle of the January 1993 riots. Devon was the farthest we had been from home on our own before that day. You learn a lot about yourself during these times. In 1993 there was no internet. I know now why my mum worried so much!

I love to run. I ran my first marathon when I was 40. Something I never imagined was possible. I love to feel the ground beneath my feet and I feel safe and strong when I run. It makes me feel alive. I also love bling - the shiny medals keep me going.

Mandy Rees, Mother For Life