Māmā Muse: Lara Christie, Founder of Pure Mama

Lara Christie from Pure Mama

We spoke to Lara Christie, māmā of one with one on the way, and founder of skincare brand, Pure Mama about her experience of pregnancy, birth, anticipating the arrival of number two, and parenting while running her business.

Kia ora Lara. Can you start by introducing yourself?

I am the founder of Pure Mama Skincare, a māmā of one crazy toddler, and just about to head into my third trimester with baby number two. My partner and I were Auckland-based for the past 10 years, where we lived and breathed the social vibrance of the city, established our careers, and renovated our first house. But since starting a family and COVID hitting, we decided to move down to Papamoa to be nearby family, the beach, and friends. I started working on Pure Mama around three years ago during my first pregnancy. For around two and half years I worked on product development, design, and testing, and then just last year launched Pure Mama to market. It’s now a full-time job (and some) but I absolutely love it and am so happy I decided to quit the corporate grind to pursue something I was deeply passionate about.


How was your journey to pregnancy with your son, Levi? Did you plan to conceive when you did?

We made a conscious decision to start trying just before we got pregnant. We heard a lot about how long it can take to conceive so we decided to just start trying. We were fortunate enough to get pregnant quickly – within a week in fact – but that pregnancy was lost just a couple of weeks later. It was a rollercoaster of emotions, as you can imagine, but the following month, we got pregnant again. I was in denial for a good couple of weeks as I thought this one wasn’t going to pan out and I didn’t want to get my hopes up. The lines on the pregnancy test were always faint so I figured it wasn’t strong enough but it all worked out. It wasn’t until my hCG levels started rising fast that I believed it.


How did you feel emotionally and physically during your pregnancy with him?

The first trimester was hard! I was working a full-time corporate job and I did not feel well at all. I wasn’t vomiting but felt like I had a two-month-long hangover that no number of snacks, cheeseburgers, or beverages could help with. I was also very tired. From around week 11, I bounced back and my energy came back up again which was good.

I also had gestational diabetes from around 31 weeks. It was a bit of a scare at first as I didn’t know much about it, but it ended up being purely diet controlled and didn’t affect the rest of my pregnancy (except perhaps making me eat a little healthier which wasn’t a bad thing).

I think pregnancy is such an interesting journey, sometimes you are in awe of your body and how it can grow another human being, and then sometimes you are so self-critical. Every time something new doesn’t fit or you weigh a little more, you can’t help but feel like it might be too much or wonder how you are going to come back from this. I was constantly plagued by negative thoughts about my body which now, in my second pregnancy, I don’t do so much and it’s a massive relief. I just buy new clothing and underwear that fits when I need to and I don’t give it much more thought than that. It seems simple but I didn’t do it the first time around. I try to feed this thinking into Pure Mama as well. I want it to be a brand that feels like a safe space for women and to represent all body types. We still have a long way to go but I feel like starting with my own self-acceptance is the best place.


Can you give as an overview of your birth?

It was long. Is that enough? Haha.

I did a hypnobirthing course and had a really positive mindset going into it. I felt like I had mentally prepared myself. But a day before my due date, my waters broke (kind of). My midwife said that sometimes the baby can puncture it with a hand or foot which is probably what happened as it just slowly trickled out. I wasn’t in labour but had to be on an antibiotic drip within 24 hours if nothing was happening.

The next day, I went into the hospital to go on the antibiotic drip and they gave me the minimum dose of oxytocin to see if that would get the contractions going. It all kicked off from there and the contractions got intense within two to three hours. I wasn’t dilating at all though and it was excruciating. The contractions were so intense that I requested an epidural. As soon as I had that my body was able to relax and I dilated fully. I think it allowed my body to just start doing what it was supposed to do without my pain receptors fighting back.

I rolled over at one point and unknowingly the epidural fell out… so we had to do another one. My body turned to a brick from my chest down and I couldn’t even move a toe for the next two hours. A couple of hours later I was told to start pushing so I did. By this time, I hadn’t had any sleep for around 35 hours so was pretty exhausted. Levi then got stuck in the birth canal so I was rushed up to the theatre after a good two hours of pushing. From there, a ventouse was used and with one push he was out. I was sternly encouraged to have a c-section or, alternatively, to use forceps but I asked (let’s be honest…argued) to try the ventouse first which was lucky to be enough. It is worth knowing your options is all I can say there!


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How was the fourth trimester for you? How did you find the adjustment to motherhood emotionally and mentally?

The last few weeks of pregnancy were hard, the birth was hard and for some reason, I thought I would get a sense of respite once my son was born. Oh, how I was wrong. The fourth trimester was amazingly beautiful and so tough all at the same time. I’ve suffered quite bad insomnia for a large portion of my life and it was triggered again in the fourth trimester. I ended up having some tough days that I just couldn’t wait to see the end of but I got through It. I am a little nervous about going back there, to be honest, but I know it’s not forever, and am thankful I have more family support around me this time around.


You’re currently pregnant with your second, congratulations! At what point did you feel you were ready for another baby and how was your journey to pregnancy this time around?

We always wanted more than one and wanted the age gap to be between 2-3 years so just felt like it was the right time. I had also finally launched Pure Mama which I really wanted to do before starting to try again.


What preferences, if any, do you have for your birth this time?

If it could be a little shorter and with a few less interventions? Haha.

I don’t really have a huge number of preferences to be honest as don’t want to put too much pressure on myself. I would love a water birth If I could but will just see how it goes.


What hopes or expectations do you have for the one-to-two transition? Do you have any plans for how you’ll approach the postpartum period?

I am definitely nervous about it. I think there will be a lot more split parenting for the first little while, whilst my partner looks after our son and I look after the baby. But I know it’s not forever. My partner is so hands on, considerate, and will stop at nothing to do the best for our family so I feel very fortunate to have him by my side. I also know there will be some tough days where I must remember that they are a fleeting moment in time and I will get through. I am absolutely dreading the sleep deprivation again, but I know so many women go through it and I find solace in knowing I am not alone.

Pure Mama range
We’re big fans of Pure Mama at Soteria. Tell us how it came to be and what the ethos of the brand is.

Thank you! It’s my third baby of sorts.

When I fell pregnant, I was really surprised by the lack of pregnancy-specific body products available, especially as our skin changes so much during this time and needs extra support. I felt really overwhelmed and confused about what to use and when, as it was such a new, unfamiliar space to me.

So I set out to create a beautiful product range that harnessed powerful, natural ingredients, such as pomegranate and raspberry seed oil, and concentrated levels of vitamin E, which are miracle workers for skin hydration, elasticity and repairing damage. Often these are used in facial skincare but not in body products which surprised me. We then married these with tried and trusted base blends of coconut and almond oils and worked with leading skincare chemists and a biotechnologist to create a new, more nourishing range of natural skincare for pregnant women and nursing mothers.

My intention when creating a skincare range has and always will be to help women through their pregnancy journey and into motherhood with trusted, safe, and gentle products. We also have five new products launching this year which I am beyond excited about.

We love what we do, are dedicated to continuous improvement, and do not compromise on the things that matter when it comes to skincare for mama and baby.


How do you balance being a māmā and growing your business?

I do have a lot of flexibility with the business and the hours I work which is great. I work around my family essentially, but this often means early starts and late nights. Having something that I love to do really helps. The business is now at a place where I can start to hire people which I feel fortunate about too. I think investing in good people is the best possible thing you can do when you own a business and it has started to take some pressure off, whilst seeing some great results. Everyone who works at Pure Mama is a mother too so we all understand how hard it can be. Naps, tantrums, daycare drop-offs, and sick kids are all 100% valid reasons to change meeting times or hours worked.


Does mum guilt come up for you as a working māmā? If so, how do you manage it?

Yes and no. My son has pulled on my heartstrings and cried every time I drop him at daycare since he was 1 and he still does it at 2.5. I used to let it bother me but he comes home saying he has had the best day and is always full of smiles, so I have learned to shake it off quite easily. I really love what I do so I get a huge amount of satisfaction out of working, which I don’t feel guilty about at all. My partner and I put a lot of effort into making our family time together fun, eventful, and full of activities so I know our time is well spent and always full of learning opportunities for our son. It feels like we have a nice balance at the moment, although that could change when the new baby comes along.


What does self-care look like for you now that you’re a māmā?

I still put a lot of pressure on myself which is both a blessing and a curse. It can be hard to find time for self-care and it is something I need to work on more. I actually find that being more forgiving towards myself is the greatest thing I can do for my self-care. I now find it easier to let go of the things I haven’t done i.e. cleaning the house, doing rigorous exercise, etc. In terms of tangible things, I do really enjoy a morning takeaway coffee, going for a walk, and listening to a podcast but my pelvic pain has recently put a stop to that haha.


What has motherhood taught you about yourself?

That I am more capable than I thought I was and that life is always a balancing act, but you just need to choose what is most important at any moment in time. It is never perfectly balanced but I have learned to accept that.

Also, when it gets tough, I always remember that it is just a phase and we will get through it.


Tell us about a māmā who is your muse.

I have so many incredible mothers and female role models around me that I honestly couldn’t pick just one; my mum, sister, and step mum to name a few. I think having a business in the motherhood space means I am exposed to incredible women and their stories all the time. Women never cease to amaze me.

Follow Lara on Instagram @_puremama_. You can shop the beautiful Pure Mama skincare range online at puremama.com.