Rural isolation inspires new on-line hub for mums

Gemma Douglas said The Motherhood Project was a much-needed place of support and empowerment, with zero tolerance for negativity.
Gemma Douglas said The Motherhood Project was a much-needed place of support and empowerment, with zero tolerance for negativity. Photo credit: Supplied

A Hawke's Bay woman has launched a new website, which aims to create an on-line community for mothers in isolated areas and is inspired by her own experiences after giving birth. 

The Motherhood Project Village is the brainchild of Gemma Douglas, who lives on an apple orchard with her husband and three children. 

The website delivers webinars, live chat, workouts, recipes, meditations and advice on dealing with the stresses, anxieties and sometimes even judgement that comes with being a new mother. 

The 35-year old said the idea was developed after she was a new mum, living in isolating circumstances - in a rural community in Hawke's Bay, knowing only her in-laws.

Gemma Douglas lives on a Hawke's Bay apple orchard with her husband and three children.
Gemma Douglas lives on a Hawke's Bay apple orchard with her husband and three children. Photo credit: Supplied

"I had no friendships network at all," she said.

"The weekly coffee group became incredibly important to me and I knew I needed to push myself to keep going for my mental health."

For the trained teacher and meditation practitioner, social media became an outlet and she began writing under her Instagram handle The Motherhood Project. 

The page blossomed and within a year, it had 40,000 followers across her social channels. 

"It was incredible. I felt like I was now part of a really big team, and we all had each other's backs. The Motherhood Project was a much-needed place of support and empowerment, with zero tolerance for negativity," said Douglas.

Now she has expanded the concept, launching The Motherhood Project Village with Jen Mackie (a qualified pilates and fitness instructor), Gina Urlich (clinical nutritionist) and Linee van der Meer (clinical psychologist specialising in maternal wellness).

"The barriers were still there for women wanting to get the help they needed - financial barriers, not having anyone to watch the children, not knowing where to go for help."

Douglas said she was a passionate advocate for new mums who are going through a whole lot of change and can feel extremely overwhelmed and isolated. 

"I believe this to be a unique offering in New Zealand," Gemma says. "Nowhere else offers a community for mothers, run by mothers who are also experts in their field."

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