In this exclusive interview, Susie opens up about her personal journey into motherhood and the extraordinary role that Teresa played as her dedicated birth support person.
From the very first moments of her daughter Peach’s arrival into the world, Teresa’s unwavering presence and guidance left a profound impact. Their story is a heartwarming testament to friendship, love, and the incredible strength found in the company of someone you trust completely.
Congratulations on the birth of Peach! Can you share with us the moment you first held your baby in your arms? What was that experience like for you?
Thank you! The moment I first held Peach in my arms was such a surreal out of body experience. I was so physically exhausted by the time she arrived that it took me a while to even register what was going on. I remember feeling relieved that she was safe and sound, and so proud of what I had just achieved. I also remember just staring into her eyes and studying her little face. I had tried so many times to dream up what she would look like, and it felt so amazing to finally meet this little person that felt so familiar to me.
Everything was such a blur, suddenly there is a tiny little human on your chest, you are breastfeeding for the first time, people are buzzing around you, you and the baby are getting checked, it’s all going on! The actual gravity of the moment didn’t quite hit me until I was back in my hospital room. That’s when I broke down crying and truly began to process the last 24 hours. I don’t think I have ever felt so many emotions swirling around at once. It’s a love I have never felt before, a love that’s so overwhelming it makes your heart ache. It’s the best feeling in the world.
You’ve mentioned that Teresa Palmer, your best friend, acted as your birth support person. Can you tell us what led to the decision to have her by your side during this special moment?
I think Teresa being my birth support was always a given! Tez and I have known each other since we were sixteen and have been through so much together. I knew I needed to be surrounded by people who I felt comfortable and safe with in such a vulnerable setting, and I honestly couldn’t have imagined my birth without her.
Teresa is so passionate about all things pregnancy and birth related and I knew she would be able to advocate for me and my birth plan when needed. She’s also the most amazing mother whose parenting I have always admired, so I knew I could lean on her for advice.
Tez was so supportive to my partner Nick and I throughout the whole pregnancy journey, answering all of our questions and spending many nights hanging out and walking us through what to expect. She was instrumental in keeping me positive and calm in the lead up to and throughout the birth, and worked hard to keep my spirits high so that I could continue to mentally push through the tougher moments. I’m so grateful she could be by my side!
What were some of the most memorable and emotional aspects of your birth experience, and how did Teresa play a role in supporting you through those moments?
Some moments I will always hold close to my heart are dancing in between contractions with Tez, reading positive affirmations together and having both my best friend and my partner by my side cheering me on and making me feel invincible. Nick and I were both so appreciative of her support when my birth plan took a turn I wasn’t prepared for. She spoke with the doctor and midwives, and helped us make informed decisions on how to move forward. She kept my spirits high when I needed it the most, despite it being hard on her also. Tez was so amazing at holding my gaze and reminding me to come back to my breath, especially during the final stages of pushing. She is one of the first faces Peach saw when she entered the world and that is so special to me.
How has the transition to motherhood been for you in these first few months? What have been some of the most beautiful and challenging aspects of this new chapter in your life?
The transition to motherhood has felt quite natural for me. I have wanted to have a bub for a while now and felt I was very ready for a major life shift. Big change of course brings many new obstacles and lessons to be learned. It’s a shift in dynamic with your partner, and we have had to navigate new ways to communicate and voice our needs to one another. There have been some sleepless nights, initial issues with breastfeeding and learning to love and appreciate a new body after birth. The most beautiful aspects of this new chapter however have far outweighed any of the challenges. The people that showed up for Nick and I, especially in the early days of recovery really warmed my heart. I have found such an amazing community with other mums and have reconnected with old friends who have also recently had children. I have found a whole new love and respect for my mum and how she raised us, and feel closer than ever to my partner and my family. Motherhood so far is an ongoing journey of growth, and Nick and I are learning to trust ourselves and the decisions we make for our little girl.
As a new mum, what advice or insights would you offer to other women who are about to experience motherhood for the first time?
I think everyone’s journey into motherhood is different. I feel it’s important to stay true to yourself and trust your gut on what you feel is right. Lean on your friends and ask advice where needed, but also don’t feel overwhelmed if someone does something differently than you. I think we are all just trying to make our way and do the best that we can for ourselves and our families, so be kind to yourself and one another! As a general tip, I would say – you don’t need to buy all the gadgets and gizmos straight away! I remember my friends telling me, “all your bub needs at first is to be fed and loved” and it’s so true. I would also recommend not going crazy getting lots of clothes in the newborn size, haha, I have so many cute outfits that got about one wear before she grew out of them! Do the best you can at every stage, and enjoy your own unique experience!
As you navigate the demands of motherhood and, likely, a busy schedule, how do you make sure to prioritise self-care and maintain a balance between your personal well-being and your responsibilities as a mum?
I have tried from very early on to keep some kind of normalcy in my days to help me feel like me. That might be just going on a walk with Peach to get some fresh air, joining a mums and bubs class at my Pilates studio or going out to dinner with Nick and Peachie to the local pub or my fave sushi joint! I find getting out and about to visit family and friends has been great for my mental health. Nick has been so supportive and hands-on with Peach, and that has helped me to prioritise some ‘me time’ when I need it, even if that looks a little different these days. I think it’s very important to find small pockets of time to just be, as you have a little human that relies so heavily on you, and after a long day it can sometimes feel like you haven’t had a moment alone.
Looking ahead, what are your hopes and dreams for Peach’s future?
My hope for Peaches is that she feels empowered to create a life that is perfect for her, whatever that may look like. I hope she always feels loved, supported and safe. I hope she is brave and dares to ask questions, that she always seeks to know more and learn more. I hope she finds someone that loves her unconditionally and with the same fierceness that I feel. I hope her life is filled with adventure after adventure, and that she is fortunate enough to travel and experience all that the world has to offer. I hope that she always feels seen and always feels heard.
I envision my role in Peaches life as being her constant. I will listen with open ears and take her in with open arms whenever she needs me. I will be there to guide her, and cheer her on as she navigates different stages and challenges in life. I will be there for both the wins and the losses, and hope that my learnings and experiences can help her make decisions when she comes to her own forks in the road. I can’t wait to watch her grow and blossom into who she will be.
Finally, could you share any upcoming projects or plans for the future, both in your personal life and any professional pursuits you’re passionate about?
I will be enjoying the remainder of my maternity leave and soaking up this special time with Peach. I will also be filming a role in an upcoming ABC drama series next month, and recording more episodes of the new podcast Teresa and I have been working on called ‘They Run the Night’. If you are into all things spooky and mysterious then make sure to keep an eye out for its release! (@theyrunthenight).
From best friend to birth support
Teresa, serving as Susie’s birth support person during the birth of Peach must have been a deeply personal and meaningful experience. Can you share what led you to take on this role for your best friend?
I love everything about the birthing process. I also love everything about Susie! So I knew that this would be a memorable experience for both of us. I’ve been a birth supporter once before at another best friend’s birth, Sarah Olsen, who I do The Mother Daze podcast with. It was a deeply impactful experience so I was excited to share this with Suz.
What kind of support and guidance did you offer Susie during the birthing process, and how did you ensure her comfort and well-being throughout this transformative moment?
As a fourth time mum, pregnancy feels like my natural state! Suz knew this about me and my passion for childbirth and asked me along to join in on this special day which was such an honour. Luckily Suz had a really uneventful pregnancy and took it all in her stride which made it really easy to introduce her to methods of mother led informed birth. I held a “birth class” at her house with her man Nick and her in the lead up to the birth. We talked about every stage of birth, birth partner support techniques for Nick, different positions, pushing techniques to lessen the risk of tearing and fourth trimester info.
Being a birth support person often involves being a pillar of strength and emotional support. Can you tell us about any particular moments or challenges during the birth where you felt your presence made a significant impact on Susie’s experience?
The three of us (Susie, Nick and I) all had a specific intention of how we’d like the birth to unfold, midway through labour it became apparent that we would need to pivot and embrace some changes to our intended birth plan. Guiding Susie and Nick through that and conversing with the doctors and midwives directly about our wants for the birth to make an informed decision was an important part of my role, those hours during the birth were the most emotionally challenging for all of us. I think this part was when I was most moved by Susie’s courage as well as her immense physical and mental strength. We really understood the idea of “surrender”.
Could you describe the emotions you felt as you witnessed Susie’s transition into motherhood and the arrival of her daughter?
I was on an absolute high, I remember coaching her through the pushing stage, guiding her breathing, she was so remarkable. I was one of the first to see Peach’s face on this planet that was so incredible.
There’s this beautiful video of me stroking her head with tears of happiness in my eyes as I was telling her how proud I was as she snuggled her baby girl for the first time. Such a poignant moment in our lives, for both of us.
Many women are curious about the role of a doula and the benefits they can bring to the birthing process. In your experience, what do you believe are the most important aspects of being a birth support person for someone you care about deeply?
I am not a certified doula, I was a birth support, but I’ve always had a doula or birth support at all my births, in fact I love being surrounded by my sisterhood, I generally have a LOT of people at my birth. Doulas advocate for the birthing woman and her partner, they understand what kind of birth she’s intending to have and know her preferences inside and out. A doula gets to know the vibe of the family they’re working with and can help incorporate the non-birthing partner into the experience. They’re creating the most comfortable environment for the family to bring their baby into the world.
As you continue to balance your career and personal life, how do you see your experience as a birth support shaping your future and your advocacy for maternal health?
I will definitely offer my birthing support to friends of mine but have no plans to officially get into doula work outside of that (as much as I love birth). My advocacy for maternal health and informed birth will continue to live on through The Mother Daze podcast that I do with Sarah Wright Olsen where we interview motherhood experts from all over the world, we’ve spoken to so many incredible women in the birth advocacy space including Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein whose incredible documentary “The Business of Being Born” was my very first look in to the birth world and steered me on both my private and professional birth journeys.
Can you share any upcoming projects or plans or passion projects you have coming up?
I’m about to film in Sydney for 6 months on two very exciting TV shows (which haven’t been announced yet!). In the meantime, still juggling mum of five life, podcast hosting and working on my nutritional supplement company Lovewell!
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