A new community space has opened in Seddon to support, educate and empower women.

“At its heart it’s a space for women to come together and connect and feel community,” says Gather founder Gabrielle Nancarrow. “It’s a safe space and judgement-free space, and it’s a place for women to be seen and heard for whatever they’re transitioning through. A lot of women give birth and say, ‘I wish I knew that’.”

Gather was born in the shopfront attached to Nancarrow’s home. Inside, you’ll find a bit of everything including yoga and meditation classes; physiotherapy and herbal-therapy sessions; birth, loss and postpartum doulas (also known as a birth companion, birth coach or post-birth supporter); and sexuality workshops.

The schedule changes up monthly, but gatherings are generally no larger than 16 people and might include topics such as postpartum hormones, owning sexuality and sex after birth, tracking cycles of fertility and transitioning off birth control.

“It’s the kind of information I’m learning now that I wish I knew when I was 20 before I went on the pill for 15 years,” says Nancarrow.

Gather brings it all into one place. You can book a physio appointment in the consulting room, move across to the larger space for a yoga class, and then sit in for a group breastfeeding circle run by a lactation specialist.

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“It’s a lot less expensive than what a private lactation consultant would cost,” says Nancarrow. “Sit in a circle with women, learn to breastfeed … connect, communicate, and step out of [your] home for a bit and have a bit of conversation.”

Some classes and yoga sessions are also run especially for teenagers, aiming to teach young women about sisterhood and looking after each other. “We’re hoping that girls supporting girls leads into women supporting women,” Nancarrow says.

Before Gather, Nancarrow lived in New York for six years, working as copy director for Victoria’s Secret.

“I had my first daughter in New York in 2014 and I think I was about seven months pregnant when someone asked me who my doula was,” she says. “I said, ‘What’s a doula, do I need one of those?’”

Doulas are hired to provide continuous care throughout pregnancy, labour and delivery, and beyond if needed, and are much more common in the US than here.

After the birth of her first daughter, which Nancarrow says was an empowering experience, she re-evaluated her professional future. “I wanted to become a doula to give other women the experience that I’d had. I felt so supported and informed and so ready for that moment, and I’ve heard so many traumatic birth stories since [then] and feel so much for those women, because it’s not their fault.”

Doulas aren’t medically trained, and they occupy a different role to that of a midwife or an obstetrician. “Our responsibility is your emotional and physical space and health. We give information, we help empower you to make decisions, and we help you understand what your rights are.”

Gather has a doula collective to make the service more accessible for Melbourne women. “I think it’s really needed. I think a lot of women just don’t have that community and support,” Nancarrow says. “And we’re not saying it’s just for cis women. It’s for all women, and for all the age groups.”

Prices range depending on the class type and duration, but the group aspect of Gather means sessions are generally cheaper than private therapy. Attendance at a two-hour pregnancy and infant-loss support session costs $20, women’s yoga classes are $25, and a five-hour cycle and fertility intensive is $120.

Gather
4 Alexander Street, Seddon
0432 681 377

gatherwomenspace.com