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Melanie Fiona

Insights Series on empowerment, connection & the realities of motherhood with Melanie Fiona

In this month’s latest Insights Series, we speak with Melanie Fiona, a Canadian singer/songwriter, successful podcaster, founder of the Melly Belly online community. Melanie shares profound insights with us about her recipe for self-care, dealing with postpartum recovery, finding community through shared experiences, and so much more.

Can you tell us a bit about your journey, what inspired you to be a voice for moms?

When I had my first child in 2016, I had no friends or peers who were going through pregnancy or new motherhood at that time. It was very isolating to feel like I had no one to relate to. So, when my birthing experience didn’t go as I had hoped it would, aka as I was “told” it would, I was left feeling sideswiped and deeply disappointed. None of the stories I saw presented in the media about birth and postpartum recovery represented the reality of my personal experience. I started asking questions like “Why is no one talking about this?”… “Where are the women who are sharing the realities and nuances of birth and motherhood?”. So I turned the camera on myself and recorded an open video diary of the real time feelings of my fresh entry into motherhood. I almost kept the 20 minute confessional as an archive on my hard drive, but I knew that if I was feeling this way, there was someone out there who needed to hear my story because they felt the same. Singing and songwriting taught me the importance of that. The video was viewed and shared over half a million times and I started to hear from and connect with women who thanked me for my vulnerability and transparency. It proved to be the start of a strong calling in a new found purpose and passion for the rest of my life’s work.

"We quickly established a sisterhood and eventually our meetups became a routine source of therapeutic comfort"

What pushed you to start co-hosting The Mama’s Den podcast, and what it’s all about?

Shortly before the pandemic, I met Codie Oliver from Black Love Networks. We formed a natural friendship and connection through motherhood, and in early 2021, she approached me with the idea of starting a group podcast with two other moms who I also came to know and admire; Ashley Chea and Felicia LaTour. We would meet once a week and record our candid conversations surrounding womanhood and motherhood. We quickly established a sisterhood and eventually our meetups became a routine source of therapeutic comfort that we all anticipated and looked forward to week after week. Between the four of us, we have 11 children and each of us brings a unique perspective on our journeys to and through motherhood that allow everyone who listens to feel connected to the topics. We cover everything from postpartum care to relationship advice, and we have A LOT of fun doing so. We receive so much positive support from people who aren’t even mothers/parents yet. New episodes air every Monday.

What is the Melly Belly community and your mission behind it?

Melly Belly is my personal lifestyle brand which focuses on the empowerment of the motherhood journey, through candid conversation and community. After I found out I was pregnant with my daughter in 2021, I felt compelled to share my pregnancy journey in real time, and create spaces for myself and other women to share their stories, feelings and find healing. The essence of the mission is rooted in transparency and truth. Outside of our growing instagram community, we are expanding to develop in person events, products and resources to support moms and parents everywhere. Follow us for more!!! @MellyBellyMamas

How do you think your success in the music industry has changed the way you approach motherhood?

My greatest success is that I have grounding and peace. I know that every obstacle I encountered on the road to professional success helped to prepare me for motherhood. It taught me resilience and how to be mindful in the ways that advocate for and protect my well being. Nothing is more important than that. So in motherhood, I stay present with how I’m feeling and identify what I need to be the best mom I can. I ask for and welcome help. I take breaks. I do things to maintain my personal identity and satisfaction. And in doing so, my children get the best version of me, and hopefully are learning through my actions to be the best version of themselves.

How would you say your Guyanese heritage and Canadian nationality have influenced the values and traditions you have with your kids?

I am truly obsessed with my Caribbean culture. The food, the music, my family. Growing up in Toronto, Canada, was a blessing in cultural diversity and taught me a lot about the world before I got to see it for myself. My parents, both immigrants to Canada, carried their cherished traditions and values of respect, hard work and the importance of showing deep love for family. My brother and I saw my parents make many sacrifices to reinvent themselves time and time again to grow in a foreign country that they now call home. I’m so grateful that my children have a beautiful and close relationship with my parents, and carry a sense of pride for where we come from. They eat all the foods and look forward to our family traditions on holidays and special occasions.

What do you recommend parents do to make sure other parents in their lives feel supported?

Find or create communities and social circles where you and your children can spend time together with other families who share similar interests. I love hanging with the women of the Mamas Den because we deeply and personally relate to one another, and in turn, so do our children. These women have shown up for me in all the ways needed… watching my children for me, sending meals and medicine when we are sick, calling to ask how I’m doing, separately from my children. It’s truly a gift to have a tribe of love and support on this journey, and it’s one I wish for everyone.

"Self Love is Self Respect."

What does self-love mean to you and why is it so important?

Self Love is Self Respect. It sets the tone for how you allow others to treat you. It has become even more important now that my children are looking to me for cues on how to show up in the world. I pride myself on constantly working on growing in ways that I am proud of and that encourage me being the source of my own happiness.

What tips do you have for moms who are struggling with self-love and self-care?

Here’s the tip: we are all struggling. The transition from maiden hood to motherhood can be jarring and feel completely foreign. Not to mention the physical change of our bodies can be so difficult to accept and embrace. GRACE is the name of the game. Knowing that it is a process to find the balance and healing in your new role, and remembering that you are a person outside of just being a mother. Be gentle with yourself. Your self care is essential to the care of your children. Find even the smallest amount of time to rest, exercise, laugh, deep breathe, eat a healthy meal, treat yourself. Love yourself at every stage.

What techniques for self-empowerment do you want to share with other moms out there?

Affirm yourself, and don’t compare. Her story is not your story. Her body is not your body. Even on the hardest days where you don’t feel your best, find something to be grateful for.

What techniques for empowerment do you care deeply about passing on to your kids?

Advocacy. I want my children to be able to stand up for themselves and feel confident in using their voices.

What practices or rituals do you prioritize to be the best mom you can be?

Meditation, dance, enlisting help so I can have personal time to socialize, travel and try new things. I’m always looking for all the ways I can fill my cup. That is my job. No one else’s.

Melanie Fiona is a co-creator of the @themamasdenpodcast and the founder of the @MellyBellyMamas lifestyle brand. Stay connected with Melanie through her Instagram handle @melaniefiona.

At Doona, we are all about providing products and tools to help make life easier for parents. That’s why we created smart and functional travel baby gear like our Doona Car Seat & Stroller, the fully integrated travel system that transforms in a click; as well as Liki Trike, the most compact folding tricycle on the market.

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