Musician Melanie Fiona On mindful parenting.

By Caroline Tell | Photos by Ashley Barrett

Melanie Fiona is a powerhouse—musician, mom of (nearly!) two, wife, and, to her 600K Insta followers, a spiritual guru. Fiona takes to social media to spread messages like, “you deserve to receive the love you offer.” So while she’s not talking to moms-only, they’re the sort of wise words that resonate deeply with the mama-set. And she lives by example, practicing self-care and delving deep daily to show up as her best self for her 5-year old, her husband, a baby on the way, and of course, herself. Fiona opens up about becoming an advocate for maternal health, especially for women of color, how her second pregnancy is going, her career, and giving herself permission to rest.

How are you feeling?

Well, today, I’m actually having an unexpected rough day, which is kind of interesting because I’m in my second trimester and they say all the beautiful and blissful things about the second trimester. I’ve got the very common, typical second trimester headache today, and a little bit of nausea, which came out of the blue. I’m for the most part feeling good though, just really trying to manage each feeling day by day because that’s all I can do. I feel like it becomes too overwhelming when I start to think about how much more I have to go or how long it’s been, so I’m really just trying to stay present and do the best I can every single day. So full transparency, today’s not so great, but most days I’m able to get through it alright.

How is this pregnancy different from your first one?

I think with my first pregnancy there was just a natural naïveté. You don’t know what to expect. You don’t know what is typical. You don’t know what to do. You’re kind of just going along. This pregnancy, I found that my body changed differently quickly. I expanded super fast. I started showing very early. And the exhaustion was just completely different this time around. I’m also five years older, so that’s also another thing. And I’m taking care of a five-year-old, so that’s also another reason to be tired. Even though my body feels tired, I’m still really strong. I’ve been working out a lot and that’s been really, really helpful to stay motivated and keep moving.

Workout routine?

I have a treadmill that looks at me in my bedroom every day, so sometimes it’s looking at me with compassion and then other days it’s looking at me like, you better get on me. I try to walk every day. But my main focus these days has been training with a strength and fitness trainer three times a week. She comes to my home. Her name’s Alexandra. And the funny thing is, previous to finding out I was pregnant, I was feeling like my body wasn’t responding to my dietary habits and all the things that I thought I was doing to take care of myself. I reached out to her and I was like, “Hey, I would love to start training with you.” And she said, “Great, no problem. We can start on Monday.” And then I found out I was pregnant on the Saturday right before we started.

I’ve been working out my whole pregnancy, which I truly believe, is a divine gift from the universe. I really needed the help and I really needed the push. At the end of every session, even if I’m miserable before we start, I’m so glad by the time we’re finished that I did it.

Sharing the good news with baby #1?

Well, it’s funny because he actually started asking for a sibling before we even confirmed we were pregnant, which is really odd and not odd at the same time if you believe that children have this inane and divine sense—which I really do. So when we found out that we were having a baby, he was just like, “Great.” It’s almost like he knew that it was coming, which is really beautiful.

He is so excited. He is over the moon. I mean, so nurturing, so compassionate, so ready to take care of someone

Transitioning from 1 to 2?

I think something that’s been really helpful in mentally trying to manage that is the fact that they’re five years apart. I think I always had this natural anxiety of the scary two under twos and the two under threes, or whatever, because they’re so busy and you’re learning so much about them and they’re learning so much about the world, and so now that he’s five, he’s fairly independent. He just started kindergarten. So I am very grateful that I’m not going to have a newborn and a toddler at home. God bless the parents who do that.

Being in the pandemic, my regular job of touring has slowed down obviously. It was virtually gone in all of 2020, so it’s actually the perfect time to have a baby because I’m still in the house, and I’m still building and pivoting through the pandemic and work.

How can moms bring mental self-care into daily life?

Do it. Find five minutes to yourself. If you can lock that bathroom door just sit there and do deep breathing. The shower is a great place that I find peace—where you can really think about what the water is doing for you. That’s meditative in itself, to be able to feel your energy being cleansed on a daily basis. Finding those small moments, even if you don’t have the ability or the freedom or the flexibility to carve out 20, 30 minutes for meditation. I find that meditation for some people seems so overwhelming and can seem intimidating, but it’s very, very attainable, if you can really recognize how just a few moments of stillness can bring such a change and a shift in your energy in the day.

I think if anyone needs a lot of meditation, it’s really moms and children. Their relationship is so symbiotic, I think it’s really important that there’s always regulation happening there.

Why is maternal health advocacy, especially amongst the minority mom population, so important?

I think it’s important because women of color are often overlooked and disregarded in society in general and in many regards. And when it comes to maternal health, this is something where we see it has resulted in preventable fatalities, because of neglect, systemic racism, and discrimination. And so these are things that are really important.  I think the strides that have been made is that we’re talking about it. We have awareness, we have causes, and we have outlets where people are advocating for this.

I recently, through my own process of speaking with a few doctors, was looking at how the system functions around women being viewed as good candidates for VBAC, or vaginal birth after ceasarean. There’s an actual system where they input data with demographics and ethnicity. The numbers significantly drop when a women of color is entered.

Of course, there are health issues that need to be addressed there. However, I think that just based off these discriminatory practices, you have women of color not getting the same opportunities as other women who are not of color. And I think that that was mind-blowing to me. It’s very, very important that we have advocacy, we have allyship, and we have people who are out here making it known that this is a rising problem.

Does your birth plan include a VBAC?

Yes. In full transparency, I found a doctor who I loved and unfortunately her practice did not allow VBACs. And I thought that that was interesting for women in general. You can find a doctor and have a wonderful rapport and develop a relationship, and then all of a sudden be told that your choice to try to advocate for the type of birth that you want (obviously taking all health variables into consideration) is not even an option. If you had one cesarean, you have to have another.

I think that that’s a huge flaw in our system. I think that we deserve the option to educate and advocate for ourselves. I’m super dedicated right now to educating myself and literally designing the birth team that I need to feel most empowered going into this birth a second time.

Navigating this new phase with your husband?

I think everything, from the pandemic to having this baby, brought us closer together. It’s really a beautiful space to be in because having a new baby can sometimes come with some anxiety and  concern for your relationship. Are both parties happy about it? Are both parties feeling like that was something that they wanted to do? Fortunately Jared is really my best friend and he is really my partner, so he’s been wonderful.

It’s been really amazing to also see him develop stronger bonds with our son. I wish more date nights were in our future, but we try to get some quick lunch dates. After we take our son to go to school, we’ll take a moment and go get a coffee together and just spend some time before he has to start his day and I have to start my day. It’s the little things that count.

Maternity Leave?

Well, it’s really interesting because I feel like I was on maternity leave before because of the pandemic. It’s an interesting thing, being an entrepreneur and also being a touring musician, I feel like the beautiful thing is that I can take my family with me to work, which is really a blessing. I love taking Cam on tour with me and I love him seeing what I do and being a part of that. I love being able to go to stage and then come back to the hotel and have my family there. That’s the best of both worlds.

I’m looking forward to finding that new balance—not feeling like I have to be torn away from my family, but also feeling like I can have my family with me as much as possible.

Self-care during pregnancy and after birth?

I give myself permission to do — well actually, I’m changing my vocabulary. I was going to say to do ‘nothing’, but I give myself permission to rest. I recently read something about changing the narrative around, “What did you do today?” “I did nothing.” Well, it’s like, no, you didn’t do nothing, you rested. You chose to put your wellness first. You chose to give space and grace to reenergize yourself.

Of course I can say all the things like, I go for acupuncture, I go for chiropractic treatment, and massages and get my body feeling good and putting those things first. But it’s the smallest things, like saying I’m tired, I’m going to lay down, or I’m not going to get to that load of laundry right now, or I’m going to send that email a little later, or I’m just going to give my mind and my body space to rest and recharge.

I think that that’s something that we’ve taken for granted and I think that that’s something that I’m no longer going to allow myself to feel guilty about. And I want my children to understand that as well. I think it’s important to just stop and rest.

Go-to bedtime songs?

There’s a song that I used to sing for Cam when I was pregnant and I still sing it for him, “I Love You For Sentimental Reasons” by Sam Cooke and that one’s still one of his favorites, and it’s still one of mine. I think it’s the perfect description of how moms feel about their children.

Any advice you’d want to share?

I just think advice is such a tricky word when it comes to motherhood, because some people really want it and some people do not. But the one thing that I just think I would say for any parents, especially women out there, is your intuition is everything. And I think it’s always your guide. And I think it’s really something that we sometimes dismiss and allow other people to dismiss, but your intuition is always right. Use that inner guide, use that inner compass, to lead you through the process of all of it.